Hutchins Farm October Newsletter

Another summer passes, another October arrives—‘harvest’ season it’s called, but of course we have been harvesting steadily since May.  The continuing warm weather has helped keep our summer crops producing—tomatoes are still available, as are, more sporadically, eggplant, peppers, squash and corn—but the shorter days have slowed everything down, and continual wet weather makes for ideal conditions for molds, rots and mildews.  Nonetheless, most crops look good and we should have an abundance of produce as we approach the end of our season.

Regular shoppers may have noticed that our lettuce supply has dwindled somewhat from the glory days of June and July.  This usually happens to some degree, but we had an unfortunate failure in lettuce germination (we try to seed and plant about 2000 lettuce plants every week) during an exceptionally hot period in late July, and have been trying to play catch up ever since.  We do cut lettuce every day, but have only been cutting about a half or a third of our usual volume, so we usually sell out in the early afternoon.  There is plenty of not-quite-ready lettuce in the field, however, so we should be able to resume full production soon and will continue cutting lettuce at least through the end of the month.

Another unfortunate situation is the near total failure of most of our winter squash and pumpkin crops.  We only plant squash (and other cucurbits) in the same soil after two years of different crops, but this short rotation is only somewhat effective in suppressing the more mobile insects and diseases.  So after five years of slowly increasing pest pressure and declining yields, this year the squash was pretty much a bust, except the disease and pest tolerant butternut varieties.  Because winter squash and pumpkins are so emblematic of the fall farm season in New England, we made the decision to locate and buy in local, certified organic squash to supplement our meager offerings.  More recently, we also bought in local non-organic pumpkins to liven up our (and maybe your) autumn display.  In coming years, we plan to continue to experiment with techniques and varieties so that we can reliably produce our own, certified organic squash and pumpkins.

In contrast to the winter squash, the potatoes have fared quite well this season.  We have lots of varieties—old favorites and a couple new trials—but we lack a few of our usual varieties that were unavailable this season.  Unlike last year, when we sold out about a week before our closing date, we should have ample potatoes, and most likely enough to fill orders for fifty pound bags during the latter part of October.

Apples made a good crop for a second year in a row, though the crop isn’t as large as last year’s.  Quality is very good and supplies are strong for lots of fresh eating and baking well into the fall.  Look for pies made with our apples by Pam Palumbo Templeton, available at the farm stand Saturdays during the month of October.

Carrots are abundant, but perhaps not sufficiently so to allow us to take orders for 25 lb bags as we customarily do—we’ll keep you posted.  Our onion crop was good this season and we still have a good supply of cooking onions, bottle onions and shallots.

Other crops you can expect to see over the next month include:  the usual chard, kale, collards, arugula, parsley, potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, mustard greens, cilantro, dill, radishes, beets, turnips, leeks and scallions.  Bok Choy, Chinese Cabbage, celery, kohlrabi, radicchio, tomatoes, corn, peppers, hot peppers, eggplant and summer squash will be around a little longer, in dwindling quantities.  Spinach should make an appearance soon, along with rutabagas, celeriac, parsnips, sweet potatoes, parsley root and Brussels sprouts.

To end on a somber note, our last planting of broccoli and kale was mostly drowned by heavy hurricane rains, so broccoli will soon come to a premature end and kale may become increasingly scarce as the month goes by.  We hope all of you have the opportunity to come out to the farm stand over the next few weeks to see us before we close at the end of the month.

Brian Cramer
Farm Manager
Hutchins Farm

Hutchins Farm October Newsletter

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