Summer Sunset on the Greenhouses


Summertime Seedlings

We have cleared out our winter crops and we are into our mid summer plantings of tender greens and herbs.

Crops that we grow in the winter and spring like kale, collards and broccoli taste more bitter and sulfurous in the summer heat because they are defending against insects and disease and also using those compounds to deal with the stresses of heat and sunlight. Instead of trying to get a harvest from summer-stressed crops, we plant them in late summer so the crops can get close to mature by the time it starts freezing. This timing is crucial to having fresh greens to harvest in Idaho from November to March.


In the summer, we plant many successions of  dill, cilantro, mustards, cress, arugula and lettuces to produce a consistent fresh supply to our customers. This means 2 to 3 plantings per month from May to September. The size of the bed planted varies with the hours of sunlight in the day. The longer the day the smaller and more frequently we plant beds of a certain crop.

We have around four different beds of each variety of herb and lettuce in any given week. One bed has fresh seedlings, one bed is being harvested, one bed is starting to flower and finished with harvesting and one bed is being turned over and prepared for planting again -a bed for each stage of life.

If we aren’t planting a certain crop one week, we will be planting it within the next two weeks.


Here’s the succession of a bed, for example:

We start with an overgrown bed of lettuce for example. It is just starting to flower, there are many weeds growing, the bed is knee high with green leafed plants, and it all gets chopped up and tilled into the soil to feed the microbes.

After tilling we do a rough leveling of the soil and then water it for a few days to germinate weeds and digest all the plant matter. When the weeds have sprouted, we hoop hoe the bed to incorporate the new weed seedlings then we level it again, mark the lines and plant the seeds. The bed is wet enough to germinate after 3 days of watering (both intentional seeds and weeds). Then the race to harvest begins.

We are doing lots of seeding, watching seedlings, pulling weeds and harvesting greens all summer long. Summertime blue skies and hot days here in the hills around the Treasure Valley sure make these greenhouse grow greens and herbs fast!



The Lamb Band

Thanks to our lamb banding helpers, we made quick work of our spring roundup. Lots of beers, giddy baby squeals, lamb hugging, and of course banding, on Saturday, and at the end -good food. We had a salad with the first Basil harvest of the year -look forward to basil in a few weeks at your local Purple Sage Farms purveyor.

To market, to market…

…to buy buy some lean greens!

Broccoli Raab on the market table in a bunch.

Saute broccoli raab lightly with butter or olive oil (3 minutes) and add salt and citrus for a little extra kick. It’s a tasty spring treat.

A woman sells greens to another woman at the market.

Stop by and say hello, and thanks to those of you who bring your own bags to the market.

Mike Sommer selling greens at the farmers market.

This is our booth on the inaugural opening of the Boise Farmers Market, April 6, 2013.

a pile of collard greens, bunched.

Have an authentic Idaho dish this spring. Soak beans over night, put in crock pot with broth (2 to 1 ratio), or boil 30 min on stove and simmer 2 hours in broth. After beans are cooked, cut collards into thin ribbons and mix into the hot beans to wilt. Salt and pepper to taste. You can also do this with a ham hock (an Idaho one!).

A bunch of blooming chives with a sign.

Chive blossoms make a really fun addition to a vinaigrette -chop in the whole plant for a great allium flavor. Sprinkle these fresh on anything, really.

Man puts sauce on a line of tacos at the market

A taco stand at the market is filling their tacos with Purple Sage Farms Siberian Kale, it’s great to have vendors sourcing local ingredients.

Mike Sommer stands behind a table of fresh herbs for sale at the farmers market.

We love getting the chance to visit with you at the market. It’s a great time to hear people’s recipe ideas and share good food stories.

A pile of Kale raab, purple and green at the market

The raab of kale tastes like the leaf, but floral and sweet. It’s great steamed with a pad of salty butter on top. Indulge yourself and leave the stem whole -eat it as finger food.

PS, Here’s what we have this week at Purple Sage Farms: Chervil, Chives, Garlic Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Mojito Mint, Chocolate Mint, Oregano, Flat leaf parsley, Sage, Sorrel, Tarragon, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Ruby Streaks, Tatsoi,Mizuna, Giant Red Mustard, Nettles, Gourmet and Spring Mix Salad, Dino Kale, Siberian Kale, Red Russian Kale, Collards.