Every spring, I remember just how much I love artichokes. They’re a pain to eat, but boy, do they taste good with that earthiness that’s somehow sweet and bitter at the same time. Henry planted a row of artichokes at my parents’ property (that they lovingly refer to as “The Other Place”) a few years back, and now the plants are huge, and the harvest is plentiful. I took home the leftovers that my mom didn’t sell at the farmers’ market on Saturday and proceeded to eat no less than eight artichokes myself, just steamed with nothing on them. I was in heaven.
My parents have been gardening forever, but they started selling their wares at the local farmers’ market the year I was born (30 years ago). Their operation is currently somewhere between an excessively huge garden and a very small farm. They work three or so acres and do more or less everything themselves with occasional help for big events like planting onions or weeding when they get behind. Sometimes I try to compare my own farming experience at Gathering Together Farm to my parents’ program, but that’s not really fair because the scale, the pace, the intensity, and the business models are so totally different.
One of their biggest crops is garlic, and for more than three decades they saved their own biggest cloves and replanted every fall. Last year, they experienced a catastrophic blight, and white rot took out nearly the whole patch. They were afraid that their whole farm was contaminated, and they’d never be able to grow garlic again, but with a few precautions (soaking seed in vodka, burning the fungus-y remains, and trying not to track contaminated dirt to uncontaminated fields), the garlic they planted last fall seems to be coming along okay so far. They did buy in quite a bit of new seed garlic including the ‘Oregon Blue’ in the photo above, but even the small amount of their own variety will be ready to harvest in about a month, so not all is lost.
My parents have a good-sized garden space at their house (see it here) where they grow high maintenance crops , greens that need bunching before the market, and things they themselves like to eat fresh (sweet corn, shelling peas, cherry tomatoes, etc.), but The Other Place is a little less idyllic and a little more production oriented. The fields are larger and much of the ground prep is done with a tractor.
They got onions and potatoes in a couple weeks ago and they won’t put in winter squash until next weekend, so the plan for last Sunday was to plant peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. My dad tilled and set up drip lines ahead of time.
My mom grows all her own plant starts, many of which she sells at the farmers’ market. On Sunday morning, she loaded flats full of starts on the truck to haul over to The Other Place.
Even though I normally just reap the benefits of having farmers for parents by bringing home baskets full of fresh produce without doing any of the work, I set aside the afternoon to help my mom with the planting. (How generous of me, right? Haha) She had a book of notes about how many and what kinds of everything she planted last year, so while she got organized and set out the plants, I started in on the planting.
Each plant start went in next it its own drip emitter.
We were done in a few hours, and then everything got watered in thoroughly. Because my parents don’t lay down plastic mulch and the microclimate of their property is a little cooler than the surrounding area, these plants won’t bare fruit until August, but hopefully they will be prolific. Until then, you can buy a giant cinnamon roll or some basil starts from my mom in her Oven and Earth booth down at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market.