Astro Arugula

Arugula is a cool-season crop grown both in spring & fall at Chert Hollow Farm. Depending on weather conditions (temperature & moisture), soil fertility, and plant age, the flavor ranges from nicely tangy to intensely potent/bitter. The taste buds of the eater also are a factor: Eric loves the strongest flavors that Joanna thinks taste awful if eaten plain.

If you love strong flavors, using arugula is easy. If you’re not a fan of the intense flavor of arugula, the trick is to combine it with appropriate flavors. For salads, mix it with other greens (which is often how we distribute/sell it anyway), perhaps top the salad with a combination of cheese & fruit (apples or raisins, for example), and a strong dressing. Or, saute it; garlic and a dash of good balsamic vinegar really help to balance the flavor, as well.

White Tomesol Tomato

White Tomesol are medium to large slicing tomatoes with a nice, fruity flavor. This is an open-pollinated variety.

Seed source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
(As of 2012, we do not know of a source for certified organic seed.)

Korridor Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is an odd vegetable: not a root, not a fruit, not a leaf, but an enlarged stem. (The leaves are edible, too.) When grown under good conditions, the flesh is crisp and sweet, somewhat reminiscent of an apple. Peeling the skin is optional, though it is sometimes a bit tough. Delicious eaten as chunks for a snack, grated into slaw, or used in stir fry, to name a few possible preparations.

Kohlrabi is a cool-weather crop. We tend to grow them in spring.

We’ve tried a number of open-pollinated varieties of kohlrabi, but we have often had difficulty with poor growth and development of woodiness in the stem, making the result pretty unappetizing. Kohlrabi seems to be a vegetable that benefits greatly from hybrid vigor, which is not surprising given that brassicas are generally outbreeding plants. So, we’ve settled with buying hybrid seed for kohlrabi, and Korridor is one of the varieties with readily available certified organic seed.

Seed is available from High Mowing Organic Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Hakurei Turnip

This is a hybrid turnip that grows quickly to form nice, uniform white roots. The flavor is quite sweet and mild for a turnip, and may appeal even to those who do not consider themselves turnip-lovers (like Joanna). Roots are good both raw and cooked, and the greens are nice cooked. These are great diced and sauteed with other vegetables in dishes like stir fry, fried rice, frittata, and more.

We generally prefer open-pollinated varieties to hybrids, but we finally tried these in 2012 and certainly agree that this variety is a winner.

Organic seed is not available for this variety. Seed is exclusively sold by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are common, though not always commonly seen. This fellow posed  for our trail camera at the one remaining watering hole in the stream during July 2012, in the middle of an extreme drought.

We put much effort into fencing to keep deer out of produce-growing areas. We also make use of hunting season to try to slightly reduce population numbers while boosting our meat supply, in effect replacing the natural predators now displaced by humans.

Monstrueux de Viroflay Spinach

An excellent spinach for overwintering. Winter flavor is sweet & candy-like. Spring leaves can grow quite large. This is an open-pollinated variety.

A September 2011 planting provided some harvestable yield in each month from November through the following April. Growth habit in the winter requires tedious leaf-by-leaf harvest, as the leaves are positioned parallel to the ground. In spring, growth habit becomes more upright and it is easier to harvest by knife.

Seed source: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Shagbark Hickory

This tree’s name is self-explanatory. Nuts from the shagbark hickory are tasty, but they are a rare treat since they require significant effort to open and clean. In any case, the squirrels usually get there first. The high density of the wood makes hickory an excellent firewood, though it’s usually not suitable for shiitake mushroom cultivation due to the flakiness of the bark.

Sparkle Strawberry

Sparkle is a strawberry variety that has superb flavor and sweetness, short shelf life, and small- to medium-sized berries. The short shelf life means that they are unsuitable for most marketing, but once they make it to the hands of the eater there’s little worry that any will be left around long enough to go bad.

Plants flower in April. Our first tend to ripen around the middle of May and they are usually done by early-to-mid June. We generally pick daily during the peak of production. We’ve found that protection from racoons is critical; a few low-strung lines of portable electric wire fence has worked for us.

The plants are rather difficult to manage because they runner aggressively, but produce plenty of material for expanded plantings. The biggest berries are produced on plants that are well spaced, a result that we’ve found is more easily achieved by establishing a new planting than by thinning an old one, which tends to fill itself in again quickly.

Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Pepper

Though it may look like a hot pepper, Jimmy Nardello’s Italian Pepper is actually a very sweet, flavorful pepper. The flesh is relatively thin. They’re great raw, cooked, or dried for later use. We quite often eat these straight off the plants in late summer when we’re hungry and need a snack. This is Eric’s favorite sweet pepper.

This is an open-pollinated, heirloom variety that the Slow Food organization has recognized as being exceptional by including it on the Ark of Taste list.

Organic seed source: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Carrot, Danvers 126

A relatively short, pointy variety that does well in heavy soils. Very sweet in cold weather (fall/winter harvests). Spring plantings also have good flavor. Our standard carrot.

Organic seed sources: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; High Mowing Organic Seeds.