Jones Valley Farm

Location: Wisconsin, United States

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Offerings

"The Spring visiteth not these Quarters so timely. Summer imparteth a verie temperate heat, recompencing his slow fostering of the fruits with their kindly ripening. Autumne bringeth a somewhat late harvest. In Winter we cannot say the Frost and Snow come verie seldome and make a speedie departure." Richard Carew, The Survey of Cornwall,1602.

This long hard winter has not only given me a bad case of cabin fever but also more time than usual to research new seed sources and crops to grow. From a small seed company in Bali, Southern Italy, I have secured seed of the following vegetables:

Lampascioni (wild onions from Puglia); Actually the bulb of a wild hyacinth, people wax eloquent over the taste of these fried in olive oil, stewed etc..

Cimi di Rapa Leccesse (broccoli raab); This rapini forms a very large head said to be as big as your fist.

Cucumber Melon Barese; This cucumber exhibits a thick, white, sweet flesh with melon undertones that I wish more people would try.

Escarole Cardoncella Barese; A regional variety escarole from Bari that has very long, thick, crunchy stems. It is great for those who love escarole stems.

Sedano Gigante Dorato; Golden yellow, very large celery with sweet and tender stalks. If you are used to supermarket celery and have never tried Italian types, you are in for a real taste treat.

Cauliflower of Macerata; Great tasting Southern Italian specialty with a green head. Nice cooked with pasta.

Fava Bean Precoce Violetto; A choice fava direct from Italy, it's pods contain beans that become brilliant violet when ripe.

The large colorful seed packets of these Italian vegetables sure offer some relief from cabin fever as I gaze upon them spread out on my living room floor. Soon the first plantings in my greenhouse will begin. Also, our thanks to all of you who haved continued to shop at our market stand during our difficult transition from the Hilldale Farmers Market to the Dane County Farmers Market. Jean and I look forward to seeing all of you soon!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

We Love Weeds

"A farm is always in some kind of tizzy." Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
As an organic grower my main goal is to provide organic matter to the soil to feed the soil organisms, which in turn break the stuff down and release nutients that plants use. For years I have struggled with finding a window of opportunity to plant cover crops to feed the soil, and this year is no exception. Extended periods of wet conditions combined with heat bring forth very aggressive weed growth, which is impossible to keep up with no matter what new scheme I try. After several years of fighting the jungle, I have decided to relax and enjoy the weeds for what they are, free cover crops that provide organic matter for the soil, and I don't even have to plant them. Why fight it? Nature has provided a system. So, if you happen to drive by our farm and you see me with my string trimmer instead of a hoe, just consider me another grower properly humbled by nature. For the market this week we will have the following:

*Italian Dandelion
*Baby Potatoes
*Mangetout Peas
*Pearl Onions
*Lettuce Heads
*Baby Carrots
*Rainbow Kale
*Lacinato Kale

Friday, June 15, 2007

June 16, 2007 Farmer's Market

"There is in fresh green stuff a vitalizing power, as any farmer can see when he turns his cows and colts out to grass, or supplies green stuff to growing pigs or laying hens." Bernarr Macfadden, Physical Culture Cook Book, 1924
Today I dug my first potatoes of the season, and as always, during a heat wave. Usually if the heat extends more than 3 days it raises havoc with production of the fresh green stuff mentioned above. But the good in this process is that soon we will have more varieties of crops to bring to market. Next week we will have two types of peas; rustic petite pois, and a gourmet Korean snow pea. Also Fava beans are not that far away. For the market this week we will have the following:

* Mesclun - 2 types
* Arugula - 3 varieties
* Kale
* Sorrel
* Italian Dandelion
* Mustard
* Spadona Chicory
* Lettuce heads
* Turnips
* Beets
* Pearl Onions
* Baby Red Potatoes
* Rapini
* Lavender
* Garlic Scapes

Thanks everyone for your support, see you at the market!

Friday, June 1, 2007

June 2, 2007 Farmers Market

"Among al herbest, non hath so good juyce as lettyse. It doth sette a hotte stomake in very good temper, maketh good appetite, and eaten in the evenynge provoketh slepe. It provoketh mylke in a woman's breastes, but it abateth carnall appetite. Sir Thomas Elyot, The Castel of Helthe, 1534. June and September are the best months for salad greens for us and this week is no exception. This is the first harvest of the season of our Nicoise salad mix. Based on the wild mesclun of the Nicoise (Southern France) region, these savory once-wild greens are an aquired taste for those whole value their bitter palate. At the market this week we will have:

*Italian Dandelion
*Red Russion Kale
*French Sorrel
*Butterhead Lettuce
*Mangetout Peas
*Baby Turnips
*Nicoise Mesclun

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May 26, 2007 Farmer's Market

"Spring is the most busy and hurrying season of any in the year." Samuel Deane, The New England Farmer, 1790. Well, it seems things have not changed at all on the farm since 1790. Anyways, the Memorial Day weekend usually finds us with our heaviest workload during the growing season. Our cold, deep valley soils are finally warming up enough to begin transplating out the summer crops, plus we are starting to find significant amounts of items to harvest. For the market this week
we will have the following:
*French Sorrel
*Baby Carrots
*Baby Beets
*Mini Romaine Lettuce
*Mini Butterhead Lettuce
*Fresh Lavender
*Arugula- 3 types
*Italian Dandelion
*Mangetout Peas
*Southern Curled Mustard

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Winter Gardening

"The pleasure of year-round gardening is one of the greatest tranquilizers there is. In a world filled with tension and frustration, you can enter your greenhouse, close the door, and shut yourself away from all the world's problems. There's something soothing about firming seeds in the soil and tending plants under glass while raindrops and snowflakes fall against the panes." George and Katy Abraham, Organic Gardening Under Glass, 1975.
Today was sunny and mild so I went to the greenhouse to see what had survived the single digit low temperatures of the previous week. Winter gardening in an un-heated greenhouse is somewhat new to me, so I was not sure what to expect. Several of the greens I planted are capable of withstanding a solid freeze, then when thawed on sunny days show no sign of damage and are perfectly fine to harvest. I found enough varieties to make a nice mesclun and also dug some very sweet carrots.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Break Time

"I cannot conceive the Spring of lands that have no Winter. I take my Winter gladly, to get Spring as a keen and fresh experience." Odd Farmwife, The Old Farmhouse 1913
The most enjoyable gardening activity for us this time of year is to look through all the new seed catalogs. Some new cultivars we will try in 2007 include: Marconi Romano beans from Italy, an oriental okra, a tiny rustic pea known as "Pois Peas" in France, "Artichoke of the Aristocrats", the "Infamous" pearl onion from Europe, and a gourmet heirloom sweet pepper from Spain that is reputed to be a culinary masterpiece. We are also working on improving our mid-summer mesclun by growing more heat tolerant items. It has become more difficult over the years to produce a mid-summer salad mix. I hope these varieties will help.