While harvesting Chinese cabbage, Farmer D is amazed to find a parasitic wasp. He explains the benefits of having these insects in your garden. (Meredith Darlington/MNN and Nick Scott/MNN)
Farmer D: This Chinese cabbage and this Chinese cabbage were planted around the same time. Even this one. This one has bolted. These haven’t. So, why, I don’t know, but I sure as heck don’t want to save seed from a cabbage that’s going to bolt too soon. So I'm going to harvest it out. This is compost and it's still going to be edible, these outer leaves should still be fine. Chinese cabbage is grown mostly for the stalk. So this juicy part is what you chop up and put in stir fry or shred it up for salad. The stem is more like kind of like bok choy. It's more of what a Chinese cabbage is prized for. The leaves are great. This one’s going to be a tad bitter because it bolted, but it should be fine. Now this is cool. With Chinese cabbage, also like lettuce, you can leaf pick it. So if you have this in your garden, instead of taking the whole head. Come in a little closer. Oh wow, this is awesome! Alright, it you come in really close, we are witnessing one of the greatest beneficial garden bugs at work. This is a parasitic wasp that is parasitizing a cabbage looper as we speak. Really cool. What happens, it lays eggs in the caterpillar, and that parasitizes it, it breeds the beneficial wasp and it kills the pest. Chinese cabbage is pretty prone to bugs. Cabbage loopers love them, flea beetles love them. But when you do grow them they are pretty quick, they are about a 45-day cabbage, which most cabbages are more like 70 days, so they grow really fast. I'm going to leave that one even though it's bolting because it's providing a habitat for that wasp, which is just awesome.
Daron Joffe is not your typical farmer. Joffe is a 30-something eco-entrepreneur with more than a dozen projects around the nation. Actress Jennifer Garner thinks his turnips “rock” and billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson wants him to develop an organic farm at his exclusive New Jersey spa. Known as Farmer D, Joffe also creates Farmer D Organic Compost out of green waste from Whole Foods stores in the southeast U.S. In addition to innovative internship programs that help at-risk youth learn about agriculture, Joffe is involved in creating and sustaining small organic farms in developments around the U.S. Want to know more? Watch all the In the Field videos with Joffe on MNN.