Martha gave me, Lisa the apprentice, the honor of writing the CSA newsletter and blog this month.  Yesterday afternoon I discovered a wasp nest in the woodpile when I was stung by an unhappily disturbed wasp; the swelling of my hand and wrist makes hard outdoor work a little difficult, so I am instead exercising my brain by reflecting back on the joys of late summer while the rest of the Orchard Hill Farm staff continue on the work to prepare for the new greenhouse building.
Green Thumbs and Fingers Too - After Suckering Tomatoes!

The cool nights and the end of melons and sweetcorn–produce which particularly earmarks the height of summer–has reminded me that the advent of autumn is nearly upon us.  In many ways this is my favorite time of year, when the mornings are cold enough to keep a hoodie on, and the heat of the day feels pleasant rather than overwhelming.  The bounty of crops continues.  Our melon season ends, and we are grateful for all of those stifling hot summer days which allowed for the abundance of ripe and sweet melons.  After our last sweet corn harvest on Tuesday morning, we took down the raccoon fence which had so carefully protected our crop, and Ken bushhogged the tall and empty stalks.  We now have fall bearing raspberries to enjoy, which are producing enough to be open for pick-your-own on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11-7, during CSA pick-up hours only, please.  The bright red and green zebra tomatoes in the hoophouse continue to grow and ripen, and the paste, heirloom, and sun-gold cherry tomatoes of the field each have a unique sweetness and flavor–as long as we can harvest them before the multifarious pests who also want their share.  We hope you are enjoying making up your own boxes of tomatoes so that you can sample the many varieties our fields have to offer.  Other delicacies of fall–winter squash, leeks, and potatoes–will soon be coming.

Last week we harvested all of the onions which were then transported to the hoop houses where they will dry out and cure in the hot, dry air, to allow them to be stored into the fall and winter.  We also plowed up the land where we will plant garlic in a few weeks.  Each year Ken and Martha save their own garlic seed, which is then planted in the fall, overwinters in the ground, and harvested the following summer.
Washing Rocks for Greenhouse Heat Sink

A few days of warm and dry weather allowed for us to bring in the last of the second-cut hay early this week.  The barn is full almost to the ceiling, and we feel confident that the horses will have enough feed to last through the winter.  Getting in the last of the hay and catching up on work in the garden now allows us enough extra time to begin construction on the new greenhouse.  Today is the third day in a row where the OHF crew has been faithfully and mostly-joyfully sifting through the pile of dirty rocks to wash off pebbles and mud.  We need enough rocks to fill in the space below the floor of the greenhouse 3-feet high.  The rocks will provide mass to store heat, however we need them to be clean to allow for air to circulate between and around rocks.  Dance music and stimulating conversation has helped us to keep our energy high during this somewhat arduous task.  Plus, we are all thrilled to be able to be a part of this building project–both to learn about greenhouse design and to help Ken and Martha complete construction before the cold of winter hits.

Please mark your calendars for the 2011 CSA Potluck which will be here at Orchard Hill on Sunday, September 25th from 2-4 p.m.  Please bring a dish to share, lawn chairs, and plates, cups, and cutlery for you and your family.  We will have horse-drawn wagon rides.  We look forward to socializing and sharing a meal with you in celebration of all of this wonderful produce and the OHF community.
Working Shares Making Up Tomato Boxes for CSA

Please note that the last CSA pick-up days for the season are Tuesday October 4th, and Saturday, October 8th.  If you are a working share and have not yet participated in your 5-hours of work for the season, please sign-up on the calendar in the pick-up room.  We have many slots open and always look forward to your help harvesting and washing vegetables.

Thanks again for your continued support,
Lisa and the Orchard Hill Farmers