As the days get shorter and the air turns crisp and cool, there is a rush to get things wrapped up and ready for winter on the farm. In the fields, we are busy harvesting the last of the late crops such as Brussels Sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. We will continue to work in the greenhouse harvesting tomatoes until early December when we empty the vines and pots. Seeds from our favourite tomatoes will be collected and dried for seeding next spring.
Vegetables that have been harvested are stored to be enjoyed throughout the winter. The squash is placed in a heated room, but the potatoes, onions, and garlic prefer to be in cooler, dark storage. In the kitchen, the fall is a time to catch up on preserving and canning, restocking our shelves and freezers.
Next year’s garlic crop (approximately 6 000 cloves) has been planted and covered with straw. Sunflowers have been harvested and the sensitive dahlia tubers have been dug up and placed in the cooler for the winter. Almost 5 acres of rhubarb roots have been dug up and planted inside our root houses. At the beginning of January, we will gradually turn the heat on in the buildings to initiate the growth of these amazing plants.
After harvest, we will plant our fields with cover crops. Cover crops are extremely important as they draw carbon and other essential nutrients into the soil. Their roots take a firm hold on the soil and keep it from blowing away with the strong Melancthon winds. This year we are using a combination of rye, winter wheat, and some experimental grains. The residue from some of our crops (e.g., corn, asparagus, rhubarb) will be mowed down to limit pests, diseases, and weeds. Mowing allows us to prepare our fields for spring planting without doing damage by disturbing the soil. These practices help ensure soil health and structure for the spring growing season.
Once our fieldwork is complete, we will give all of our machinery and tools a good cleaning and maintenance check before they are stored for the winter. Chopping and stacking firewood, building repair and maintenance, yard work, and catching up on paperwork, fill our days throughout November and early December. As winter approaches, we are busy preparing for the holiday market season. We will craft some beautiful gift baskets and fill our market with local goodies and delicious produce for the holidays. We are looking forward to time to rest and recharge with our family but know that our hard work and preparation in the fall will ensure that the next growing season will begin with ease.