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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Update

Fall has finally arrived and with it a lessening in the work load and nicer weather in which to work. the market garden is pretty much done with tomatoes, we have planted a fall crop and they have tomatoes on them but there are only 30 or so plants vs the 450+ tomatoes planted for the main crop.

The peppers in the hoop house are about over for the year. Heat or blight or bacterial wilt or arm worms or something did a real number on them. We got one good one for every 5 to 10 on the plants that rotted in some way (and this is why green peppers are generally 50% to 75% cheaper than ripe peppers-it's easy to grow a green pepper but quite hard to get a pepper from green to ripe without problems). the 200+ pepper plants planted after the hoop house pepper have not done much at all. I am getting some beautiful green fruit from one bed and the jalapenos are doing okay but there are very few peppers ripening and those that are are very under sized. These plants should have had ripe peppers at least 4 weeks ago and they don't. Most barely have 1/2 grown peppers on them. Bad pepper year. But if it stays mild for another 6 to 8 weeks we should get some ripe peppers out of the main crop. There is always next year.

As we get away from the summer crops the fall things are coming in. We harvested the first spring mix (yes I realize it is autumn so the stuff should be called fall mix or something but changing names on a product don't work good for no one) this week. It looks wonderful but since it is selling well we have not had any yet. We also dug the first parsnips and they look fabulous! I don't believe we have ever grown such nice parsnips.

We have been pulling leeks for about 3 weeks and will continue to do so until we run out (sometime in March or April). I have been using a lot of leeks and they are yummy, much better than what you can buy at the grocery in both taste and the fact we take great pains to get long white shanks on the leeks and that means extra work hilling them numerous times during their long growing season.

The winter squash was a disappointment this year. Last year we had a bumper crop of butternut but not this year. this year the plants went in a bit too late (actually the went in about the same time as last year but the rains had stopped and it got hot) and they were not able to thrive and produce a lot of high quality squash for winter storage. Instead, we got rather small fruits and many had to be harvested too early before they matured because they were being badly attacked by squash bugs (like the bugs were swarming over the squash so you could not even see them under the insects). We did get a decent crop of delicata and sweet dumpling squash but everything else was just so so at best.

The pear tree was loaded with pears until Ike's winds came and knocked down 8 bushels of pears. We did go out and pick up all the drops (which is why we know that 8 bushels came down). We will sell and use the pears but will not be able to get top dollar for them because they are damaged. I supoose in about 5 weeks we will be making gallons of pear wine and pear jelly among other things out of the dropped pears. Despite the wind there is still about 5 bushels of pears still up in the tree. That tree must have had well over a 1000 pounds of pears hanging off it. That's a lot of pears for a single tree. I am very surprised that the tree did not lose several major limbs in the wind storm. It did lose 2 minor limbs. It is in a very protected spot and that is likely why it did not get more damage.

The barn roof has been fixed and it stronger than it was before along with far fewer holes in the roof thanks to a lot of silicone caulk being applied over the whole roof (not that the roof is covered with caulk).

The remainder of fall will be taken up with several fall tasks including the unexpected hand watering. We are starting water certain things daily by hand because the drip irrigation just ain't doing the job, especially for seeds and seedlings that have just emerged. Than there is planting crops for winter and early spring, putting up hoop houses for the late fall and over wintering crops, hoeing and harvesting and putting the beds to sleep for the winter. Which means taking up any mulch (we use landscape fabric which has to be cleaned of roots/weeds and than rolled up for winter storage), drip tapes (these we roll up onto garden hose caddies), planting cover crops in beds that won't be used until mid May and removing all debris such as tall weeds and the dead crops. We have found over the years that getting the garden cleaned up in fall is very important. If you don't do this you will have a bug and disease problem the following year. The plant corpses go on the compost piles and thus feed the soil next year.

The season officially ends with the garlic planting in late October/Early November. In reality, the work never ends it just ebbs and flows.

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