September is my favorite month of the year. It is a welcome break from the long days of summer. All of the planning and executing throughout the year has paid off with good yields, only a few crop losses, and a full cooler of storage crops. This is a perfect time to determine which varieties of tomatoes to grow next year and acknowledge what worked and what needs to be improved. We have rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes, and winter radishes in the ground ready to be harvested and stored. We planted strawberries that we will cover with straw and fabric that should produce sweet fruit in the Spring. Turning our fields over into cover crop is the final step in preparation for next year. It is a great feeling checking tasks off our list.
Fresh ginger grown right here in New Jersey. Sound crazy? I thought so too but it is a tropical crop that we start in flats in our heated greenhouse around March, then transplant into our high tunnel in May. We hill it and cover it with a shade cloth because it is an understory crop in the tropics so too much light will harm the plants. We had our first harvest this past week and it was a huge hit at the farmers market. This is a welcomed addition to our usual lineup of vegetables. This year we had tomatoes about three weeks earlier then normal, however now they are starting end about three weeks early. I am guessing the cool nights and mild summer might have something to do with it. Our attention has turned away from the summer crops and into the fall. The weeks ahead will have us busy harvesting celery root, the rest of our potatoes, two varieties of rutabaga, winter turnips, and winter squash.
We are always excited to try new methods. While working at North Slope Farm I was taught to direct seed across the bed rather then in long rows parallel with the direction of the bed. With this method we were able to seed short straight lines and control the spacing to allow a 3.5″ scuffle hoe to weed between each row after the seed germinated. This idea is creative and unconventional, my favorite tip of thinking. By using the tools we have at hand, such as a single point seeder and a scuffle hoe, a system was developed. I continue to experiment with this system here at Great Road Farm. There are some tools I would like to develop to help with our system. We will have to thin the winter turnips we direct seeded by hand. It would be great if there were an attachment to our single point seeder that could accurately thin our seedlings with the same basic motion as seeding. The future holds some great inventions!