In the Present Season
As the growing season starts to wind down, I start to get excited about the winter months and the planning process for next year’s growing season. I can’t help myself. As a farmer, it is so ingrained to always be thinking two days, two weeks, even two months ahead at any moment. But on days like today, I try to focus on the present and the perfect light on a fall day here in Concord.
With the hoophouses planted, all the root crops harvested and in the cooler, the winter squash and sweet potatoes cured and ready for distribution, it is time to look back on the season that was and forward to the one that will follow.
It begins with planting our garlic in the next few weeks, then deciding how best to move forward into next year. We implemented a lot of new practices this year, mainly the switch to the permanent raised-bed system. This bio-intensive practice allowed us to increase production by 15,000 pounds of vegetables. And most importantly, by not tilling, this system will start the process of rebuilding the health and biological activity of the soil.
Another exciting project on the farm this summer was the construction of our new mobile hoop house. It represents another tool to implement in next years plans and an off-season homework assignment to learn how to grow hoop house cucumbers in the umbrella style—a method taken from large conventional agriculture and adapted to our small farm in order to prolong the life and yield of each cucumber plant by 75 percent.
These are the benefits to having five seasons under my belt here at Gaining Ground, where the farm and the season aren’t moving faster than I can keep up with anymore and where I can start to anticipate timing and changes.
And then as I work the pitch fork into the ground to pry out some snow white parsnips, I remember to take another minute to enjoy the long shadows of this fall afternoon.