Week 12: August 21, 2018

The End of Summer

To many it feels like summer is just about over. Traditionally, Labor Day marks the end of those relaxing summer days spent staying cool by the lake or taking family trips. You’ve been working hard to keep up with the yard work or running this way and that with for kids. We crossed the half way point of the share season last week. How can we only be half way?!

We are excited for the summer that remains in the month of September although it claims some of our hardest, longest harvest days. Digging root crops mostly. With the cool fall weather, it truly is our favorite time of year. The crops are at their peak abundance and the weather is enjoyable. Who wouldn’t want to work outside? Unless there is a cold rain. We stay inside on those days and cook soup.

That first frost marks the end of another of our seasons, but unlike the end of summer for the kids, it brings relief not despair. The average annual first frost for our area is September 12. Fortunately we farm on a high spot geographically and we usually gain a day or even a week over the folks who live in lower areas around us. Last season, we did not get that frost until well after CSA season was over. While we would love to base our decisions on last season, we have to go off of the averages. There is a lot of farming left to do after that first frost. This is a time when season extension tools like tunnels and row covers show their worth.

Many crops require cooler weather. The fall crops we plant just for this time of year require 50 degree or cooler nights to grow. Lettuce won’t germinate if it is any warmer. Neither will spinach. Radishes bolt in the heat, but grow perfectly in the cool days of fall as do rutabaga, turnips and arugula. The longest crops we plant are brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes with 100 and 110 days to maturity. Sprouts taste even better with a light frost sweetening their starchy complex flavors. While we hope to stretch the growing season as long as possible, we appreciate the normalcy of a standard growing season and look forward to the calm at the end.

Ready for the season change,

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