Among market gardeners and locavores there has been much talk of season extension. Over the years at Fleur-de-Lys, we’ve seen the fall season last longer, thanks to row covers, experimenting with new crops, and just thinking a little differently. And, we’ve seen the spring start earlier, thanks to row covers, experimenting with new crops, and just thinking a little differently. But the winter of 2009-10 was a milestone. We didn’t just extend the seasons; we bridged them.
In December we were selling garlic, shallots, and potatoes. In January, we were harvesting Belgian endive in the cellar. In February, we were eating pickled Jerusalem artichokes and Poona Kheera cucumbers, and tunneling through the snow to collect our chicken eggs. And in this second week of March – ah, I’m getting ahead of myself.
As I trudged through the snows of January and February, I followed a well-worn path with what you might call tunnel vision. The tail of the Y started at the house and veered right to the barn, where I’d feed and water Griffey and the llamas, double back, and take the left branch of the Y up the hill to the chickens. We’re all creatures of habit, but during the first snowstorm, this path was my survival. With Mr. Magoo in tow, we cut through the first six inches, two big feet and four big paws stomping the fallen snow. Each time we came out that day, we retraced our path, each time just barely visible under the piles of white.
Now, you’ve all heard about the rainbow with a pot of gold at the end. Well, at Fleur-de-Lys Farm we have a new story to tell, about the Y of gold and the rainbow treasure.
During one of the storms, I was snowed-in at my Mother’s house in State College. Paul and Magoo knew the routine, although there was a slight twist to the challenge. We were running out of the feed we store at the coop. From here, the details get a little sketchy. Paul got the kids’ toboggan and began pulling a 50-pound bag of feed up the hill with Magoo. Now Magoo is in his prepubescent-doggie stage with a Bouvier herding instinct and a strong macho dislike for vacuum cleaners, wheelbarrows, and, apparently, a toboggan carrying a bag of feed. When I returned from the weekend, my Y path was traced in golden nuggets of feed. Paul shook his head and said, “Yeah, it reminds me of that fairy tale with the bread crumbs.”
Well, the snow continued to fall on Berks County, but the golden trail re-appeared with each boot and paw print. And then came this second week in March. Slowly the snow melted, but as it melted, the golden path seemed to glow even brighter on the flattened, weather-bleached ground.
Back in August, I planted a patch of Purple Haze, Yellowstone, and orange Royal Chantenay carrots. In December, I covered the carrot patch with a quilt of straw, two inches thick or so, another trick of season extenders. So this week, as the snow pulled its white comforter off the straw quilt, I remembered my bed of carrots, just a few feet from the path of gold. I got my garden fork and carefully inched into the thawing soil, gently prying out my first over-wintered harvest of rainbow carrots.
At Fleur-de-Lys Farm this week: We have a limited supply of snow-kissed rainbow carrots and, if you’re lucky, eggs. It’s been a long winter for the girls, but production is picking up.
Easter Peeps: We’re taking reservations for our rent-a-peeps. Please call (610) 683-6418 or email. This year from March 31 to April 3 at Fleur-de-Lys Farm we are renting pairs of newly hatched heirloom-breed chicks for $40. We provide the box, feed, bedding, and water bottle. You provide a desk lamp for heat and lots of love. The chicks are returned to the farm two weeks later where they are raised as egg-layers.
Sweet Potato Slips: We’re also taking reservations for sweet potato slips, for pickup here at the farm in mid-May. We’re selling 12 slips for $10 and we have orange-flesh sweets: Georgia Jets, Carolina Ruby, Yellow Jewel, and heirloom Centennial. And, we’ll have white-flesh sweets (drier, tasting like roasted chestnuts): Red (the skin) Japanese, and heirlooms Nancy Hall, and White Triumphs.
Food System Inspiration from Chef Jamie Oliver: My chef-nephew Wille introduced me to Jamie with the gift of a cookbook a few years ago. Others are recognizing Chef Jamie’s talents and his desire to encourage good, nutritional eating. Check this out:
Good Egg: Barbara sent me this link, saying she just took a pledge to “Eat good. Do good everyday.” ongoodeggproject.org. For every pledge, America’s egg farmers will donate one egg to feed the country’s hungry, up to one million eggs! I followed suit, and hope you will too. Eat good and do good, every day. Laurie Lynch