September has been a big month, full of transitions. The days are getting noticeably shorter, the days (with the exception of the heat wave last week) are starting to get cooler. Staying on top of summer weeds has given way to getting cover crops into the ground, and already we’re planning the harvest of many of our storage crops including sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, purple daikon and watermelon radishes.
But first, let’s take a moment to highlight some of the noteworthy events and crops this past month.
The month of September kicked off with a surprise harvest of sweet corn for our CSA members, followed by the opportunity to host a NOFA Field Day on High Tunnel Nutrition and Soil Health, and to work with volunteer groups from the Vassar men’s baseball team and from Heroic Food, an organization that prepares military veterans for careers in sustainable farming.
At the end of the month, we provided 150 pounds (!) of mixed purple, red and gold potatoes to Vassar as part of their Eat Local Challenge (a meal prepared entirely out of local ingredients.) We are excited about our new relationship with Bon Appetit, Vassar’s new dining service provider, whom we have been working with intermittently since the summer. We are hopeful that by the end of the year our produce will become regularly available to the many Vassar students who work and volunteer with us.
Finally, as part of our ongoing efforts to donate our produce to the mid-Hudson community, we hosted gleaning trainings and welcomed gleaners to provide food for Feeding the Hudson Valley, a meal made entirely from gleaned and donated food.
Meanwhile, out in the fields...
As was mentioned in last month’s newsletter, peppers have had a rough go of it this season, getting hit first with freakishly large hail and then by disease. But with this late resurgence of hot weather, the peppers are having a comeback: a burst of bright leafy canopy has given way to many small green fruits! If the warm weather holds, we might luck out with one last harvest before fall finally steps in.
We were sad to lose quite a bit of the first fall broccoli due to black rot, and are doubtful that changes in the weather would be enough for later successions to fare much better. A close relative of broccoli, however, has been doing really well. Kohlrabi is like a sweeter, crunchier cousin of the broccoli stem, and is delicious sliced raw, shredded into a salad, or roasted (alongside cubes of celeriac, carrots and potatoes) under a chicken. Expect to see some positively gargantuan kohlrabi in the upcoming weeks!
(Side note: If you’re lucky enough to find your broccoli or kohlrabi with its leaves, eat those too! Packed full of nutrients, these leafy greens are tender and delicious. Similar to kale or collards in flavor, it is their tenderness that makes them wilt faster than their more stiff-leaved counterparts, which is perhaps the only reason we don’t see broccoli greens more commonly sold in markets and stores. Use them in place of collards in this savory collard cornmeal cobbler recipe!)
After producing approximately 15,000 lbs of tomatoes since June, and requiring nearly 500 human hours of care in the form of pruning, trellising and harvesting, we are finally ready to say goodbye to our tomato tunnel jungle. Plants were harvested for green fruits, unclipped, cut, and removed from the tunnel to make room for our winter greens.
(Why so soon, you may ask? It’s true that the tomatoes would have produced for another few weeks. But this window of time is crucial to get our winter greens established. The baby kale and chard plants that have been waiting patiently in the greenhouse are ready to put down roots, and it’s essential that we let them get established before mid-November. At less than 10 daylight hours per day, most plants will not actively grow, but rather will simply maintain their size. This makes continued winter harvest dependent on the plants sizing up while the days are still long.)
Coming up, our sweet potatoes are looking fantastic this season, as are our rutabaga, winter radishes and turnips. (Try beet greens or scarlet turnip greens instead of chard in this savory pancake recipe!) The spinach has been looking great, despite this most recent influx of warm weather, and our fall carrots are sizing up nicely. There’s much to look forward to in the late fall and the winter share.
We hope to see some familiar faces at the Soup-a-Bowl on October 15! Until then, enjoy your shares and the changing bounty of the seasons.