Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Harvest Routine
35 lbs. of red, yellow, and whiteSaturday mornings are a busy time for me, starting now around 6 am (minus a minute or two for mint tea and some oatmeal). So, as the height of the harvest season arrives I think I'll have to start getting up earlier to cut, wash, and load the crops. And, none of this is helped by the fact that I have a penchant for staying out late on Friday nights.
The reason I'm starting to dwell on this is because even with help, I'm yet to really bundle any of my crop together, or make it on-time (8:30) to the market. It takes far more time to prepare the onions/scallions/shallots/beets/herbs, etc I've been selling into pre-packaged bundles, but I think pricing by the bundled (twist tied or rubber-banded together), is more comfortable for the customer, and I would probably make more money. Plus, each sale would be a little quicker during the really busy time of market morning (a line 5 deep isn't uncommon when I first arrive each morning). This has all prompted me to really start a harvest morning check-list (I forgot 3 crops again this past week; the over mature cilantro crop is now coriander seed), and start to experiment which crops I could harvest Friday night, without any detrimental effect to the fresh and local food. Mature onions, peppers and bundled fresh onions will be picked this Friday. Maybe zucchini too, but I'm still experimenting/researching if it changes the sugars/sweetness.
The tall rinsing table
Ouch. My aching back! That's unfortunately my overwhelming thought when I'm finally done rinsing the soil from the crops each morning. And I have a rather strong back; 15 years pedaling a bicycle a little faster than the average citizen and a habit of moving dirt has given me two strong 'back-straps' (friends: if ever stranded in the high snowy mountains w/o food, and I've just died, you have my blessing to eat that choice cut first. Ha. creepy. gross)
30 pounds of beets on the rinsing table (tilted)
But now I have a solution to the problem of bending over too far (low faucet), for too long (40 pounds of onions and beets take a while to wash), each Saturday morning. I built two 8' harvest tables.
Light in the beet's low tunnel
The first table tilts at 30 degrees with plastic coated wire mesh running along one side. This lets me tilt the table while rinsing the roots of plants without muddy water running into the edible green leaves. A cable and pulley system supporting one corner allows me to quickly change the table between flat and tilted from a single corner of the set-up. It's rather high at 36" off the deck. This height leaves plenty of room for 35 gallon barrels underneath to catch the spray used in the rinse. Shelves beneath will offer a shady spot for harvested crops.
The second table will have a lower work surface (32") and a sink plumbed with tap water and rain water through the two sides of the faucet. Both water types have their place in the garden--the anti-biotic (good and bad) properties of chlorine being the difference.
Together these tables should make the harvest and planting much easier on my aging body, allow a higher quality of kitchen-clean produce at my stand, and allow recycling of all the water used to clean the harvest. And, in non-tilted mode, the rinsing table doesn't spill your beer. cheers.