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Not Quite a Frost

With more High tunnels available to us then has been the case in past years, growing in the shoulder seasons is feeling almost as overwhelming as the main season rush. When starting at SLGNW last year things were pretty much a blank canvas. The high tunnels were empty and all we had to do for the most part was plant. This year however we have had to make the hard choices of which houses to pull first. And if you think saying good bye to 10 foot plus tall tomato plants is tough, just imagine pulling hundreds of them out by hand. Hauling them off by cart to the compost piles, then all the laborious prep that turns those beds back into a nice smooth surface for direct seeding or transplanting. Multiply this by this by 6 or 8 and add on the pressure of diminishing light and the required planting schedule. This can give you a little idea of what we are feeling and where we are headed. Truth be told though, that same diminishing light that puts the pressure on also has it’s own way of making time for us to decompress. With more darkness in the evening and mornings and the eventual freezing tempts before the sun comes up to heat the day. One finds themselves with little other choice than to take some time for yourself.

Now don’t let this bit of venting be mistaken for complaining. The fact of the matter is for all the extra work we may have taken on, the opportunity to grow better and better each season doing more of what we love in a more efficient manner is ever present. You won’t catch us complaining about the fact that with more high tunnels we can use less low tunnels. Focusing more on overwintered carrots and onions outside as opposed to greens which generally don’t fair as well considering the work. We’ll still be slipping and falling on icy plastic each winter but hopefully with less frequency.

Speaking of icy segues, this past Saturday brought the first frost advisory of the season.  And with it out came the first layers of row cover seen on farm since April.  To only have to cover a few beds of more sensitive greens that we wanted to make sure stay perfect.  As opposed to half our outside growing space was truly a joy.  Not that the time to cover mostly everything outside won’t be here, because it will.  There are countless lettuces, choys, and other cold hardy plants living their best life.  The fall is their season and to an extent the cold is beneficial.  It seems intuitive to close all the tunnels and cover all the fields when the lows approach freezing temps at night.  However, the instinct to capture the heat of the day also traps moisture and leaves the plants less hardy for the colder tempts to come.  The time will come for heavy row cover and plastic, but for now we must let things harden off and stay dry.   Yes, a few things like beans and flowers may have thrived another week or two if we diligently cover them however, all of that takes time.  And after all time is all we have so we must choose and make the most of it.  Leaning into the cooler seasons and accepting the inevitable so goes farming as does life.

Have a great week

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