Welcome to the November edition of the Seed Bin - High Mowing Seeds Online Newsletter!
Those of us living and growing here in the North Country have all but said good-bye to the growing season. With regular freezing nighttime temperatures and a couple of good snowfalls under our belts, the only harvests remaining are the hardiest members of the garden: kales and other greens, mulched root crops, and a few other protected stragglers. Fall cover crops have been sown, garlic has been planted, debris and extra plant matter have been built into the compost piles or disposed of, and we northern growers now begin to enter that period of agricultural calm and repose, as we await the pending deliveries of winter weather and seed catalogs, before turning our thoughts toward the spring ahead of us.
This time of calm and repose is diminished every other year by the conclusion of the election cycle. Next Tuesday, millions of us Americans will head out to the polls to do our civic duty of casting our votes, a true liberty hard-fought and hard-won by many of our ancestors. As consumers, however, we cast our votes every day with our dollars, showing our support of companies and corporations – and the causes and ethics they support – by choosing them among a grand diversity of options the modern shopper is offered every day. In some cases, our expenditures may seem insignificant, or involuntary. But for those of us who go out of our way to seek out – and often spend more – for products that reflect our environmentally- or socially-conscious values and beliefs, our dollars do more than put a product in our hands. They extend our support of creating sustainable futures for our children and for children across the world by supporting industries whose visions, if not the same, are at least on the right track. Many major corporations are realizing the “voting strength” and resolve of the conscious consumer, and are capitalizing on this movement by catering to the interests of the public, as can be witnessed by the growth of the organic food offerings on the shelves of your local supermarket. Are these legitimate changes of heart, or just another example of corporate green-washing? That question gets harder to answer with each passing day; what can be said, however, is that the collective action of a large group of conscious consumers voting with their dollars does have an effect on the way business gets done in this world. And that, in turn, brings issues like clean air, land, and water, sustainable family-scale agriculture, healthy working conditions, global climate change, and local economic viability to the table for discussion and recognition. And if that feels empowering to you, think of the difference it will make if all those people went out and voted for representatives that will legislate and administrate in the years to come to address these social and ecological issues that are so often unsung in today’s mass media outlets…So, regardless of your political persuasion, for the sake of those who cannot vote – your watershed, your disenfranchised neighbors, your great-grandchildren yet to be born – and for the sake of those who fought so hard to give you the right, please vote on November 7th.
You will find that this month’s Seed Bin is a little bit shorter than average. This is because we here at High Mowing Organic Seeds are in full swing preparing our 2007 Catalog, which is due to be delivered by early December. Preparing our catalog is a huge annual undertaking, involving a delicate process of evaluating field trials, germination test results, product supplies, layout requirements, and more, to be able to offer the most comprehensive selection of the highest quality 100% certified organic seed at the best possible price in an easy-to-navigate, informative, and attractive display. We appreciate your patience as we maintain our focus on this important project, and look forward to getting the results in your hands shortly. In the meantime, relax and enjoy another monthly installment of HMS Farm Manager Charlie Rowland’s Farm Report, an answer to a question on harvesting lettuce seed in November’s Ask the Grower feature, and some great ideas on how to turn the enigmatic rutabaga into a culinary delicacy.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to vote!
In This Issue:
- On-The-Farm Rundown from HMS Farm Manager Charlie Rowland
- Ask the Grower
- Web-Only Specials Page at Highmowingseeds.com
- Recipe of the month, and more!
On-The-Farm Rundown - November 2006
by HMS Farm Manager Charlie Rowland
The season is so close to being over, we can smell it in the rain and snow that we have had over the past two weeks. Yes, it has been bitter cold, with a lot of mixed precipitation, but we are almost done with the last of the harvest with just two cucurbits still in the field, and a few lingering crops at the warehouse waiting to get processed. The only worry out there, really, is the soybean and golden rocky wax bean crops that have not had any sunshine to dry them out for harvest. Hopefully, we will get some sun soon, although the forecast for the next week doesn’t look very promising.
I would like to take some space in my monthly report to say thanks to my crew and to everyone who has helped out this year on the farm. I could not have done it with out you! We have had a rough growing season of rain, rain, and more rain. At times it has been frustrating, but to the ones who hung in there through it all, way to be tough!
So with the season slowing down and the end in sight, you must wonder what this freaky farmer does in the winter. Well, I am reaping my own harvest soon; three weeks from now, I will be having my first child! I have a wonderful 14-year-old stepdaughter, but this baby will be my first. So, most of the winter I will be spending time at home, enjoying my new gift of life and catching up on some much needed rest, so I can return next season raring, ready, and willing to go. There will be a lot of planning, ordering products, deciding what will be grown and were these crops will go. There will also be a few conferences to attend, such as the NOFA-Vermont winter conference; I am also planning on attending the Eco-Farm conference in California this January. So if you’re planning on attending either of these two events, hopefully we’ll see you there!
With winter right around the corner, I can say we did not have the best year. Yields were down from projected numbers due to weather, but at the same time, we brought in a good amount of seed, and figured out ways to do it better next year. We did produce our first hybrid seed crops that will be sold in the new 2007 catalog, which is expected to reach your door by early December. These hybrids were the Sunkist Orange Tomatoes and the Sweet Dumpling Winter Squash. We had fun creating these fruits, and now that we know that we can produce them, we look forward to doing more hybrid varieties in the future. The Field Days that we held on the farm this year were a huge success, and we really appreciated the feedback from the local growers who attended this year. If you missed coming to the farm this summer, we will be holding more Field Days in 2007, so keep your eyes on the website and your e-mailbox for breaking news of dates on those and other upcoming events.
Well, it’s early in the morning and the crew has all arrived to harvest the soy bean trials for the Vermont Soy Company
, so I must venture out into the chilly Northeast air. So until next time, I’ll see ya'll in the fields.
Ask The Grower
This month, HMS Research and Development Assistant Heather Jerrett answers the question:
I have been growing some lettuce and wanted to collect the seeds. Is it best to allow the flower stalks to dry completely on the plant or can you remove the stalk and allow it to dry in the air and then try to harvest the seeds?
Lettuce is a little tricky, as it needs to stay pretty much completely dry. We grow ours under hoop houses here in the Northeast. What we have done in the past is to pull the plants, with the roots intact, and bring them indoors to finish. When harvesting plants, try to remove most of the dirt, and avoid getting soil near the seed pods, as this is where fungus and bacteria live that could interfere with seed maturity and/or health. Lettuce seed pods are sensitive to high temperatures as well, so keep the temp under 90°F; sunshine is fine, but watch the heat. Good Luck!
Have a burning gardening question? A pesky path problem? A vexing marketing quandry? Send us your questions, and we'll get you answers! We will publish one of your questions, with an answer given by one of the experienced growers on our staff, in each issue of the Seed Bin.
Send your questions to
, and please write "Ask the Grower" in the subject line.
Take advantage of great deals on great seed! Maybe there was an inventory adjustment or an overstock, or maybe we just want to promote a favorite variety. Whatever the reason, save 20% on these discounted seeds when you order online at www.highmowingseeds.com
- but order now, because the sales won't last! Just add the varieties to your cart, and your discount will be applied automatically when you checkout. And yes, all sizes of the featured products are on sale, so the more you buy, the more you save! But remember, the products are only available on sale for a limited time, so buy now before the sale ends.
Recipe of the Month
If you are one of those gardeners that loves to put food away, one of the best crops for bulking up your root cellar is the rutabaga. Are you a CSA grower wondering how to convince your customers that, no, it isn't a giant turnip? Looking for some inspiration for the cull fruit that won't keep until 2007? Follow the guidance of the recipes below for ways to elevate the rutabaga from "weird root" status to a culinary kingpin!
Variations on Rutabagas
Six quick and easy ways to eat a rutabaga! This is a great place to start learning how to work with this terrific root.
1 large Rutabaga, peeled and cubed into very small pieces
In Dutch oven, cover rutabaga pieces with water to cover plus about 2 inches over. Bring to boil, then cut heat to keep at a simmer until rutabaga pieces are tender. Using slotted spoon, remove rutabaga pieces and set aside; set the rutabaga water aside to save.
1. The rutabaga pieces can be mashed to serve as a vegetable with a meal (add salt, herbs and/or butter to your liking).
2. Leftover mashed rutabaga can be mixed with leftover mashed potatoes (half and half) to be made into potato pancakes (mix a little milk in with the spuds and bagas, form into patties, gently fry on both sides).
3. Rutabaga pieces may be frozen in containers to add to homemade soup (freeze in 1-cup containers for handy future use).
4. The water the rutabaga was cooked in is rather flavorful. Use it as the liquid to add to your pan scrapings for making gravy. Again, freeze in 1-cup containers for future use.
5. This water is also good added to homemade soup. Another reason to keep a frozen supply on hand.
6. Rutabaga French fries - - just peel and slice like potatoes for deep frying like French fries. Cooking time varies with size of deep fryer and the size of your fries, so you would have to experiment with that aspect.
Maple Rutabaga With Cranberries
Unlike turnips, with which they are often confused, rutabagas have a delicate, sweet flavor, which is highlighted in this dish by the sweetness of maple, and contrasted by the tartness of cranberries.
4 pounds rutabagas
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon (each) salt and pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries; coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter; melted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Peel rutabagas cut into cubes. In large saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook rutabagas for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to pot.
With potato masher, mash with maple syrup, butter, salt and pepper. Stir in cranberries. Spread in 11x7 inch baking dish. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours; add 15 minutes to baking time.) Bake, covered, in 400 deg.F oven for 30 minutes or until hot.
While baking, prepare the topping: Combine bread crumbs, butter and parsley; sprinkle over top. Broil for about 2 minutes or until golden. Serves 12.
Yankee Pot Roast
This simple-to-prepare, slow-cooking meal-in-a-pot is a winter staple here where the snow falls deep.
4 to 5 pounds beef roast
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 cup water
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup diced rutabaga
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1/4 cup sliced celery with leaves
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste
In Dutch oven or heavy kettle, brown meat on all sides in hot shortening. Sprinkle with salt. Add water and sliced onion. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Add remaining ingredients; simmer for 30 minutes more, or until vegetables are done.
Remove meat and thicken liquid with flour and water paste To thicken: Stir a few tablespoons of water into a few tablespoons of flour and stir until smooth. Stir hot liquid while adding small amounts of flour paste until thickened as desired. Taste and season Yankee pot roast with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8 people.
Read a Previous Seed Bin Issue
Looking for an old article or recipe? You can read old issues of the Seed Bin here
. Please note that Sale items listed in these archival issues are no longer valid.
Let's Make it Better
This is your newsletter, not ours - we just write it. Just as your comments, questions, concerns, and field experience have helped to guide our business in every way, from variety selection to customer service, we rely on your feedback to guide the creation of a publication that is informative, inspirational, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. What would you like to see more or less of? Technical advice? Seed saving tips? Tools and techniques? Information about High Mowing Seeds? We want to give you what you want, so please let us hear from you! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
with your comments, critiques, and questions.
Thanks for reading - and responding!
Charlie Rowland - Farm Editor
Heather Jerrett - Technical Editor
Jacob Racusin - General Editor