Bartlett Pears from Cliffside Orchards, “20th Century” Asian Pears from Tonnemaker Orchards, and the last few nectarines of the year
We get so used to the pattern of crops and projects over the years, that it becomes very confusing to harvest out of order. Usually the shelling beans and winter squashes are ready by the end of September, and we start picking furiously to get them out of the weather and danger of freezing. We are still waiting for many of them to ripen—fully three weeks late and counting. The pumpkins are just now turning orange. How do Carpinito Brothers and the other big pumpkin farmers have theirs ready, you might ask? It could be the superhybrid varieties, the superfertilizer “steroids” they applied all summer, or the copious amounts of free water they used every week over the short summer. We only planted a week later than they did and we’re still waiting. Maybe if we’d had fungicide-treated seed we could have planted under the threat of freezing weather in May as they did some of their fields. But we only planted heirloom, tasty pumpkins that can be eaten, and they take a bit longer anyway.
We didn’t get the ground ready for planting potatoes until June, and had to keep the potato seed in the cooler for two months before planting. Potatoes are supposed to be planted in March or April. Those two months were needed! We tried harvesting potatoes last week and the yield is dismal. And it’s so disappointing. We knew it was a gamble when we planted, but we had the seed, so might as well try, we thought. Each plant usually would produce about 5-10 pounds of nice spuds, but in many of the varieties (and we planted about 12) there are only pea-sized, tiny tubers. Most plants produced one or two good-sized potatoes. We have decided to buy potatoes from Alden Farms. They are long-time friends of ours, and we sell at farmers markets together. Their yield is down about 50% this year because of flooding—they lost two entire fields to the Snohomish River in the spring. But, they will still retail, but don’t count on finding their potatoes at Whole Foods this winter.
The month-long delay in warm weather in the spring (remember frost in June?) had us planting everything late—corn, squash, etc. We hoped all summer for an extra month in the fall to make up for it, and we’ve had it so far. The last week of temperatures in the 80’s has made a huge difference. The tomatoes are finally ripening, and hopefully we’ll have enough for everyone next week. The corn is ready, and we’ll be picking it next week—we’ve picked frosty corn in previous years! And, the squashes that were nowhere near ready two weeks ago will be ready to harvest next week. Many are ready now.
So, things are working out for the most part. We’ll have new lettuces to pick in a few weeks, the newer broccoli planting is sporting 2″ heads and will be ready in another two weeks, and the winter greens are looking succulent and tasty. The upcoming chilly weather will only make them sweeter.
Here’s to fall!