After last week's light frost many things look dead but there are green spots throughout the farm. The frost sensitive plants are definitely dead but the peppers still look good (they were irrigated) the cover crops we have planted still look good and the usual cool weather crops like spinach and brassicas are thriving.
A walk around the farm this week and I've got a two page list of things that need to be done before the ground freezes. There's all those tomato trellises to take down; the top wire to be rolled up, the tomato vines need to be cut off and piled up to be disposed of, thousands of wood and steel stakes need to be pulled, sorted and stacked, and the plastic and drip tape needs pulling and disposing of. Once that's done, we chisel plow the field and that one's ready for next spring.
We're finished picking tomatoes, at least for seed. We picked two last week - one small cherry that took the entire farm crew two days just to pick it and one heirloom that took only a couple of hours. We picked the last tomato Monday this week and now can focus on other crops that need to come in. We've got a cucumber to harvest this week and we'll bring our squash and pumpkins in from the field too. We'll start processing the cucurbits week after next when I get back from my annual fall vacation. Yes, I said "vacation" in the middle of October!
Last year I took three days off in October to join some friends at their hunting camp "Downeast". Their camp is located at the end of a huge field of blueberries owned by Jasper Wyman. Twenty minutes into our bird hunt I slipped and threw my back out. Two days of resting at camp and I'm headed home on the third day. This year I'm headed due north; to stay at another friends camp for up to a week or until I get to feeling guilty about leaving all this work for the farm crew. Ha.
All that plastic we put down this spring is about ready to be pulled now; miles of it, around 18 miles to be more precise. Its unfortunate there's no way to recycle all that poly; it's just too dirty to do anything with. There are some promising biodegradable plastics out there but nothing really good that approved for organic growers. And the ones that conventional growers can use are priced pretty high. So, what do you do?
We do however recycle lots of nutrients at the farm. Because we don't harvest a lot of what we grow the nutrients are recycled back into the soil to feed subsequent generations of plants. Hundreds of pumpkins melting in the fields may seem like a waste but in the overall picture it's just recycling at its best. Much food is donated to local food pantries and employees get their fair share as well but I'd just as soon see some of these crops go right back into the soil. I used to shudder at the thought of plowing under a field or part of a field of perennial flowers but now I realize it's just more organic matter and nutrient recycling we're doing here.
Until the 21st, enjoy the fall, Brian