Fall Harvest is Upon Us
One might assume that things get slower and easier on a CSA farm in the fall, but this is when we do a lot of heavy lifting. Our average first frost is the second week in September and while some crops are sweetened and improved by light frost, others are killed and damaged.
All those summer treats are coming to an end and we must get as much as possible to our customers before first frost. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, sweet corn, fragile herbs, and more. Then we can focus on the end of season harvest-all-we-can. The farmers market are busting at the seams!
To start, we must get all the onions out of the ground and cured in the hot sun for a day, then trimmed and put into storage. The potatoes need to be dug before the weather gets cold enough to penetrate the skin and cause brown spots inside the tubers. They will store, but the brown stripes are unpleasant. The rutabagas, turnips and radishes stay in the ground until the last harvest day before deep cold. In theory carrots can actually be left in the ground overwinter, but we will harvest the entire lot that remains. Simply not washing them and putting in bags in the cooler will allow storage carrots last for months. On a small scale, we have also had great success with utilizing wet sand as a storage medium for carrots. The brussel sprouts stay out well into the cool frosty season. Finally, the winter squash. This storage giant must be cured in the greenhouse at 80ºF for 10-14 days before going into a cool, humid, well-ventilated space for winter. In storage, winter squash will ripen and sweeten sort of like a banana until it can’t get any sweeter. Then it starts to rot. Properly stored winter vegetables will last well into spring, so it is worth knowing proper techniques. We have prepared a complete list sorted by veggie type on our website. Check it out.
This time of year we are weeding our fall greens, radishes, and those salad turnips and baby beets for the final boxes. We have pie pumpkins turning orange and kale turning lovely purples. The monarchs are flying home and our students and teachers are enjoying their final days at We Grow before returning to school. All signs of the rest that comes at the end of the final harvest. Only six share weeks left!