The frost-warning forecast from a couple of days ago, for 1°C (34°C), moved up a day to tonight. so there’s row cover all over the field. Some of it was floated out against the possibility of frost, the rest, as so-far-effective deer deterrent. Up front, around 800′ of snap beans, just starting to form, are bundled up against the cold. Then, row cover over carrots, and farther, lettuce, has been in place for a few days, and seems to still be keeping the deer from munching. In the distance, peppers and eggplant are under frost protection. Elsewhere, we’ve covered a few beds of cherry tomatoes to prepare for tonight. Winter squash and pumpkins are mostly in, and summer squash and cucumbers are finished, and the rest out there are hardy enough, and that’s about it!
Brought in our compact collection of pumpkins today, ahead of likely frost this weekend. Never been big on pumpkins as far as quantity, but they are fun to have around. This year, some standards like Connecticut Field, a bunch of Small Sugar pie pumpkins—always handy—and one novelty type, Jamboree, in a fetching shade of greenish-grey-blue. Some went into the seedling room, the rest, under cover in the tiny greenhouse. One more fall thing done…and it’s still SUMMER!
This season didn’t see too much pumpkin action in the garden, with less planted than in the past (although we’ve never planted A LOT). Mixed with winter squash in a couple of locations, the spread-out pumpkin patch added up to somewhere around 50’x50′ (15x15m), about half of the usual, enough for 3 weeks of CSA, plus some for the farmers’ market. The selection was to-the-point as well, with lots of the freakishly fast-growing Neon (60-80 days!), a few Connecticut Field, and some compact Small Sugar for pie and Snackjack for seeds, all basic mildly-ribbed-and-orange, without the unusual extras of most other years. True to past form, the hybrid Neons, even the ones transplanted quite late in June, completely ignored the mysteriously weird conditions this summer that slowed down just about everything else. Here, loaded on the trailer, is about half of the overall harvest. No intriguing pumpkin surprises, still, EVERY successful harvest is ALWAYS worth a high-five, therefore, officially fun… :)
It’s another week till the start of CSA shares and the first picking of peas, and at least 3 weeks until some of the heavier crops—broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash—are ready, so Friday’s are still about general fieldwork, not HARVEST. Just ahead of the end of spring, Lynn, Libby and Jordan planted out a last wave of winter squash and some fast-maturing (80-90) Neon pumpkins. That brings the spring planting to a close, a little later than usual, overall, but considering the first-year, start-up situation, really good!
We also put in one bed of melons under infrared-transmitting (IRT) plastic mulch (above). For a couple of years, I planted 5-10 50′ beds under IRT mulch (more heat to the soil), but yield wasn’t worth the effort, including the extra watering (didn’t use drip tape under the plastic). This year, with one bed to focus on, it’s an experiment—we’ll try to give them extra special care!
Lynn vanished early from lunch, only to be found reading her new herb book under a tree. This photo (below) doesn’t nearly capture the scene: it looked like an impossibly peaceful countryscape, from a simple, carefree world—fit for a postcard. We were laughing, and Jordan spontaneously got out his camera and took photos, too. I asked her if she’d scouted the location for the setting (joking, but I can also be a bit of a cynic! :), she said it was just the best spot she could find for shade!
“Hand-tended” is one of the phrases that usually gets popped into the occasional bit of promotional writing about this market garden. Sounds good! If asked (hasn’t happened so far), I’d explain that we don’t use many machines, most of the garden work is done with hand tools, or just hands, as in, hand-weeding, or plucking off bugs…by hand. And lots of time is spent through the season, crouching and crawling around, checking out what’s going on with particular plantings of this or that. Which all seems pretty cool. :)
Today, Tara and I hand-transplanted two beds of early-maturing Neon pumpkins (above), along with a few more Snack Jack (tiny pumpkins bred for producing lots of tasty seed). The Neons are 70-80-day hybrid, kinda freakishly quick to mature (pumpkins are mostly 100+ days).
At this point in the season here, it’s getting kinda late for winter squash and pumpkins, but there are a few beds still to fill in, so a bunch of 70-85-day varieties, coming up in pots in the greenhouse, will be heading out to the field over the next week. With anything but the worst in cold and cloudy weather over the next three months, they should size up just fine!
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!
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.