Well folks, our season is wrapping up so what can I say… It’s time to start prepping for next year. Darin and John are working to get strawberry beds made and ready for planting. Our strawberry starts are in the cooler waiting for plant out. They’ve had to wait until the soil moisture was just right after the rains we had so the tractors could go back to work. You can’t do tractor work when the soil has high moisture content or you’ll compact the soil. I gotta say it’s always pretty spectacular to watch the tractor crew navigate multiple tractors so close to each other with such ease and grace. (You can see in the pic Darin on the orange tractor way in the background while John is turning his around) The tractors have also been working hard to mow down and prepare the soil for the rest of our cover cropping seed to be sown.
In the high tunnels the eggplant are all gone, some of the peppers are done and the tomatoes have slowed way down. The beds in the high tunnels don’t get cover cropped so that we can use the ground to plant in through the winter. It’s too valuable of real estate to lock up in cover crop for months so we rely heavily on composting in the tunnels.
Most of our fresh flowers are all done in the fields. The ladies have made some of the last bouquets of the year and are now planting flower crops that will over winter on our Westland parcel. They have already planted Ranunculus, Anemones and our first trial of sweet peas in the high tunnels. We are hoping to extend the sweet pea season this year by planting one round in the tunnels for an earlier bloom and as usual we will plant a row of them next to our strawberry fields. If you have joined our winter CSA and signed up for flowers these are some of the varieties you will first receive as bunches in February.
The flower ladies are have also begun digging up perennial plants and transplanting them to another section of the flower fields to add to our gorgeous perennial block. Pictured to the left are perennial root stocks watered (or misted) and waiting in the shade to be planted out. Wreath making has begun and even some of our crew members are taking interest in learning the art. There was even a sighting of Betsy, our flower production assistant from last year, making wreaths! Sadly, Emily S. and Ellen will be leaving the flower crew Thanksgiving week. They designed and made some gorgeous bouquets this season for all the CSA flower share members, the farmers markets, and for special orders. We will miss them and wish them both well on their next flower/farming/life adventures!
Speaking of the Westland parcel, the crew has been spending a lot of their time over there tending to the beds of our fall and winter crops. The next round of turnips will come from over there. It seems quieter around the farm now that a lot of the field work is down the road. Hard to believe we are harvesting from our fall/winter beds already.
The chicks now have freedom to forage outside of the brooders and are also getting fed delicious scraps of veggies that come back from the market. They are getting noticeably bigger daily and even braver. They still run when you approach near but come back to you much quicker. They also sometimes get outside the netting and it can take a couple people to corner the bird, grab it and get it back inside without allowing others to escape. It can be quite fun to try and capture the little chicks. They are so fast!!
Has anyone noticed the yolks in your eggs have been significantly much brighter in orange color the past month or two? This is because the fields have greened up again from the rains and from feeding the hens crops that are high in beta carotene. Which crops are they getting you ask? They get all the scraps from the farmers markets as well as any food that doesn’t make the cut to go to market or in your CSA share and it turns out peppers have a bit of beta-carotene in them so since the hens have been getting pepper scraps you’ve been getting brighter yolks!
Side note: Some of you may have received potatoes that were washed and others ones that were not. We washed the potatoes when they came out of the fields and were way too muddy to send out to you. However, it’s best to not wash the soil off the potatoes until they are ready to be cooked. Just like with the protective membrane around eggs, the soil around the potato protects it until of course it is washed off. Once it’s washed it becomes more easily bruise-able, it will sprout sooner, and just doesn’t store as long on the shelf. The curing process of commercial potatoes is not possible for us here on our farm. It involves storing crop at certain humidity and temperatures levels that vary throughout the process. This means our potatoes are a bit more delicate between the time of harvest and consumption. So that’s the short version of why you had “dirty” potatoes in your share. They will last until Thanksgiving if you wish to wait a couple weeks to use them. And an FYI for Thanksgiving planning… my current plan is to put in more potatoes ~1.75# ‘s in your last share.