video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Between snow squalls, our friend Trevor (@larkinandtrevor) stopped by this week as we were making flavor selections for the next generation of our Dulcinea carrot and LOOK WHAT HE MADE!
I especially can’t deal with how he captured the spirit of Davi, one of our two mini-Aussie mutts ♥
Okay, but what’s going on?
Carrots quickly revert back to their wildly bitter and pine-y ancestry, so we taste every single root of every single generation. Nearly one thousand of them! We’ve been especially choosy with Dulcinea, our new Fruition-bred variety, selecting (among other traits) for seriously exceptional flavor. What else matters, in the end?
So yes, we harvested the carrots and tucked them in our root cellar, soil still on to optimize their storage. To taste them, we wash the bottom few inches of each root and then slice away, cutting on a bias so each root (marvelously called ‘stecklings’ when they’re for seed rather than eating...!)...
published in the Small Farms Journal, Winter 2019-2020
By Petra Page-Mann
They told you to order from the catalog. To plant in tilled soil. To get big or get out. To dig in, to fit in, to simply follow the instructions on the package.
They promised you yield and markets, profitability and prosperity, stability and security, if you would just do what you’re told.
They sold you big tractors with bigger debt and small, patented seeds, a certain social grace with less than a living wage.
Now we know: We reap what we sow.
In the last century, farmers and their communities have been uprooted from our ten-thousand-year legacy: The seeds themselves. As seeds have moved from commons to commodity, it is no longer common to find a farmer growing their own seed, much less involved in any breeding process.
Yet we are.
With every bite.
I was tempted to share 'seeds to never transplant,' yet never is such strong, dominating language.
There is always more than one way to do things.
In fact, we transplant some of these seeds...
...but only because it keeps our lives more simple ...
...not because the plants prefer it.
So yes, it's true, there are some seeds whose sensitive root systems simply prefer to grow where they're planted. Planting them in soil blocks, cow pots or peat pots is always an option --- just be sure you're transplanting them as soon as seedlings emerge from the soil.
It's counter-intuitive, I know, but directly sowing these seeds in deliciously warm soil after final frost will surround you with earlier and more abundance than their transplanted kin, even in short seasons. Planting them earlier is simply not an equation to get an earlier harvest.
The cucurbit botanical family includes zucchini, summer & winter squash, melon, &...
Don't judge a book by its cover...
...or a carrot, either :)
Friends, Fruition has just released a new carrot variety, Dulcinea, though I must warn you: She is orange, long and tapered. At first glance, she is simply a carrot. But she's so much more. And if we've done our work well, Dulcinea will outlast us by countless generations.
Some fruits and vegetables we know by name: Granny Smith apple, Sugar Snap pea, Sungold Tomato, Cafe au Lait dahlia.
But most varieties are anonymous in our gardens and at the grocery store, the nameless commodity that fits our quintessential assumption of what is romaine lettuce, what is an onion. This is basil, this is butternut squash. There are hundreds of varieties any carrot could be, but many of us simply recognize it as a carrot. Nonetheless, every carrot has a name.
You may not have heard of 'Bolero' carrot before, but you've most likely eaten it many times. Bolero is classic...
Freshly dug carrots, brilliantly sweet and oh so crunchy, are among the most rewarding moments of my childhood garden.
I especially loved the carrots twisted, spiraling around one another.
Indeed, my first carrots were darling but would never have flown at a farmer's market. It's true: Straight carrots that are long strong are impressively challenging to grow, so often surrounded by weeds and accompanied by frustration.
A word to the wise: If you don't prepare your soil well, nothing else matters.
Carrots love deep, rich, well-drained soil, the looser the better. If you're not tilling, snag a fork and work the soil well at least eight inches down, incorporating organic matter like compost or our granular, slow-release organic fertilizer throughout the soil. Light, loose soil encourages...
In our gardens and in our lives, timing is everything.
And Friends, it is so easy to start seeds way too early.
My dear friend Sal and I created a planting calendar for you to help nail your timing this season!
It's counter-intuitive, but plants started too early often get stressed (too little light, too few nutrients) and thus produce later and less abundantly than younger plants that are less stressed.
So hold your horses, dear Friends!
And here is our calendar for Zones 4 through 6 to keep you on track:
Each online order this season will receive one of our planting calendars, as well :)
You'll find a ton of information on this chart and each of our packets are mini-encyclopedias of information, as well. In addition to longer growing instructions, there is a quick reference tab with some pretty handy advice to have at arm's length. You'll find plant spacing after thinning, whether to direct sow or transplant (or both), days to germination, when to sow and seeding...
Friends, sowing well-adapted varieties makes organic gardening SO much easier.
In any size garden, on any scale farm.
Container gardens, especially.
Two main factors:
How much space does this variety take up? Some varieties are more compact than others, making them more optimal for container gardening.
Will this variety thrive with less than optimal nutrients and less even watering? Both are realities of most container gardens, so starting with resilient seeds makes all the difference.
I grew up in my father's garden here in the Finger Lakes, where we planted all kinds of vegetables, flowers, and herbs in old wine barrels that had been cut in half. Our main gardens were in the soil, but I had a particular fondness for our wine barrels lining our walkway, spilling over with parsley and marigolds, lettuce and peppers. Just like our dogs delight when we returned home, so happy to greet us, our...
Each year we trial new varieties and develop new ones, harvesting their seeds and tucking in packets to share with you!
With each season we learn more about our seeds, ourselves, our soil, our community and our climate. Most seed companies are simply repackaging seed they've bought wholesale on the commodity market, which doesn't eliminate all the variables by any means, but it does greatly reduce their risk of not having seed in their packets.
The seeds in our packets is largely harvested on one of Fruition's four farms; we also collaborate with over a dozen talented organic seed growers to bring you the highest quality seed we can source.
And Friends, we don't always reap what we sow. Though we grew a glorious bed of Lime Queen zinnias this summer, persistent rain brought powdery mildew early to her leaves and filled her seedheads with millions of spores instead of seeds. (Thank goodness our Zinderella Peach zinnias, below, were a...
Our gardens are a lush jungle in the hot, hot sun as baby birds learn to fly across the fields and our dogs find respite under zucchini leaf umbrellas.
As we harvest heads of lettuce, rows of beets, pull out peas and feed bolting cilantro to the chickens, we're sowing seeds so the abundance doesn't stop. Our season is short, so we've got to make the most of it! Succession sowing is the genius, seamless transition of one crop to the next, amplifying your abundance all season long.
In July, following our harvest of peas, carrots, beets, garlic and lettuce, here is what we are succession sowing, between dips in the pond:
You have so many options!
The good news: Greens don't require tons of fertility, so don't hesitate to plant lettuce where you just harvested lettuce.
The bad news: not all greens thrive in the heat, so be sure you're planting those that will. Nonetheless, options abound:
Once final frost has come and gone and the nights are consistently above 50 F, the soil is finally warm enough for the crops that thrive in the heat of summer.
Some of them, like tomatoes and ground cherries, absolutely must be started 6 to 8 weeks prior to final frost to have any chance of surrounding you with abundance in short seasons.
Others, like basil and cosmos, will surround you with abundance whether you transplant or direct sow them.
Here, friends, are the crops whose fragile, sensitive root systems despise being transplanted. When direct-sown, they'll grow faster and fruit earlier, increasing your harvests significantly. (If you must transplant them, be sure to follow the tips on peat/cow pots and soil blocks at the bottom of the list.)
A brush up on botanical Latin! The Cucurbit family classically sprawls and is slightly spiny, including everything from summer squash to winter squash, cantaloupe to cucumber.
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.