Back in the warmer days of 2023, Scarlett Metals gifted us an amazing piece of metal artwork. Jason thought it was just the bees knees and wanted to show how much it meant to him, so he screened this super-limited edition shirt based on the original sculpture. Now, he just needs to get it to Wayne!
The online shop still has a few of the limited, big-print logo shirts in stock, as well as our regular logo design. More shirt designs are on the horizon. Stay tuned!
This post is inspired by visitors who came to our farm today, who said they read our blog posts. We talked for about an hour and we could have easily talked for much longer. We love meeting our neighbors and exchanging knowledge about farming in our changing climate.
And what a wild and busy year 2023 was (hence the lack of blog posts)! We had a long, cold spring that went directly into a heat wave for the entire month of July. The insufficient summer rains could be best characterized as a non-soon…and then the first frost arrived about two weeks early in October on Friday the 13th. These conditions resulted in a longer than expected spring lettuce harvest season and an all-too-brief summer tomato harvest season.
Now we’re seeing a wet and cold winter apparently due to El Niño. What will 2024 bring us? Hold on to your butts!
What are we doing to prepare? As always, soil health is first and foremost in our minds. Plants grown in healthy soil are naturally more resilient to whatever comes. We’ve been spreading compost and mulch throughout our planting areas to boost soil fertility.
Since it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more Southern NM weather here in Central NM due to climate change, we need to adopt Southern NM growing techniques. After all, the USDA recently announced the updated Plant Hardiness Zone map and we’ve graduated from Zone 7a to Zone 7b, meaning our winters are now 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average than they used to be. As farmers, we try to see these changes as opportunities instead of challenges.
Perhaps out biggest project to prepare for the coming season is building shade structures over our planting areas. We had previously planted honey locust trees for shade, but they aren’t yet large enough. So in the meantime, while the trees continue to grow, we will construct shade structures. We’re still in the planning stages of this project, so look for a future post once we start building.
And what are we going to plant? We’re taking more advice from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange on what to grow during hot summers, some of which we had already been following.
Goodbye Phaseola vulgaris “green beans” (and wax beans and purple beans that turn green when you cook them), hello Lima beans. We had already been growing yardlong beans and we’re adding a few new varieties in different colors.
For tomatoes, we’re keeping everything that was successful last year. All of our favorites and yours from previous years will return. And we’re adding a couple of varieties developed at Southern research universities for added insurance. As we did last year, we intend to participate in H2 Academic Solutions’ Hummingbird Festival over the last weekend of April to sell seedlings. All of the same tomato varieties we grow on our farm will be available to the public at this sale.
Heat-tolerant tomato, developed in AlabamaHeat-tolerant tomato, developed in Arkansas
You can read the rest of SESE’s recommendations for yourself. Our other crops for the coming year include 12 varieties of lettuce for autumn through spring harvests, bunching onions, lemony sorrel, collard greens, celtuce for pickles, basil in 6 varieties, purple sweet potatoes for both summer greens and autumn tubers, Swiss (rainbow) chard, New Zealand spinach, purple snap peas, potatoes (fingerling as well as low glycemic Huckleberry Gold), Persian cucumbers, cantaloupe, pattypan squash, garlic…and more!
After having done the nobori-style farm flag earlier this summer, Jason still had the screen on hand and had not cleaned it yet. On his way to finally wash it out, he had a thought that maybe it would work as a limited t-shirt design.
So, here in our shop, are four XL and three 2XL BIG-print Rocket Punch Farm t-shirts, white ink on dark heather grey, now available. These are all there will be as he’s washed out the screen. Ready to ship out to you or for local pickup.
We are pleased to share that Rocket Punch Farm will be participating in Agriculture Appreciation Day. We will be giving the 11am presentation entitled “Growing A Small Farm.” Additionally, we will be offering herb and vegetable seedlings appropriate for late March planting. Please see the flyer for additional details about the event.
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 for extreme temperatures
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, a salad green that also makes great soup and pesto.
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.
Burger slicer tomatoes
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.
Purple snap peas
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
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.
Back left: green chile and cheddar. Back right: red chile and honey. Front and center: blue corn
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.
Paul Robeson is a maroon-colored tomato with rich flavor, our favorite for BLTs.Fantome du Laos is a “white” tomato with naturally lower acidity and an almost tropical flavor. We love to cook with this tomato, to add flavor without altering the color of the finished dish.
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.
Graham’s Good KeeperIllini Star
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.
Belmonte PearLong KeeperPrincipe Borghese
NOTE: photos of tomato varieties from Adaptive Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
Back left: green chile and cheddar. Back right: red chile and honey. Front and center: blue corn
Sourdough is a 2-day process to make and so it can only be purchased through pre-order from our website. Choose Traditional ($12) or one of our flavored loaves ($15): Green Chile & Cheese, Red Chile & Honey, Blue Corn, Beer & Barley, or German Christmas (dried fruit and chocolate chips).
All remaining tomatoes are on sale, $1 off. Green (unripe), red Roma-types, and pink slicers now $2 per pound. Heirloom tomatoes now $3 per pound.
New for autumn: fingerling potatoes and purple sweet potatoes, both $3 per pound. Fingerling potatoes are a gourmet delicacy and are best enjoyed roasted. Purple sweet potatoes are best roasted whole or steamed until tender; they can then be mashed and used for holiday pies, cheesecakes, and other delights.
We have greens, $3: collards, Swiss chard, and lemony sorrel. We love greens in soups, stews, pastas, enchiladas, egg dishes, bean dishes, you name it!
Pickles: bread and butter cucumber pickles, chile dilly beans, achari masala beans, and celtuce in wheat-free soy sauce. We also have dehydrated apples.
Seeds for your garden: giant Mongolian sunflower, cardoon, and zinnia.
Don’t forget our logo t-shirts, logo stickers, and wooden goods for your kitchen.
Tuesday-Friday, 9am-5pm (extended until 6pm for those picking up pre-ordered sourdough). 14 Gonzales Rd, Belen. 505-302-5657. Please park in our driveway and ring the front doorbell for service.