Crops Update: Vol. 22

Frosty fields on Sunday and Monday morning put an end to the husk cherries for the season and blackened leaves on summer squash, string beans, and sweet potatoes. Because the tomatoes are upright on their trellises and away from the cold ground, they have escaped damage and continue to ripen fruit.

On Saturday afternoon, the predicted cold forced us to protect baby greens with row cover supported by metal hoops. Row cover can lay flat on a crop when its purpose is insect exclusion, but in order for it to add a few degrees of warmth to the air beneath it, it needs to be floating above the ground.

And while baby arugula and spinach can withstand light frosts, you can’t harvest frozen leaves—they turn to mush off the plant, but will thaw and continue to grow if uncut. While we were working with row cover in dry and windy conditions at the farm, it poured on the market team in Somerville. But market-goers know that summer produce will soon be gone, and sales were strong despite the rain.

On Monday morning, we again delivered an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and greens to the Somerville schools, and hope to do that again next week before frost finally takes the nightshades. Check out the video describing our partnership with Somerville Schools.  Thanks Emma, Ian, and Mimi for your great work putting it together.

We need to be harvesting into the root cellar so that we aren’t caught with too much to do and no time to do it, but the summer crops keep demanding our attention. Volunteer groups that normally help us dig sweet potatoes at this time of year, have been pulling broad-leafed weeds (normally zapped by frost by now) and harvesting other crops.

On Tuesday, a group from Ecova, a Boston energy management company, returned to volunteer for the second time this season. After weeding through the strawberry patch, the volunteers helped us harvest over a ton of tomatoes—the biggest tomato harvest I’ve experienced at Drumlin. Thanks to the Ecova volunteers, each CSA member received about 20 pounds of tomatoes the following day! And thanks to the CSA members for helping us make good use of this season’s incredible harvest.

Last Thursday, four volunteers from Intel helped us pick beans, peppers and eggplant in preparation for the farmers’ market. Our Friday market harvest still lasts until dusk, so it’s a huge help to get some of the work done on Thursday afternoon. Thanks, Intel.

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