Well maybe not exactly magic, but a really great way to capture the power of the sun when it is much too cold and frozen outside to grow anything. And when we are in a warm, green hoophouse in April and it’s snowing out, it really does feel like magic. So what exactly is a hoophouse? It’s a greenhouse where we grow plants directly in ground and mostly without heat. We do have back up heaters just in case. These hearty spring greens can survive very cold temperatures. I walked into the hoophouse morning after morning in April only to see little plants frozen solid, totally encapsulated in ice.  And then a few hours later they looked as if nothing cold had ever happened to them. Plants are amazing. We have two hoophouses on the farm. One we call ‘the hoophouse’ and the other one is ‘the colossal’ (named by the manufacturer). We plant spring share greens and tomatoes into both houses, simultaneously. Once the tomatoes are in we do use the supplemental heat since tomato plants need to stay above freezing.

Barb

Early March. Jesse is tilling the soil in the colossal. Next it will be raked out by hand and then we can plant. See the snow leaning against the plastic wall? Thank goodness it’s finally gone.

Early March. Jesse is tilling the soil in the colossal. Next it will be raked out by hand and then we can plant. See the snow leaning against the plastic wall? Thank goodness it’s finally gone.

Early March. The soil has been tilled in the hoophouse and it’s time to prepare the beds for planting.  Brian is marking each bed with string and Elisabeth is doing some precision raking.

Early March. The soil has been tilled in the hoophouse and it’s time to prepare the beds for planting. Brian is marking each bed with string and Elisabeth is doing some precision raking.

Eric, Elisabeth and Brian transplanting lettuce heads.  Notice the tape measure running down the center of the bed. We are very exact about the spacing in these houses.  We only have a finite amount of space, everything has to be exact.

Eric, Elisabeth and Brian transplanting lettuce heads. Notice the tape measure running down the center of the bed. We are very exact about the spacing in these houses. We only have a finite amount of space, everything has to be exact.

Barb and Elisabeth planting tomatoes in the colossal. The tomatoes are being planted next to a spring share crop (in this picture next to red Russian kale, one of the sauté mix ingredients). After the spring share is finished we pound in tall stakes and begin to trellis the tomatoes. These tomatoes will begin to yield in mid-late July.

Barb and Elisabeth planting tomatoes in the colossal. The tomatoes are being planted next to a spring share crop (in this picture next to red Russian kale, one of the sauté mix ingredients). After the spring share is finished we pound in tall stakes and begin to trellis the tomatoes. These tomatoes will begin to yield in mid-late July.

Notice the rows of tomato plants towering over the spinach and lettuce. Oh yes, and Brian is harvesting spinach, one leaf at a time. We pinch off the largest leaves and let the smaller ones grow big for the following week’s harvest.

Notice the rows of tomato plants towering over the spinach and lettuce. Oh yes, and Brian is harvesting spinach, one leaf at a time. We pinch off the largest leaves and let the smaller ones grow big for the following week’s harvest.

 

Simple & Seasonal

Weekly Recipes Written by the Farm Cook

I love the fresh taste of garlicky wild ramps with my eggs. This recipe excludes a crust which makes it quick to prepare and friendly to gluten-free folks. I enjoy a good quiche any time of the day. This quiche is great alongside a fresh green salad for dinner or make ahead of time for a quick and delicious breakfast.

5_8 collage

Spinach, Ramp and Cheese Crustless Quiche

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

 

10-12 ramps

2 big handfuls spinach

10 eggs

3oz. Chèvre (soft goat cheese)

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut roots off ramps and rinse well. Line up ramps on a cutting board and dice. Use the entire ramp. Clean spinach by submerging in cold water. As you pull spinach out of the water, tear leaves in half. Don’t worry about excess water on the spinach, as this will help steam the spinach.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter. Once butter is melted add diced ramps. Sauté for approximately5 minutes,stirring occasionally. Add spinach and cover skillet for 3-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.

In a bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly. (Tip: try using an immersion blender, this whisks the eggs in seconds) Mix in salt and pepper. With remaining butter grease a glass or ceramic pie plate and add about 1/3 of the eggs. With a slotted spoon, evenly disperse ramp and spinach mixture; then add remaining eggs. Sprinkle with chunks of Chèvre on top. Bake 25-35 minutes, until top and sides are just brown and the middle is firm. While baking, the eggs expand and often create large bubbles along the edges. Once out of the oven for several minutes these bubbles will settle. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

 

Farm Cook, Becky Perkins is a Certified Health Coach, visit her blog at www.therealfoodmama.com