In your box:
–Summer squash, cucumber or eggplant
At this stage of the season I’m no longer planting veggies, of course, but I am still busy in the fields getting ready for the winter. As soon as I’ve harvested everything from a row in the garden or an area of the field it’s important to me to get it in good shape for the winter and then for the next growing season. This means adding compost, primarily. All through the fall I’m busy pushing around wheelbarrows full of rich black compost, dumping them in the field and returning for more. Compost replenishes nutrients to the soil to replace what the crops have removed with harvest, but just as importantly it adds millions of bacteria and helpful microbial life to the soil and works to condition the soil. Dirt with added compost has lots of “glue” to help hold moisture and nutrients but also has a proper texture to drain well during heavy rain events.
Once the compost has been applied I seed cover crops whenever I can. There are hundreds of different crops that work well in this regard, and they all have different strengths and benefits when they are planted. Some crops, like winter rye and hairy vetch, can survive the winter and resume growth in the spring. Others, like oats, radishes, and field peas, grow quickly in the fall but die during the winter and leave a nice covering of decomposing plant material. Either way, what is important is that the field is covered and not just bare dirt. Without a root system in the soil and plant leaves on top of the dirt, any exposed soil is vulnerable to wind erosion. Having a root in the soil going into the winter also helps to stabilize nutrients in the soil for next year and prevents them from leaching into the ground water, where they go to waste or wreak havoc in watersheds downstream. I’m always changing what cover crops I plant and experimenting with new mixtures, but I’ve always found it worth the cost to plant cover crops whenever I can.
Thanks so much to the families that made it out last weekend for our work day! We were able to get all of the red onions cleaned and ready for the CSA boxes and we removed all the pepper plants to the compost pile. Thanks again! I know it’s a busy time of year for many families, so I would definitely like to add some more work opportunities earlier in the summer for next year.
This week’s box is kind of an “everything must go!” free-for-all as we clear out the garden ahead of a potential frost this weekend and as we transition to more of the storage veggies soon to come your way. This is certainly the last week for tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and sweet peppers (most of which are pretty small, but since it’s the last chance for them I thought we’d include them in the boxes anyway). All of these plants will die at the slightest hint of frost, and even if we avoid getting that cold at night the days are just too short for them to continue bearing.
This week brings our only celery of the year. The celery we grow isn’t the light-green, bland, over-watered nonsense you’ll find in a grocery store. Ours is dense, delicious, and actually tastes like celery! Celery keeps well for up to three weeks in the fridge, so be sure to bag it and store it for additions to soups over the next few weeks.
Don’t forget: our year-end Harvest Party is this coming weekend, on Sunday the 30th. We’ll get started at 3:30 with farm tours, yard games, and socializing with our community members. Around 5:30 we’ll have a potluck, so bring a table setting and a dish to pass. You’ll also want a chair and comfortable clothing. Friends of the farm who aren’t with our CSA are always welcome. The weather looks a little unsettled at this point, and in the event of rain we’ll postpone the party for a week. Check your e-mail and the website for more information. Hope to see you on the farm!
Expected next week: Salad mix, arugula, bok choy, rutabaga, garlic, radishes, onion, and kale.