The Dirt on the Farm: Fall Reflections and Predictions

Welcome to fall, y’all!! Sorry I couldn’t resist. It’s officially cold again, at least in the poster choice IImorning. That has had some positive and negative effects on crops. Farmer Tim here. It’s time for another farm update.

Overall, 2016 will go down in my books as somewhat of a poor year, with a few exceptions for a some of the summer crops. Despite that, I feel like we were to give out diverse boxes with quality food that hopefully kept you fed well. Between a rainless July and the crazy bug pressure we ended up with more losses than usual.  Extreme insect pressures made the growing of leafy greens and almost all of the cabbage family crops very difficult for us this year. Thankfully, these colder snaps of weather have finally set back flea beetle populations enough that the remaining fall brassicas, particularly cauliflower and brussel sprouts, are doing pretty well, albeit battle scarred. Carrots and winter squash region wide were also pretty problematic, though the problem there was weeds and irregular water. The winter squash harvest this year is about 50% what it has been typically. Seedlings planted in June that get not a drop of rain in July will always suffer to some degree. That loss of yield in winter squash shouldn’t effect boxes too much, it will trickle into your shares a bit slower than usual, but I think you will get your fill. We worked hard to get some carrots together for fall, but again we don’t have as many as we planned for and planted. We’re going to let them get pretty big before giving them out so they go further.  On a positive note, we expect to have tomatoes for several weeks yet, and the pepper plants out here are the nicest I have ever seen. Beans too have been pretty good this year, and should last a couple more weeks.

Once first frost hits hard, most of the peppers and tomatoes will fizzle out. The quicker-to-food crops, spinach, lettuce, salad mix, and radishes to name a few, are doing awesomely and will thrive even into the early cold weather. We have many plantings of each, and the tunnels are full again with a bit more for later. The more exotic fall roots (salsify, scorzonera, parsnips) did not survive the roller coaster of July and August, but beets (love em or hate em) are growing themselves this year, and coupled with celeriac, turnips, and storage type radishes, will make up healthy doses of fall and winter roots for your shares. This won’t be a great cabbage season, but kohlrabi and fennel are on the cusp of readiness, and the kalettes will likely be harvestable in early October. So, while maybe not our best growing year, we did have some great successes woven in, and are hopeful for an abundant fall.

For those of you that have been with us over multiple years, you have probably seen that every year is different. We plant the diversity, knowing that not everything will have a great year. We celebrate what does particularly well (like the melons and tomatoes this year), and long for what struggles or fails (broccoli, leafy greens, cabbage this year) and we eat what the fields are able to provide. We always take away a slew of new lessons and experience to carry into the next growing season, and so far we have never gone hungry. Many thanks for eating with us, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the 2016 CSA season.