This week we will have available cool weather plant starts that include lettuce, bouquet dill, cilantro, sage, oregano, thyme and arugula. “Plugs” and/or “starts” are the small plants we nurture in an excellent compost-based soil mix for you to put into your garden or container. We never allow our plants to become root-bound and they are ready to take off and grow vigorously for you.
You may use your CSA Plants credits to purchase these plants, but please note you do not need a membership from Hattie’s Garden to buy them.
We also have “lettuce mix” starts, grown for smaller sized leaves from a mixture of gourmet lettuce varieties. Lettuce mix is more forgiving because you do not need it to grow to full maturity.
We plant it all summer long for our young salad mix and have better luck some weeks than others, but if you have some afternoon shade or can grow it in a pot that can be moved someplace cooler during the worst of our July and August heat, you can also grow your own lettuce mix all summer. The same goes for arugula. Both are “cut and come” again, but must be renewed much more frequently in the heat of summer.
The bulk of annual flowers and vegetable plants will not begin to be ready until about two weeks after the temps stop hovering in the 30s overnight. In addition to having plants available at the Farmers Market, we will have plant sales at Hattie’s Garden toward the end of April and throughout May.
What we are selling now are all “hardy” plants that can survive and thrive when nighttime temps are in the 30s and 40s and daytime temps are in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
In fact, lettuce grows best at this time of year and again in the fall. For beautiful heirloom head lettuce, this is a perfect time for planting. See our lettuce section on our website for some of the delicious varieties we have ready for you to plant.
After the weather last week, with two very hard freezes, we are hoping the worst of the cold is over. We extend our sincere condolences to those farmers with fruit in bloom who will likely lose so much of their harvest this season due to the climate extremes — crop loss is a fact of life in farming, of course, but it is heartbreaking for these hardworking farmers.
Our outside produce is coming along slowly and we will soon have arugula, then radishes, turnips, kale, beets, carrots and more, but because of the cold weather, it will be a couple weeks before we begin our more abundant harvests for you.
Austrian Winter Pea Tendrils
We are able to harvest delicious pea tendrils during April. These pea tendrils are from an organic cover crop we plant to enrich our soil. They are a variety known as Austrian Winter Pea and because they are a “field pea” and not a normal sweet pea, the tendrils themselves — in this case, just the top couple of inches of tender eaves, nascent blossoms and tendrils — are more delicious and much more tender than typical “garden pea” tendrils.
In fact, because field peas are grown for their biomass and nitrogen fixing abilities, and not to produce sweet peas or pea pods, we believe they are by far the best choice for use as pea tendrils. The Austrian Winter Pea is hardy enough to overwinter in our region and is simply delicious. We are thrilled to have such a delicious salad ingredient while we wait for our spring produce to get going.
I read about the Austrian Winter Pea and its use for pea tendrils from a Massachusetts farmer who watched the Cambodian women he had employed harvest these tendrils on their way home each evening in the spring for use in their evening meals. He was amazed at how wonderful they were and we were too. We think using them as a salad ingredient and eating them raw is best, but they can also be sauteed or “wilted” ever so slightly. You may try them at the market where we will be sampling them.
Young Gourmet-sized Red Russian Kale leaves
We will also do our best to harvest as much as we can from Red Russian Kale plants we have nurtured through the winter. They continue to produce and we continue to pull the young delicious leaves.
Truly a gourmet treat, they retain the flavor of sweet winter kale. These are bagged clean and with no waste for use directly as salad ingredients, or cooked ever so slightly.
Yours in the garden,