Friday, October 29, 2010

What's new at the Farm? A warm fall

What a difference a year makes!
A year ago at this time it was cold and wet. I had just returned from a week’s vacation in northern Maine where the highs and lows were in the 20s and 30s. Wednesday’s high was 67. Last year we had had repeated frosts and were irrigating the peppers for frost protection. This year we have had one killing frost and haven’t irrigated at all.

We are ahead of last year for several reasons. The two biggest ones are a more dedicated crew and beautiful fall weather. This week last year we were thinking about taking down the tomato trellises and this year they are down, put away and the ground has been seeded down. Last year we were finishing up processing squash and cukes. This year we are as well, except we had five cucurbits in 2009 and 17 this year.

The farm is starting to look a lot like fall.

We’ve been working on seed saving from the pepper workshop; there are hundreds of plants to save the fruit and extract the seeds from.  This is a full time job right now for four to eight people. A couple of days of rain and we’ll at least catch up a bit.

The last cucumber gets harvested this week and we’ll process three or four squashes. We’ll wrap up processing next week and all will be left is miles of plastic to pull up from the fields and some fall projects we like to do before winter. The sluice area is going to get a thorough cleaning, all the equipment needs to be steam cleaned and most of it gets stored for the winter. The irrigation pipes, valves and pumps can be brought in and winterized, and any parts or pieces we need can be listed so I can order them during the winter.

Other fall projects include: taking inventory of greenhouse supplies and listing wants and needs. We'll need new flats, potting mixes, fertilizers, pesticides and pots. We'll take stock of watering supplies, which includes hoses, nozzles, watering cans, turn-off valves, water timers and filters. We need to determine which greenhouses will get new plastic next year. I think number three is due. We’ll also try to get some planting plans ironed out for next spring and the labor to cover these plans.

There are a few fall crops left to harvest. Fall carrots come to mind along with some lettuce and greens. There’s still fall spinach right outside my window -- a green contrast to an otherwise dead and dying flower trials field. A few other root crops remain, but that’s about it. The poly tunnels are all but bare except for a few flowers. We’ll plant some overwintering crops in them shortly.

Until next week, enjoy the temps.


Anonymous said...

We have a question for you....with all the warmer weather, we waited to plant our garlic. I checked the soil temp. this AM and it is at 40 degrees....I read some information that said the soil should be at 50 degrees. Did we wait too long now to plant? We live up in the corner of NW Indiana.
Thanks for your reply!
Tom & Lisa

Johnny's Seeds News said...

Tom & Lisa:

Garlic is typically harvested around August 1st, dried, and held for planting when soil temperatures drop in October. This delay allows garlic planted in the northern half of the U.S. to develop their roots in the fall, but not emerge from the ground until the soil thaws in the spring.

Soil temperatures in the mid forties stimulate the garlic roots to emerge. Mulching the garlic as soon as it is planted is recommended for northern growers as it retains the latent heat in the soil, and allows root development to continue long after bare ground in other parts of the garden has frozen.

Also, this link to a .pdf garlic growing guide from Johnny's website may be of use to you.