The News from Windflower Farm
What’s in your share?
- Yellow onions
- Our last tomatoes
- Acorn squash
Your fruit share will be Empire apples and Bosc pears from Yonder Farm.
What’s new on the farm?
The first hard frost of the season is expected here in the wee hours on Monday morning, and the entire farm team spent a couple of hours setting floating row covers over the top of frost-sensitive crops. We covered arugula, lettuce, kale, spinach and radishes. And we harvested the last of the tomatoes, eggplants and summer squashes against the likelihood that they wouldn’t survive the cold. All that remains in the field is the hardy stock: potatoes, still in their hills, sweet potatoes, snug under their vines, broccoli, leeks, turnips and kohlrabi. The consensus among the produce growers in my circle is that global warming is most apparent in the fall, when the season remains relatively mild for perhaps two weeks longer than when we first started farming, but that it is still important to watch out for those stray early frosts.
Windflower Farm is 150 miles due north of Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights. I know this because I had to explain to a State Trooper why I was exempt from the kind of recordkeeping he was asking for on my way home last week. What regularly surprises me each Tuesday when I drive the delivery truck is how much warmer it is in NYC than here. The water surrounding the city has a moderating effect that explains much of the difference. All the concrete and a few degrees of latitude must also help. I imagine how much longer my season would be if I could relocate my farm to the open fields of Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. We may be just 3 ½ hours by car from you, but we are three or four weeks north by the gardening calendar.
Feed the soil, we’ve been told, and your healthy soil will produce good vegetable crops. Stick to these basics: keep the soil covered, alternate cash crops and green manures, rotate crop families and minimize tillage. We used the last of our rye-hairy vetch seed mixture today. Cold hardy winter rye will be sown alone from this point forward. But not to worry – it’s tough enough to germinate in the snow. Nate and I picked up mulch and drip tape from a newly harvested sweet potato field so that we could disc and sow the cover crop mix today.
It was dirty work, and there was a chill in the wind. We pulled out our cold weather work clothes for the occasion. While we worked, we reminisced about a two-day getaway: To get her annual ocean (and seafood chowder) fix late last week, Jan dragged us off to a spot near the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge on the southern coast of Maine. The woods were lovely. Many of our old friends from the Boreal Forest were present – red maples, white pines, hobblebushes, wild sarsaparilla, hay scented ferns – but it was the upper story of mature white oaks combined with an understory of cinnamon ferns along with the backdrop of tidal marsh that stood out for us. We wished for kayaks. Fall colors were already at their peak along the road over Bennington Mountain. Back at the farm, golds and oranges are popping out.
Best wishes, Ted