Our squash harvest is in full swing. The fog from the river valley kept the frost off earlier this week and we plan to have all the squash in the warehouse by Thursday night before the next cold night. Large fans and slatted bins will help to keep the air moving and should help us store the squash better than we have been able to in the past.
Bringing the squash in from the field is one of my favorite fall activities! There are so many bins and they are so colorful - it is rewarding after a long summer of work.
Open Farm day went well here last Sunday. Weather was beautiful and lots of people came out. We had sample boxes on display so I took a picture of the winter box sample for those who could not come. There is still lots of room but is time to sign up for your winter boxes before they sell out! Just go to the sign up tab on our website and follow the prompts. Also remember that the winter box is a bit larger than the summer one because it has to last two weeks instead of one.
Finally for those following our strawberry crop, here is how they looked on Sunday. The Strawberry transplants seem to really like the white row cover.
We are hosting an Open Farm day at our farm this Sunday along with other farms around the province. It will be from noon to 4:00 September 20. The primary attraction will be the new warehouse and ability to see a variety of livestock on pasture. There are some vegetables nearby too and we are going to try to offer a short hay ride as well.
Here is a photo of our packing team. Kirsten is QC (quality control) and Whelan is our senior farm hand. Together they make sure all the boxes get the right things and that the quality is top notch. After working under a tarp and then out of a woodshed, we really appreciate having such a nice place to work in.
It is a challenge to get it all in one picture but I tried to give you a perspective of how we pack your boxes. 325 boxes every week is a lot of boxes but with a good crew it goes quickly and efficiently. The boxes get loaded into the waiting bus at the end of the line.
We are preparing to plant our last cover crops for the season. I was at a farm tour in Jemseg on the weekend and saw a new cover crop idea we'd like to try. Cover crops are crops we seed in a field solely for the value and improvement they bring to the soil. These crops are not harvested for sale. Cover cropping is one of the many ways organic farmers improve their soils and manage their weeds without the use of toxic chemicals or fertilizers.
Finally, here is a .picture of our new Strawberries planted late August. Every year we learn more in our journey to grow good organic strawberries and I'm excited to see how these plants do. They are under a heat promoting white row cover which should help them develop thick crowns and set good fruit buds for next spring.
Our Strawberries are all planted for next year. This picture was taken a couple weeks ago when we were just starting to plant, but it shows where they were planted and gives a nice view of the warehouse. We planted them earlier this year then we did last year and will be covering them with covers so that hopefully we will have a better yield. No matter how many we plant, we have still been unable to keep up with the demand for organic berries in the spring.
Here is today's catch of melons. The ones in the front bin are the juicy sweet yellow fleshed watermelon. The back bin has the larger red watermelons. Both are certainly a treat on these hot days.
Last week was the last week before school and we made the most of the time with our 5 students heading back. We harvested our largest and best onion crop yet - 17 bins of onions. Hope everyone likes onions!
Since buying this farm, we have had a difficult time drying and storing onions so we built a room specially for drying onions, curing sweet potatoes, and other crop storage. Here we have 8 of the onion bins drying with lots of air circulation and a dehumidifier. Growing on plastic sure worked well for us. Now we need to find a market for all the extra onions!
Nollie hurt her foot so I had to move the cows tonight. When I put the cows in their new pasture, we were greeted by around 25 wild turkeys. They are along the upper edge of the pasture and near the apple trees there. I've been told that a few people raised and released turkeys but also that they have been moving up from Maine. Whatever the case they seem to be doing pretty well.
There are a number of old apple trees down the middle of the upper fields that have grown wild. Guess who loves them! I had been hoping Kirsten could make wild apple jelly or even some apple sauce....
Our summer students are going back to school next week and we will have a much reduced crew. We are trying to get all we can done this week.
This includes weeding our winter carrots and harvesting onions. Both are doing well. The carrots have a long way to go but we find they are extra sweet and juicy if we start them later in the season and we have less trouble with wire worm and other pests.
Our onions have done really well this year - probably our best crop ever. This is a bit surprising because onions need a lot of water and it has been a dry year. The soil where they have grown is very biologically active with lots of organic matter so I think this has really helped hold the water. The onion pictured here is a large sweet onion. My hand is quite big and one onion fills it.
We grow over 50 crops plus berries and record keeping is always a challenge. It seems that no matter how carefully we mark everything, we still have trouble knowing which variety is which at harvest time. Some varieties really do much better than others and for most crops we only have one chance per season to figure it out so knowing the variety is very important. Tags get pulled out by cultivation or trimming or harvesting the end of the row or get covered by the crop or fade in the sun.
Here is my new attempt at record keeping. This one picture will tell me what was seeded, when, where, the lot number, where the seed came from, how old the seed was, and what equipment was used to seed it. I know it looks a bit weird but I'm hopeful it will help.
Our neighbor was cleaning out an old barn and asked if I wanted to look through it to see if there was anything we wanted. There was an old Planet Jr. seeder upstairs in almost mint condition - wow what a find! I've had trouble seeding beets and spinach with my other seeders but this one appears to do a super job. Now comes the wait to see how they come up but I'm really optimistic. You can't buy them like this any more but these old seeders are still widely used by market gardeners today.