Green(s) Market Plans

I went down to Carey’s last night with a friend I stole away from her family to listen to “the boys” (Nick and Owen) play and chat a little.  H’s neighbor Kathy was there–she and her brother took a couple deer from the area–a nice big buck and a doe, so maybe that will cut down a little on our deer damage troubles.

I did cover the row of wild garden kales–they already had a series of cages over their row and I stretched a length of row cover over the top and tucked it under the sides, so hopefully that will give enough protection from cold and drying winds to bring them through the winter.

It’s not really the cold temperatures so much that kills the kale plants, but the winds that dry out the stalks.  Then the deer clip off their tops and they’re done for.  Snow cover usually helps save a few plants, but I’m trying to protect all of them if I can.  They’re growing a lot slower now and I can only pick the small leaves every few weeks. With the row cover on, I’ll have to be pretty hungry for greens to dissembled the cover to get at the plants.

With my decision to quit the CSA for next year, I’m trying to focus on a garden plan that is more about what I want to eat and about what makes money at the market.  Not many people grow greens for market around here–most of the truck farmers do the fruits like squashes and peppers and melons, plus sweet corn, etc.  A lot of those crops take up a lot of room, and so I can’t grow them in the bulk other, bigger growers do.

So, greens will be my big focus.  I can sell a lot of lettuce and spinach and salad mix in the spring–sales usually taper off a bit once the summer crops come in, but then that’s usually the time the greens themselves are tapering off–except those that can survive the summer heat.

For fall I’m interested in greens again, but also in something I’ve noticed there’s a market for, but no one is doing much–ornamentals besides the usual gourds.  Mostly what I’m interested in is things like broom corn–Cromwells brought a little to market this year and last (that’s where I got my seed), but not big bunches like what I want to do.  I love the mixed colors–the reds and blacks and golds and purples.

We had a couple customers show up wanting a big bunch of cornstalks to decorate their yard with.  The older farmers kind of chuckled about that–“You want a big bunch of dried-out cornstalks tied together in a bunch?  You want to give me money for that?  Um, OK.”  I remember we did that when I was little–I was the “expert” on how to do it because I’d read the Little House on the Prairie books.

But overall, I think it would please me greatly to really get into my greens–the Goddess Mix, of course (I need to look up what herbs I used to blend that–it has changed slightly over the last three years), and earlier-seeded kale, plus chard (which I’ve had trouble with–deer and rabbits love it), heads of romaine lettuce, and lots more.  I want to do baby bok choy again because it’s lovely and fun to cook with.

I’m not going to do the red romaine this year because even though it formed nice, big heads, people wouldn’t buy it.  I always ended up with a lot of that left over, while the smaller heads of green romaine and even the speckled ones sold well.  I want to do some more kinds of head lettuce as well–summer crisp maybe (since I do have seed for that), and perhaps some oakleaf.  I’ll do the leaf lettuce–red and green–because that is easy to grow and I can sell it for less–kind of an economy lettuce.

The thing I did last season with the constant starting and re-starting of trays of head lettuce worked out well.  Once I transplanted one tray, I simply brough the tray back home, washed it out, and started another batch in the basement.  By the time the first batch was getting ready to come out, the new seedlings were ready to go in.

Maybe I should change the name of my farm to something more indicative of what I’m planning to do?  Lettuce Head Farms?  Green Acre?

Nah.  I like Flying Tomato.  And it’s not like I’ll quit growing those, no matter what else I bring to market.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve had a similar experience with red romaine. I love it, but I’ve seen folks get weirded out when it’s served, thinking it’s gone bad or something.

    Is dinosaur kale grown around these parts?

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on November 24, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Yes, it’s a shame because I have such a great variety of the red romaine (Cimmaron)–it makes the most gorgeous big tasty heads and is the easiest to start and transplant of all three of the romaines I grew this year. The speckled romaine also “weirds out” some people, but it is different enough that it sells anyhow.

    I didn’t grow the Lacinato “dinosaur kale” this year, but I do still have seeds and plan to grow it next year. It’s actually one of my favorite kales, but I couldn’t resist the wild garden kales from Territorial this season. Those are very strong and wild-tasting, so I’m not sure I will grow them again except for myself.

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