This year in the market garden Michael has sown lots of silverbeet and rainbow chard, because it’s such a versatile and hardy green. However silverbeet are poly-embryonic, which means that multiple plants will sprout from the one seed.
So to prevent crowding and to be able to regulate the final size of the plant, silverbeet can be ‘thinned’, so you end up with just one silverbeet per planting. Thinning can be done at various stages of the growing cycle, but Michael decided to pick/thin the chard at micro greens stage, which means the beginning of mass salads of loveliness at Milkwood Farm.
We just served up our first mass of micro greens to our forest garden design students, and they were delicious – very sweet and crunchy in the way that young greens are. There’s nothing quite like salad greens that you know have had no chemicals whatsoever on them during their growing cycle…
And the whole ‘fresh from the garden’ factor means that going into spring at Milkwood Farm we’re one happy and healthy crew. Which is partly why we started this whole market garden enterprise.
Soil blocking silverbeet in mid August
Soil blocks hardening off after sprouting
Into the cold frames in early September
Sowing silverbeet soilblocks into the garden during the Intro to Market Gardening course in late September
We should note that this cycle from seed to microgreen took a long time because in early Spring it’s still darn cold and frosty here at night, which means things grow a bit slower. But then, we’ve just had an unseasonably hot week of 30 degree C days, so go figure. We try to just roll with what nature throws our way, where we can.
In the next week or so Michael will start selling our surplus veggies to our friends Amy and Zac who run a local business called the Veggie Van of Mudgee, delivering boxes of fresh produce to over 100 local families.
So everyone is happy. Hopefully it’s the beginning of a wider local food system including ‘beyond organic’ produce from Milkwood Farm. Whoohoo!