One job we like to do while the interns are still here is to convert our pick-up room back into a woodshed by putting the divider wall back in place and filling it up with wood. The potting soil is also being mixed up ready for the greenhouse transplants. It is sort of like making a big cake…sifting the pails, instead of cups, and them mixing them together. One of the requirements for organic production is to have potting soil with out chemical fertilizer. We use compost to add nutrients to the mix with a recipe adapted from Eliot Coleman’s book The New Organic Grower.
Early October and garlic planting always coincides with the end of the internships on the farm. We have to wait for dry weather and the golden October sun usually makes for a fun filled day. The interns are always pleasantly surprised at how easy and fun it is to plant our garlic. We prepare the ground during the summer and plant it to a cover crop of oats and peas in early September. The oats and peas cover the ground and grow into the late fall. They then winter kill and the garlic can grow up through the cover crop mulch in the spring. We open up a furrow with a row cultivator. The garlic cloves are placed 6 inches apart and then the furrow is closed in with a disc hiller pulled by the horses. We planted 5950 cloves of garlic in about 2 1/2 hours this morning with the help of our Suffolk Punch Horses.
We are very grateful for all the efforts of the apprentices throughout the season and wish them well with their future endeavours.
Our main season CSA is drawing to a close with our last main season pick-up coming up on Tuesday, October 7th. Charlotte has already left for the season and Brandon and Caitlin will be heading out on the 14th. Jayme is going to stay and hold the fort here while we go to the wedding of Andy, a past apprentice, in Cape Breton. We are squeezing in a trip between the end of the main season CSA and the beginning of our Fall CSA on Saturday, October 25th.
The American Suffolk Horse Association Annual Meeting, held here in September, went well despite the cold wet weather at the beginning. Everyone who attended especially enjoyed participating in and watching the obstacle course. It was great to have the breeders and directors from far and wide come and celebrate the Suffolk Horse. Ken enjoyed show casing what we have been able to do here using our Suffolk Punch horses. Our apprentices were appreciated as voices of young teamsters. The youngest teamster came from eastern Ontario, a 12 year old enthusiast, who was not intimidated by the big horses and was driving teams around.
Our sweet potatoes yielded very well, especially considering the cooler summer we have had. We put them in one of our hoop houses to cure as we have done in the past. It takes warmth to get the sweet potatoes to turn sweet. However, this year with our unseasonable hot weather the end of September it caused sun scald on the sweet potatoes. Needless to say I felt sick about it when I realized what had happened! As a result, we are giving them all out as quickly as possible and asking people to use them up right away. Do not put them in the fridge, as they don’t like cold. I made a delicious sweet potato pie with homemade sweet potato ice cream and a sweet potato soup. They were all excellent.
We have decide to keep both Ned and Queen to help us and our apprentices get started next spring while Eli and Sandy continue with their training. We now have 9 horses and only 7 stalls. Brandon took on the task of building two portable horse stalls that we will put in the south lean to of the middle barn for Ned and Queen for the winter. It is made out of solid ash timber that the horses pulled out of the woods and Ken milled on our saw mill. The Emerald Ash Borer is here and we have had to harvest a lot of ash…
It feels like we are wrapping up the season in a hurry. Our potatoes, both regular and sweet are dug. The squash and pumpkins are gathered in and the onions are cured. Our garlic is separated ready for planting next week. The fall grain and cover corps are all planted and the hay is finally all done. We had the best haying weather of the season the end of September! We also planted the hoop houses to fall greens for the Fall CSA. Lots of loose ends are being gathered up before our apprentices leave. Now we just have some potting soil to mix up to be ready for the late winter greenhouse transplant starts.