This week’s share

CSA share

Another rather nice fall CSA share this week! Thanks to no killing frost so far, we’re still picking beans (Jade), peppers (Gypsy, Ace, Cayenne Long Slim), and zucchini (Golden Dawn III). There’s also winter squash (Table Gold acorn), cauliflower (Minuteman), onions (Stuttgarter), beets (Scarlet Supreme), carrots (Nelson, Purple Haze), spinach (Spargo, Bloomsdale), parsley (Green River curly, Plain Italian flat), and garlic (Music). Plus a newsletter. Monday shares are left at a drop-off spot, with shareholders’ names printed on the handles…

CSA share in a bag

Winter squash season

Assorted acorn squash

At our farmers’ market, winter squash is the final course on the year’s harvest menu. From here on in, it’s mainly squash, pumpkins, root crops like carrots, potatoes and beets, and…cabbage. Most of the growers at market start bringing their squash in on the same day, like, today, by the trailer load. We harvested about half of our small, assorted crop—a few bushels in all—around 10 days ago, and left the rest to maybe eke out a little more growth until the first killing frost. For today’s market we took in a selection of acorn squash: green Table Ace, yellow-orange Table Gold, and white Cream of the Crop…

Friday harvests get quicker!

Fall harvest wagon

Friday harvests are getting quicker as the season winds down. This has happened at least for the last couple of years. Where earlier in the season, we finish around 8-9pm, we’re now mostly wrapped up by 5 or 6, and sometimes with less people than during the summer. I’m not quite sure why this happens. Probably, a big part of is that everyone out there in the field is now experienced and comfortably fast. Also, many of the crops in the weekly veg line-up are pre-harvested: garlic and onions first, and now, winter squash, pumpkins, potatoes and the new sweet potatoes. Still, it’s a pretty big harvest, and quantities are the same now as earlier in the year. Then there’s the shortening days—it’s starting to get dark around 7:30 pm now, down from 9:30 in late June-early July—and CHILLY WEATHER that likely speed us up! Anyhow, this is the most time I’ve spent wondering why—whatever the reasons, getting done quick is good! The trailer-load in the pic is about half of the day’s field haul, and there’s also the pre-harvested stuff. In this week’s harvest, in no particular order: carrots (2 varieties), cauliflower, beets (3 varieties), sweet peppers (several varieties), hot peppers (several varieties), green onions, spinach (2 varieties), summer squash (3 varieties), beans, tomato (several varieties), parsley, basil, all from the field, plus, pre-harvested, garlic, potatoes, winter squash (several varieties) and onions (2 varieties).

Beautifying the good garlic

Toshiko trims garlic

Toshiko, WWOOFing from Osaka, Japan, via Vancouver, where she’d been studying English for the last few months, is our last guest in the field of the year. She arrived last Friday night, and stays until a week from this Sunday, two weeks in all. A couple of years ago, she volunteered on larger farms in Australia, where whole days were spent on one task, like picking a single crop. This is Toshiko’s first taste of really tiny farming, where there’s something different to do every couple of hours. At this point in the season, fieldwork consists mainly of harvest and post-harvest things to do, also, maintaining row cover in case of frost. Here, she does a final, thorough sort through the garlic, separating the good from the damaged bulbs, and trimming the roots of the good stuff.

Trimmed garlic

Pumpkins and pigweed

Pumpkin harvest

Today, the pumpkins came in, wrested from a jungle of pigweed gone wild. Every year, a few of the 40 50’x50′ sections that make up the 2.5 acre garden get a little overrun with one weed or another (usually, pigweed). This year’s pumpkin patch was a good example, with pigweed growing unchecked for a good six weeks—no time made to weed, not IMPORTANT enough a crop—until today, when Raechelle used the belly-mounted 52″ mower deck on the Kubota compact tractor to mow it down!

Mowing pigweed

Of course, this is exactly what you DON’T EVER DO in a garden: allow weeds to flourish and go to seed, then mow them down, broadcasting seed everywhere… Oh, well. The alternative, pulling the pigweed by hand, then carting it off, we also do when necessary—see the Pigweed Mountain—but once in a while, I go for the instant gratification of seeing a section clean and clear in an hour or two. The millions of pigweed seeds, ensuring healthy future generations for years to come, will be dealt with…later. (As long as we weed on time next time around, how bad can it get?! :) Anyhow, it’s all part of the grand experiment! Guest pumpkin photo by Lynn.

Raechelle and the Kubota compact tractor

First frost misses

Sampling the frost

Frost finally hit the garden…but it missed the veggies! Just after sunrise this morning, there was ice on the grass at the very bottom of the field, but it stopped maybe 10′ feet from where the garden begins. Pretty cool. There’s a gentle slope from a high point about two-thirds of the way up the garden, and cold air flowed downhill and pooled at the very bottom of the field. Fun with science: when there’s no wind to mix things up, cold air rolls with gravity along the ground!

Frost on grass

Last day of summer in the garden!

North end of the field at end of summer

Here we are at the end of the calendar summer, a season of crazy weather largely gone by! Cooler fall conditions have been around for a couple of weeks now, with ample frost watch nights, so summer’s end at this point is only…ceremonial. Still, there’s that little twinge of melancholy that comes with the official end… The fall harvest is looking fine, with lots of brassicas, a good deal of lettuce, and the last of the fall spinach in the north end of the field (above), along with some last tomatoes, lots of peppers and eggplant, spared by frost so far. There’s also Jerusalem artichoke and potatoes, still in the ground. Green beans! And, of course, that section of sweet potato, fully row covered…

Middle of the field at end of summer

Moving down the field, there are the last plantings of beets and carrots, parsnips, some Swiss chard, and lots of mowed but still untilled empty sections…

South end of the field at end of summer

At the south end of the garden, the herbs and flowers are all hanging in there—row cover has kept even the super-cold-sensitive basils alive and well. If I’ve missed anything in the rundown, well, it’ll still be there!