Ok, so it was hot out there today! But we managed to get in most of the harvest by mid-morning. Now, if you’re new to the TC3 Farm CSA, you’ll soon find out that I end up giving a lot of weather updates and how it’s affecting the season. It’s inevitable. I won’t dive too much into it this week, but I just wanted to acknowledge that. This past week, we were kept busy with more transplanting, lots of cultivating (aka, weeding with tools) and hoophouse tomato management. We are growing 25 different varieties of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a fairly intensive system. All the varieties are indeterminate, which means that they will grow as tall as we let them (or season length). We keep a single “leader” and each week we go through the houses and “sucker and trellis” the 730 plants.
Well, folks, we made it. The 4th season of the TC3 Farm CSA is complete. A big heartfelt thanks to all of you for supporting the farm this year! It really means a lot.
Just like last year, the weather had a huge impact on the growing season. I know I’ve mentioned this in earlier newsletters, but after experiencing an extreme drought and extreme wet weather in back to back years, I’d take the drought over the wet 10 out of 10 times. They both have their own issues but we can do more in a dry year. A wet year like this poses a whole lot of problems. First and foremost, it’s hard to get fields prepped when it’s always raining. And that throws planting schedules off or plantings get completely missed, especially with a lot of direct seeded crops, which happened plenty of times. Then there’s the weed pressure. All plants love water and the weeds are no different. Disease pressure also tends to be a little higher during a wet season. The plants rarely had time to dry out, which made them a little more susceptible to certain diseases. Pests are pests and they will always be an issue but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen more snails or slugs than I have this season.
Even in an extremely wet year, there were a lot of positives. This was our largest CSA membership to date. We’ve almost doubled in shares since our first season in 2014. Again, thanks to you all who have been with us since the beginning and to those who have joined over the years. I also think that our new share options worked out pretty good. It’s always a little nerve-racking to think if there is enough food each week but I think we did well in that department. Even with crop failures (I’ll get to that in a bit), there was a good amount of diversity each week. I think that there were only a few weeks out of the 22 where a new item wasn’t introduced. And let’s give a little shout out to carrots and spinach. Those are two crops that we have struggled with over the years. In previous years, there may have been 1 or 2 distributions of little dinky carrots and that definitely was not the case this season. This was also the first year that we had spinach in this shares. It definitely wasn’t as often as I would have liked (or what we had planned) but it was a start.
Well, here we are folks, the second to last CSA pickup of the 2017 season and the night before Halloween. The wind is howling this chilly night. Where I grew up the night before Halloween was known as Mischief Night. The only mischief I’m getting into these days is eating a few too many pieces of candy corn.
This past week, we checked off another item on our end of the season list. We got our garlic planted. Garlic is the one crop that we save seed to replant the following season. We sort our bulbs when we harvest them at the end of July and the largest most uniform bulbs are saved for seed.
I usually aim to plant garlic at the end of October, using Halloween as my guide. I was feeling like it would be good to get it in last week and I’m glad that I did. We got some serious rain Saturday night into this morning out on the farm. It made for a difficult harvest today, with our feet sinking in the mud. I can’t imagine it being any better later this week because of off and on rain in the forecast.
After that brutal Monday morning last week, we had a pretty good frost Tuesday morning. There was definitely some collateral damage but all in all, the veggies were ok.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier weeks, a couple of frosts actually help to sweeten up some of our fall crops. I’m glad I was able to harvest the last of the field peppers but that third planting of beans definitely were lost and the chard didn’t make it through (a huge sigh of relief for some of you).
We’ve made it to the home stretch, folks. Week 19 of the CSA is upon us. There are 3 remaining weeks to the CSA season after this week. It’s been a roller coaster ride of a farm season that I’ll be sure to recap in the coming weeks.
But first, some farm updates. We finished getting the rest of the potatoes out of the ground last week. It definitely feels good to get a harvest like that done for the season. Potatoes aren’t one of the easiest of crops to harvest at the TC3 Farm. We really don’t grow enough potatoes to justify purchasing a potato harvester, so we dig our taters by using a digging fork. After loosening the soil with the forks, it’s on to our hands and knees to go searching for our “buried treasure”. It’s definitely a satisfying job but not always the easiest, especially when you have as many rocks in the field as we do.
After a beautiful weekend, today was the first real miserable day (mostly the morning) on the farm of the season. Even after all the wet weather we had this year, I can honestly say that. This was the kind of day that comes to mind when people comment to me on how awesome it must be to be working outside all the time. You know, that first really cold, wet kinda day. The one where your hands are really cold and they start to go numb while you harvest or do field work or wash veggies. Now, this isn’t a Puddles Pity Party, not in the least. I’m just saying that farmers work in all extremes to get done what needs to get done. And today that was harvesting.
Aah, October. What a great time of the year. The landscape is transforming as the foliage begins to turn. The days are getting shorter and Playoff baseball has begun!
Life on the farm continues to roll on by as we get closer to the end of the season. The harvest, along with cleanup projects keeps us busy these days. Besides cleaning out the hoophouses when they are ready, the next big project will be to plant next year’s garlic. I always aim for the week of Halloween to get garlic in the ground. And that is quickly approaching. I’ll keep you posted with our progress.
Nothing too exciting happened last week on the farm. I did harvest the first of our baby ginger at the end of the week to take down to the Fire Cider Celebration and Market in Press Bay Alley in Ithaca.
That was a really cool event because all of the vendors were selling the ingredients needed to make fire cider. If you’ve never had fire cider before, I highly recommend it. Especially in the winter months. It’s a traditional folk remedy that is a serious immune booster!