I probably say it every year, but this year flew by. Actually that seems like an understatement, I think it flew by at lightening speed! Seems really strange that I am packing the cooler again with winter storage crops and am already receiving 2018 seed catalogs in the mail. After what seemed to be a grueling season at times, we had record harvests in several crops. I was aiming for 5000 lbs of carrots and we finished with over 6000 lbs, the cabbages are as big as basketballs and the winter radish and turnips are pleasantly more beautiful than they have ever been.
We've had a glorious extended fall which has made for an extended harvest and smiles while doing it. Generally the sun has been shining, even if the temps are cool and the wind a bit strong. Speaking of wind, we had several trees down in the big wind storm and lots to clean up, but thankfully no damage to speak of. I hope you all were just as lucky.
Simon, is generally hunting rodents in the cover crops while we harvest, although, on this rainy day, he preferred to cheer us on from the comfort of the truck. I think he is sad not to see his friends on a weekly basis, but he is happy because now I have more time to take him for walks at the end of the day...and he loves wearing his orange hunting vest : )
The fall rains were welcome, but it resulted in muddier roots. Carrots, turnips, beets, radish and celeriac all surfed through the root washer on a slower speed and with additional hand spraying to get them sparkling clean. An extra step, but worth it.
After washing we lined the crates up in the barn to drain overnight, then bagged them in 50 lb sacks and stacked them in the cooler. In the last week, we have moved over 3 TONS of food, literally. I am always amazed what our small farm can produce! Luckily I have friends with extra cooler space, because I had a bit of carrot and cabbage overflow : )
The extended warmth has blessed the field crops with a few more weeks of growing. Although we have had several light frosts and now several freezes (below 25), the color in the beds are still glowing. We will harvest as much as we can for the Thanksgiving Share. The problem is when nights are in the low 20's, they take awhile to thaw the next day (we cannot pick them when they are still frozen or they will get mushy) and the the sun goes down so early . So our harvest window is very tiny. And believe it or not, it takes several hours just to harvest a few crates of spinach!!
The extended fall made it very hard to prep the hoop house for overwintering crops for two reasons. First, I felt guilty pulling out the tomato plants when they were still loaded with so many fruit! Second, the warm temps made the spinach germination very spotty (upper left hand corner). We had to fill in the gaps with more seed and now, with the cooler temps, they have germinated nicely, but it will delay their harvest from Jan to Feb or March. This year we are experimenting with overwintering kale and chard. We transplanted them in late October, maybe 2 weeks later than expected. The look nice now, but hopefully they have had enough time to prepare themselves for the cold months ahead. Having just one hoop house is a balancing act with the seasonal crops I would like to grow. I have toyed with erecting another one, but the labor that goes into maintaining the house is greater the the revenue I would receive through the CSA, so we are just keeping to the one for now.
Puffa was extremely helpful while I was trying to put "remay" over the plants in the hoop house (ok, extremely cute, but not helpful at all!). Remay is a woven fabric that insulates the crops. It keeps the plants a few degrees warmer than the outside air and it keeps frost from settling on and damaging the leaves. We have to remove it before we harvest, we do not crawl underneath it like Puffa prefers to do : )
I hope this finds you brimming with thankfulness, whatever that may be. And that it may lift your spirits for days to come. Happy Thanksgiving!
This Month's Bounty: winter squash, pie pumpkins, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, turnip, watermelon radish, kohl rabi, fennel, savoy cabbage, leek, onion, scallions, garlic, celeriac, celery, spinach, kale, apples and potato rolls
The Farmer's Table:
*Watermelon Radish -- like a radish, but BETTER!! It is stunningly pink inside so it makes a lovely crudite. The skin is slightly spicy but the inside is sweet, so it's great raw. It is also wonderful sauteed or roasted.
*fermented cherry and pepperocini peppers
*cabbage kraut slaw -- so yum! There are lots of variations on line
*penne alla vodka with fresh tomatoes
*etouffe with homemade seafood stock, celery, sausage, green pepper and onion
*egg/tomato/avocado fritatta (the avocado was gifted to us : )
*Apple fritter bread
*and we just got fresh liver, so we made our Powerhouse on a Plate pate of course
*lots of oh so sweet raw carrots
*finished the last of the broccoli (steamed) and cauliflower (roasted)
*acorn squash stuffed with sausage, onion, garlic and peppers
*aji amarillo pepper paste -- I grew a pepper we fell in love with in Peru. It is staple in many of their dishes, so we are trying to replicate!