Autumn’s pageant has already passed, leaving drifts of red, yellow and orange confetti as evidence of that somber parade, only to disappear promptly into the bellies of makeshift plywood box trucks. Fall in New England, once signaled by the tang of smoke from burning piles of leaves, the gentle sound of raking, morning frost and early evenings, is now heralded by the endless drone of leaf blowers and leaf vacuums. More traditional signs of the waning year can still be found on our front porch—winter squash of various sizes and varieties, crisp-sweet carrots, homely potatoes and rutabagas, and a selection of the hardier greens like spinach, lettuce and kale. All make for welcome, warming fare on cold evenings, but they won’t last long—as temperatures begin to plunge, our offerings will dwindle until, when temperatures barely rise above freezing, we call it a season.
We began the 2014 season with a very slow warm up, at least compared to recent history. Although we didn’t have any late frost, the lingering cool temperatures may have affected our blueberry and apple crops by discouraging bee activity during bloom time, and by slowing the development of key pests that, during a more ‘normal’ spring, could be controlled by one or two carefully timed sprays. We suspect that, because the materials we are allowed to use under the organic regimen have virtually no residual activity, a longer period of egg hatch in response to cool weather may have meant that a significant number of winter moth were continuing to emerge after we thought we had dealt with them.
After that unusual spring, which followed a very cold winter, the season began to shape up nicely. We continued to experiment with transplanting greenhouse seeded starts of plants we usually seed directly—spinach, beets, cilantro, dill—with the result that we began harvest of those crops up to three weeks earlier than we otherwise might have. Asparagus harvest from the old McGrath field was robust, almost double what it had been the previous year. We moved our early kale, arugula and radishes to fields that hadn’t grown crops in that family for many years, and so escaped the usual onslaught of flea beetles. We did the same for our potatoes, and they likewise (mostly) escaped the usual onslaught of Colorado potato beetles. The cold winter, or some other less apparent factor, seemed to suppress and delay the annual invasion of striped cucumber beetles, with the result that all our crops in the ‘cucurbit’ (squash, cukes, melons) family produced well and over longer periods than we have come to expect (except our watermelons, and that’s because the crows have developed a taste for them). On the other hand, the usual smattering of leafminers that afflict our chard, spinach and beets increased to a bona fide infestation, which repeated itself several times over the course of the season even affecting crops well into October—an unprecedented and worrisome development. For the most part, however, our crops prospered under the enthusiastic and expert care of our staff—and the farm prospers with the continued support and enthusiasm of our customers.
If you visit the farm over the next week or two, you can expect to find some self-serve offerings during times when the temperatures are above freezing, and we will continue to attend Union Square Somerville market on Saturdays 9-1, and Central Square Cambridge market on Mondays 12-5 until Thanksgiving. We still have plenty of delicious carrots and can easily accommodate additional orders for 25 lb bags ($25 each)—just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a pickup time. For a more or less up to date list of everything we have available, check our website.
Thanks again for your continued support. We hope all of you enjoy the winter ahead—or if that’s not possible, at least tolerate it. Before we know it, winter will seem like a vaguely unpleasant dream as we wake to a bright July morning with the prospect of sunny weather, adventure, and fresh picked tomatoes, blueberries and sweet corn.
Thank you for a great season!
-Brian, John, Gordon, and the Hutchins Farm crew