Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? Okra is closely related to Cotton, Cocoa and Hibiscus! Pretty cool, huh?!
What’s Growing On?
As you may know, this past Saturday was our most recent Open Farm Saturday, down at the Urban Farm! I had a volunteer from Converse come and help us out on the Urban Farm on Saturday, as we stripped the old plants and plastic off of some of the summer rows. As the summer crops have finished up, I have been pulling back the plastic, adding fresh compost and reapplying the plastic to prepare the beds for their fall transplants. Having those extra hands out there helps the job go so much faster, so a massive Thank You to Sheila from Converse!! I appreciate your help so much!
The transplant seedling are currently hanging out in the Greenhouse still, and amidst all of the compost runs and bed preparations, I will be moving the flats outside, little by little, to harden off before they wind up in the ground. Transitioning seedlings too quickly, from a controlled environment, like a Greenhouse, into the ground outside can be a shock that can cause slowed grown, stunted production or even plant death. Slowly exposing them to the outside temperature, wind and overall environment allows them to make that transition smoothly and with few overall hiccups.
Not all of the seedlings in the Greenhouse will be making the great move outside; some of the plants I have started are frost intolerant and will spend their entire lives inside the safety of the Greenhouse; some of these plants include Cucumbers, herbs and frost sensitive greens. I am experimenting a little bit with a few different varieties of cucumbers this winter, including several unusual varieties that you don’t find very often. One of the varieties that I am trying is the Mexican Sour Gherkin, which a number of people have asked about since I started working here at the farm. If you are unfamiliar with this variety, it also goes by the name Cucamelon or Mouse Melon, and it is easy to understand how they acquired those titles. That cucumber variety looks like a miniature watermelon and has a sour cucumber flavor. I am also trying a Salt & Pepper Pickling Cucumber variety, which has white skin and black spines. One of the best things about shopping at, and conversely selling at a Farmers Market, is the fact that you can grow and try different, unusual varieties that you will never come across in a traditional grocery store. However, I will also be growing some more traditional cucumber varieties, so if experimenting with different flavors and colors isn’t your thing, don’t stress, there will be something for you too!
I have also prepared flats of seedlings that will be transitioning out into the Vertical PVC Towers that I put up with the help of Spartanburg Water volunteers, back at the end of April. They worked really well in the early summer, producing several pounds of leaf lettuce, and I am excited to see how well they do, growing into the winter time. I spent a little while this week getting the PVC towers prepped, refreshing the compost inside the towers and making sure that they were still well set in the ground. Growing vertically in these towers allowed me to grow 130+ plants in a space that is not exactly ideal for growing plants in the ground, and makes excellent use of giant PVC pipes that we had just hanging around.
And of course, since we were speaking of Okra’s relatives earlier…… Let me just take a moment to say how incredible Okra plants are! Okra plants are so incredibly adaptable, they tolerate unusually wet weather, particularly dry weather, cloudy weather, wind storms and anything else nature can throw at them. This year was a particularly wet one, with several strong storms and some unusually cold temperatures in late August and my Okra plants still seem super happy! Last year my Okra was still producing through early November, and I am interested to see how long it keeps producing this year!
And as a friendly reminder, we are having our annual Farmer To Table Dinner Fundraiser on Friday, September 29th, at 6:30pm. The event will be held at the Northside Harvest Park, and tickets are available at the Saturday Market, online (www.hubcityfm.org), or by phone (864-585-0905). This is a fantastic event, you get to socialize and network with so many like-minded people, all the while experiencing some incredible, local food creations from the Farmers Table! Check out our website for more information on this once a year event!!
As always, feel free to share any questions, comments or ideas with me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I look forward to sharing with you more adventures on the farm next week! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!