The Planting Process: Peppers and Tomatoes

Because of multiple flooding events this winter and near-constant rain, our spring planting schedule has been delayed significantly. The soil has just been too wet. Even in the greenhouses, the water table was near surface level until recently. Thankfully, the sun finally decided to come out for a few days last week, and we got a ton of much-needed planting done both inside and out of the greenhouses.

Last Friday, the crew planted a small greenhouse with jalapeños and ancho peppers. The pepper plants were beginning to outgrow their cells and needed to get into the ground before becoming root-bound.

Before planting, the crew laid down plastic mulch over lines of drip irrigation tape. One person measured out two rows per bed and poked small holes in the plastic at one-foot intervals.

Another person carried trays of peppers down the rows and gently placed a pepper plant next to each hole.

The rest of the crew followed behind the plant layer downer (in this case, Palemon), and proceeded to plant the peppers in the ground.

The planter used his (or her) fingers to open the pre-poked hole in the plastic.

He pushed the drip irrigation tape toward the middle of the bed, so it will stay close but not too close to the plant.

He plunged a trowel into the soil and pulled it forward to create a hole for the plug to fit into.

He pulled out the trowel and then used an additional scoop of soil to fill in around the plant.

Speed and efficiency are important in the planting process, but each plant must get a good start in the ground in order to yield well later.

Planting each pepper takes less than a minute, but hundreds of peppers fit in one greenhouse and thousands (millions?) of vegetable and fruit starts are transplanted into the ground each year, so it adds up to a very large number of labor hours.

These jalapeños plants will hopefully bear a large amount of hot peppers, which will be sold wholesale to Organically Grown Company for distribution around the Northwest or to our friends at Sweet Creek Foods who will pickle them and sell jars of pickled peppers.

Peppers love heat, so after the crew finished up planting, they shut up the ends of the greenhouse. On sunny spring days, we open up the greenhouse ends for ventilation, but we close them up every night and leave them shut on cloudy days.

After planting all the hot peppers, the crew moved on to a neighboring greenhouse to plant tomatoes. This greenhouse got planted with two beds of red romas and two beds of yellow romas.

Like with the peppers, one crew member dropped a plant next to each hole. Indeterminate tomatoes such as these are spaced at three-foot intervals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A planter (in this case, Macario) gouged his trowel in the ground, pulled the plant out of the pot, and placed it into the hole, making sure to keep the graft line on the stem above the soil. Because the graft is so low on the stem, the plants can’t be planted very deep, and the tall, lanky foliage is a little floppy. Later trellising will straighten the plants out.

Planting tomatoes takes a little longer than planting peppers because they’re more fragile, and the crew members have to remove each start from a pot.

Hopefully, these pepper and tomato plants will begin to produce ripe fruit by July.

For more info on which varieties of peppers and tomatoes Gathering Together Farm has planted this year, read more here (peppers) and here (tomatoes).

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for April 17-20

We’ve got a few new things for sale in the farm stand this week including Ana Patty’s homemade mocha Oreos, first-of-the-spring rhubarb, and bok choy.

Lunch Menu (subject to change based on availability.)

to start:

country pâté and pork rillette with baguette and mustard
grilled raab and duck liver mousse crostini
salt cod fritter with caper salsa verde

 

mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
GTG salad with smoked speck, pear, and pumpkin-seed vinaigrette

 

tomato soup with artisan bread
parsnip soup with artisan bread
 

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
bacon/kale/tomato/mozzarella
mushroom/olive/tomato/mozzarella
pesto/coppa/tomato/mozzarella
 

secondi:

ricotta agnolotti, pea shoots, and ricotta salata
pork ragú with orecchiette
savory bread pudding with kale raab
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
GTF brodetto
chicken galantina with beet risotto and roasted turnips
 
country pâte and pork rillette with baguette and mustard

savory bread pudding
savory bread pudding with kale raab

creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
chicken galantina with beet risotto
chicken galantina with beet risotto and roasted turnips
real potatoes for our famous potato doughnuts
Ana Patty (pastry chef) is working on something good.

 

Views Around the Farm Stand + Dinner Menu for April 12-13

We’re serving dinners at the farm stand every Thursday and Friday night from 5:30-8:45. Reservations are strongly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dinner Menu (This is actually the April 12 menu, but it will be very similar tonight, April 13.)

to start:

salumi platter
trio of little salads
crunchy trotter terrine with potato salad
animelle gratinata with mushroom and parsnip
 
creamy beet soup
mushroom-parmesan soup
 
GTF greens with almond, beet, blue cheese, and balsamic
GTF greens with cranberry, goat cheese, and red wine dressing
 

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
kale/mushroom/tomato/mozzarella
pesto/prawn/garlic/mozzarella
 

secondi:

rockfish/crepe/carrot/chard/watercress/pea shoots/ pumpkin seeds
lava lake lamb/tomato/leek/kale/arugula pesto
flat iron/smashed potato/carrots/rutabaga/black olive aïoli
duck breast/carrot puree/ raab/golden raisins
 

libations:

a variety of wines from Spindrift CellersLumosTyee Wine Cellars, and Pheasant Court Winery
a variety of beers from Deschutes Brewery and Oregon Trail Brewery
iced tea
lemonade
coffee 
 

to finish:

chocolate banana custard tart with chantilly
apple rhubarb crisp with ginger ice cream
crème brulée with lemon shortbread
 

Ricky cooks up a fresh batch of tomato sauce for pizzas in our earth oven. The sauce is made from GTF tomatoes frozen at the peak of the season last fall plus leeks, shallots, garlic, and salt.

JC sieves carrot puree.

crunchy trotter terrine

Before every dinner, JC (head chef) sits down with the waitstaff (Tamara on the left, Alison in the middle) to discuss the finer points of the menu. JC defines any unfamiliar culinary terms and describes each dish and its ingredients.

purple potatoes for pizza
a custom pizza request–pesto/mozzarella/leeks/purple potatoes/bacon (not yet added)
lightly pickled carrots for salad garnish

Views Around the Farm Stand + Lunch Menu for March 10-13

warm spinach salad with lardon, polenta crouton, and poached egg

Happy spring, everyone! Finally it’s feeling like things are warming up and drying out, for a little while at least. Last week the farm stand was pleasantly busy, and we just want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who’s patronized the farm stand since we opened in March. Your support at this time of year when our expenses are astronomically high but our income sources are limited, makes a real impact on our bottom line (still in the red but not quite as far in the hole). Other ways that you can help us (and other local farms) get through a difficult spring season include: shopping at winter/early spring farmers’ markets, purchasing a CSA share (more details here), or buying GTF bucks (essentially a gift certificate, but you save 10-15% on all your GTF purchases).

In other farm stand news, our Thursday and Friday dinners were quite well attended last week. (Again, thanks to y’all.) If the trend continues as we hope it does, it won’t be long before our dinner schedule will be entirely filled with reservations made ahead of time. We will serve you if you walk in, and we have room, but your best bet is to make a reservation.

Thursday and Friday Dinners: 5:30-9 pm, call 541-929-4270 for a reservation

creamy watercress soup

The Lunch Menu (subject to change based on availability)

to start:

country pâte and liverwurst with cornichon and mustard
grilled leeks with hard-cooked egg, house bacon, and pumpkin seeds
 
mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette
warm spinach salad with lardon, polenta crouton, poached egg
GTF salad with coppa, candied almonds, and blue cheese with balsamic vinaigrette
 
creamy watercress soup with artisan bread
beet soup with artisan bread
 
grilled leeks with hard-cooked egg, house bacon, and pumpkin seeds
mushroom/spinach/tomato/mozzarella pizza

pizze:

garlic/tomato/mozzarella
house pepperoni/tomato/mozzarella
ham/leek/potato/tomato/mozzarella
mushroom/spinach/tomato/mozzarella
pesto/prawns/tomato/mozzarella
 

All of our pizzas come with a little pile of salad on top.

secondi:

lamb cappellacci with pea shoots
torta di crespelle
creamy polenta with vegetables and poached egg
beet risotto with watercress and balsamic
GTF brodetto
chicken galantina
 
torta di crespelle
torta di crespelle
lamb cappellacci with pea shoots

We’re garnishing with pea shoots. It must really be spring.

Here’s a sneak peak of Ana Patty’s cookies this week: chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, and also sunflower seeds and nuts buried under that pile.

Transplanting Peppers

 

This time of year, the propagation greenhouse is always busy. Head lettuce and various salad mix components are seeded weekly, and there are still plenty of mid and late summer crops sown on a regular basis. The biggest job in the propagation greenhouse this past week involved transplanting many thousands of pepper starts into larger pots (2.5″), so they’d have a bit more room to grow until the soil and climate conditions are ready for them to be planted outside.

Peppers are hand seeded into “200s” (flats with 198 individual cells) and encouraged to sprout in the propagation greenhouse sprouting chamber (see more about our sprouting chamber in this past blog post). When the first cotyledons appear, they’re pulled out of the sprouting chamber and placed on heated tables under grow lights. After about a month, the roots of the pepper plants will more or less fill the cells and start to get cramped for space.

Just filling up almost 300 trays of pots with soil takes a day’s labor for a couple workers. Fortunately or unfortunately, all the dirt work is done by hand. (To learn get our soil mix recipe, see this past blog post.)

Sarah pokes holes for incoming transplants with a gloved finger.

When young pepper starts are ready to transplant, they will readily pull out of cells without damaging the roots.

Sarah plugs the transplant into the hole and gently pushes it into the soil.

She smooths out the soil and adds a little extra where needed. When she finishes a whole tray, she marks it with a labeled popsicle stick and adds it to the table of newly transplanted pepper starts.

Though time consuming, transplanting peppers is not a highly technical job. Like many tasks on the farm, however, it does require a lot of patience and dedication paired with a keen eye for quality control. Mistreatment of the starts or mislabeling of the flats can cause significant losses of both plants and time, so workers must focus on the task at hand from the beginning of the process all the way to the end.

These newly transplanted starts will grow in the propagation greenhouse until the end of May when they can be planted outside in the fields.

These pepper starts are about two months old and were transplanted into bigger pots a month ago. They’re grown under lights to encourage them to bush out to the sides instead of elongating upward. They’ll be in the propagation greenhouse for another couple weeks until greenhouses can be prepped for planting in the ground.

This year, Gathering Together Farm is growing the following varieties of peppers (some in greenhouses, many outdoors):

Sweet Peppers

Jimmy Nardello’s from Seed Savers Exchange

Stocky Red Rooster from Wild Garden Seed

Gatherer’s Gold Sweet Italian from Wild Garden Seed

Golden Treasure from Seed Savers Exchange

Lipstick from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Early Sunsation from Logan Zenner

Admiral from Osborne Seed Company

Gourmet from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Islander from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Red Knight from Osborne Seed Company

King Arthur from Osborne Seed Company

Red Ruffled Pimento from Seeds of Change

Hot Peppers

Serrano del Sol from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Red Rocket from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

El Jefe from Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Corcel from Osborn Seed Company

Highlander from Johnny’s Selected Seeds