St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm still producing veggies this month, and they’re for sale

zucchini

Do you have a need for locally grown zucchini? How about some other veggies grown here in Sitka? Even though the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the year, we still have some veggies for sale.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt said we still have enough produce growing that she can sell 5-10 weekly boxes of produce through the next month. She said the boxes will run $30, and will likely contain about four pounds of carrots, two pounds of potatoes, two pounds of beets, one bundle of chard, one head of lettuce, with other possibilities such as cucumbers, basil, a half-dozen eggs, etc. She also has an excess of zucchini.

To learn more, contact Laura at ljschmidt835@hotmail.com.

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• Sitka Adventist School students harvest bumper crop from their school garden

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Students at Sitka Adventist School recently harvested a bumper crop of veggies they grew over the summer in their new school garden. Sitka Adventist School is a small private school for grades 1-8 located at 1613 Halibut Point Road (lower level).

“Our garden is relatively new. We built and planted it in spring of 2014,” Principal/Teacher Kallie McCutcheon said. “The students helped mix dirt, shovel dirt and sand, plant seeds and seedlings, water (on the rare occasion that it wasn’t supplied from the heavens), check plants, weed, and of course, pick our wonderful produce. We picked beets, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I decided to plant the garden to teach the kids a skill and that they CAN grow plants!”

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• Baranof Elementary School first-graders harvest their kindergarten plantings at Russian Bishop’s House garden

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BIG HARVESTBaranof Elementary School first-grader Marley Bayne, 6, holds up a large carrot and a beet next to the Russian Bishop’s House garden Wednesday. The entire first-grade class harvested the vegetables they helped plant in the spring when they were kindergartners. This year’s growing season was especially good for the garden crops, which children are using to make soup in class. Sitka National Historical Park rangers organize the gardening activities with the help of school staff and parent volunteers. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)

• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about growing beets in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

LoriAdamsDownToEarthUPickGarden(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 9 of the Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING BEETS

I have had bad luck with beets, but they grow really well here for most people.  I am not sure what the problem is, but I suspect that it is because I don’t really care for the way they taste. Therefore, I procrastinate about planting them, don’t spend much time preparing the soil for them and then just toss the seeds out in some random spot that’s squeezed between other vegetables that I DO enjoy.

Beets are a root crop that bear edible leaves (greens). They will do best in a bed that is prepped with bonemeal (starfish, pulverized deer bones or fish skeletons), sandy organic material that is not too rich with nitrogen (beach mulch gathered in the fall), and plenty of lime (seashell sand). The seeds can be started indoors mid-March and then transplanted outdoors mid-April, but most people just plant them directly outdoors mid-April.

Each beet “seed” is actually a capsule that contains roughly 2-4 seeds. The seedlings will sprout together in a really tight clump but it is not necessary to thin them because each beet plant will grow “out” from the clump center. If the surrounding spacing is adequate there will be enough room for all of them. You can plant the seeds directly into your bed with about three-inch spacing if you are growing them for the greens, but if you are trying to grow large roots you should space the seeds at least six inches apart.

Another option is to plant them close together at first and then when the greens are large enough to eat you can thin the bed by pulling enough plants to achieve six-inch spacing which will produce large roots for later harvest. If beet seeds are planted too closely together the plants will just sprout up tall and spindly with tiny roots, so plant your seeds carefully.

Most of us are familiar with the typical round, red beet with dark green leaves, but beets come in many varieties with different colors, shapes and sizes.  I think they all do well here.

Be sure to cover the entire bed with floating row cover and leave it on as long as possible. Beets like it warm and can take a long time to mature in Sitka, so row cover can really speed up maturity.

Beets are edible at any stage. You can harvest baby greens or entire baby plants to eat raw or cooked, or you can wait and harvest plants that have roots 2 inches across for cooking. Roots that are larger than 2 inches across can become more fibrous.  Leaves that are harvested from mature plants tend to be tough and will need to be cooked. When harvesting roots, leave at least one inch of foliage on the root to avoid excess bleeding during the cooking process. I have heard that roasting beets in the oven is quite delicious too, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t really like beets.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Sitka Local Foods Network selling seeds from Bountiful Gardens as fundraiser

Screenshot of Bountiful Gardens website

Screenshot of Bountiful Gardens website

Help support the Sitka Local Foods Network by purchasing organic seed varieties from Bountiful Gardens seed company that have been specially selected for our challenging climate by longtime Sitka gardener Jamie Chevalier.

There will be a serve-yourself seed rack at Old Harbor Books, with an honor-system donation jar for making change next to the seeds.

Among the seed varieties available will be cabbage, broccoli, beets, carrots, a variety of greens mixes, kale, lettuces, peas, radishes and summer squash. Seed supplies are limited for first come, first served.

Bountiful Gardens is an educational nonprofit organization that specializes in heirloom, untreated and open-pollinated varieties of seeds for sustainable agriculture. Bountiful Gardens also promotes the GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming concept, which helps gardeners make small plots of land productive sources for agriculture.

For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.

• Sitka growers to contribute to local CSA venture

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce, right, explains the first Sitka CSA venture to Sitka Local Foods Network board member Natalie Sattler during the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

One of the latest trends in farming is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which enables people to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer. Renee and Brian Pierce, who own the locally made kelp products and wild berry jelly shop Simple Pleasures of Alaska, are working with Sitka growers to start a small CSA venture with local produce during the summer growing season.

Renee Pierce said that instead of the CSA being a true farmers’ cooperative, she will buy produce from several local growers — including Florence Welsh of the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens, Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, Judy Johnstone of Sprucecot Gardens, Evening Star and Fabian Grutter of Eve’s Farm, and Lori Adams of Down To Earth U-Pick Gardens. The CSA also will include produce from the Pierce Family’s Simple Pleasures garden.

The Sitka CSA will start small, with membership slots for just 25 families the first year. Renee Pierce said of those 25 slots, only about 10 memberships are left. CSA members will commit to paying $50 plus tax every other week, which will give the member families a selection of produce that includes some organic produce purchased from Organically Grown Company of Portland, Ore. During the months when Sitka growers aren’t producing many vegetables, there will be more produce purchased from Organically Grown Company. There also will be an option to buy bread at $6 a loaf beyond the price of the produce box.

The produce selection includes many crops that can be grown in Sitka — such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, radishes, zucchini, green beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, tomatoes, etc. But with the Organically Grown Company providing some of the produce, CSA members also can choose items that aren’t regular Sitka crops — such as bananas, lemons, limes, pineapples, oranges, etc.

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Information about Sitka's first CSA from the Let's Grow Sitka! event on March 14

Renee Pierce said she has worked with Organically Grown Company for about four years, purchasing organic produce for the Pierce family and several friends and other Sitka residents who heard about the venture (at one point she had about 60-70 families buying from her). She said she orders produce by the case, and it is available for pick-up from 3-6 p.m. every other Monday afternoon at the Simple Pleasures store next to Kettleson Memorial Library. The first pick-up day for the Sitka CSA is March 29 (which will be for the 15 or so families that already have reserved a spot in the CSA), and the next pick-up day is April 12. CSA members are encouraged to bring their own bags and/or boxes on pick-up days.

The pick-up days are slated to be during the weeks between the every-other-week Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, which will give local growers and buyers the opportunity to buy and sell local produce for both. Renee said there will be some produce extras for families that want to adjust their allotments, but everybody’s allotted produce value will be $50. If you add from the extras you will need to pay the difference, and if you give up some produce you don’t want so your value dips below $50 there are no refunds. She said the CSA is being done as a community service and it’s meant to just break even so the bills get paid.

To learn more about the Sitka CSA, contact Renee Pierce at 738-0044 (cell) or 747-3814 (home). You also can e-mail her at mpierce@ptialaska.net.