Last Saturday was the Autumn Equinox and while the days are still sunny and in the 60s (still warm enough to ripen a few tomatoes!), the clear nights are starting to get down into the 40s and even the 30s.
The first dip down to freezing will end the season for a lot of crops. Basil, beans, melons, squash, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and a couple of other crops. Already rumors of this first frost have been flying (you know you’re a farmer when you set an alarm for 2 AM to check the temperature with plans for emergency row cover if it is getting to cool) and we actually did have a little frost damage on melons and squash plants at Fields of Plenty.
When that first frost really is in the air we’ll rush to save as much of the harvest as we can. With the days still warm we’re able to continue getting more ripe tomatoes and peppers, but the day before that first dip we all hope to go out and strip the plants, with plans for force ripening fruit or enjoying some fried green tomatoes.
Leafy greens, root crops and most herbs can handle at least a bit of freezing and so those will help round out our fall CSA boxes along with storage crops (onions, potatoes, garlic…) and preserved food (frozen pesto, plum sauce…).
With the first frost always comes some sadness, after all it ends the fresh tomato season for another 9 months. The coming fall is also filled with many good things as a farmer as well though. The shorter days encourage us to rest a bit after working many a 60 hour week to deal with the plenitude and pressures of summer. It also provides the opportunity for experimentation in the face of the challenges of growing in cooler weather.
Look for more blog posts about those challenges and the solutions we’re trying out as the season continues to change, and thanks for coming on the journey with us!