2016, October

Farm update – 10/2/2016

We don’t have a ton of any one thing right now, but the diversity of produce items is on the rise! Peanuts, okra, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, herbs, and eggs round out the list of items that are currently available.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we worked hard this weekend! In fact, if we’ve worked harder on the farm any other weekend this year, I can’t remember it.

Not only did we put in a second row of six raised beds, we also attempted to essentially put in the entire fall garden this weekend. Notice the word attempt? That’s right, once again we did not accomplish everything we set out to do.  But as we closed the barn up for the night, little more than an hour before dark, we paused to reflect (and rest) a minute, and couldn’t help but be impressed and proud of what we did get done.

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We planted half the raised beds, putting in Swiss chard, arugula, mesclun, mixed lettuces destined to become baby greens, loose leaf lettuce, and a quick-maturing bibb head lettuce. We also planted nine rows in the field, including broccoli; curly and dinosaur kale; watermelon radishes (yum!); and purple top, scarlet queen, and 3 full rows Hakurei turnips (double, triple yum!). Things that we ran out of time to plant were carrots (multiple varieties), beets, and radishes.

So why were we trying to get the entire fall garden planted in one weekend? Not just because we’re gluttons for work, of course, though we must be, but because unlike the spring and summer seasons, the fall veggie season has a somewhat firm end date associated with it: first frost. In our part of Georgia, the average first frost date is around November 19, but has ranged from October 29 to December 6 over the last ten years. Certainly, some veggies like spinach and kale are built for tolerating cold weather, but they need to be well established, and still may be lost to a hard freeze. Many of the veggies we’re planting now take 45-55 days to reach maturity, and the upper end of that range takes us right to our average first frost date. September’s stubborn warmth, which kept us from planting sooner, also means that we have little room for successional planting this fall. In the spring, we often plant the same veggie every few weeks to extend its season, but we can only do that this fall on the crops that are very quick to mature. Arugula, baby greens, and radishes all could be ready in 3-4 weeks, so barring an unusually early frost, a second planting of them in a week or two should be harvestable this season.

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Thought I was done there? Nope! We also mowed the orchard in which our vegetable field is situated to keep pests and weeds in check, which necessitates pulling up all of our irrigation and shiitake logs, and then setting it all back up. And we dug another bed of peanuts, plus half of the peanuts in the field, sitting in the shade of the barn afterward to pick peanuts off the vine. Exhausted yet? Me, too!!

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