This wet weather is great…no kidding!
I’m excited about this wet weather. It really is awful to work in, but it buys us time. The alternative is a hard, killing frost. We’ve had a few frosts, but not the worst damage. I’ll explain below.
This week is a full moon. But I doubt you’ll see it. That’s good for me in the fall. Full moons in the fall usually mean clear nights. Clear nights mean no cloud cover to trap in the warmth of the day. That means hard, killing frosts if the temps drop over night.
With the rain and cloud cover, the temperatures are moderated some. This shocks the plants a little, so in response they create sugars to prevent from freezing. The result – tastier, sweeter cauliflower, cabbages, brussels sprouts, and more!
I’ve been talking with the farmers for weeks trying to plan what needs to move now, what can hold, etc. I think I have a fairly good idea of what is going to be in the first couple bags. My hardest part right now in planning them is to not give you too much produce.
There is a good chance that next week we’ll be featuring cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beets, and a new product, a stir fry mix of radishes, tatsoi, baby kale, arugula, and turnip greens. I’m pretty excited about that product. It should be petite and tender and tasty!
We’ll also have spaghetti squash, maybe some sweet bell peppers, and some tasty apples.
For the protein, we are likely looking at a whole chicken. It’s such a cost effective and versatile ingredient! And if you don’t use it next week, it can be the centerpiece later in the season as you find sweet potatoes and other root vegetables that will make a nice roast chicken dinner!
There is a lot of thought that goes into each week’s bag and planning the winter season. There is also a little luck. We really are at the mercy of nature at times.
This morning, I had a very exciting conversation with one of my growers. This is our third winter together and he realizes as much as I do the importance of the winter. “Well, things are looking quite plentiful.” ‘Is that so, Harvey? Let’s revisit our winter schedule.’
I had previously told Harvey that I needed more carrots. “Well, we have about 5,000 to 6,000 bunches of carrots ready. We have them outside to use immediately, some under row cover to hold until December or so, and another third in hoop-house. We should have fresh harvested carrots until March.” My very technical, yankee response to an Amish man – “You [awkward pause as I exclude non-necessary happy profanity] rock.”
The winter season takes lots of careful planning. We try to have a mix of fresh produce – like lettuces and other greens – that can be grown inside with some predictability. We also try to have some cold weather crops that can hold late into the fall – like cauliflower and cabbage. They there are root crops that are either harvested and sold fresh or stored for the winter. Carrots, turnips, rutabaga, and beets are some of the items that will stay in the ground as long as possible, including under straw even after the snow falls. Imagine how fun those are to harvest! Other crops, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and even cabbage will be stored in root cellars until we use them. They will never have the quality as in the summer but will still be tasty (see below for storage suggestions).
Besides produce, we will rely on more shelf stable products, like dried beans, whole grains, and flours. Then there are the meats – we have been “harvesting” pasture raised and grass-fed livestock at a rapid pace this fall. This frozen inventory will hold us through the winter. The last grass-fed animals – the beef – will be harvested in late December and our last pasture-raised chickens for the fall will be harvested Dec 1.
Finally, the winter includes some “value added” products, like preserves, sauces, pastas, and more.
For this winter, one thing we’ve focused a lot of energy on is frozen produce. This summer we’ve frozen peas, beans, corn, berries, and even tomatoes. We’ll release these products throughout the winter as they match what else is available for the bags.