The past few days a few people have commented about how this weather is better than snow and ice, so this might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t need 70 degree days at the beginning of August. I don’t think the plants care for it too much, either. I’ve noticed quite a bit of yellowing on the leaves of our brassicas that wasn’t there at the end of October. Some pests have come back out of dormancy, as well. Flea beetles were hopping around, and a nemesis weed has even started making late appearance.
Galinsoga is probably my least favorite weed on the farm. It’s nicknamed “Quickweed” because it can flower and set seed within 10 days, which makes it extremely difficult to control because it can have multiple generations in a season. My least favorite part, though, is that its roots create a mat around the base of the plant, and when you weed it, it pulls out a ton of soil at a time and often any smaller seedlings being cultivated in the bed. It is extremely frost sensitive, and prefers warmer soil for germination, so usually by November it is killed off for the season, but I’ve been seeing it all germinate now that we’ve had a few warm days! This one I’m a little upset about, though, because a hard frost tomorrow night will kill em all off, and that is one less generation of weed seeds to deal with next year.
Back to unpopular opinions, but I am crossing my fingers for a cold and snowy winter this year. For the sake of farming in New England, a cold winter helps disrupt pest and disease cycles in the fields and kind of makes New England a haven for organic growing. We don’t have to deal with nearly as many pests and diseases as places that have mild winters without a deep freeze. Snow cover is basically an effortless cover crop as it tucks the fields in and protects bare soil. Plus I think we can all get behind freezing out some ticks, right?
I’m not opposed to a warm fall, but days in the high 50’s is fine by me. It’s amazing the late autumn growth we’ve seen in the fields. We’re coming to the time of year known as the “Persephone Period” among farmers. It is the time of year when daylight falls below 10 hours per day, and growth all but comes to a halt. The rule of thumb for winter growing is about 3/4 maturity by the start of the Persephone Period. This gives crops enough growth to produce modestly through the winter, and not too mature that a hard freeze would kill them. I’m still finding my rhythm with winter growing, over-wintering crops and early spring growing are my strongest seasons in the green house, but it’s a fun adventure. We don’t expect to sell produce after Thanksiving, so it’s fairly risk free to experiment until I get a better hang of the timing for the winter.
Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition Appeal
As regular readers know, I am a board member of the Mondanock Farm and Community Coalition, an organization that promotes local agriculture as a form of community building in our region. We are making our annual appeal in the hopes of reaching a fundraising goal of $5600 by December 31st. Usually I try to keep my board self separate from my farmer self to avoid any conflicts of interest, but in this case, I think it is fitting to speak from both experiences. The MFCC has had a direct impact on our farm and many other farms in the Monadock Region.
This year we saw the roll out of a Mobile Food Pantry that has so far visited three towns in the Monadnock Region. One of those towns was Fitzwilliam, where the Mobile Pantry worked with the fantastic group that organizes the Fitwilliam District Nursing Association to organize a pickup at Emerson School. The MFCC helped fund raise for the mobile pantry so that they could purchase fresh produce from local farms, and when the mobile pantry came to Fitzwilliam, they reached out to Tracie’s to provide fresh produce.
If you visit our store, you will see a poster and stickers featuring a “Monadnock Grown” logo that indicates a product was produced locally to our region. This is the MFCC’s latest project to promote local agriculture, and will continue to be rolled out over the winter and into next year. I have been a strong supporter of this project as I love to see producers gather together to make a truly local product. Adjacent to this project has been what is called the Harvest Bridge program, which the MFCC has lent assistance for. Harvest Bridge is taking aim at finding out how to get farmer’s crops to last through the winter by preserving them in a value added form. Through the MFCC, I met Jacob Sherwood of Harvest Bridge, and we have been working on making pesto using only local ingredients, as well as minced garlic. Jacob and I are still working everything out, but we hope to have Tracie’s pesto in our store at some point in 2023!
These are only a couple of the projects that the MFCC works on in any given year, but they are real stories of how the organization supports local farms. We are one of many that have stories like these with the MFCC, and I believe it is an organization worth supporting in our region. If you would like to help us reach our goal of $5,600 by December 31st, please follow THIS LINK . Your commitment to our local agriculture is greatly appreciated!
FALL SHARES WEEK 6!
Fall shares go out every Wednesday from October 5th until the week of Thanksgiving. On November 22nd shares will be packed on Tuesday.
Carrots, Onions, Garlic, and Potatoes are weekly regulars in shares. We’re going to take a break for a week on sweet potatoes to save for the last two weeks and give a little extra before Thanksgiving. Beets are back on the menu. Brussel Sprouts! Woo! We gave up on brussels my second year on the farm after having trouble with them for years. The past couple of years I have been trying to work them back into our plans, and although we still have some trouble, this is looking like an improvement over last year. Plenty of the sprouts are small, but they are tender, sweet, and delicious. Chard will be in shares this week. Lettuce is a regular. Turnips are going back out in shares. I don’t think they will have tops on them this week, but can’t say for certain.
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (To get them perfectly crispy, make sure this is the only pan in the oven and you’re not roasting anything else at the same time.)
Slice off any hard ends of the Brussels sprouts, as needed. Slice them in half lengthwise and place them in a large bowl.
Mix the sprouts with the olive oil, kosher salt, and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper*, then pour the spouts onto the sheet. Turn them all cut side down.
Roast for 25 minutes until very browned and tender (don’t stir!).
While the sprouts are roasting, place the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes on medium low heat until thickened slightly and reduced (this should result in about 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons glaze).
When the sprouts are done, pour over the maple balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.
Wrap each beet in a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle generously with olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Place the beets on a baking sheet and roast for 40 to 90 minutes, or until soft and fork-tender. The time will depend on the size and freshness of the beets. Remove the beets from the oven, remove the foil, and set aside to cool. When they are cool to the touch, peel the skins. I like to hold them under running water and slide the skins off with my hands.
Let the beets cool and chill them in the fridge until ready to use.
Assemble the salad with the greens, shallots, apples, walnuts, cheese, and microgreens, if using. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Season with flaky sea salt and pepper and serve.