Farmer John Writes: Fall Crop Update

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 16, October 17th – 22nd, 2022


When Approximate Meets Exact

I promised turnips for this upcoming week, but there are none; I miscalculated. Part of the challenge is that I do crop projections on the Tuesday prior to the upcoming week’s deliveries, and we still have a Thursday pack to harvest for before the deliveries of the upcoming week. We have to subtract that Thursday pack number from what is in the field, and then add in anything that might be in the coolers. It often works out fine enough, but not always, as is the case with the turnips this week. I am not sure what we will substitute with, possibly kohlrabi, which is probably ready to harvest.

More About Weather

After weeks of no rain, we got nice rains last week. That long stretch of no rain was very unusual for fall. My crew had dismantled our irrigation system many weeks prior, because rain for sure would be coming soon…not. 

I was especially motivated to have them take down the irrigation system, because grass had grown up around the aluminum pipe that supplies the water, and I was sure that someone would run over the pipe, if we didn’t pick it up, because you could hardly see it in the tall grass. Right away, I ran right over the pipe. I could only laugh at how right I had been. 

By the time the rain finally arrived, we were in a near-drought situation. Huh?

About that Rain

The rain made some crops jump, like the spinach. Well, the spinach did more of a leap than a regular jump. And the Brussels sprouts began to fill out nicely. To elaborate more on the Brussels sprouts, we expect a hard frost this week, which will sweeten them considerably—the cabbage, too, and the spinach, too, also the kale. These crops love a hard frost, unless it is too hard, in which case, they will die. This kind of farming is a bit of a tightrope. Good the hard frost is coming, unless it’s too hard. One of the distinctions of our crops vs those grown in frost free areas like the far West, is this sweetening due to (the right amount of) frost.

Winter Squash

Winter squash will barely survive a light frost, so we have now harvested it all. That was a lot of squash, wagon load after wagon load—the most squash by far that we have ever harvested ahead of a frost. It was a total harvest spectacle. I suggest an Olympic category for squash harvesting.

This is the best crew we have ever had–fun, hard-working, willing. And they show up for work on time, and, more often, early.

Concepcion and Maythe catch butternut squash

rain didn’t stop the squash harvest (photographed from the dry tractor cab)

I rewarded the crew with apple cider and warm apple cider doughnuts, and the next day with hot pizza.

Broccoli

We have two beautiful fields of broccoli that might not make a single head—the broccoli went in too late, as we were hampered by the cold early spring, and then later, we were besieged by delivery truck problems that got squarely in the way of seeding the broccoli in a timely way in the greenhouse. (These delivery problems were enormously distracting and pre-occupying. We are only resilient to a certain degree here.) In my imagination, which can tend towards paranoid, I could actually see this broccoli struggling into fall, fallen behind. Notice I did not refer to my imagination powers as clairvoyant; maybe they fit more into the realm of farmer wisdom seasoned by decades of living by the land.

We have never had a fall broccoli crop failure, and we might still get broccoli—might, even though we are running out of the right temperatures to mature it.  It seems like there will be enough crops to fill your boxes, though, even without broccoli.

More

We have a nice popcorn crop, awaiting a hard frost so the kernels will dry down more. Beautiful bok choy, beets, dill, more onions, more garlic, crazy amounts more of carrots and potatoes…

From a Site Host Recently

“Hi.  We have a few people that consistently think that they can pick up their boxes whenever they want outside of the [pickup] window.  They pick up on Friday, times vary between 6 am and 6 pm.  They do not text beforehand.  We had one person text late this morning stating that he didn’t get around to picking up his box yesterday and went to pick it up today, but it wasn’t there.

Can you please send out an email that people are to pick up their boxes during the [pickup] window unless prior arrangements have been made?  I am really getting tired of people thinking we are the grocery store that is always open, and they can get their vegetables whenever they want.

Thank you.
~ Site Host”

Friends, our site hosts are most generous to offer up their sites for hosting community deliveries. Please treat them with the utmost appreciation, courtesy and respect. (I know that many of you do this already.)

From our Shareholder Agreement:

Pickup Policies
If I am signing up to pick up my share at a community pickup site, I understand that I am responsible for picking up my share on my delivery day during my site’s pickup hours, which can be found in my pickup instructions link. I understand that the farm does not replace shares that I neglect to pick up. I understand that I have the ability to reschedule my own deliveries in my membership account, and that I need to reschedule my deliveries with plenty of advance notice.

If I won’t be able to pick up my share on my pickup day during my site’s pickup hours, I will contact my site host by finding their contact information in my pickup instructions before my site’s pickup hours are over to find out if a later pickup is possible. If I have not made prior arrangements with my site host before the pickup hours have ended, I understand that there is no guarantee that my share will be available for pickup after the pickup hours, and that my site host can donate my box.”

Thank you for following our pickup guidelines so that everyone has a better community experience.

Warmly,
Farmer John

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Showing 4 comments
  • Mary Dagostino
    Reply

    This is an amazing operation! I have seen your crew catching muskmelons and they were having so much fun doing it. I tried planting a garden a couple of times. Failed. I did have a decent deck garden, though, but I prefer to get our vegetables from you. Thank you for being so completely amazing!!
    Mary Dagostino

    • Farmer John
      Reply

      well, Mary, this is quite the compliment. Thank you.

  • Adam
    Reply

    Just putting it in writing (and outside of my head) that we’re incredibly pleased with this year’s bounty! Broccoli or no broccoli, it’s been a really good veggie year! We just made stuffed cabbage leaves with, well, the cabbage we got the other day.

    • Farmer John
      Reply

      interesting to watch that broccoli launch teeny tiny buds, hopeful buds

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