We’re currently transitioning to Summer II planting on the farm. The existing melons and cucumbers were turned over this week in order to make room for cowpeas. Another round of cucumbers and summer squash will be direct-seeded on the North Farm along with green beans and sweet corn. The second round of tomatoes will soon be going in and the empty spot adjacent to the sunn hemp on the North Farm will be planted with more melons. We also were able to plant a variety of winter squashes on the South Farm and fill a couple of our planter boxes with new herbs.
Our chicks have reached their “teenager” stage meaning we are starting to see marked differences signifying them as either male or female. Males (roosters) have a larger and more prominent comb and wattle along with longer, thicker legs and bigger feet. They also have longer and fancier tail feathers and will experiment with crowing at an early age. Females (hens) have a less prominent comb and wattle and shorter legs. The hackle feathers that grow around a hen’s neck are short and round while a rooster’s are long and pointy. From what we can observe, we have five roosters and seven hens from our recent round of hatching. This week we began integrating a couple of our young hens into our established flock. The transition has gone smoothly as the young ones are quickly finding their place in the pecking order.
This week our featured herb from our planter boxes is Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida). Often referred to as Mexican or Texas tarragon, this perennial herb is native to Central and South America where it has a documented history of use over the last thousand years. Mexican mint marigold was widely used by the Aztecs both ritually and medicinally. According to accounts from Spanish explorers, the Aztec chieftains would powder the herb and use it to calm the victims of sacrificial rituals. It was also used in folk remedies for colic, colds, and malaria. And, it was an ingredient in the Aztec drink chocolatl, a precursor to our present-day hot chocolate. The scent and flavor of Mexican mint marigold is similar to that of French tarragon but is a bit sweeter and more anise-like. Mexican mint marigold can be used fresh or dried though the fresh herb tends to have more flavor. It can be used in any recipe calling for tarragon and pairs well with spices like black pepper, mint, mustard, onion, and orange peel. Try it out in this chopped cucumber summer salad or combine it with basil in your next batch of pesto. If you’re curious about using this herb in your kitchen, come pick some up at the veggie wagon on Saturday from 8am-12pm.