Fall is great for apple picking, pumpkin carving and football. We’d add clam planting to that list. That’s right, fall is the best time to plant steamers.
We have just finished planting steamer seed in the marsh of Barnstable Harbor. Soft-shell clam seed (that’s what us aquaculturists call baby steamers) is tiny––less than a quarter inch in diameter. Planting involves going out at low tide, sprinkling millions of them on a sandbar, covering the planting with a net, and waiting.
We have to admit we didn’t do all the planting ourselves. We had some help from our friends at Wayne Hayes Seafood. Wayne is our trusted shellfish-growing expert––he’s been advising us on our steamer-growing project since we started.
This is actually our second season as growers. And we are happy to report that the steamers we planted last fall seem to be on track. They are small––just about the size of a quarter––but growing.
Wayne tells us there is no perfect timetable for growing steamers. But steamers must be at least two-inches long in order to be harvested. So last year’s crop needs at least another year, maybe two more, on the flats.
We are looking forward to being able to harvest, sell, and serve our very own locally grown steamers. And we hope this is a way to help us keep our pricing friendly, too. Watching steamer prices go through the roof was one big reason we got into this in the first place.
Of course, Wayne also tells us not to count our clams too soon. There are always things that could go wrong: our newly planted seed could die in its first year in the mud. Or be eaten by birds.
We’ve been lucky so far, though. We hope you’ll keep your fingers crossed for us, and we promise to keep you posted.