Author: peartreehillfarm

Fall crops

It’s been a long time with no actual posts on the farm website. Time to change that!

After a hectic spring and summer season, we had a late start to our fall crop plantings, and despite some hard frosts and bits of rough weather, everything seems to be hanging in there and slowly progressing.

What’s in the field now includes: arugula, yellow radishes, salad turnips, carrots, lettuces, kales (Redbor, Winterbor, Siberian), collards, kohlrabi, bok choi, mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts (green and red ones), herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley, sage) and potatoes.

Head of storage cabbage nearing harvest stage

We still have not installed our hoop house or even any caterpillar tunnels for this season. All field crops are grown in black fabric mulch and covered by Covertan row cover or a test fabric we’re experimenting via a collaboration with Luna Innovations.

Covertan Row Cover on the left; Luna test fabric on the right

The list of winter “to-do” projects includes the installation and completion of much needed infra-structure (high tunnel, caterpillar tunnels, completion of processing area) in addition to our usual crop planning for next season.  There is always something to do.

What were your favorite crops during the main season?  Do you have any favorite fall crops?  What chores are y’all up to?

Main crop carrots! Carrots are one of my favorite crops overall.

 

Frozen

We all know it’s cold outside.

The sun is shining, and the breeze has let up today.  It feels deceptively warmer.

The first peek under the row covers suggests otherwise.

Leaf lettuces with ice crystals

The plants are cold.

Arugula

They are frozen.

Rainbow Swiss Chard

The multiple, consecutive days with temperatures below zero are concerning.  As this cold weather passes, it will be interesting to see if and which plants are resilient.

Will they bounce back?

Winter Gardening

We would love to extend our growing season into the winter months.  With more infrastructure coming soon, we’ll ramp up for that.  But for now, we have a few rows under production and some that are overwintering produce.

Our society is so spoiled by having every want and whim at our beck and call in the grocery store that we have forgotten all about seasonality.  There are some vegetables that grow better in the cooler season or taste better after the first nip of frost.  These cooler season crops are such delicious treats to enjoy during the winter doldrums.

Though the winter garden is easier in the weeding department – as in really little weeding necessary – it still does demand some time an attention.

Like today.  Our first snow.  Not crazy but enough to cause some action:

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Sweeping snow off row covers

Weather was forecasted to be in the teens…brrrr.  Certainly cold enough to freeze plant cells and cause some serious damage.  To prepare for the cold, we placed multiple row covers over the beds with the last cover raised higher to create an air space between it and the other row cover.

The downside of the outer cover is that it is held up with our taller, fiberglass poles.  Not metal poles.  Metal poles are great.  They may collapse under the weight of snow, but once the snow is gone they spring right back to shape.  Fiberglass?  Nope.  They collapse under the weight and SNAP!

So, although the snow is pretty, gives some much needed moisture to the soil and even helps to insulate (and protect) plants beneath it, if it keeps snowing today, I’ll have to keep sweeping it off to keep the fiberglass poles from snapping.  You can see in the photo that some row covers have already torn under the strain.  They will have to be replaced after the snow melts.

Why go to all the trouble?  Because these delicious beauties lie underneath and are totally worth it!

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Pre-cold snap harvest – stocking up!

Filling the Pantry

Cool evenings and crisp mornings…there are hints of fall colors starting.  The change of seasons is becoming more evident with each passing day.

We’ve been working in the garden to clean out summer crops passed their prime while planting crops for over-wintering.  Crops in the works include: lettuces, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, scallions, kales, collards, and even crazy things like cauliflower (may be too late but worth a try).

In the meantime, the last summer harvests have been processed in order to savor the tastes later on.  It is a bit of work, but there is a feeling of satisfaction when the pantry gets full.

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The results of a few weeks of canning.

Soon, I’ll get some beets and garlic pickled and restock our supply of hot pepper jelly.

What are you filling your pantry with?  Do you have a favorite canning recipe?