Harbingers of spring

This week brings the long awaited first day of spring. 
Psychological shift of gears, yes, but the labors at the farm remain slow and steady. 
We've been saying this for weeks as the incremental work continues, 
so the marker day on the calendar is welcome. 
Somehow we know the momentum will likely change as well, 
hopefully picking up as we head into true high season at the farm.

Harbingers of spring abound though, offering us encouragement.
We were excited to see the first of our heirloom tomato seedlings in the greenhouse. 

This Heirloom tomato seedling grown
 in a mixture of coco-noir and organic compost. 
Before planting they will be transplanted into a larger container 
and slowly acclimatized to life outside the greenhouse 
in a process known as "hardening off."

"Young, pampered seedlings that were grown either indoors 
or in a greenhouse will need a period to adjust and acclimate 
to outdoor conditions, prior to planting in the garden. 
This transition period is called "hardening off."
Hardening off gradually exposes the tender plants to wind, sun and rain 
and toughens them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves 
so that the leaves lose less water. 
This helps prevent transplant shock." 

now is an important time to nurture the delicate seedlings
so we can have gems like these!

In addition to transplanting the tomato starts, 
cabbage from the greenhouse is ready to make its move to the big time.

farm beds ready for greenhouse transplants
Other tidbits from the garden?
Do you discard the carrot top greens?
How about "carrot top pesto?"
photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey through the Seasons in Wine Country
Diane Morgan, author of the new book, 
recently shared this recipe on NPR Radio's All Things Considered
"I almost always buy fresh carrots with their feathery green tops attached. 
In the past, I would invariably cut the tops off and send them to the compost bin. 
Honestly, it never occurred to me that they were edible. 
But the tops of other root vegetables are edible, 
so why wouldn't carrot tops be edible, too? 
One day I blanched the leaves, pureed them with a little olive oil 
and then used the puree as a gorgeous green accent sauce for fish, 
much in the same way I use basil oil. My next idea was to make pesto."

Makes about 2/3 cup
1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see below)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
To Toast The Nuts
Toasting pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews and pumpkin seeds brings out their flavor. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, place in a preheated 350-degree oven and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed. Alternatively, nuts and seeds can be browned in a microwave. Spread in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power, stopping to stir once or twice, until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Watch them closely so they don't burn.
To Make the Pesto

In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic, and salt and process until finely minced. Add the pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add the Parmesan and pulse just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

We are always growing carrots at our farm. 
photos of carrot picking at the farm
by Jerry James Stone
Executive Chef John Toulze and Proprietor Sondra Bernstein
making sure our carrots taste just right
Many of the fig's favorite carrot recipes are featured in Sondra's newest cookbook, 

carrot soup photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

photo of sweetbreads with spring vegetables
by Steven Krause 
Even our bartenders are inspired by the orange jewels we grow at the farm.

tequila ginger rouge:
sauza tequila, canton ginger liqueur, orange juice, lemonade, beet-carrot puree.
Are you nurturing seedlings in a window box or greenhouse?
When will you transplant to your "farm?"
Share with us what you are doing these days 
as we are heading into the official start of spring?

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