Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the left is a row of hakurei turnips covered with agricultural fabric. In the center are two rows that I planted with winter rye that didn't come up as thick as I would like. On the right is a covered row of radishes. Both covered crops are still alive, depsite several nights in the lower teens. This section of the farm is a tiny hidden nook between the pond and some shrubs. Its location, in addition to the row cover, insulates plants from the cold.

To the left is a covered row of hakurei turnips that I harvested yesterday. On the right is a dead row of radishes.
Last Harvest?

It’s ironic that, as the the season is on its last breath—the low tomorrow night is supposed to be 14--I’ve just started documenting its daily travails! Not true. I did a good job, last December and early this Spring, of conveying what it’s like muttering to oneself while erecting a deer fence as a neighbor with a gun is stalking behind me wondering if I qualify as deer or not. But, that whole period where my field is full of vegetables—it did exist. I swear.

True to form, I've decided to write about yesterday, which may have been the last outdoor harvest of the season. A friend of mine who grows similar organic crops in New Paltz, which is just on the other side of the Shawangunk Mountains from me, said that the only thing still alive in her field was spinach. I was expecting that crop and kale would also be alive in my field, but nothing else. Like I wrote the other day, it’s very difficult to predict what will happen at any time of the year, particularly as winter approaches. I was amazed, yesterday, when I uncovered my radishes and hakurei turnips, which are a baby white Japanese turnip, that both those crops look perfect. They are growing in a little nook of the farm, in between the pond and some shrubs, which moderates the cold. In addition, I covered them with agricultural fabric (see above). This stuff protects the plants a few degrees—depending on the thickness. I tend to buy the thinner fabric because I cover certain crops all season. In addition to insulation, it also keeps out bugs. Most of the non-lettuce greens in my salad mix, such as arugula, red Russian kale, all of the mustards, and others would get devoured by flea beetles if not for this fabric. Even the thin stuff helps in the winter. The proof is that the uncovered rows of radishes and turnips were killed by the cold (see above). They are right next to the covered ones I harvested yesterday. In addition to the root crops, the kale, as expected, was also alive. I was surprised that thyme, rosemary and sage were also hanging in there. I got a few bunches of each. Perennial herbs are a crop I will focus on a lot more next year.

All of this harvesting was for the Rosendale Farmer’s Market this Sunday. While the weekly market season is over, both of my markets still happen once a month. The main crops I should have through winter are eggs and sunflower greens. I grow the sunflower greens indoors. I will also have strawberry fruit leathers, which are like fruit roll-ups that aren’t rolled up. Their ingredients are local apples and strawberries--nothing else. I’ll also have apple chips and my dried heirloom tomatoes from this season.