As we continue to write seasonal blog posts it’s likely to be a reoccurring theme that the Summer blogs are the shortest. Certainly not because a lack of things to write about, just the opposite in fact. This time of year there’s so much to harvest, so much to weed, so much to plant and tend, not to mention the canning and pickling! Ironically, the only thing that is fleeting is the time and daylight.
It wouldn’t be a Summer 2021 blog post if we didn’t talk about the weather. This lyric has been running through my head all summer. It’s easy when you’re a farmer to blame it on the weather… whatever “it” may be. There is no doubt that the weather has been a little funny this summer. Really, really hot and dry, then really, really wet and humid. The lack of sun definitely delayed our “tomato waterfall” and the rain didn’t help our leafy greens, but it could be worse. Elsa, Henri, and Ida reeked a lot of havoc for farmers in CT. Really, we are extremely lucky to have good drainage. The farm gently slopes towards Fowley Brook. So most of the water skirts around the edges of our field beds, away from the crops, down to the stream. While the wetness was a drag, we didn’t suffer any major damage. This summer has definitely felt a bit extreme though. Between working in haze from wildfires out West and Ida, who made landfall 1,000 miles away and caused major flooding and deaths here in the Northeast, we are living in a new climate and the changes to come are only going to be bigger and scarier.
I can still remember how wonderfully refreshing the rain was when this picture was taken. After the drought and early summer heat wave finally broke in early July we were feeling revitalized and energized. Little did we know this would be a “careful what you wish for” moment because now it almost seems like the rain hasn’t stopped. Although extreme weather and climate change might feel out of our control, there are choices and goals we can make as individuals to hopefully get the world moving in the right direction. As your farmers, friends, and fellow beings occupying this planet, we are committed to a more sustainable future and being a part of a more wholesome, resilient, reliable, and loving community. We truly feel that by embracing community and focusing on bettering our immediate surroundings we can take collective steps to better the world, whether it’s a globe pandemic, change for social justice, or climate change.
Bright pictures to follow a dark subject..
Always thinking a season (or two) a head.
Pre-farm life August always meant it’s time to capitalize on what’s left of summer. Farm life, August means it’s fall, and September means it’s time to get your s*** together for winter. I’m always grateful for Joel’s love of chess in these times because he is really good a thinking a few moves a head. For instance, winter squash needs to be started in late spring when pumpkin pie couldn’t be further from the brain. This year we tried our first Three Sisters Garden for the winter squash (and corn and beans). Although it wasn’t a complete success the squash did pretty good and we are going to try again next year. Ginger is another crop we need to be tending to far in advance. We start it as early as we can get our hands on the seeds that is shipped from Hawaii in late February or early March. Seed ginger looks like what you’d usually by at the store, dark brown skin, cured over. We take the seed, divide it into smaller pieces and put them in crates full of peat moss. We keep those crates on heating pads all winter and spring long, making sure they stay “moist but not wet” to avoid rot. Once they’ve sprouted and it’s warm enough we plant them into our high tunnels, where they grow and wait until mid September to be harvested. Another important part of preparing for winter during the summer months is of course, pickling and canning. Covid supply chain issues messed with our Mason jar inventory last year. So all year long we’ve been searching them out and scooping them up when we could find them. After long days of working in the fields and high tunnels, when really we just want to shower and flop in bed, we’d come in and make as many batches of pickles and canned tomatoes as we can muster up. In the moment it’s the last thing we want to be doing, but those winter soups are so much better with roasted tomatoes, and our pickles give you that spicy, salty, vinegar smile while old man winter is breathing down your neck.
The high tunnels are in transformation mode now as we pull summer crops to plant fall and winter crops. Below are 2 images of our greenhouse, Sven, taken mid-summer and just this morning (mid- Sept) . Sven is the only greenhouse with a furnace so it gets tomatoes first. Once those tomato plants have passed their prime we prep it for fall and winter. You can see the start of what will be a lush carpet of salad greens to be cut once and again transformed into a new crop of lettuce to keep us fed this winter.
The low point of this summer was having to say goodbye to David’s dog Maria. She was a sweet, sweet, sweet farm dog who could tirelessly play ball, steal any food you weren’t paying attention to, swim for hours, and surely brighten up anyone’s day. We called her a monster in the most affectionate terms and will miss her surprise visits to the compost pile.
The high point of the summer was having reliable helpers on the farm. Those of you who shop in Madison have met Lydia, she has also become a star weeder and harvester on the farm. Greg has mainly been behind the sense but he has been a potato wizard this summer, as he has almost single handedly planted, weeded, hilled, and harvested all our potatoes this year. Plus everything else he does (which is a lot). Thanks guys for a great summer!