I woke up feeling good on Saturday morning, and expecting my brother Nick for the evening. What do you do right before your house guest arrives, when you unexpectedly don’t have a migraine? Because my answer was, “go to the farm to plant broccoli seedlings and harvest curcurbits.” This was instead of my more typical, “scrub the toilet and sweep the cat hair out of the living room.”
I joined Seth’s crew, along with a volunteer, an intern, and two work-for-shares. The process goes something like this: Use the tractor to form beds, then use the dibbler to dibble holes in the ground. Fertilize your seedlings by submerging them in fish fertilizer (not pictured because it looks as bad as it smells) then lay out a seedling at every hole you want planted. Plant the seedlings up to their first sets of leaves. Walk away like a champ.
The farmer’s wife’s supposed to set a good example, right? That’s what I kept telling myself as I hustled. And let me tell you, Seth knows how to get his wife moving. “All the way back there?” he says to me, eyes twinkling, as he’s planting seedlings at the speed of light. I lag by about half a dozen holes. My fingers don’t have quite the single motion of his: dig, push in plant, pinch dirt closed. Of course no one else was affected by Seth’s gentle ribbing. Guess that’s my competitive side coming out.
These broccoli plants will produce right around the start of November. Stearns already has more mature broccolis in another location for an earlier harvest — probably towards the middle of next month. This way, they can stretch their harvest over a longer period of time, which will be nice for people who love broccoli and can’t get enough. AKA me.
Once we were through with the broccoli, we spent our last hour before lunch harvesting and then washing squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. The farmers say that harvesting is an every day chore this time of the year, and I don’t blame them. Leave them on the vine overnight and it’s like each zucchini has an aspiration to become a 2×4. That there is 90 lbs. of cucumbers at the lovely, shady washing station.
My brother joined us on the farm for lunch, and then the two of us headed home for the afternoon, while Seth stayed to weed strawberries with the farm manager. Later, we took the dog to the river. Equally as enjoyable for everyone but the dog, who couldn’t understand why we weren’t spending the entire day outside as usual.