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.

Carpetweed

Carpetweed is a summer annual that does well in vegetable growing areas, particularly in places that are unmulched. True to its name, a single plant can sprawl over a good-sized area in a low-growing carepet-like mass. The good news with carpet weed is that it doesn’t grow tall, so it virtually never shades out desirable vegetables. Also, it is quite easy to control by hoe, and low-density populations are easily controlled by hand, as a single taproot can feed a widespread plant. We could appreciate carpetweed as a living mulch if it weren’t so fast to set an abundance of both flowers and seed.

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.

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

Honey Locust

Honey locusts are especially common here in former, now overgrown, pastures. The vicious thorns are the most obvious identifying characteristic of this tree, and they help to deter herbivores from nibbling on the branches or bark. Some trees have only a few, while others are armored along nearly every inch of trunk. Lower branches often die back and drop thorns onto the ground, posing a hazard for boots, tires, and goat hooves. In the fall, the trees produce long pods which have a sweet, slightly fruity smell when broken open. Goats are quite fond of the pods, which are probably reasonably nutritious given that the honey locust is a member of the legume family. Honey locust wood is dense and an excellent source of firewood if you can manage the thorns.

Deadnettle

Deadnettle is a common weed that blooms in early spring.

Henbit

Henbit is a common weed that blooms in early spring. The flowers are quite pretty when inspected closely, a visual treat hidden in plain view.

Daffodil

A pretty domestic flower that provides a useful marker for the progress of spring; see the blooming dates listed below.

First recorded date of bloom:

2007: March 21
2008: March 31
2009: March 25
2010: March 28
2011: March 21
2012: March 7
2013: April 2
2014: April 3
2015: no data
2016: March 8
2017: March 2