In the Fields
We are slowly creeping to the end of summer but the weather has still been bringing the summer heat! Our tomatillos are starting to open their delicate paper shells, corn is growing full and sweet, and heads of cabbage and lettuce have been rolling in. As we near the harvest point of some of our crops it becomes important to monitor their growth in intense heat as it will push them to flower faster.
This week while out in the fields we compared the growth throughout a particular planting of romaine after a few days of heat. When romaine heads near maturity they will create a domed formation of leaves that are raised from the center of the head. Noticing this small transition in the center leaves of the romaine helps us to know where it is in its stage of growth and can help us predict how it will taste. As romaine transitions its focus from growth to seed creation the flavor profile of romaine with change from grassy and watery to developing its characteristically bitter taste. Not only will this create a depth of flavor when you layer other vegetables and proteins onto your leaf greens, but bitter foods also help to increase stomach and saliva acids that catalyze the digestion of food. Consuming vegetables like romaine regularly can improve your body’s overall digestion as it helps to diversify your flora and encourage the production of healthy enzymes in the body.
If our Romaine head were allowed to grow past this harvesting stage, this center core pictured above would continue to protrude from the center of the lettuce as leaves open wider. This center stem will lift its seed bearing flowers as high as 5′ —or as tall as Nicole and I. We work hard to harvest before our crops reach this point, but it is an important reminder to us of the beautiful cycle, from seed to fruit to seed again, that each of our vegetable varieties will undergo!