This week marks my third week at Howdy Farm. The weather has been absolutely stunning, but my morning shift can be quite cold! While I am not a big fan of being outdoors in this cool weather, Corey was pleased as many of the plants we are growing, such as radicchio, require cold temperatures. Despite the cool mornings, I find I am surrounded by the colors of the rainbow from bright orange carrots to the fuchsia of rainbow chard and purple radicchio. Radicchio has white veins that provide stark contrast to its deep purple-red leafs, and can commonly be found in Italian lettuce mixes; it requires frost to lose some of its bitter, spicy flavor.
My experiences at Howdy Farm continue to teach me about my favorite healthy foods around me. This week we harvested rainbow Swiss chard. The stalks are found in brilliant colors such as a sunset yellow, deep orange, and even dark red. The leaves are deep green with many little veins. Because I have never seen a more beautiful harvest of produce than the rainbow Swiss chard, I couldn’t help but buy some to cook up in a pot of soup. The Swiss chard was taken inside and bundled up for the Saturday morning farmers market.
In addition to the Swiss chard, we also harvested carrots. Each carrot plant produces only one carrot below the soil, invisible to sight. The top consists of thin stemmed shoots with small green leaves. We plucked over 15 pounds of carrots out of the rich soil, but a coat of dirt covered the taproots. Upon washing, the layer of dirt washed away to reveal vibrant orange carrots. Those who come early enough to the farmers market Saturday morning will be very lucky to take home some Howdy Farm carrots.
After the washing was complete, Corey lead us to the green house to check on all of the seedlings we planted in the past two weeks. The soft microgreens I felt the previous week grew tremendously. The vibrant green baby leaves of kale, arugula, and mustard greens have begun to resemble their adult leafs. A bite of a mustard green leaf revealed a spicy kick. Corey also showed us the seedling tomato and cucumber plants that will one day wrap around the strings hanging from the walls of the green house. I noticed the cucumber plant had two smooth oval leaves and one pointy leaf. Corey explained the two leaves are cotyledons: the very first leaves that are part of the embryo of the plant prior to germination. The cucumber cotyledons kick start photosynthesis and the growth of the plant. While this knowledge may seem elementary to any horticulture major, as nutrition major I am lucky to learn such details.