October 10, 2016

Colors of Fall


The colder weather brings color to the farm’s crops. The Satsuma mandarins that have been green through the summer have started to turn orange. They now are visible from far away like Christmas ornaments on a green tree. The Lacinato kale field always grows in the summer with a dull gray tint to its green color. With the cold fall nights, the color has deepened to the robust kale green with a hint of purple.

The large oak trees that are scattered throughout the farm and cover the golden hills are yielding their crop of acorns. Gravity is pulling them one at a time to the ground. The ground surrounding the trees is covered with dark brown acorns. Some of the farm’s wildlife are caching the treasures away for the winter; others are eating them off of the ground. I spent an hour collecting them so that I would have dry acorns to plant in the spring. A friend of mine has some of his cattle in a field with oak trees. One of the steers ate too many of the acorns and got sick; he is better now.

The activities on the farm are focused on getting ready for the winter. The summer crops are being cleaned up. Tractors are mowing the old crops; drip tape is being pulled from the fields. Our fall vegetables are hitting their peak harvest season. Kales, carrots, radishes, beets and leeks are all of the harvest list.

This is the time of year when cover crops are sown into the ground. As soon as we get all of the summer fields cleaned up, the cover crop drill will be to plant a mix of peas and grasses into the soil. These will grow slowly over the winter and in the spring; we will work them into the soil. This activity will add at least 60 pounds of nitrogen to the soil, and it will increase the amount of organic matter in the soil. The next vegetable crop will reap the benefits of these two items.