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.
Well, it’s finally happened….. The first frost of the year. After another beautiful start to the week, the end of last week finally returned to appropriate fall temperatures. And then over the weekend we had our first two frosty mornings. The first frost of the season is always a little bittersweet to me. I look at it as the end of the summer season of vegetables and then the true start of the fall heartiness. Lots of the fall crops that we grow begin to sweeten up as their sugars go into overdrive with the cooler nighttime temperatures. Our fall carrots (which we haven’t begun to harvest yet) really benefit from this. Even though we had these frosts, there wasn’t too much damage. I was hoping to get one more harvest of basil but it was toast this morning when I got out to the field. The only other crop that showed any significant signs of damage was our beans. We have two more plantings out in the field, one that we started harvesting last week and one that is loaded with flowers. I’m hopeful that we’ll still get some more beans but we’ll have to wait and see.
Last week we continued to our push to get ready for the winter months on the farm. Because the weather can turn to the point of no return at any moment, we are trying to get larger quantities of our root crops out of the ground. We were able to get more beets, carrots and potatoes out of the ground. Hopefully, most of the rest of them will be out by the end of the month. Another big job last week was to “top” our heirloom tomato plants.
Ok, so it’s September 25th. Fall is officially here and we just had our best stretch of weather all season by a long shot. These are strange times, my friends. I am definitely not complaining but we sure could have used some of these dry, warm days back in July. Aah, the life of a farmer. Loves being outside but never truly content with the weather.
Last week was a big week of visitors to the TC3 Farm. There were 3 different classes from Tompkins Cortland (2 English and 1 Environmental Science) and a group from New Roots High School. All in all, it was around 50 students out for a visit. It’s always great to have folks out for a visit and expose them to what we do at the TC3 Farm and all the hard work that the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems do during their internship. In the very least, I hope that we get folks thinking about where their food comes from and how their food choices can impact the local food system.
The weeks keep rolling by as we get closer to the impending end of the season. The mornings are much cooler and darker when I start my day and I’m afraid that I’ll be adding more and more layers sooner than later. But the optimist in me is ever hopeful that we will have a resurgence of warm dry days. As Autumn quickly approaches, we shift gears a little to start to get ahead. With the uncertainty of the weather, we want to stay on top of getting crops out of the ground. Last week we got a jump on getting a chunk of our potatoes and carrots out of the ground. Most of our potatoes have died back (their tops of turned brown and are starting to wilt) and because they are planted near our tomatoes that have late blight, it’s hard to tell if they are diseased or not.
How are we just a couple of weeks away from September? This season is rolling right by. Here we are at week 11, halfway through our CSA season.
This past week we said goodbye to our student workers through Challenge’s Summer Youth Employment Program. They were a great group who were absolute troopers. Working on a farm is challenging. Your outside in all sorts of weather, your body is in weird positions for long periods of time and you do a lot of the same tasks over and over (I’m looking at you weeding). But these young folks persevered. Always doing what was asked of them with great enthusiasm. They will surely be missed.
Last week I ran into a CSA member who has a Fall Only share. They said, “Todd, what’s up with the woodchucks this year?” I just smiled and said that they haven’t been an issue this season. For those of you who are new to the TC3 Farm CSA or those who may have forgotten about the Great Woodchuck Battle of 2016, last year’s damage due to woodchucks was one of the worst I have seen in my years of farming. This relief in pressure is most likely two-fold. First, there has been a significant amount of rain this year (have you noticed?). This means that there are plenty of lush plants that are not our vegetables for them to munch on. Secondly, and this is just a theory but it makes sense to me, is that we dispatched such a large number of those little suckers, um, I mean, beautiful little creatures, that we actually knocked back the population for the time being. There has been some damage to some of our crops that a woodchuck could be the culprit of but it also may be from a rabbit as well. Anyhow, the update for 2017 is that there is no significant damage due to woodchucks.