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Covering up and winding down

The Chill in the air this morning and the last, leaves little to be questioned when asking has Fall really arrived. We more than likely would be out of step to suggest there aren’t a few 80-90 degree days left in 2023. Regardless between the daily low temps and dwindling light there’s no getting around it. Around the farm that means throwing on our hats and having extra layers at hand for both the early and late day cold. Hoops for low tunnels will be popping up all over the farm and along with them weighted bags and the row cover itself. We’ll have to go through the piles of repurposed greenhouse plastic which will make this winter’s low tunnels, trying to have them at the ready for our future time savings.

Had you stopped by in Durham last Tuesday around 11 or so there might be one question on your mind. “Where are all the farmer’s and who hired the professional green house covering company? ” Upon further inspection however, you would find that in fact those are the farmers there, just covering one of the high tunnels in quite a profession fashion. With the benefit of 6 farmers who know how to work together, the picturesque perfect day to do it and a little bit of experience, we were done in well under an hour. Not a rip in the plastic, even and tight, now all that remains is for Joel to finish the other updates to this tunnel.

As the hours of daylight shorten so does our to do list for the main 2023 season. Recovering the high tunnel was one and another was planting overwintered onions. Last years OW onions were quite a disappoint considering how much we planted mainly due to one fact. An newer to this area bug the Allium Leaf Miner, who we are learning(often the hard way) more about each season. Evidence of our learning is certainly reflected in this year’s main season onion crop. By covering the onion transplants early in the spring until the heat of summer we were able to avoid the production shrinking damage from the leaf miners. Our Strategy for the fall OW planting is quite similar with one additional measure a location change. So it was off to SLGNW Wednesday and Friday for a few of the crew. There the planting of 1000 or so row feet of onions in the location of our first summer squash planting of 2023 was just one of the objectives accomplished. Currently covered with a heavier row cover in the coming weeks we will be adding more hoops and plastic for the low tunnels, hoping for a bumper crop for the early 2024 season.

It is really exciting to be starting production in the outside field space in Middlefield. We hope to tarp and cover crop these areas in the coming year also using our animal friends the chicken and sheep in the process. We’ve taken the first step in pasturing the sheep in another area of the outside space right by the 200 ft high tunnel we call the Jungle. This year was our first production year for half of this tunnel space. The remaining 100 ft we have cover cropped with peas oats and radish to be some winter fodder for the animals. Between the animals and the cover crop this neglected soil should be in much better condition for the coming years. This cover cropping and rotational grazing system is something we hope to use not only to recoup the land here in Middlefield. We also strive to make this a long term closed loop fertility system.

Have a great week

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