Hands down fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the cool, crisp mornings and the sparkling azure sky. It is also the time of year that we finally get relief from the long, hot, dry summer and can actually begin to grow things again. Suffice it to say that I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first real cool front this weekend!
It is a common misconception that our area has a long summer growing season, but the reality is that we actually have two quite short optimal growing seasons; spring and fall. This situation presents some unique challenges for vegetable and fruit growing that must be addressed in order to achieve successful harvests of warm weather and cool weather crops.
One of the key approaches to dealing with seasons that are only about two and a half months long is to grow transplants instead of seeding crops directly. Although this doesn’t work for all crops, it does work for many of them. We are fortunate to have a greenhouse where we can get our transplants started and also to extend our growing seasons for crops that take longer to reach maturity.
I have several varieties of squash and some pumpkin transplants in the greenhouse that are ready to be planted in the gardens. I really should have planted them by now, but we have had 100+ degree days for the past couple of weeks so I have been waiting for at least a slight moderation in temperature to minimize the transplant shock. It looks like I will be able to get them transplanted this weekend.
It has been a very pleasant surprise to discover that it is possible to grow at least some types of greens in the greenhouse all summer long. We have had Perpetual Chard, Toscano Kale and Emu and Corvair Spinach doing very well in the greenhouse since July. What a shock! I even had some volunteer lettuce come up and I let it go to see how it would do and it did pretty well, although it had a tendency to want to bolt as it matured which is not surprising. We are also having good results with our basil and green onions in the greenhouse during the summer heat.
We have fully planted the new one west field with fall crops most of which are doing pretty well despite the heat and lack of rain. The tomatoes that we planted in July are actually thriving and beginning to set some nice looking fruit.
The squash and pumpkins in the one west field are struggling with the heat and cucumber beetles but we will backfill with some new transplants as the weather cools and continue to fight the squash bugs and cucumber beetles and hopefully we will start to see our squash production increase before the first freeze.
Ron has been putting the finishing touches on our new walk-in cooler and it will be ready for fall crop cooling and storage any day now. We still need to install some shelving in it to maximize space usage efficiency, but it is fully functional as far as keeping the space at a steady cool temperature, even when it is over 100 outside!
Our CSA farm membership has been growing steadily throughout the summer and it is looking like we will not need to go to market this fall and can instead put all of our effort and time into servicing our farm members and providing them with the most tasty, high quality vegetables that are to be found in our area. Our plan is to open a farm stand on our farm one day a week in the event that we find that we are producing more than our membership can handle.
Here’s hoping for some nice cool , wet fall weather!