July 17, 2020; Elyse Erdman
Other Contributors: Kirsten Fairs, Lori Lidle, Nina Rovner, and Nora Palmer
The summer is an exciting time for harvesting vegetables and fruits here at the Farm. Now that our Growers are back, they will use harvested goods for their cooking activities, and take some home to share with their families and friends. Cucumbers are one of the Growers’ favorite vegetables because they turn them into pickles! The pickling helps us raise money, as they are sold at different events and daily in the farmhouse. Beansprouts are planted on the Farm for the ducks and the chickens. During the winter months they don’t have access to as much grass, so sprouts provide them with food and enrichment. Broccoli and cauliflower are also grown in the garden. The broccoli and cauliflower, once harvested, can be used for cooking activities, sent home with growers, or frozen for future use. Summer crookneck squash is a bush plant that we grow. They don’t grow on long vines, like most winter squash and pumpkins. This makes them easier to grow in pots and small spaces. Growers wear gloves while harvesting the squash because the stems have small spines which can be irritating to the skin. The fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. The Howden and Jack Be Little pumpkins are two varieties that grow from our compost. The Howden pumpkin is the well-known icon for Halloween. While it is edible, usually only the seeds are eaten as a baked snack. Howden pumpkins are easy to grow, but require sufficient space for the vines to spread. The Jack Be Little on the other hand is one of the world’s smallest variety. They measure up on average at 2 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. This variety of pumpkin is bright orange and completely edible, but is more commonly used for decoration and as miniature Jack O’Lanterns. Watermelon is a delicious summer treat grown for Growers and our animals to enjoy! The Moon and Stars watermelon gets its name because the dark green rind is dotted with bright yellow splotches of varying sizes which resemble the moon and stars in the galaxy. The large fruit can reach up to 40 lbs. and is enjoyed for its sweet, bright red flesh. The Sangria watermelon has a green rind that is striped. It can reach 20lbs or more in weight. The flesh is dark red in color and is well known for its sweet flavor. This watermelon can be directly sown outside and does not need an early start indoors. The cantaloupe melon that we grow have an orange flesh which is sweet and fragrant in smell. We allow melons to ripen on the vine, then can easily remove the fruit when the ripe vines start to crack. Cantaloupes are ripe when the rind turns from green to tan. They can be stored in the fridge but only for a short period of time as it will start to lose flavor and color. We also grow grapes, tomatoes, corn, blueberries, strawberries, herbs, and so much more. This week, we picked some rhubarb that we will freeze and eventually turn into jam!
Our garden markers show what is growing in each of our garden beds so that they can be easily identified by Growers and staff. Growers made the markers themselves for a craft activity using garden rocks, acrylic paint, and paint brushes. They washed off the rocks to remove any mud and soil. They dried off the rocks, selected the appropriate paint colors, painted a white background, and detailed with images of the selected fruit or vegetable. They left the rocks to dry, painted a second coat if necessary, and put the rocks back in the garden!
Our garden is looking beautiful and the produce is turning out great. If you would like to stop by and volunteer in the garden, we would love to see you! If you want to donate to help us purchase equipment, seeds, etc. for the garden please visit our fundraising site!
Hope Springs Farm has many talented staff and friends who contribute to our Blog.