Updates from our amazing organic grower Pam
It’s true! Heirlooms really do have a higher nutritional content than today’s modern hybrid varieties. Studies have been done at The University of Texas in Austin, by Donald R. Davis and his team. Their work has left us with a book called “Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition” and available to read online or from your local library. :
This season we’ve chosen two extraordinary heirloom lettuces to grow at the farm. The first, pictured above is a special lettuce grown by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello Plantation. All research shows in his writings that the Tennis Ball lettuce was his favorite to grow. He claims that it was fairly hardy and did not require delicate handling and care.
Jefferson’s records indicate that he was growing Tennis Ball by 1809. Other writings claim this lettuce to be one of the most esteemed and oldest varieties that was favored for its crisp and sweet flavor.
Many of the early American Colonists found the Tennis Ball Lettuce to be good keeper during the winter months by preserving it in a salt brine. I think I might like to try it that way one day, but for now…fresh is best I think!
Radianting with rich red pigmentation, our other esteemed heirloom, “Amish Speckled Red” has begun to be harvested fresh this week at the farm. Since studies have shown that vegetables with dark pigmentations hold greater nutritional value, this crispy sweet lettuce is sure to be a hit with your friends and family.
As important as the varieties we chose is the way in which we grow them. Heirlooms give all of us the opportunity to help support our environment in many ways. First and foremost, when grown with companion plants in balanced and diverse harmony, no chemical fertilizers are needed. Nor are insecticides or herbicides.
This is the beauty of heirloom varieties because they were not bred with the need of such things as chemicals like our modern hybrids. They simply flourish with nothing more than healthy soil, glorious sunshine and beautiful rain.
As many heirloom varieties are endanger of becoming extinct, we can all support the need of preserving such special vegetables and fruits. Here at Hibiscus Hill Plantation we take great pride in supporting and saving seeds for our future generations.
See you at the Farm! ~ Pamela
The opportunity for eating locally grown lettuce in such an array of variety is in huge demand. Since it is made available directly after harvesting, one could say you’ve sat in the field with fork in hand. It simply could not be any fresher than this!
You may find it as captivating as myself after investigating the nutritional differences found among so many types and varieties. Greens can get a bit complicated, but there are only 5 general types. Each of the 5 types may vary a bit with colors and shapes.
The main classifications are Romaine, Looseleaf, Butterhead and Crisphead, and finally the Celtuce.
I found a really nice chart that compares different types of lettuce that is based on the USDA nutritional fact sheets. For a quick comparison visit “I Eat Good Real Food.” to see for yourself.
For me however, unlike so many others, find a whole lot of satisfaction in all of the diversity. Filling the salad bowl full to the rim with flavors and textures within the lettuce family is one of the most rewarding events of the cool weather growing season.
Fortunately for the consumers who continually give support to the local farms in their communities can such diversity be made available. Most of the unique varieties can only be grown for local families because it simply does not hold up to shipping across the country.
This also allows the farmer to help preserve the existence of many treasured heirloom varieties that face extinction in today’s marketplace. Many of which provide more nutritional value and extraordinary flavors.
As we begin our rediscovery of long forgotten vegetable varieties we might also find the scarcity of availability. Small farms continue to dwindle across America. Perhaps only those fortunate enough to grow their own garden would enjoy such pleasures.
What a boring existence it would be with only an Iceburg to chose from. I say buy local and keep diversity alive and well. Be sure to keep an eye out, for soon we will make available the mother lettuce, an heirloom that was once grown by Thomas Jefferson at The Monticello Plantation.
FRESH, clean and natural are the beautiful beginnings as the promise of spring sets way at the farm. Part of the excitement is in watching nature unfold. For me however, the fun is not so much the crops that have been sown. Although the lettuces are adding an abundance of pretty ruffled green bouquets in the fields.
But more so as a natural grower, I find myself completely mesmerized by the orchestrated balance as it springs forth. As I observe a bit of new growth appearing on the many perennial herbs planted throughout the landscapes, my first herbal anticipation derives from the annual herb, Cilantro.
Why Cilantro, you might ask? Well, I could ask you to simply take a closer look at the photo above where the Cilantro is in full bloom. All of the white lacy flowers almost gives the appearance of snow flakes in spring. While it’s pretty growing throughout the farm amongst the onion blooms and wildflowers, so much more is happening! This delightful herb kicks in spring with a very special beneficial purpose.
Exciting to me is that this herb is the first up and blooming, luring the ladybugs who are attracted to their flowers. They will lay many eggs along the way and soon after I will find them in many stages throughout the farm. The next thing to discover is the ladybugs moving in on various crops and feasting on aphids throughout the season.
The best way to attract Ladybugs to the farm is growing diverse. This basically means growing an array of plants that will attract beneficial insects and act as companions for all kinds of wonderful reasons..
It’s simple but yet complex harmony when nature takes its course.The sky is the limit when one participates in natural growing methods. It is quite exciting as well that it all works together so as not one pesticide or insecticide is ever needed. I find it imperative to grow a healthy farm, which in turn may grow a healthier you. Is this something important to you, too?