Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hops and Worms

Spring has sprung in Lillooet. Hops are up and in order to direct growth up the 18 foot trellis and into  4 mains stems per plant, for a couple of weeks Sam Quinlan of Bittervine Hop Farm in Lillooet will be picking hops shoots for you.  North Arm Farm hops shoots should overlap with the Lillooet picking which could make for a 3 to 4 week season and an alternative to asparagus, fiddleheads and the eastern ramp.   

Hops or “Humulus lupulus”  are, according to Wikipedia “part of the family Cannabaceae, which also includes the genera Cannabis (hemp)”. More importantly to us they are a delicious spring green, similar in taste to asparagus, which can be eaten steamed, braised or fried. The male flowers can also be eaten in salads and of course the female flowers flavour my favourite beverage.    
This week Sam has picked Cascade, Chinook, Galena, and Nugget (purple shoots).  When blanched, if anything the colours become even more vibrant and they are a delicious complement to a meal.  Try them out during this short season when fresh local greens are scarce.

Despite the cold weather we have got some farming done lately.  The first planting of beets, peas, green onions, shallots and carrots are in the ground.  The raspberry pruning will be done by Wednesday and then we will get started on the blueberries.  The garlic is up 3 or 4 inches and I have chisel ploughed around the beds and will put in the potatoes next to them in a piece of ground that had a heavy oat cover crop last year.    I hope to have the potatoes planted today and the Sunchokes and Crosnes, hilled and fed as well. 

On the other side of the field next to the river and where the ground is very sandy the current plan is to seed with mustard as a green manure which has biocidal properties, scavenges nitrogen, builds organic matter and can drill through hardpan with its tap root.  The biocide consideration is interesting in that research has been done which shows a significant decrease in nematodes and wireworms in fields that have ploughed down mustard crops.  The wireworms especially are real problems in sandy soils so all that we can do to build organic matter and make life unpleasant for these ugly little pests the better.

Gotta go, sorry to be so terse but I’m “burning daylight”, more next week and eat Hops!

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