Early Morning

Not that most mornings aren’t early. But today is Friday and Friday is our morning market. We load our trucks close to the marketplace and leave the loading dock around 8. The market officially kicks off at 9. On top of that, our delivery truck makes its rounds to the restaurants around town. That truck loads up shortly after we leave for the market. The farmer always helps to load the trucks, making sure that everyone gets what they need. He is ready, at “the shop” by 7:30.

That’s not so early, you may say. And you are right. But this morning he had a crew of 4 ready to plant more garlic plus transplants of rainbow chard and kale. The crew starts at 6:30 this time of year, soon it will be 7:00,  and for a while even 8:00.  And the field needed its final prepping before the planting could begin. The farmer left here at 6 to groom the chosen spot, running through with a tractor mounted tool that drops organic fertilizer and marks the rows into which the crew will plant. Garlic is planted in rows 16″ on center for later cultivation. Kale and chard get a more generous 24″ with 4 foot aisles that are mowed instead of cultivated. The reason for this is the number of times the crop will be picked and the subsequent mud and compaction created by bare ground through an entire winter and rains.

The California Early White garlic has prompted an experiment. Turns out this garlic, which we counted on for seed (the cloves are called “seed”), is infested with some kind of mite. Rather than tossing it, planting it with the mites or trying to get our hands on some cleaner seed, we decided to try to damp down their population. A little research lead us to putting all the garlic into a large tub to submerge it in a mixture of water, soap and mineral oil. Everything is heated to 120-130 degrees for 15 minutes. Then the wet, hot garlic is planted. We hope for the crop pulls through. We’ll see by next spring.

Customers were faced with a dizzying aray at our loaded market stand. We featured the last of the raspberries and the first of the brussel sprouts (roasting in the oven right now). By far, the most questions from the burdock. Yes it is a little bit of an oddball item, but what a beautiful plant and, living in the wine country, it’s a great idea to sell a liver tonic plant! Additionally, two types of kale, collard, chard, little gems, our infamous salad mix, arugula, savoy cabbage, outrageous, perfect, carrots, celery and celery root, parsnips, kohlrabi, watermelon radishes, turnips, onions, peppers (even padrons!) tomatoes, shallots, garlic and winter squash. Even the last of the melons. We sure eat well. I am so lucky.

And it’s almost 7 pm and the farmer is at a meeting. Still working, 13 hours later. Well, it’s warm in here and there is beer and a good dinner ready. We’re happy. And will certainly sleep well tonight.

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