potatoes and onions, done

I spent last weekend in New York with my brother and some friends.

union square market

union square market

New York is always full of fabulous food experiences. 

I spent a while wandering around the crowds at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. 

Last time I was there, in April, all of the stands were still in the cleaning out of winter reserves mode.  Apples, mushrooms, sprouts, canned goods, meat, cheese… Not a whole lot of plant freshness. 

This week was drastically different.  The stands were bursting forth with a wide range of cultivated and wild greens, transplants for the urban home gardener, and lots of asparagus.  One of my favorite parts was that the food tasting of the week, which is put on by the Greenmarket (Council on the Environment of NYC), was ramps.  Some folks were handing out free samples of a cous cous and ramp dish.  Ramps are truly spring superstars.  

nyc urban garden

nyc urban garden

I also got to help my brother design some planters for his fire escape.  He doesn’t do much cooking, so it didn’t make sense to incorporate edible plants, so we picked out some pretty leafy greens and flowers.  Next time I go, I’ll bring some herbs for lovely smells.  It felt so nice to be getting my hands dirty and supporting some green life on a fire escape, four floors up in the middle of Manhattan. 

This week was a big planting week up here in Northampton.  We spent a good two days putting all of our onion starts in the ground:  Ailsa Craig, Prince, Copra, Redwing, plus a variety of shallots.  Four inches apart, three rows, three three hundred foot beds, done.  We planted the onions into black plastic, which is a somewhat ironic technique used in organic farming,but it’s incredibly helpful.  The black plastic absorbs more heat, retains moisture, and also suppresses weeds.  Also, the material that we’re using this year is corn-based instead of petroleum-based (I guess then it’s not actually plastic), and therefore, will supposedly biodegrade into the soil at the end of the season.  We’ll see how it all goes down. 

potatoes 1We also had a huge potato planting day.  Ben and Matt configured a fantastic digging and fertilizing system on the Cub (one of our tractors), that consisted of a shallow digging subsoiler that made a trench, and Matt standing on the back of the tractor dropping fertilizer into the trench.  After cutting two oz sized potatoes of red, white, yellow and blue varieties, we dropped them into the trenches at about nine inches apart and covered them up. 

Have you ever wondered how potatoes grow?  You know how they have eyes?  Well, each eye is a sprout, and once in the ground, the sprouts shoot up and produce leaves that send down shoots and grow more potatoes.  To grow potatoes, you plant potatoes.  I love it when life is so simple. 

potatoes 3

potatoes 2There’s more, yes, there’s more.  Our wonderful neighbor friend, Ed, is a fabulous wild asparagus hunter.  He has some land down in the meadows (where we planted our potatoes) and he knows of a few abundant patches.  I’ve been asking him all about it, trying to get him to help out my hunting, but it’s hard to get details.  People can get a little bit territorial when it comes to wild food hunting.  I kind of like it. 

Anyhow, the day we were planting potatoes he showed up with a large handful of asparagus for Danya and I.  At lunch, we sauteed them up with some garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Delicious. 

I can’t stop writing this week without mentioning our abundant greenhouse.  It’s so beautiful.  Full of broccoli, kale, lettuces, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, celery and celariac… Everything is just exploding as we’re entering the biggest transplanting time of the season.

greenhouse bounty

greenhouse bounty


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