We Will Work Side by Side

I grew up singing the hymn, They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love, and was particularly fond of the lines we will work with each other, we will work side by side as they represented for me a strong sense of community. Even as a very young girl, I sensed the unity God wants for his children.

On a recent evening in the fields at First Fruits Farm, this idea played out in the simple act of planting cabbage.  A little ingenuity and team work went a long way to maximize efficiency – and save some backs – as you’ll see from the photos and video below.

Gary Fearnow and Bill Riley feed cabbage seedlings into the planter, while Rick Bernstein and Kevin Fabula check for gaps.

Many volunteers work together throughout the year to further FFF’s mission and the Lord continually brings people with open hearts and myriad skills and backgrounds who, when they work together, create a beautiful synergy.  Last week when it was time to get the cabbage in the dirt, the First Fruits Farmers sought to improve upon the old way of doing things which entailed making holes with a stake and setting the seedling in by hand. They had purchased a transplanter on the Eastern Shore and with some minor adaptations could use it as a cabbage planter.  The beauty of the endeavor was that while more efficient, it still requied team work.

Gary and Bill take a short breather while Wes prepares to begin another row.

Dan Millender provides cabbage quality control.

According to the University of Maryland Extension, cabbage can be planted in the spring for summer harvest or in mid-summer for a fall harvest.  Cabbage is very hardy and can survive in temperatures as low as 15 degrees.  Flea beetles and cutworms have been known to plague cabbage, as well as broccoli, cauliflower, collards. FFF has battled with flea beetles in the past, though it’s too early to tell yet what this planting will bring.  While FFF is too vast to farm organically with its current part-time volunteer staff, one alternative to pesticide application is a dusting with food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Cabbage comes in several varieties including green, Savoy, red, Napa, bok choy and brussels spouts, which are mini- cabbages. We have Bravo and Late Flat Dutch growing in the fields at FFF right now.

Bravo and Late Flat Dutch Cabbage

To harvest the cabbage, twist the entire cabbage head to separate it from the large cabbage stem or cut it from the stem with a sharp knife.  Green cabbage will be ready to harvest as soon as the head is fully formed, and feels solid to the touch, but before it cracks.

Cabbage can be enjoyed raw or cooked.  This time of year, I love cabbage salad, which I think of as cole slaw without the mayo – much healthier that way and still delicious!

Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

  •                     1/4 cup vinegar
  •                     2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  •                     2 teaspoons garlic salt
  •                     2 teaspoons sugar
  •                     1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  •                     6 cups shredded cabbage
In a small bowl or jar with tight-fitting lid, combine vinegar, oil, garlic salt if desired, sugar and tarragon. Place cabbage in a large bowl; add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
If you have a favorite cabbage recipe or any tips regarding growing cabbage, we’d love to hear from you!
– Diann Churchill
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