By Farmer Richard
It is proving to be a very wet fall encompassing multiple flood events followed by weeks of wet days. The damage caused by the floods at the end of August and first of September created quite a mess for us to clean up! The powerful waters blew out field protecting berms, washing away as much as five inches of the best topsoil and depositing sand, rock and driftwood in its place. It’s a mess to say the least! So we have spent the last three weeks clearing not only piles of driftwood and rocks from fields, but also removing most of the trees that have grown up in the creek bed over many years. This is a huge job involving six crew members daily for three full weeks. Our little spring fed creek normally is only six inches deep and six feet wide, but when the run off from the surrounding woods and poorly managed ridgetop fields pours into our valley, the result has been devastating. This year we saw significant damage to fields that have not been flooded since 1952. The NRCS staff that cost-shared our streambank repairs in 2006 and again in 2008 admit they did not understand how to prevent future damage. Together we figured it out and are working to improve the landscape before the next substantial weather event. We removed all trees that impeded water movement. We left single trees of apple, walnut and majestic shade trees and a few black locust to use for future wood and fence posts. We made sure there are no two trees left side-by-side that could catch drifting logs and create a dam effect. The concept is to let flood water easily spread rather than forcing a bank to wash out or overflow into our fields. The result is actually attractive. Our neighbors say it looks like a park! It will now grow more soil protecting grass for our cows to eat instead of the willow thickets and junk trees that blocked water movement previously.
One of our other challenges is that we have to put the topsoil back where it washed out. We have a plan, but it depends on dry weather! We have a forecast for several dry, windy days this week, and maybe more. But HVF doesn’t operate on maybe! We are full out harvesting the roots that we need for fall and planting a rye cover crop on the fields as soon as we can to provide for winter protection. We have our garlic seed cracked and ready to plant. Please, please, just a few more days of dry weather to get it in! A few more days to plant horseradish and sunchokes would be appreciated. And at the same time our root harvest progresses even though a bit muddy, less than ideal, but if we can, go for it. Most carrots are in, celeriac is smaller than we like, but in. Cabbages are in and look great. Brussels sprouts now sweetened by several frosts are limited but yet to harvest.
We’re hoping to finish harvesting beets tomorrow (Wednesday) and will then move on to more parsnip, burdock, turnip, beauty heart radish and a very nice crop of the very large kohlrabi for December boxes. We still have hopes for some more spinach and a long shot gamble on other greens that would only make it if we had a nice, warm “Indian summer.”
We’re doing the best we can in less than ideal conditions. Despite the challenges, we’re still bringing in some beautiful vegetables! We still have five more CSA deliveries after this week and we’re confident these boxes will continue to be filled with beautiful vegetables. We’ll continue to make the most of each day and do our best to finish the season strong. Our guys are anxious to return to Mexico to see their families, but we need to get our fall work finished first. Keep your fingers crossed that we get those dry days we need!