|We started harvesting sunchokes earlier this week|
This Friday marks the official transition from summer to fall and on Sunday, September 24th, we’ll celebrate this year’s harvests with our annual Harvest Party shin-dig. We’ve been talking about this seasonal transition now for several weeks as things have started to change in our fields. This week however we are feeling it more than ever. We’re harvesting purple top and sweet scarlet turnips, sunchokes, daikon radish, fall carrots and we will be packing Soup Mix before the week is finished! The leaves are starting to change colors, hickory nuts are dropping to the ground, and we know it’s just a matter of time before we get our first chilly, frosty night. We hope you are planning to attend the party this weekend so you can see our valley and fall crops for yourself!
|Honeynut butternut squash curing in the greenhouse|
A lot has been happening in our fields over the past few weeks, so we wanted to catch you up on our activities with a field report. We said goodbye to watermelons, melons, zucchini and cucumbers over the past few weeks, but there were more crops entering the stage as these summer favorites dwindled. We are nearly done with winter squash harvest. We have harvested and cured most of our winter squash and will go back to harvest the last few loads remaining in the field before the end of the week. We’re planning to start packing winter squash in your boxes possibly as early as next week.
Our first planting of tomatoes is nearly finished, but the second planting still looks pretty good and continues to produce. We have been having pretty cool days and nights, so the tomatoes have been ripening slowly. We’ll keep picking right up until the first frost. We’ve also been hitting our pepper field pretty hard with harvests. There isn’t a whole lot remaining at this point. Our orange Ukraine plants are pretty much done. They produced a lot for us, but there isn’t much remaining on them. The Orange Italian Frying peppers are still producing and we’ll be able to pick for this week and next, but I’m not sure how much will remain beyond that. We’re planning to deliver mini-sweet peppers in next week’s box, but these plants don’t have a lot of fruit remaining on them.
|Celeriac with green tops freshly washed!|
This week’s featured vegetable, celeriac, comes to you with its green top still on. This is another sign of the transition point in the season. While we’re still harvesting them as green top, we’ve already started to mechanically harvest these roots for storage. They’ll all need to be harvested within the next few weeks as they will not tolerate more than a touch of a frost. This marks our transition in cooking as well. Soon we’ll all be enjoying more root-focused soups, stews and braised dishes to warm us up on the cold days.
|Scarlet & Purple Top Turnips harvested last Saturday|
There are some vegetables that make their appearance in the spring and then return in the fall. Fall is a special time in many ways for some of these crops as the cool fall days and nights help to intensify the colors of vegetables and the flavors of some things mellow out and are sweeter. We’re harvesting a beautiful crop of fall fennel right now and just started harvesting our fall crop of baby white turnips. Next week we’ll be resuming baby spinach and salad mix harvest. The color on these crops is always very impressive this time of year. The green colors of spinach are more intense and the red lettuces are stunningly gorgeous!
At the farmers’ market we’ve already been getting inquiries of “When will Brussels sprouts be ready?” Well, they are making sprouts and looking pretty good, but this is one of the brassica crops that benefits from a few frosty nights before harvesting. All brassicas undergo changes in flavor in cold weather. Their flavor becomes more sweet and well-balanced. So the best estimate I can give you for when we’ll harvest them is after it frosts. We also have our eye on the sweet potatoes and will be harvesting those before too long. We’ll have to do a sample dig at the party this weekend to check the progress in growth and gauge just how much longer it will be before we’re ready to pull the trigger and do the big harvest!
|Jicama, sweet potatoes, squash and more coming soon!|
|Newly planted escarole and radicchio plants|
Next week we’ll be delivering jicama in the boxes. It’s in the process of being cured right now to set the tender skins. This year’s crop looks pretty good! We’re still learning how to grow jicama but I think we’re making progress! We did harvest some that don’t look so pretty. If you come to the party on Saturday, we’ll share those with you. They don’t look good but they are still good to eat! We also have a crop of tat soi slated for a late season harvest and we’re trying a new growing method for some late season chicories. This week Scott, Simon and Jose Antonio finished planting escarole and radicchio transplants in our cold frame greenhouse. We did a pretty good job of growing head lettuce in the cold frame greenhouse this spring and delivered it in the May boxes. We’ve never grown escarole and radicchio in a greenhouse, but thought we’d give it a try and hopefully they’ll be ready for some of the last boxes of the season in November and December. They are more cold hardy greens that can take cold weather and frosty nights and their flavor actually improves in cold weather. In the field they can sometimes get damaged when the nights get really cold, so we’re hoping the more protected environment of the greenhouse will allow us to get the benefit of the cold weather but gain the protection from deep frosts. Wish us luck!
In addition to harvesting crops, we’ve also managed to stay on top of planting cover crops. As we finish harvesting a field, we move right into preparing it for winter and includes establishing a cover crop. Did you read last week’s newsletter regarding the importance of regenerative farming methods related to mitigating climate change? Well, we’re trying to do our part by getting cover crops on bare ground so they can capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. How cool is that?! We’ve also finished putting up stored hay for our animals to eat this winter and we’ve returned to some of our woods management projects. The high winds we had in July along with the rains took the tops off of a lot of our trees in the woods. We’ve been scouting the woods identifying where the damaged and downed trees are. We’ll focus on salvaging what we can this fall.
Despite the challenges of the July weather event, we’re gearing up for a bountiful fall harvest and we’re hoping Mother Nature will be cooperative! There are still a lot of delicious vegetables remaining to experience this season as we continue our journey in our seasonal eating adventure. I’m already starting to look forward to some favorite winter dishes such as Turnip-apple quiche, sweet potato casserole and rutabaga mash! We hope to see you at the party this weekend and hope you enjoy the last few months of vegetables!