November 30, 2015

Crisp Fall Colors

From the Fields - Thaddeus

I love the change in seasons. I understand that our seasons may not be as extreme as many of the seasons on our planet, but I still love the crisp fall that settles over Capay. The peach and apricot trees are turning amazing colors. Their leaves are an array of oranges, reds and yellows that change by the day until they fall from the tree in a poetic dance to the ground where they mingle with the lush, green shoots of cover crop that are emerging from the soil. More stiff winds are sure to come in the next weeks, leaving only bare branches that are amazingly vibrant with a deep-red color. Soon Ricardo and his team will walk through the orchard with pruning shears, bringing order to the branches that grew this way and that over the summer, setting the trees up to produce the ideal amount of flowers in the spring and fruit in the summer.

Below the stone fruit orchard, the whistling of harvest crews picking kale carries in the cold air across the farm. The harvest crews are in full swing. Kales, chards, beets, radishes, lettuce, carrots and cauliflower stand ready to be picked, and our team is working just as fast as they can to get them out of the field.

The kale plants that have just been harvested look a bit different. With the largest leaves trimmed from them, their thick trunks are exposed. On top of these trunks, a small bouquet of baby kale leaves remains. These will grow hopefully before the inevitable aphid crop moves in and with any luck, we will be able to get one more harvest from these plants.

Beyond the field, the creek’s wildlife is bustling with activity of the local flock of wild turkeys who are around more than usual. It is funny to me how they show up and leave without notice. The acorns of the oak trees are on the ground and mostly eaten. The oak leaves are still hanging on to trees, but are deep brown in color. Below the trees, last season’s grass remains yellow, but below it, the effects of the first rain can be seen in the bright green grass sprouts that are emerging from the hills. It will not be long until the color of the hills is painted green with the next season of grass.

Our Satsuma mandarin trees are in full production. The crisp nights have helped to turn the color of the fruit orange. They taste great, and our mandarin crew is picking them just as fast as they can. The office is busy with planning for next year. Fields are being selected for all the crops we plan on growing. My trusty old Excel sheet that holds the history of each field is up on my computer screen. First, we select fields that are ready for a rotation of tomatoes. Then, we find homes for the peppers, eggplants and melons. After those crops are settled, we are sketching out a plan for the winter squash and next fall’s vegetables. Everyone is busy.