Fall is finally settling in and surely winter is just around the corner with the long fall we have been enjoying. It’s hard to believe we had similar cool temps in late August, but then saw some of the highest temps of the year in mid-September when we are typically experiencing our first frost in “regular” years. The unpredictability makes farming ever more challenging. We like to wait for first frost to share certain fall crops with you, but alas this is not an option this season. Rutabaga is the first example and this week, you are receiving brussel sprouts even though they have not been sweetened by frost. Rest assured that they still taste great!
On the farm, we try to keep the produce growing as long as possible, but there comes a point that we just need to get the field ready for winter and prepped for next season before the soil freezes. Maps are being drawn for where next season’s crop rotations will be. We will cultivate and shape several beds in preparation for spring planting. Covering the shaped bed with black landscape fabric will prevent erosion, nutrient loss and preheat the soil next spring. While it is not ideal to shape beds this far in advance, spring rains can put us severely behind schedule when we have to wait for perfect soil conditions to support the heavy tractor. Having a portion of the field ready allows earlier crops, even if it must be planted by hand.
The only annual overwintered crop we grow is garlic. Individual cloves are planted in late October, left six inches deep in the field all winter and bulbs are harvested in July and August. Any garlic we grow can be used for seed garlic, but the best and biggest is intentionally sorted from the crop each season to be used as the next year’s parent crop.
Removing old plants to prevent the spread of disease, adding organic matter and incorporating manure are all a huge undertaking in the fall. This must be done after crops are out but before the ground freezes, so time is of the essence. If anyone is interested in coming to the farm to work their muscles and help with fall field clean out, please let us know.
Making plans for the coming season is the best part of fall work on the farm.