At the end of the growing season, some farmer’s like to say that they are working on ‘putting their gardens to sleep’. When all the harvesting is done there is still work to do to prepare the ground for rest before the onslaught of winter and harsh weather. There is still plastic to be ripped up, trellising to be taken down and cover crops to plant. Not to mention all of the food that still needs to be harvested! A responsible gardener or farmer would not simply take the crop and run, because there is still a fair amount of giving back that needs to take place.
When CSA is over, our hurried schedule of meeting harvesting deadlines every week shifts to a different, more casual sort of pace that I happen to enjoy very much. There is the waxing and the waning of the seasons and the waning is beginning now. The off season is time to care for your tools and equipment and see that they stay lubricated, sharp and in peak working order. It’s time to pick up larger miscellaneous projects that help improve the functionality and esthetics of the farm; usually projects too large to tackle in the middle of the growing season when all of our attention and time is spent actually in the field.
We have plans to build a portable chicken coop on an old wagon we have on the farm to keep laying hens in. We look forward to offering pastured, fertile and soy-free eggs to our CSA members next year. Due to the new pattern of flooding every year now, we need to work on re-directing water flow around the greenhouse, and bringing home a wood-burning hot-water furnace for heating our greenhouse and getting that installed and functioning. Last Spring, being our first Spring in our new greenhouse, we did not have a practical and economical method for keeping the greenhouse from freezing at night in the early March days when most of the plants are being started indoors.
As this season is getting colder and winding down, we’re working on getting more winter rye planted as a cover crop. The winter rye will keep weeds from coming up and taking over still this fall or in early spring when new growth starts again. The rye plants will help hold the soil in place where there was bare soil from recent harvests, and it will help restore nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. The cover crop helps hold the nutrients in the soil in place rather than risking that they be lost from water leeching and erosion in the spring and fall.
Putting the garden to sleep is peaceful, triumphant and even sad in some ways. It’s the mark of an end of a good and timely growing season. It’s the exhale from my constrained chest, it’s the laugh at the end of a good story and it’s the smile on my face when I’m sleeping. But the end of a growing season and the beginning of Winter also means many months ahead without fresh, local food. We have a winter to endure and the time is now to gather our nuts and store them in our holes. Although it is time to exhale, it is also time to hurry up and store, can and freeze some food while the real food is still here!
So….WHAT’S in the BOX???
Beets- More beautiful Beets. Notice the Burpees Golden beet or the heirloom chioggia beets mixed in. Stores best in a plastic bag in the refrigerator with tops removed.
Red Cabbage, or January King Cabbage– Stores best in plastic bag in fridge.
White Onions— Still plenty of onions to give. Does not need refrigeration. Store away from direct sunlight.
Cherry Bell or French Breakfast Radish- Fall radishes are always much crispier, less hot and hardly ever woody. Gotta love fall radishes.
Bell Pepper, Hot Pepper- Beautiful peppers. Possibly the last week if we have a frost coming! Maybe one more if we’re lucky!
Arugula- Brought to you by popular demand. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Look for recipe ideas below. Mix with salad.
Red Leaf lettuce- Lettuce has been gone for awhile, maybe just a couple more givings to cap off a nice season.
Celery- More beautiful Celery. It looks a little better this week! Must be stored in plastic bag to keep firm.
Delicata Winter Squash- The first of our winter squash giving. The sweetest and most perishable of the winter squash. Adam’s favorite!
Broccoli- Absolutely Beautiful! I’m so pleased!
Next week! A short list of items that we may have next week, but will not promise to have. Due to the unexpectedness of the season, anything could pop up or go down hill in no time. Carrots, Potatoes, Celeriac Root, Spinach, kale, Onions, Garlic Peppers, Winter squash, Broccoli.