This Week on the Farm 10/15
Today is one of those dreary fall days where all you want to do is curl up under fluffy blankets and nap. I am the lucky one inside working on the computer, but Tyler is outside in the rain hustling to finish up frost protection methods. Wednesday night is the first night where temperatures are projected to dip below 32ºF. This means that we need to get floating row covers over the rest of the frost sensitive greens today; since between harvesting and delivery we won’t have time on Wednesday to work on that project.We already covered the lettuce mix last week and yesterday we placed metal hoops out over the arugula, mustard greens, and pac choy. Tyler has to go out and run row covers over the hoops and then place sand bags every eight to ten feet on each side of the fabric to keep it in place. The arugula row by itself is around 375 feet, so that is a lot of lifting. By the time he is done I expect he will be soaked through.
Sunday night was the first time we had to go out and fire up the sprinkler system to protect from a light frost. The low temp was projected to be 35ºF, so starting at midnight we were up every hour checking the temperatures. At 3am it was time to go out and fire up the irrigation. Tyler was out until 8am hauling water and fixing broken sprinklers. At 8am the temperatures finally climbed above 32ºF and he could come inside and warm up. His boots were soaked and his feet were like ice blocks. I need to go to the store this weekend and get him some waterproof hunting boots so that at least his feet will be warm on nights like that.
Because of all of his hard work, we are able to have peppers and green tomatoes in your box this week. We don’t have enough of one variety to give everyone the same type of pepper, so you will be receiving a mystery pepper. I did say last week that I thought that last week was the last week of peppers, but this week is definitely the last week of peppers. Almost every night after Wednesday night is projected to be at or below 32ºF and that is just too many nights to try to fend off the frost. Tyler needs to sleep at some point!
Since the temperatures have cooled off, the tomatoes have stopped maturing in the fields at a rapid enough rate for us to be able to put red tomatoes in your box. Some of you may be thinking that we are crazy putting green tomatoes in your box, but think of it as another culinary adventure! Green tomatoes can be either ripened at home (the method is listed on the reverse side), or you can use them as a new type of vegetable. There is a recipe for a gratin using green tomatoes on this weeks newsletter, but there are a lot of other options out there to try. You can make chutneys, relishes, bread and fry them and add them to a BLT, or search the internet for different recipes.
After talking to several other farmers we heard that a lot of other farms had problems with their winter squash this year as well. The weather and squash bugs decreased yields in the field and resulted in compromised fruits that did not hold up in storage. The highest loss figure that I heard quoted was up to 80%. It sounds like it was just one of those years.
Tyler and Don were able to try out the combine on Monday. The initial run resulted in a lot of split beans because the shelling rollers were too close together and crushed the beans. They adjusted the distance between the rollers and tried running the combine at a lower speed. This did help reduce the number of crushed beans, but we are still going to have to sort through the beans by hand to get rid of the splits. We were hoping to be able to harvest the rest of the field today, but with the rain we will have to wait until later in the week. Next year we should have our methodology/timing down better so that we don’t have to spend as many man hours harvesting/sorting this crop.
As the weather turns colder this week I am starting to look forward to the end of the season. But, there is a lot of work to be done to prep the fields for winter. We also have garlic to plant and two more weeks of deliveries to go before we are done and can start planning for next year.
A quick note on cleaning leeks. Leeks are very sandy because of their growth habit. When I prep leeks I do an initial rinse and then cut them however the recipe calls for. I then place the cut leeks in a deep bowl of cold water and swish them around. Then I pull the leeks out of the water either just using my hand or using a slotted spoon. This should leave any remaining sand particles in the bowl of water.