Fall is Coming!
Every year I am absolutely taken by surprise when summer switches gears and turns to fall. August is an intense month on a vegetable farm. We are still planting, weeding, tending, and irrigating many crops, and our harvest of very highly perishable vegetables is at its peak! Tomatoes, beans, melons, cucumbers, zucchini--none of these crops are very patient at all. They ripen quickly and demand that they be picked immediately for the very best quality and flavor. It's a pace that we acclimate to and even thrive on, but it is also exhausting!
Then, just like that, the season starts to change. Temperatures cool, and suddenly the green beans can hold a few days. Our zucchini and cucumber production slows and harvesting them takes significantly less time. We start harvesting some of my most favorite crops--crops that are truly patient and will wait until you are ready for them ("Ready" often means space in the cooler, space in the schedule...). Today we harvested our first bed of fall carrots, and they look lovely!
Our winter squash is beginning to mature, starting with the fast-growing varieties like acorn and delicata and ending, just before the frost, with our long-season pumpkins and large butternut squash. Once harvested, the squash "cures" in our greenhouse in bins where they develop their sweetness over time. Our first squash will be ready in just a week or two!
This pivot to fall is also a ramping up of our planning for next season--hard to believe! In order to properly put our fields to rest, we must know what crop will be grown there next year at the very least--ideally several years out. Last week we planted many many cover crop seeds to build fertility in the fields we have finished cropping for the year. Last night's rain was a perfect amount for the baby oats and peas to shoot up--they look great!
We use marsh hay to mulch many of our long-season summer crops. It's a wonderful mulch and soil addition, but is often not available in the early summer when we want it. In order to secure a supply for the following year, we have to buy it during the early Fall. This year for this first time, we can store it under cover in our new shed!
Looks for other changes in the veggie roster coming up soon--leeks, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, autumn root vegetables and greens are all thriving and we're looking forward to a delicious fall!