We spread another 18 yards of compost onto our new beds this week with the goal of spreading another 18 before Chef Fest. In the rows adjacent to our beans we seeded a few different summer squash varieties including Cocozelle zucchini and Tempest yellow summer squash. Eventually the remaining rows will be filled with our tomato and pepper transplants from the greenhouse as well as tomatillos, cucumbers, okra, and melons. The melons will be seeded in specialized mounds rather than raised beds as these will aid in more efficient drainage in our heavier clay soil.
At the perimeter of our beds along the back fence we’ll be planting a variety of non-crop plants including Marshmallow and Echinacea. The flowers of these plants will attract pollinators and in turn, draw them to our pollinator-dependent crops like melons and eggplant. These plants will also attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, tachinid flies, and syrphid flies. Tachinid fly larvae is parasitic so it must have a host in order to survive. Often, the hosts of the larvae are worms or insects that can be detrimental to farming like cutworms, cabbage worms, and cucumber beetles. The larvae feed on these hosts, thereby helping to decrease their numbers. Once they enter the adult stage they remain beneficial by acting as pollinators.
We’re just 3 weeks out from Chef Fest! This week we were able to get a sneak peek at the menus our ten chefs have created. Each menu focuses on the bounty of spring as seen through the individual and creative lens of each chef. For example, Chef Tony Luhrman of El Topo Food Truck will be serving up a farmers market inspired taco with hard roasted kohlrabi, crispy fennel confit, pea tendril salsa, pepitas, and pickled atlas carrots all on a handmade tortilla. To read more about the event and secure your tickets, head over to the Chef Fest website. To see more of the chef’s menus, follow along on the Chef Fest Instagram.