Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Winter Carrots

Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch write a lot about winter carrots. Before last year I NEVER had any luck growing carrots so when I first read his descriptions, I was just plain jealous. And hopeless. Would I have to drive to his farm in Maine for the experience of eating a winter carrot harvest?

This summer we grew a good crop of carrots. They weren’t all perfect (see our post on Fruita Feia), but we kept on trying. Planting carrot seed late into the summer and early fall as summer beds died off. And I’m so glad we did! After a few hard frosts, I  can honestly say I have eaten the BEST carrots of my life. Extra sweet and super crispy. Like NOTHING you’ll find in the store.

Next year I hope to have a continuous supply.


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Winter Harvest Report

Officially, it’s only been winter for 8 days, but it’s felt like winter around here for at least a month.

We last reported from the field November 11th, seven weeks ago, which is a pretty long time in the life of a plant. Especially at this time of year with overnight highs as low as 10 and as high as 50.

So, what does it look like out there now?

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Pretty brown from a distance. But up close, and under that plastic caterpillar, also known as a “low tunnel”. . .

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It’s wet, warm, and things are still growing. This must be what it feels like inside a terrarium. We haven’t watered since September.

The arugula and chard have died back, the spinach has slowed to nearly nothing, the kale, mustard, scallions are slow and small but still producing. The tatsoi is still remarkably happy and wins, hands down, the prize for best cold climate producer.

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The  carrots are sweet, crisp, and beautiful. Cora and I dug some up for Christmas dinner. (I used the most crooked fruta feia we found to make a soufflé – saving the long slender roots for raw snacking – and it was delicious.)

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One really incredible surprise has been the herbs. Oregano and parsley are still doing well, and cilantro is still standing if looking a bit puckered.

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It’s about time to get planning for the 2015 season in earnest. These experimental beds will certainly play a role.


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What’s in Your Basket: Fruta Feia

Back in May, I read a great article in The New York Times  (Minder, 2014) about a movement in Europe called Fruta Feia, or Ugly Fruit. It is an example of food politics at its finest. One part economic, one part environmentalist, one part social justice. “It has taken off with hard-pressed consumers, won applause from advocates outraged by Europe’s skyrocketing food waste, and provided a backhanded slap to overweening European Union rule makers. In its own way, it has even quietly subverted fixed notions of what is beautiful, or at least edible.”

One of the founders declared her mission, ““to break the dictatorship of aesthetics, because it has really helped increase food wastage.”  Or sense of beauty is not based solely on how we experience things through our senses – a detailed mosaic, a rich chocolate cake, an earthy perfume. It’s about our knowledge of how those things came to be.

This is all coming to mind as we harvest our carrots. We’re getting some nice straight ones, but we’re also getting a whole bunch that look like DSC_0038this.

None of them are going to be going to waste.

I’m imagining a platter of them roasted with herbed butter or something like that.