Photos from our season winding down.

Here are some photos from October, as our season wound down:

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Final Market Day Tomorrow!

Our stand on October 18

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow (Thursday, October 25) will be our final farmer’s market of the season.  This will be our 19th Thursday at the market.  Right now the weather looks good, which means that we had quite streak going–we only had one rainy Thursday for the entire season.  I doubt we’ll ever equal that again.

We’ve managed to still bring a big selection of vegetables each week, even as the cold weather has finished off our tomatoes and peppers and basil and beans.  We still have a selection of red tomatoes that we’ve been ripening indoors (they don’t have August tomato flavor, but they’re still better than what you can buy in the store) and tomatillos.  And now we’re getting some cabbage and fennel.  The kale has been extremely strong all season.

Yesterday, I planted 750 cloves of garlic in the field (Music and a German Red).  With any luck, we’ll be harvesting 750 heads of garlic next July, and we won’t run out so fast.  I still have customers come to our farmstand looking for our garlic, it was just so good.

The garlic is the last thing we’ll plant.  Right now, we’re clearing the rest of the field and planting winter rye as a cover crop.  I’ve got to get to the field super early tomorrow morning, so I can try to pick everything I possibly can–there’s no sense leaving it in the field past the market days.  (Except for 56 bunches of kale that we will deliver to the World Peas CSA on Sunday.)

It’s been an amazing season.  I’ve loved getting to meet so many interesting customers and very much appreciate the support from all of them and our friends and neighbors at the market (and beyond).  We’ve learned so much and look forward to farming again (twice as much land) next season.  In the next few weeks, I hope to write up a series of blog posts about the various lessons we learned as first year farmers.

 

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StageSource Auction

In addition to farming, I’m also a playwright and on the board of StageSource–they’re a tremendously important organization that supports New England theaters and theatre-artists.  We’re donating a box of produce to their online auction ($50 value)–the auction ends Friday, so get your bid in before it’s too late.  (They have lots of great stuff up for bid, though I think we’re the only vegetables on the list.)

StageSource online auction.

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Still plugging away

We’re past the middle of September now, but we’ve still got pretty full fields.  Where the cucumbers have come out, I’ve planted spinach seeds.  The snow peas are up where we used to have beans and early beets.  But the zucchini is almost done, and the tomatoes are ripening very slowly now that nights are getting cold.  Noah’s back in school now, so I’m without my helper during the week.  We ate a lot of Top Donut donuts this summer (farmers need fuel).

We’ve peaked in terms of how much we can earn at the farmer’s market–tomatoes are a big driver of sales and our harvest is dwindling fast–but beets and beans are helping to keep sales somewhat steady.  I think there’s a good chance of us breaking even for our first year, which will feel like an accomplishment

We’re already thinking about next year.  Our order of 10 pounds of seed garlic arrived last week, and tomorrow I’m driving to Wayland to pick up another 6 pounds from a local farmer.  We ran out quickly this year, so for next year we plan to plant about 1,000 heads.  Which should give us enough for ourselves, too.  (This year, we didn’t save enough for our own kitchen, and it’s almost gone already.)

Like any farmer, I have hopes for the weather.  Right now, I hope the big wind tonight doesn’t blow over too many of our tomatoes and tomatillos, and I hope we get a warm stretch of weather, to ripen the final surge of tomatoes hanging on the vines.  Farming is a constant balance between hard work on few things I can control and the many aspects of life beyond my influence.  (Not unlike writing plays and novels.)

Here are some photos from the past two weeks:

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September Arrives

September has arrived, with slightly cooler weather and lots (and lots) of tomatoes.  Hard as it may be to believe, we’re still planting new seedlings.  This weekend, we planted starts for cabbage, lettuce, and mustard, and seeds for spinach, snow peas, carrots, and parsley (those last two probably won’t make it, but it was worth a try).  And there are more seedlings on the back porch, for more collards, cabbage, mint, and fennel.  Again, it’s all a bit of a roll of the weather dice–if the end of October is mild, we should get to harvest at least some of these.

Harvest has proved to be super busy for us, with lots of deliveries to World Peas (heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, kale, chard, and tomatillos) and busy days at the Thursday JP farmer’s market.  We’re probably peaking right now, in terms of how much we can harvest and sell this season.  Already, the potatoes have all been sold, and there isn’t much garlic or onions left.  The zucchini plants are just straggling along, though the cucumbers are going stronger than expected.  I did a rough summary from our spreadsheets, it looks like so far we’ve harvested more than 1,400 pounds of produce from our little 1/4 acre plot. I’m pretty sure we’ll break a ton by the time we’re done.

I’m still having as much fun as ever.  The other day, I was crawling on my hands and knees in the rain and mud, harvesting tomatillos, and found myself grinning.  I felt like a kid exploring the garden.  Farming continues to be completely engaging, mentally and physically in a way that’s completely addictive.

Here are some photos from the last two weeks:

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A busy week (the week of August 16)

This was a busy week (as always) at the farm.  We made deliveries of tomatoes, hot peppers, and chard to the World PEAS CSA.  And we brought LOTS of veggies to the Thursday market (and Tracy was able to be there with me again, which made it even more fun).  And on Friday, we held a mini-farmer’s market in our dining room for some of our neighbors, which was a total blast.

Here are a bunch of photos from the week:

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Field Report–August 9

Noah picking kale for market

Noah picking kale for market

We spent a lot of time at the farm this week, making World Peas CSA deliveries of kale, heirloom tomatoes and beets.  Plus we harvested for the Thursday farmer’s market.  Noah will be glad for a week off at his grandmother’s house and the beach.  He’s gotten really good at picking and bundling chard and kale–my week is going to a lot harder without him to help me!

Everything has been growing pretty well.  The tomato plants are huge and the fruit is finally starting to ripen.  (Though we had more than half an inch of rain Friday night, so we’ll see if what’s on the vine is now all cracked.  There’s always a new challenge.)  We’ve got a great selection of heirlooms, and they’re absolutely delicious. We had a bit of a scare with late blight, but the lab results came back in our favor.  (phew!)  I’m not even bothering to cook the tomatoes right now, but am just eating them straight for lunches (or with some fresh mozzarella and a leaf of basil).

We are still awash in zucchini.  Everything I cook these days has some zucchini in it somewhere (sometimes hidden).

Last night Tracy spent some time canning leftover tomatoes from the market.  She’s already canned jalapenos and zucchini pickles.  Lots more canning to come.

chard beans and tomatoes

Rows of chard, beans, and tomatillos in the field.

The greens are holding up well against the heat, though the peppers are struggling a bit.  When the days and evenings are too hot, they stop setting fruit.  So we’ll have a lull in our sweet pepper production for a few weeks.  (You can see from the photo above that we’ve finally got the weeds in the paths under control, though I can’t say the same about the weeds in the beds yet. )

With the most recent beet delivery, we have an entire empty row.  I’ll clear out the weeds and fertilize and plant some fall greens (I need to start some seeds indoors today!) in the next week or so.  We’ve been planting kale and cabbage and lettuce seedlings in empty bed space, as well as seeds for cilantro and chard.  Seed germination has been spotty because of the heat and dry weather, but we’re doing all right.

big kale

A row of kale in the morning sun.

Right now we keep hoping that the tomato and tomatillo harvest will really come through for us, so that we can make all our World PEAS CSA deliveries and also have lots to sell at the market.  With early failures of snow peas and beets, the tomatoes are our big hope of getting close to breaking even for the year.  So much depends on the weather and late blight disease problems over the next few weeks.

Next week is a big one, with the start of hot pepper World Peas deliveries, plus larger heirloom deliveries.  With all the harvesting, it’s hard to make additional time for weeding, and side dressing with fertilizer, and planting new seeds and seedlings, but if we take the time now, the autumn will be a lot more productive.

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Market Day #8 (August 9)

We had another successful market day this past Thursday.  Tracy was actually able to come help out and see the market (and she’ll be there next week, too).  It was great fun to finally have tomatoes for sale.

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Market Day #6 (July 26)

Last week’s market was a big success, despite the threat of thunderstorms and the fact that I forgot our camera (hence no photos).  Once again, we sold almost everything we brought, surpassing our previous week’s sales (by about $5).

We had our first library book returned, which was very exciting.  The library is still about half lent out at the moment, but it still generates some fun discussions.

I’m hoping for a big market day tomorrow, since it will be part of the JP First Thursday monthly event.  I’ll pick some extra greens to bring, plus we have lots of peppers.  I was hoping for tomatoes, but no luck.  Could still be another two weeks before we really have enough to bring to market (without us eating them first).

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Field Report, August 1

Noah and Chard harvest

Noah was hard at work picking chard today.

Hard to believe it’s August already.  The farm is going strong right now.  We’ve gotten mostly caught up on the weeding, just in time for lots and lots of harvesting.  Noah, our 12-year-old son, is done with camp and still has a month left of summer vacation, so he’ll be spending a lot of days up at the farm, helping out.  This week he’s proven quite good at picking and bunching kale and chard.  (He’s not such a fan of weeding.)  Today, we also harvested some potatoes, cubanelle sweet peppers, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, serrano peppers, cucumbers, tomatillos, and zucchini.  Most of which we’ll sell at the farmer’s market tomorrow.  We’ll have to go up early tomorrow morning to pick greens for the market.

a farmer and his onions

Laying out the onions we picked today.

Today was the day the onions were ready.  They were kind of a mixed bag.  Some of the red onions are really large and lovely, but for the most part they’re small to medium sized, though plenty usable.  I’ve got them drying out on our back porch right now, so they’ll store properly.  We’ll probably grow them again, and try to figure out what we need to do better next time.

We’re still planting seedlings.  This week it was cabbage, kale, and basil, with more kale to take the place of the onions that just came up.

Late blight continues to be a threat, and possibly a big problem.  One of the other incubator farmers (at a different site) might have it, and the New Entry farm manager thinks we might have it on one of our plants, too.  (But it’s not confirmed.)  This could be a big disaster for us–we’re counting on quite a bit of income from our tomatoes (well over $1,000), and late blight could make us lose them all.  And what’s even worse is that our plants right now are Gorgeous.

lotta tomatoes

Lots of tomatoes, waiting to turn red.

The plants are so huge, that together with the tomatillos, they pretty much make a tunnel o’ tomatoes.

It’ll break my heart if we have to destroy them all.  The weather isn’t helping, with the high humidity and rain.  We need a hot dry week or two, to slow down spore growth and let our fruit turn red.  I can see why farmer’s might tend to turn to prayer–there are so many factors outside of your control that can destroy a crop in no time.

tunnel of tomatoes

Our Tunnel O' Tomatoes

 

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