On cool mornings we’re cleaning onions and shallots. The parts for the new greenhouse came today, so we’ll probably start piecing it together sometime this week. Once it warmed up a little, we spent most of the day harvesting for Wednesday’s market. We did the second to last bean harvest, one of the last corn harvests and pulled the rest of the parsnips out of the ground. Part of the corn harvest was getting the multicolored corn that is used for decoration and cornmeal. It’s really cool stuff!
This morning we took care of the co-op lettuce and I made the delivery. When I got back we harvested and cleaned the lettuce for the market tomorrow. After that, we finished what we didn’t get to yesterday, beets, turnips and fennel. Steve planted cover crop on next years field and since we haven’t been getting any rain we had to set-up irrigation lines, hopefully one last time. As we were finishing and the water filled the line, one of the joints came apart and we soon found out that the rapid change in pressure broke a sensor that regulates the water pressure in the line. So we had to shut everything down and then reset the water in a manual mode in order to continue watering. This meant that anytime we had to start and stop the water, it had to be done at the well instead of in the field. We should get the part to fix it later this week.
Today was our first hard frost. There were just a few things left in the hoop houses to harvest; chard, arugula, golden frills and parsley. Then Steve and I moved the irrigation line down the field to keep watering the cover crop. We came back and once we loaded up the van and sent them off we went out to do a final harvest of winter squash because all of the plants died from the frost. Before Steve had to leave for a meeting, he and I moved the irrigation pipes one more time and then we harvested the WSU experimental plot because those plants had also been killed by the frost. To finish the day Trevor and I continued digging holes for new greenhouse’s poles.
The experimental plot yielded less than the folks at WSU had anticipated for the reduced tillage sections. In the flail mowed areas we were lucky if we got 2 or 3 squash in the whole section and the plants were half the size or smaller of the standard tilling practice that most farms currently use. In the section where we crimped the cover crop, the plants did slightly better with at least 1 to 2 squash per plant. And the section using our standard practice had the highest yield with 7 or 8 squash per plant. There was just not enough weed suppression in the other two tests for the plants to be successful. We found out later that the experiments on the WSU campuses were using drip irrigation and doing a few other things that we did not do with our plants, so they were more successful. We used overhead sprinklers that watered the whole ground, whereas drip irrigation concentrates the water on the plants.
We got another good frost last night and we can’t harvest lettuce when it has frost on it, so we stayed inside and looked at financial documents and talked about more of the business side of the operation until it warmed up. Once things thawed out we were able to harvest for the co-op. My friend Heather had a chance to visit today and got a chance to see what we do and share in some of the work.
Fall has arrived and it’s evident more and more as we keep having final tasks and are tearing things down like beanpoles, and soon tomatoes. Today we moved our last set of irrigation lines to water lettuce in the field one more time. Another sign that the season is winding down are plants going to seed. This afternoon we collected seeds from various plants, some lettuce and other plants that are sold at the markets, but mostly fun things like flowers and other things from Cecelia’s garden. She showed us how to make sure the seeds were ready to take and we labeled paper bags and put the seeds in a safe dry place to wait for spring. The last thing we did was harvest beans.
Another big harvest day. The only big change though for today was loading up a big trailer with pumpkins and winter squash. Every year around this time they take a trailer filled with squash and with colored decorative corn strung up around the top. I didn’t get a chance to take pictures, but I promise to have them later this week or by the next post. There are still a few markets left and there are a lot of pumpkins still.