|The first frost of fall is often not a clear-cut event, but kind of a process. As morning temperatures flirt with freezing, low-lying areas can bristle with white crystals while other areas are unaffected. Frost-sensitive plants can sometimes weather multiple such “events” with few ill-effects, while hardy plants located in “frost pockets” suffer damage. Ultimately, temperatures dip definitively to subfreezing levels, the blackened remains of tender plants leaving no doubt as to whether a real frost has occurred.|
This fall, temperatures before sunrise have been approaching the magic number for a month now, yet peppers and eggplants still stood green and tall, mostly bereft of fruit and looking a bit worn, but undeniably alive. But this morning the temperatures finally dipped, and the plants finally succumbed, marking the end of the growing season, the beginning of the dead season.
Even before freezing weather brings a definite end to growth, the short days and long shadows have already begun the process, slowing development, prompting perennials to begin transferring energy from foliage to roots. Many summer annuals (pigweed, galinsoga) ever optimistic, continue germinating, but unlike in the spring, when they put all their energy into growing a large structure to support their eventual prolific reproductive phase, these weeds in autumn wisely flower almost as soon as they emerge, somehow knowing that their days will be few.
Farmers often enter this season with a sigh of relief and an eye to the future. We try to glean lessons from the experience of the season just ended, to be filed alongside and compared to the experiences of all the previous seasons. Clear epiphanies tend to be few and far between, and the wisdom we can gather is often of a very contingent, situation-specific type. Some lessons— for instance, don’t plant in a certain field because it flooded—can’t be taken to heart because those same fields, in a dry season, may be the most productive. Risk-taking and playing the odds is inherent in every decision we make and action we take. The hope is that years of experience and lessons learned will translate into a better risk assessment and mitigation, more successes, fewer failures.
Our season has officially ended, but we will continue to make available what produce we have on the porch, self-serve. Expect to find lots of potatoes, some parsnips, carrots, daikon, turnips and sweet potatoes. Lettuce, kale and other greens and herbs may be available as long as the weather co-operates. If temperatures remain above freezing, produce will be on the porch all day and night, but when freezing weather is predicted, we will bring it inside—check our website before visiting if you’re in doubt. We will also be at the Cambridge Central Square Farmers Market on Monday afternoons until Thanksgiving.
It has been a long, wild season and we are especially appreciative of both our stalwart crew, who braved endless rain-soaked, mud-caked days to ensure that produce was planted, weeded and harvested promptly and well, and our customers, whose undampened enthusiasm and continued support buoyed us up when the rains threatened to drown our passion and purpose. We thank you all for coming along for another season with us – and hope you have a good winter’s rest!
With gratitude, -Brian Cramer, Liza Bemis, and the rest of the Hutchins Farm team
November 2023 Newsletter