Adam Calder, Produce Manager
It is spring again, and that means it is time for seedlings from Lonna at Onion Creek Farm! Lonna has been hard at work for the past couple of months curating and caring for an army of little plants. They are now for sale at the co-op and ready to go home to your garden.
We’ve got old favorite tomatoes like Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, Blondkopfchen, Fence Row Cherry, Texas Tiny, Stupice, German Stripe and Green Zebra. There are also some harder to find varieties, like Oregon Spring, Periforme and Costaluto. While you’re grabbing your tomato seedlings, don’t overlook the peppers. From sweet Jimmy Nardellos, to sweet/spicy Shishitos and hot Ausilio Italian thin-skinned frying peppers, Wheatsfield has the perfect pepper to go with your tomatoes.
If you have tomatoes and peppers, you need some herbs and greens too! You can mix and match from Cuban oregano, dill, catnip, sorrel, sage, parsley, anise hyssop, motherwort, rose geranium, basil, rosemary, Georgia collards, white Russian kale and more.
It is also the time of the year for ramps, which are also known as wild leeks. Ramps are difficult to cultivate, usually must be wild-harvested and are only available for a couple of short weeks in the spring. They have a complex allium flavor, and a very strong odor when cooked.
Local asparagus may be on the horizon as well. The local farm we bought asparagus from for the past ten years, Iowa Asparagus LLC, sold their farm last year. We were sad to see the relationship end, as their asparagus was excellent and they were such a pleasure to do business with. The new owners are still getting their bearings, but they expressed interest in selling asparagus to Wheatsfield again.
As always, we have greenhouse grown fresh herbs from Mariposa Herbs if gardening isn’t your area of expertise. These herbs are available year-round and are consistently of the highest quality. If you don’t want to grow fresh herbs but like to eat them, then Mariposa is a great solution.
As the daylight hours lengthen and the temperature increases, we will see more availability from Lee’s Greens. The spring mix, baby kale, baby spinach and baby arugula Lee grows really thrive in these springtime growing conditions.
We also carry buttercrunch lettuce year-round from Clayton Farms, grown right here in Ames. They recently expanded their business, and opened a drive-through salad restaurant in north Ames where they grow their own lettuce right in the restaurant! They also sell several micro-greens we carry, such as broccoli, bok choy and beets. In a salad or sandwich, these micro-greens pack lots of flavor into a tiny plant and offer a great boost of nutrition as well.
For these reasons and more, the Wheatsfield Cooperative produce department is a great place to shop during springtime in Iowa!