If you've ever scanned a vegetable seed catalog, surely you know the giddy feeling we get every winter of new possibilities--and I admit, a little fear, as well. ("But groundhogs ate all our cantaloupes last year. Can we get it right this time?")
Pushing our hesitancy aside, here's a few things we're trying in 2018:
- Did you know Anne Arundel County has its own melon variety? The Anne Arundel muskmelon should be orange and green on the inside, similar to the Arava melon that we've grown successfully in some past years. Varieties bred for our region are a rare treat, and with luck, this one will be well-adapted to the soil types, plant diseases and pests common to our area (think downy mildew, powdery mildew and cucumber beetles). It's true that cantaloupes are the all-time favorite of groundhogs, which have a thriving population here at Clagett Farm. But we have improved our skills in fencing and trapping, and we think this is our year. Too bad we don't have a Prince George's County melon!
- For over a decade, we couldn't size up a single beet on this farm, but we're getting better. We think the biggest improvement was fertilizing with a little Boron (the same stuff sold as Borax in the laundry aisle of your grocery store). Boron, Nitrogen and Sulfur are all negatively-charged ions in the soil, and are prone to leach deep into the soil and out of reach of our crops when it rains. Over the years, our Boron supply has dwindled to almost nothing, so we're slowly adding it back, little by little, and catching it with organic matter to hold it in place. So this is the year we go a little crazy and try this new variety of striped chioggia beet to test our chops.
- And that last picture is of Christmas lima beans. Normally we prefer bush beans over pole beans, because they are easier to manage and give us a big harvest quickly. But this year we're trying out a few varieties of pole beans, including this beautiful lima. Pole beans are said to taste better, and should produce beans over a longer period of time. U-pick, anyone?
Wish us luck! And better yet, invest in our new season by becoming a 2018 CSA member! We need 250 full-paying CSA members to make this business work. And that means you! Who's going to eat all these lovely vegetables if you don't sign up?