Monday, October 26, 2015

Canadian Greenhouse Conference and Indoor Ag-Con

By Andrew Mefferd, Johnny’s Selected Seeds

October was a busy month for me, with two major, consecutive greenhouse conferences taking place mid-month — the Canadian Greenhouse Conference and the Indoor Ag-Con. They looked to be great events so I wanted to make sure and get to both of them — even if it made for a travel-packed schedule.
Canadian Greenhouse Conference at the Scotiabank Convention Center

First I went to beautiful Niagara Falls, Ontario, the week of October 5th, for the Canadian Greenhouse Conference. The Canadian greenhouse industry is highly advanced, so I knew there would be good information and vendors. The highlights included the many developments underway in the use of beneficial insects to control pests, with an informative discussion on how to identify pests and the best biocontrols to combat them without the use of harmful chemicals.

There was also a lot of talk about how to make greenhouses more efficient. In addition to hearing about the many ongoing developments in LED lighting and other technologies to increase energy efficiency, I sat in on a great presentation on a program by the Dutch government that is working towards having zero water and fertilizer emissions from greenhouses.

It is not a new idea that the ideal greenhouse would be one that produces no emissions whatsoever, and the technology is now catching up with the idea. In a country like Holland with a big greenhouse industry, reducing or even eliminating the amount of greenhouse emissions could have a big impact on improving the environment. As the technology comes on line to accomplish this, the Dutch government is tightening emissions standards to prompt growers to install newer, more efficient technology. It is exciting to see the technology being developed for cleaner greenhouses, because the Dutch tend to come up with a lot of the greenhouse innovations that end up being adopted worldwide.
Great looking produce and flowers

Other useful workshops included how to train and motivate workers, how to understand soil and water tests, and how to mix your own custom fertilizer solution. Overall, a very good conference that is worth attending for greenhouse growers.

The next week I went down to New York City for the first East Coast Indoor Ag-Con. This conference has been held three times in the past in Las Vegas, and is branching out into Asia with a conference in Singapore in January 2016, and is being held again in Las Vegas in April 2016.
If you look closely you can see that Johnny's was an event sponsor for Indoor Ag-Con!

This was a visionary conference, in that it focused on technological innovation leading the vanguard of protected agriculture. It provided a forum for those working on next-generation greenhouse technology to present their work and perspectives. Examples of topics that get a lot of attention include use of LED lighting, aquaponics, vertical greenhouses, aeroponics, and urban greenhouses.

I feel this conference gives us a glimpse into the future of indoor agriculture. Even if all of the innovations don’t become commonplace, chances are some of the new technologies being discussed will become standards in the future. The conference sold out, so maybe they will consider a multi-day format on the East Coast as they have in the past the West. Overall, it was a very informative and inspiring conference.
Indoor Ag-Con in NYC

Both conferences got me excited about the potential for improving protected agriculture, though they did make for a very busy October! Visit our Grower’s Library, where you can read more about attracting and putting beneficial insects to work; as well as controlled environment agriculture, including Johnny’s greenhouse trialing program, what to look for when choosing which varieties to grow under protected culture, and recent advances in protected culture crop production.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Visit to Leamington, Ontario, Canada – Greenhouse Capital of North America

By Andrew Mefferd, Johnny’s Selected Seeds

During the week of June 15 I traveled to the town of Leamington, Ontario, Canada to see the latest greenhouse varieties. I went to this particular location because it lies at the center of the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America. Leamington is farther south than any other town in Canada, since it is on a point in Lake Erie. Even before greenhouses were popular, there was a lot of field tomato production in the area, so it is Canada’s “Tomatoville.”

Here is a selfie of me with the tourist info booth in Leamington, which is a giant tomato. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when I was there — or there would be a helpful person inside the giant tomato.
This proximity to such a large body of water gives the area a “lake effect” climate, which helps smooth out the spikes and dips in temperature, making it a good area for growing all kinds of crops. Because of the high number of growers in the area, this is where newly developed greenhouse varieties are trialed and demonstrated. For tomato nerds like myself, this is an exciting place to be because the demonstration greenhouses act as a “living catalog” where I can see new varieties growing and taste them and determine if they are something that Johnny’s customers would be interested in.

Unfortunately, because these demonstration greenhouses receive so many visitors, I was not allowed to take pictures in most of them. Biosecurity is taken very seriously, as pests or pathogens could be brought in on almost any object that has also been inside other greenhouses. Even the people have to cover up — see my photo below. Even if not taken to this extent, having some kind of plan to keep diseases out of the greenhouse is a good idea for every grower. This is especially important for growers who have field and greenhouse operations on the same farm. It is very easy for workers to bring pathogens into the greenhouse if they go straight from working on one crop in the field to working on the same crop in a greenhouse.
Luckily, I was able to take photos in some places, even if I had to put my phone in a bag.
It is always interesting to go to field days and see the new developments. Breeders are constantly working to help overcome the production problems of growers by developing new varieties that are more resistant to pests and diseases, and have better flavor. These kinds of visits also provide a great opportunity to learn and share ideas with other growers, find out what their difficulties are and how they are able to overcome them.

In this greenhouse, I was allowed to get some photos of the new varieties on display. Also, I was able to get someone else to take a picture of the type of precautions that are taken to ensure that no diseases make it into the greenhouse. There were some very nice new varieties this year, including new cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Many of the new cucumbers for greenhouse production have resistance to cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV), a disease which is becoming more and more common in greenhouses in North America.

There were also some nice new tomato varieties on display. I am particularly excited about a very sweet and flavorful grape tomato for greenhouse production which may be available soon.

After three days in “Tomatoville,” I left town with many new growing ideas and potential new varieties in mind. It’s always great to visit and enjoy the warm hospitality of my Canadian hosts. For updates on these varieties, stay tuned to your next Johnny’s catalog to see if any of them make the cut in our trials this year and make it into the catalog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Update on our Asparagus Crown Planting: Part III

Our Final Asparagus Crown Planting Update 

May 2015

Here’s the last update ‘til fall for our newly planted asparagus crown bed. At the end of the last post, we mentioned that as the spears grow, you will gradually fill in your furrow with soil until its top surface is even with the surrounding soil line. We have been doing this since our last post, adding the final layer of soil to finish filling in the furrow today.

Surrounding Soil
Filling the Furrow
The process is the same as before: Gently pull soil into the furrow, while not completely covering any buds that are still emerging. Yesterday a large afternoon thunderstorm had already started to fill the furrow with surrounding soil. We used a collinear hoe to once more level out the rest of it. You might notice in the photos that some of the crowns are establishing faster than others and those spears have already grown well above the soil line. This is okay – some are just slower to snap out of their stay in cold storage than others and will catch up eventually.

Leveling Out the Furrow
Now that the soil level is where it should be, the next step is to cover the bed with mulch to suppress any weeds that might begin to grow. Keeping your asparagus bed free of weeds will not only save you a lot of labor, but support nutrient and moisture availability to the crowns. We use straw to mulch our bed, but other materials that allow water to percolate through, such as composted leaves, can also be used. Leave a couple inches of soil surface open around the line of spears down the center, of the bed, or keep the mulch layer thin in this area, especially if there are any crowns with spears that have not yet emerged above the soil line.

See photos below:

Your asparagus bed is now well set until fall — but keep an eye on it, and keep the soil moderately moist throughout the hot summer months.

In the fall, when the fronds have died back, cut them off at soil level, and be sure to remove all the debris, to eliminate potential habitat for asparagus beetles. Fall is also the time to add more compost, if needed, and to freshen up the mulch for the winter ahead.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Update on Our New Asparagus Planting: Part II

Update on Our New Asparagus Planting: Part II 

May 2015,

From our last post you’ll recall that we planted a new bed of asparagus crowns at Johnny’s Research Farm in Albion on May 4th. Prior to planting, we dug an 8”-deep trench, but following planting did not fill the trench back up to the soil line. Now that the spears have started emerging from the soil, it’s time to add another layer of soil.


This is a fairly simple process. All you need to do is use some sort of gardening tool — a rake, a stirrup hoe, a small pitchfork — and gently add soil to the furrow. We used a collinear hoe (see image below). Do not cover the spears all of the way; leave the top of the bud still showing above the soil.

Do Not Totally Cover Spears

The furrow still won’t be completely filled in at this point; you are only adding one more layer of 2–3” of soil. In another week or so, after waiting for the spears to emerge again, you will need to add more soil back into the furrow. Repeat until the amount of soil in the furrow is even with the soil line. 

Collinear Hoe
Although you’ll be eager to begin harvesting, establishing an asparagus bed requires patience. It is not until a full year after planting that the spears will be of harvestable size. Even then, your first harvest will be short. The reward for waiting, if you maintain the asparagus bed properly, is it will continue to produce well for upwards of 15 years!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Putting in a New Bed of Asparagus Crowns — Part I

By Lindsay Spigel, R&D, 
Johnny’s Selected Seeds

May 2015 

Following the late arrival of spring here in Central Maine — and hopefully the last few weeks of frosts — we were able to put in a new bed of asparagus crowns for our Research trials. Many of you have likely already received your crowns and planted them, but for those still waiting on the weather to break, now’s a great time to prepare the bed. Here’s a walk-through, with some tips for success.

How we made our bed: 

May 2015 Asparagus Trial
The first step in planting asparagus is to ensure that the site you've chosen meets all the requirements
to keep the plants healthy for many years to come. If you chose a location that is less than ideal, there are workarounds to improve the site, but in the long run it will be more work.

Choose a location that receives full sun or part shade. As you can see in the pictures, our asparagus trial is out in the open, with little shade from nearby trees. It is best to check your soil pH the fall before you plant; you’ll be able to apply any amendments at that time so it can reach the ideal pH of 7.0 for spring. Proper bed preparation in the spring is key — it is much easier to rid the area of weeds before you have planted than to fight weeds throughout the life of the asparagus bed.

After you ensure that your planting location is weed free, dig a furrow 5–8” deep. If your soil is heavy, a shallow furrow is better, to prevent the crowns from becoming waterlogged. We have well-drained soil at our Research farm, and you can see here that our furrow is about 8” deep.


Planting our crowns 

The crowns will look dry when you pull them out of the box, but that is completely normal. Because we had our crowns before we were ready to plant, we opened the box and removed the band from the bundle of crowns to inspect them. Mold that sometimes forms during shipping is easily wiped off with a damp cloth, and shouldn't affect the health of the crowns. If they appear to have dried out during shipping, sprinkle the crowns with a bit of water. After inspecting the crowns, we placed them loosely in the box, then loosely closed the box and placed it in a standard refrigerator. We checked on them every few days to ensure they remained healthy until we were ready to plant.

Asparagus Trial Spacing
When the timing is right — 3–4 weeks before the last average frost — and your furrow is dug, it’s time to plant. Our planting date this year was May 4th. Place the crowns 12” apart in the furrow. If you’re planting Purple Passion (F1), the in-row spacing should be slightly closer, 6–8” apart, to avoid overly thick spears. Splay the roots out as best you can while keeping the crowns upright time to plant.

Although the furrow is deep, at this time you will only cover the crowns with 2–3” of soil. Water the crowns until the soil is damp, and keep them moderately moist throughout the establishment period.

Cover the Crowns with 2-3" of Soil
Gradually Fill in the Furrow

Now you wait — it can take a couple to a few weeks for the crowns to become established and start growing. As spears appear, you will gradually fill in the furrow as they grow — check back in a couple of weeks to see images of how our new asparagus bed is growing!

Check Back This Friday for
An Update!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Johnny's Donates to FoodCorps

FoodCorps members are making a huge difference nationwide to revitalize garden space; from September through March of the 2015 school year, they have built or revitalized the equivalent of 8.6 NBA basketball courts worth of garden space!

Our Charitable Giving Committee recently partnered with FoodCorps to supply their members with pre-made kits of easy-to-grow seeds.

We can’t wait to see the outcome of their seed kits!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Visit to MOSES Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, Wisconsin

By Andrew Mefferd, Johnny's Selected Seeds

DAY 2 — MOSES 2015 Conference

Johnny's booth at MOSES
Johnny's at MOSES 2015
The next day I headed to the MOSES (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services) Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I had packed my plaid, since I'd heard that was the thing to wear to the MOSES conference. And, indeed, there was a lot of plaid being sported. Though it’s hard to say if there was more than any other gathering of farmers.

The first thing that really impressed me was the size of the conference. Organizers said there were more than 3500 attendees over the three days. Besides the sheer number of participants, I was impressed by their positive energy and enthusiasm. There were a lot of good ideas and sharing going on, both at the trade show and at the many workshops scheduled for the conference.

Upper Midwest Territory Sales Rep,
Ken Fine shares some of the finer points
of Johnny's pumpkins
My first stop was the Johnny’s booth, where our upper Midwest sales rep, Ken Fine was manning the booth and talking to customers. One of the best things about trade shows is the opportunity to spend time at the booth meeting our customers. I learn more about growing by talking to customers, and finding out what their challenges and questions are, than any other way.

Though of course there were many other, more formal ways to learn as well. MOSES had organized many educational workshops for growers both days of the conference, plus a pre-conference “Organic University” for those who really wanted to go in-depth.

Sandy Dietz, whom I had visited the day before, gave a good presentation along with her husband, Lonny, about how to transition out of off-farm jobs and into farming full time. They speak from experience, as they both have made the transition.

I also went to an excellent presentation by Adam Montri of Michigan State University, called “Are You Making Any Money in Your High Tunnel?” He pointed out how even though almost anything grows faster and bigger in a high tunnel, profitability is not assured. He presented some practical strategies farmers can use to track expenses and set prices to make sure they are profiting off their high-tunnel produce.

This was a great conference that I would consider attending again in the future. The food was great, and MOSES made every effort to source the food from local farms whenever possible. The other learning and networking opportunity was the huge tradeshow, which took up the entire floor of a basketball court and spilled out into the arena. I headed back to Maine exhausted and at the same time energized by the people I had met and all I learned, ready to put it to good use this coming season.

Sometimes a great conference is just what I need to get ready for another season.

Learn more...
  • Visit our Commercial Sales hub to learn more, meet your territory sales representative, or view our upcoming tradeshow calendar »

Read Andrew's Day 1 Minnesota Blog Post • Visit to Whitewater Gardens' Geoexchange Greenhouse in Altura, MN »

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Visit to Whitewater Gardens’ Geoexchange Greenhouse in Altura, Minnesota

By Andrew Mefferd, Johnny's Selected Seeds

DAY 1 — Whitewater Gardens’ Geoexchange Greenhouse, Altura, Minnesota

Earlier this year, I flew out to La Crosse, Wisconsin to attend the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Services (MOSES) annual conference. On the way in to the conference, I stopped by to visit with Sandy Dietz at Whitewater Gardens Farm in Altura, Minnesota.

I was interested to see the farm because they are incorporating a number of cutting-edge greenhouse techniques in order to grow vegetables in short-season Minnesota as efficiently as possible.

While they have several other greenhouses plus areas for field production (all under a blanket of snow at the time), what I was really there to see this visit was their brand new 46'x126' geothermally heated greenhouse.

Altura, MN in Winona County
This greenhouse represents the wave of the future when it comes to energy efficiency. The entire perimeter of the greenhouse is protected by a frost wall extending 4' down into the ground. This wall minimizes the amount of cold that penetrates through to the greenhouse, a worthwhile measure for reasons that were obvious on the freezing day that I visited. Insulation laid 4' down under the floor further reduces the amount of cold that seeps through the ground into the greenhouse.

One of the most unusual features of this greenhouse is that geothermal energy is the primary source of fuel for its heating system. Ground-loop geothermal heating is a technology that takes heat from the earth and builds it up to usable levels with a heat pump (also known as a ground source heat pump, or GSHP). The water is heated and then circulated through tubes in the floor, which literally heats the greenhouse from the ground up.

(Equally notable is that geoexchange technology allows for excess heat to be transferred back into the ground — or, for cold air to be pumped to a cold-storage area, for example — as well as for heating.)

When more heat is necessary than the geothermal can provide, a forced-air propane backup system kicks in to make up the difference. What I will be interested to learn after a few seasons of operation is what proportion of the required heating the geothermal can provide versus how much the propane backup system will have to supply.

Whitewater Geothermal Greenhouse
To date, there are very few geothermal greenhouse systems in the United States. But based on the fact that energy is the second-largest cost for many greenhouse growers after labor, I would be surprised if we don’t see more growers following the Whitewater Gardens lead.

Another innovation Dietz is pursuing is to install Solawrap greenhouse covering this spring. Most heated greenhouses using flexible plastic coverings have two layers of plastic inflated by a small fan. The air between the layers of plastic provides a layer of insulation, greatly increasing the heat-trapping properties beyond a single layer of plastic.

Instead of using a fan to inflate the layers of plastic, Solawrap uses two layers of plastic with bubbles in between to form the insulative layer. It looks like a giant sheet of bubble wrap. The advantage is that it maintains the air layer, without having to constantly run a fan to keep it inflated. The product is from Europe and not widely used in the US at this point.

I look forward to checking back in with Sandy in the future to see how all these innovations are working out on her farm. I really enjoyed the visit and am always impressed with the things I can learn about from our customers.

Learn more...

Check back for our next blog entry —
Day 2 of Andrew's Trip to Michigan & Minnesota

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day 2015 from all of us here at Johnny's! 

How are YOU celebrating today? Leave a comment under this post and let us know.

Ever wonder how Earth Day started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues, from San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Enter Our Farm Dog Photo Contest


We want to see photos of your farm dog! A lot of our customers have 4-legged companions on their farms, so we've teamed up with Planet Dog to give away dog toys from their Orbee-Tuff® Produce Line.

Click the photo below and follow the instructions on how to enter:

Contest ends April 27th, good luck!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Canadian Farmers: Share your Feedback

Calling all Canadian Farmers!
The National New Farmer Coalition and the University of Manitoba have put together a survey to assess the needs of new farmers in Canada where it concerns policy and educational opportunities...
And they want to hear from you!
The results from this survey will be used to develop a National New Farmer Policy Platform that we aim to share with all levels of government.

 Take the 20-30 minutes survey here>

All respondents will be entered into a drawing for cash and other prizes, including $500, $200, and $100 and non-cash prizes of: 

The survey is also available as a PDF that can be emailed or mailed to you. Please contact or for details.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Collards

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Technician, Steven Rodrigue, discussed Micro Greens. The week prior, Vegetable Product Technician, Steve Bellavia, covered the topic of Hot Peppers. This week, Vegetable Product Technician, Julius Koenig, will be sharing his thoughts on Collards:


  By Julius Koenig

  Vegetable Product Technician

Collards (Brassica oleracea) have been a staple vegetable for the southern U.S. for many decades. Now collards are becoming haute cuisine in many dining establishments across the country. The reason behind this interest could be the nutritional content; collards are packed with vitamins and minerals, also providing a great source of fiber. There has also been the comparison between kale and collards, which has many people debating which vegetable is their favorite.
At Johnny's, we offer three varieties of collards. Whether you’re looking for a Georgia type, known for savoyed leaves, or the Vates types with leaves that are smooth and flat, we have the selection to meet your needs. ‘TopBunch F1’, a lightly savoyed Georgia type that is very quick to mature in 50 days.  ‘Flash F1’ is a Vates type, with a beautiful dark green smooth leaf. ‘Champion’, our open-pollinated option, is a Vates type with large dark green leaves, but is also the best choice for baby leaf. 
Long-time Johnny’s Product Technician Steve Bellavia, who has trialed Brassicas for more than 15 years, says, “I prefer collards to kale, due to their sweetness.”  Interested in trying collards yourself? A simple Google search will yield you hundreds of recipes to try; from the traditional steamed collards to collard sushi. When cooking collards, don’t neglect the fibrous stem, which can be steamed or sautéed minutes before the leaves are thrown in the pot. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Micro Greens

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Technician, Steve Bellavia, covered the topic of Hot Peppers. The week prior, Vegetable Product Manager, Pete Zuck and Plant Breeder, John Navazio discussed Root Vegetables. This week, Product Technician, Steven Rodrigue, will be sharing his thoughts on Micro Greens:

Micro Greens

By Steven Rodrigue

Vegetable Product Technician

Spicy Micro Mix
Many growers have found micro greens to be a worthwhile addition to their offerings at farmer’s

markets and directly to chefs. Not only are they easy to grow, but the quick turnaround from seeding to harvest is a major advantage. The attributes of micro greens that are pleasing to the eye and the palate allow for versatility in the kitchen and inspire chefs with their ability to enhance the presentation of any dish.

Using micro greens in place of finely chopped, full-size greens and herbs allows the consumer to see where the flavor in their meal is coming from. By garnishing with micros, your dish becomes elegant, refined, and subtly sophisticated. Diverse flavor profiles provide micro greens with additional potential beyond garnish. Many of the micros grown from herbs complement desserts superbly with flavors ranging from sweet to tart to licorice-like. In addition to flavor, color and texture are qualities to consider when pairing micro greens with a particular dish.

There are limitless ways for how micro greens can accompany your next meal, but here are just a few:
  • As the scaled-down version of herbs and vegetables, use micros on scaled-down versions of meals. Top your miniature burgers with the micro green of your preferred flavor, texture, and color. 
  • Plan for the holidays: use bright reds and greens for Christmas and arrange micros on your hors d'oeuvre. 
  • Add a whole new level of garnish and flavor to your cocktails. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Hot Peppers

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Manager, Pete Zuck and Plant Breeder, John Navazio, covered the topic of Root Vegetables. The week prior, Vegetable Product Manager, Lauren Giroux, discussed Fresh Peas.This week, Product Technician, Steve Bellavia, will be sharing his thoughts on Hot Peppers:

    Hot Peppers

    By Steve Bellavia 

    Vegetable Product Technician

Hot peppers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and degrees of heat. They are widely used in some of the best and most interesting cuisines in the world, including Mexican, Thai, Korean, and Indian or Pakistani.
Poblanos are the mildly spicy, heart-shaped peppers used at the green stage for the famous Mexican dish ‘Chile rellenos.’ When dried they are called anchos and ground into powder for mole and other Mexican dishes. Use the powder in any recipe calling for “Chile powder” or “Chile flakes”. 
Krimzon Lee Pepper
Habanero peppers are used in the Caribbean for jerk sauces, salsas, and other hot sauce concoctions. They offer wonderful floral notes backed by intense heat. If you can’t take the heat, try ‘NuMex Suave Orange’ — it offers all of the floral notes with just a wee bit of heat. 
The hot and spicy cayennes can be used both green red, fresh or dried and made into flakes or powder. There are many cayenne varieties so one can tailor the heat of dishes by variety selection and the quantity used in a recipe. Cayenne powder is used in kimchee, the famous fermented Chinese cabbage dish of Korea. 
‘Krimzon Lee,’ a hot paprika type pepper is great sautéed, roasted, in salsas, and even spicy salads. The thick walls are sweet and mildly hot. 
Then of course, there is the jalapeno, the king of all peppers in the United States and Mexico.  It’s used for salsas, pickling, cooking, stuffing, and many other uses. If allowed to become red and smoked they become chipotles. 
If jalapenos aren't hot enough for you, consider the serrano. They are narrower, darker green, and hotter than jalapenos and can be substituted for 
jalapenos in any recipe calling for them. 
For a Spanish flair try using padrons as a tapas, a type of appetizer. They are harvested at the immature green stage when 1-1½” long, and have an excellent flavor when sautéed with a little olive oil, salt, and if you are a garlic lover, a few garlic gloves. Most padrons will be mild but about 5% will have some heat. If they grow to around 3” then all the fruits will be quite hot! 
Anaheim, also called numex, peppers are sometimes stuffed but also roasted and sautéed. Traditionally, they are used green, but they are also good when red ripe.

Pedron Pepper

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Culinary Trends in 2015: Root Vegetables

Albion Parsnip

Johnny’s Product Managers are weighing in on the National Restaurant Association’s list of this year’s top culinary trends. Last week, Vegetable Product Manager, Lauren Giroux, covered the topic of Fresh Peas. The week prior, Vegetable Product Manager, Pete Zuck, discussed Heirloom Tomatoes. This week, Pete, along with Johnny’s Plant Breeder, John Navazio, will be sharing their thoughts on Root Vegetables:

Root Vegetables

By Pete Zuck, Vegetable Product Manager, and John Navazio, Plant Breeder

Root vegetables remain a strong trend because of their high nutritional content, sweet flavor, and ability to store well into the winter months. They have been a huge factor in helping growers provide locally-grown food during northern winters.

One thing that is often misunderstood about root crops is the outer layer, or “skin.” There is a misconception out that the skin of a root crop vegetable contains a high concentration of nutrients, and that it should be left on the root for more nutritious eating. In fact, there is nothing particularly special, nutrient-wise, about the outer skin of a carrot or beet or parsnip. It does, however often contain high levels of off-tasting compounds like terpenoids, which give carrots a metallic flavor, and geosmin, which makes beets taste like dirt. So go ahead and peel your carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips… You will enjoy them much more without sacrificing nutrition!
Hakurei Turnip