Spring cleaning

Well, despite the recent warm temperatures and much as we are
all hoping it is springtime, it's not quite here yet.
Judging by the calendar, we've got about 5 weeks
until March 20, the Spring Equinox, and the official first day of Spring.
But of course, nature, the weather and the farm follow their own "inner clock,"
and we in turn pay attention to their rhythms as we go about our work.
A recent stop at the farm brought this to mind
as well as looking at the definition of "spring.

spring  (/spriNG/)

Move or jump suddenly upward or forward.
The season after winter and before summer.

The season after winter and before summerpretty simple and to the point. 
Certainly spring is its own season and when it is in full force, 
there is much to enjoy at the farm–a lot of hard work and the time for planting in earnest, 
as well as a more accelerated opportunity to harvest. 
Spring is the time we can expand our "farm to table" experience at the restaurants
when the chefs are presented with more options directly from the farm. 
Matt from Local Landscapers with just picked garlic
on his way to "the fig" kitchen

happy chef with just picked carrots
photo by Steven Krause from
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
But there is something about the "after and between" concept of the definition. 
That moment is exactly where we are now
That space following winter but before summer's full bloom 
and we are filling that space with "spring cleaning" at the farm. 
Clearing beds, working the soil, getting ready for spring planting. 
And in a way, that work is a "move forward," 
which is the other definition of the word spring. 
Works perfectly, right?
farm beds cleared as we prepare for spring planting
what will Executive Chef John Toulze plant here? 
replacing the black lines for irrigation needs to be done before planting
we are working to get the soil as rich and healthy as possible
One part of our "farm," where it is always spring or summer 
While the temperature in the greenhouse can get really warm in summer, 
even now and during the last few cold weeks, it has been 70 degrees inside. 
Our microgreens are very happy there. 
And the chefs are even happier that they can dash outside
cut some fresh greens and sprinkle a bit of spring 
 from our garden on your dish just as it is whisked from kitchen to table. 

Interested in growing microgreens at home?
Here's an instructional video on how to do this.

One of our microgreens is mustard, which is not the same 
as what we are growing at the farm at Imagery Estate Winery
The mustard beds at the farm, like those you see in neighboring vineyards 
this time of year, are good cover crops which will be tilled into the soil 
to provide good nutrients. 
According to Mark Uchanski, a professor of vegetable physiology:
 "Plowing the mustard plants into the ground leads to increased soil organic matter, 
which can result in better yields and larger, healthier plants. 

mustard beds at Imagery farm
"Mustards are a good cover crop for a variety of reasons. 
One of the main benefits is that they have high levels of glucosinolates.  
 According to Cornell University: ”The practice of using mustard cover crops 
to manage soil-borne pathogens is known as biofumigation
 Biofumigation is simply the suppression of various soil-borne pests 
and diseases through naturally occurring compounds."  
It is possible that some of the mature greens 
may be harvested but that is not their main purpose. 
The tasty mustard greens we are now enjoying at the restaurants 
come from the delicate microgreens growing in the greenhouse,
which are not allowed to mature, but are brought to you 
when they are small but oh, so sweet!  

mustard microgreens in the greenhouse
mustard cover crops at Imagery farm
Well, all our hard work at the farm and in the kitchen must be paying off. 
If you haven't been there in awhile, come by to see and taste what we are doing. 
our signature fig & arugula salad
photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
If you want to have microgreens at home, here are more growing tips.
And what are you doing at "your farm" 
in this "space" between winter and summer?

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