Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seeds and Roots

Yesterday I spent all day working with seeds and roots.

Cornell Cooperative Extension held a morning workshop for farmers right at the building I happened to be distributing the root shares at later that day. What great luck! And the weather smelled of summer.
The workshop was led by researchers at Rutgers University, who brought out their fancy machines for hot-water treating seeds -- I learned all about bacterial plant pathogens, and watched a slide show loaded with scary pictures of cabbage diseases and tomato canker. Apparently if you pre-soak your seeds in 120 degree water, you reduce your risk of bringing plant diseases into your field! What's the deal with seed companies giving us pathogens with our seeds anyway? Well, the more we demand clean seed, the more they will provide I guess. It's always a race though to keep up with the changes in the vegetable farm ecosystem, especially now with the wacky climate changes starting to happen.
So we as organic farmers need all the help we can get keeping our plants healthy and strong. I brought to the workshop all the tomato, pepper, and broccoli-family seeds for the whole season and they got to have a nice long dip in the hot tub! It took us hours to make and label these screen packets to hold the different varieties (I grow so many different kinds!) Then we laid them out to dry. Not long, little seeds, your chance to grow will come.
As for roots, Luke & I loaded 3 heavy pallets of carrots, beets, parsnips, and rutabagas from the warehouse (our giant root cellar) onto his pick-up truck, and distributed them from the parking lot to 120 people! 20 lbs of roots for each root-share = 2,400 lbs, that's over a ton! I like to imagine a hundred trays of roasted root veggies coming out of people's ovens and nourishing them through these late-winter nights. Someone just emailed me this photo of Ms. Rutabaga:
And I took the photo below, as I stood here and realized that the entire farm fit in just these few boxes sitting on the dining room table. Food for over 300 families for half the year, just throw on the ground and add water! What incredible potential a tiny seed has. A whole pallet of carrots, and the seed could fit in one hand.
I think this is a really pivotal point in the season, getting to see all these delicious roots that are still crisp and sweet from last fall, and all these thousands of tiny seeds that will be the sweetness of this summer. The circle is almost overlapping.

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