He said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky lodged in its branches.”
On First Fruits Farm the time for tiny seeds has come! Grains so small it’s almost impossible to discern them from the accompanying dirt (!) will grow into collards and kale. Rick describes the process of planting the tiny seeds as first requiring the fields to be prepared, then loading the seeds into the planter. In contrast to the potatoes, these minute seeds are planted just beneath the surface of the soil. So far, about one and a quarter acres are sown. Now it’s a matter of waiting for rain to encourage the seeds to germinate. Most kale and collard seeds will sprout within about 4 days when conditions are just right, so please join us in our prayers for rain!
Kale and collards are part of the ‘cole crop’ family, are are revered for how easy they are to grow and their disease resistance. They’re also among the most nutritious of leafy greens, supplying lots of iron and vitamins. A cup of cooked collards or kale has more vitamin C than an 8 ounce glass of orange juice and more potassium than a banana. And all that for only 55 calories!
Rick says the kale and collards should be harvested in early July, before the weather gets too hot. What keeps these crops to the acreage they occupy is the fact that harvesting is “old-fashioned,” he says, involving a sickle bar. These vegetables also require refrigeration and must be used fresh.
Kale and collards can be simply cut and stir-fried, with olive oil and garlic, for a way to preserve their nutrients and cook them quickly. Tossing the greens after cooking with pasta and a sharp cheese brings them right to the table. Some folks like to cook them with a ham hock for flavor. We welcome any kale or collards recipes you’d like to share.
Other crops that have been sown and are awaiting rain right now include potatoes and onions. Here’s a picture of a volunteer Dad and his young helpers planting onion bulbs:
– Elizabeth Tracey
“The only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you’re a bee…The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey…and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.” Winnie the Pooh
“Eat honey, my child, for it is good.” Proverbs 24:13
At First Fruits Farm, we not only grow vegetables but also maintain beehives to produce honey and beeswax for candle making. While many busy bees are required to keep a hive healthy and active, it is the queen who rules the roost. Sorry for mixing the farm metaphors here….
The past few winters, both the brutal ones and the recent mild one, have not been conducive to beekeeping and the FFF hives have not flourished. The queens flew the coop (there I go again) and the worker bees followed suit. So, Rick ordered twenty more hives and , with the help of Aaron Leininger and Dave Churchill, prepares the bees and introduces them to their new homes.
As you can see, beekeeping is not for the faint of heart and it is critical to wear the appropriate protective gear. There are many resources available to beekeepers, veterans and novices alike. The Central Maryland Beekeeper’s Association and Oregon Ridge Nature Center offer classes and other resources on all aspects of beekeeping.
Dave Churchill separates the bee boxes while Rick Bernstein looks on. Rick and Aaron Leininger introduce a colony to their new hive.