We know, this doesn’t look like anything yet, just cell trays of potting mix. What you don’t see will become over 1500 square feet of beautiful vegetables: green onions, sweet salad turnips, tart jamaica, tender long eggplant, three kinds of chile, and 13 kinds of tomatoes ranging from candy-like cherries to beefsteaks that can grow fruit weighing up to 2 pounds.
The season is just getting started. Lots more to come.
At Rocket Punch Farm, we grow over 70 different varieties of vegetables, herbs, berries, and melons…and we plan to add to this list as we trial new varieties. Here’s our Year in Review for this year’s trials:
Lettuces are one of the first crops of the season as they thrive in cooler temperatures. In 2022, we were able to harvest lettuce sooner because we planted lettuce in our greenhouse in autumn 2021, which over-wintered to become our early spring crop in 2022. Through seed saving, we hope to further adapt our hand-selected lettuce mix to the range of temperatures we experience here in Central NM.
Sorrel will definitely be coming back in 2023. After all, it’s perennial…yay, garden jokes! This leafy green is about as care-free as Swiss chard, which makes total sense when you realize they are in the same plant family. We use sorrel as a salad green (it’s a blessing for summer salads, after the lettuce has called it quits due to the heat), in pesto, and soup.
In 2021, we offered lots of different tomatoes: cherry tomatoes, salad tomatoes, Roma-types for canning, and heirlooms. But we forgot an important category for the living in the land of green chile cheeseburgers: the burger slicer tomato. So we fixed that for 2022.
We gave up on growing rooting radishes in 2021. In the microclimate of our farm, there’s too narrow of a window to grow the roots without having them turn unpleasantly spongy, too woody to eat, or unbearably spicy.
Enter rattail radishes. These are radish siliques (seed pods) that deliver great radish flavor. We especially liked them pickled in vinegar.
Work smarter, not harder. We grow purple snap peas because they are easier to see, the purple color standing out against the green of the vine.
New Zealand spinach isn’t a true spinach, but it tastes just like it. And it doesn’t mind the heat. Unlike Malabar spinach (also not a true spinach but a heat-loving substitute), it isn’t slimy.
We already grew “green” beans in colors other than green: purple and yellow. So we were delighted to add pink as well. As with purple beans, they turn pink when cooked, but we can still enjoy their beauty in the garden.
Wanting to mix it up beyond kale and collards, we tried some Brassica greens that were new to us: Abyssinian mustard and spigarello.
They didn’t work. They just kinda sat there and didn’t do anything. Oh well. Back to kale and collards for 2023.
We tried black tomatoes because of how freaking beautiful they look. However, the color does not come from ripening but from a chemical reaction in response to sunlight. So they start out black on the vine and it’s next to impossible to tell when these babies are ripe. No thanks.
Beets are supposed to be a 2-month crop. However, our spring planted beets took over 4 months to reach anything close to a harvestable size. We had similar results in 2021.
We feel that beets aren’t suitable as a spring-planted crop in our climate. We’re currently trying over-wintering some for an early spring harvest and we’ll see how it goes.
Amaranth is another heat-tolerant green for summer salads. Unfortunately, the grasshoppers like this one even more than we did and they chewed it to pieces.
We offer artisanal sourdough bread as a winter seasonal product. During the active growing season, we’re much too busy with farming to be able to bake. Artisanal sourdough is a 2-day process that cannot be rushed. The lengthy fermentation time is what creates the bread’s superior flavor, texture, and nutrition as compared to yeasted breads.
Our unbleached wheat flour and blue corn meal come from Valencia Flour Mill in Jarales, NM. We source other ingredients to flavor our loaves from local businesses here in Valencia county.
The base dough is three simple ingredients: flour, water, and salt. We maintain our own sourdough starter, a living culture of wild yeasts and beneficial bacteria. Sourdough starter is also available for sale. If interested in purchasing starter, please allow 48 hours notice to ensure that your starter is vigorous and ready for baking.
Sourdough bread is available Tuesdays through Fridays for the “winter season,” November through March. The pick-up time for sourdough is 4pm-6pm. Made without preservatives, our bread is freshly baked on the day you specify. We get started baking at 6am so that your bread will be ready for you at 4pm.
To purchase sourdough bread, please visit our webstore. Choose from Traditional ($12) or our flavored loaves ($15): Green Chile & Cheese, Red Chile & Honey, Blue Corn, Beer & Barley, and German Christmas with dried fruit and chocolate.
Our loaves are large, about 10-inches across and 4-inches tall, weighing over 2 pounds. Many of our customers cut the loaves in half or quarters, freezing the portions they don’t intend to eat right away. The loaves freeze beautifully and will keep frozen for several months. However, since the bread does not contain preservatives, bread stored at room temperature should be consumed within 3 days.
Since we recently harvested the last tomatoes for the 2022 season, obviously tomatoes are still on our minds. We love tomatoes and there are so many varieties to choose from. When selecting varieties of any vegetable, we evaluate it based on a number of criteria including climate adaption, productivity, taste, nutrition, appearance, and ease of growing. Here’s a sneak peak at the varieties we’re choosing for 2023.
Returning champions: cherry tomatoes. We love cherry tomatoes in multiple colors for salads and snacking. We’ve grown Harvest Luck and Galina’s Cherry for the past two years and we’re trying out a couple new varieties in 2023.
Returning champions: heirloom tomatoes. Our two favorite heirloom tomatoes are Paul Robeson and Fantome du Laos.
Returning champions: burger slicers. In 2022, we were pleased by the introduction of Katja, a large pink slicer. For 2023, we’re adding Azoychka, a slightly smaller slicer, a junior burger, if you will.
Returning champions: sauce/canning tomatoes (Roma types). Of course we grow red tomatoes for canning and making pasta sauce, salsa, barbecue sauce, etc. The egg-shaped Graham’s Good Keeper is our favorite from 2022 and we’re adding the globe-shaped Illini Star for 2023.
New Addition: special purpose tomatoes. We grew Belmonte Pear this year, but we didn’t share them because we didn’t have very many plants. Belmonte Pear is an Italian heirloom tomato grown especially for sauce. For 2023, we’re adding Long Keeper, a semi-determinate variety that is planted later in the season to be picked green before the first autumn frost and ripened indoors for fresh tomatoes in the winter. And finally, we’re adding Principe Borghese, the famous sun-drying tomato that can also be tied into ristras for winter storage.
NOTE: photos of tomato varieties from Adaptive Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.