Black Cat Farm Enters the Critical Zone

Most people associate planting with the early spring, and for good reason — that is when the bulk of seeds go into the ground, to germinate in damp soil and send roots into the earth and to grow strong in the waxing sun. Months later, beginning in May and running through November, a whole lot of food gets harvested from fields in Colorado and just about everywhere that experiences winter.

But as a farm that grows most of the food for two restaurants — Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare — we need to harvest at least close to year-round.

So in addition to sowing seeds in the spring, we plant in August and in September. In the clip below, we are essentially grinding weeds back into the soil and prepping the bed for planting.

The past week has been critical for Black Cat Farm, as we prepare beds for new plants and broadcast seed for spinach and kale, for Batavian escarole and leeks and parsley and spinach. And plenty more.

If we press seeds into the ground too early, the plants grow too leggy and may even flower before frost; when we try to harvest during winter, they are spent. If we wait too long, though, the plants do not gain enough strength to withstand winter’s rigors. They just don’t make it. When we plant just right, we can glean the sweetest spinach you have ever tasted from beneath row cover. Frisée with crunch and flavor. Chervil that is positively perfumed with anise. Pungent arugula. Below, our farm team is covering a row of prepped and seeded soil with row cover, which will protect the seedlings from too much sun or cold snaps while they gain muscle.

Global warming has complicated matters for us. We were accustomed to a certain kind of pattern to how summer joins hands with fall, how they walk together for a spell and then part, with fall traipsing ahead and summer bidding goodbye. Last  year, the two remained together for weeks longer than we anticipated. This year? We will see.

Either way, we are guessing that now, and for the next few weeks, is the time to get seeds in the ground. If our gamble pays off, diners in the restaurants will taste gorgeous local vegetables long before farmers’ markets open. If not? Then we must wait until our spring plantings are ready for harvest.

Shall you cross your fingers for us? Yes, please!

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