November is Transition to Winter

November is our noticeable change in daylight hours, with dark creeping in earlier in the evening (late afternoon?!?) and making me want to hibernate.  But November still has plenty of work to do, so we can’t nap yet.

If you check The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the list of garden clean up is pretty much what we do in November: clean root crops of dirt and store in a cool, dark place; clip the tops off beets, parsnips, turnips, and carrots so they stay fresher; clean fall squash of dirt and store in a cool, dark place; dig up, clean, and store dahlia tubers and gladiola bulbs in a cool, dark place (you see the theme of “cool, dark”); clean out dead plants and vines; destroy slug egg masses (slugs are never on my “keep” list).

Clean all tools. Check all tractors and equipment. Now is the time to do repairs and maintenance. Spring rush comes sooner than we think every year!

Test the soil, add sulfur or lime to adjust the pH as needed.

Inspect all the trees. What might need to come out? Where will trees be planted in the spring?
Then there is the planting list: garlic, spring flowering bulbs, greens in the hoop houses and greenhouses. This year, trying to plant when it has not been raining or the fields are so muddy you sink in has been a challenge.

We harvest outside usually through December: lettuces, chard, dandelion greens, arugula, kale, mustard greens, spinach, scallions, beets, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts. November is a race against the falling temperatures. Many of these crops are good to 20 degrees, but you never know when we will get an unusually early Arctic blast!

This year, we are starting a new greenhouse project, which means this month we are working to prepare for it. We are cleaning out one heated greenhouse, will install a 500-gallon water tank, and are waiting for all the parts for a new system. This new system will increase productivity to help meet the demand for clean, organically grown produce (thank you to all our customers who support our farm—this is for you!) in an energy-efficient and labor-efficient way. We are all excited about this and I can hardly wait for it to be up and running. You will hear more about this in February.

And November, of course, brings Thanksgiving, our national day of feasting! The first three weeks are preparation for Thanksgiving: taking turkey orders, coordinating with our turkey growers; taking pie orders, planning the baking schedule; harvesting everything that was planned out long ago in March so that there are plenty of sweet potatoes, potatoes, sage, thyme, parsley, green beans, and broccoli (and everything else). And did I say pie orders? And more pie orders, and donut orders, and last minute turkey orders?

After Thanksgiving? We catch our breath, and relax a little. But only a little. Winter harvest is underway and spring planning has started. What will be different for 2019?  We sure hope that the weather will be different! Normal rainfall instead of 2x the rain would be nice. I feel like we haven’t dried out all year! We have no control over the rain, so we focus on what we can control: what will we plant and where, what will go in greenhouses or hoop houses, what will be new, what was successful and should be repeated.

We had our first snow storm on November 15—what a surprise! That definitely put us on notice that winter is upon us. The winter season brings a needed dormancy for the fruit trees and brambles, a good reminder that we all need a little rest so that we can have the energy needed for the busy days of spring, summer, and fall. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we give thanks for getting through another year, for the loyalty of our customers, for the support of our community and friends, for the hard work of our staff, and for the many members of our family. We hope you have as many things to be thankful for as we do.  

~Ruth 

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