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Sunday, October 15, 2006

After the Frost

One of the big events on our garden calendar is the first frost of the year. We do a lot of season extension but that first frost brings on a lot of anxiety for us and I don't know why because generally by the time the first frost arrives we have hoophouses and row cover exactly where they need to be and all the plants that will be and saved are well protected. This is how it was this year. We have been ready for the killing frost for about 3 weeks now

And so the frosts came this past Thursday, Friday and Sunday mornings. Any tender summer crops such as tomatoes, peppers and basil are all dead. So that means they get removed from the garden ASAP so we can get the remaining fall/winter crops in the ground (mainly spinach, lettuce, arugula, garlic and spring mix) and cover crops which is mainly winter rye because it works well for us and we have a lot of seed we have saved from previous years.

Work wise this means getting the dead things out of the ground, tearing up the landscape fabric we used as mulch against weeds and cleaning that up so it can be stored (this is a plastic mulch but it lasts for years and years and because it is woven and not extruded it breaths and lets in water. We like landscape fabric.) and than the bed is ready to be tilled or raked and planted with something.

We are still doing farmers' markets, we have 4 hoophouses up with things like strawberries, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in them so we still have plenty to harvest. Not to mention the cold lovers like kale, lettuce, spring mix, arugula, spinach, rutabagas turnips beets, chard, etc., that are not in hoophouses because they do not need such protection yet (that comes when we try and over winter these cold crops). When I think about it, we still have a heavy workload and I guess we will through the beginning of November when all regular farmers' markets stop giving us a lot more time to do things around the farm.

We farmers rarely get any kind of break from farming as when the fall works stops we will be crunching the numbers from this season, making the big decisions about what to plant, what crops to drop and what new crops to try. This year we are looking for a new yellow storage onion, new red onion and a new red pepper to replace hybrids that are now owned by the Monsanto Corporation, an entity we will not knowingly buy seed from. I am hoping we can find heirlooms to replace these hybrids as an extra TV bonus as we would like to be planting 100% heirloom varieties in the next 5 years or so. And there will be several heirloom tomatoes that will catch my eye to be tried next year as well as other crops like zucchinis, melons, lettuces, etc..

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