The Local Harvest

THE LOCALHARVEST   The Weekly Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, September 15th, 2017

COOL TEMPERATURES CONTINUE IN SEPTEMBER by Sherry Dudas  

The first week of September found the cool trend continuing, with temperatures more than 5 degrees below normal.  This is inhibiting the ripening of heirloom and sauce tomatoes, so we’re seeing their availability decrease.  Eggplant, however, is ripening at a faster rate, as are the hot, bell and frying peppers.   

The watermelon and sweet corn harvest is over for the summer season, and it was a strong year for both, not only in terms of quantity, but flavor as well.  Many members commented on how sweet both crops were and my working theory is that perhaps these two summer stars of the farm prefer cooler summer temperatures.   As fall approaches, we are excited about cool weather crops returning, such as leeks, arugula, carrots, cabbage, lettuce mix and radishes.  Some crops, like rutabaga (Farmer Jim is growing a new white variety this season), cauliflower, sweet potatoes and, of course, winter squash and pumpkins, are only grown and harvested in the late summer/early fall.  We’re also looking forward to purple-topped, hakurei and scarlet turnips, and more broccoli, cilantro and spinach. Most of the reports from our field managers indicate a strong fall, although we have some disease in the Pennington pumpkin patch, which is not surprising since they were planted in a low spot which tends to puddle after rain.  

We continue to plant the strawberry transplants for next year’s harvest in both Chesterfield and Pennington. Also in Chesterfield, Farmer Jim is readying ground for a new blueberry planting, which will be on the same farm as the Chesterfield Distribution Center.  

Lastly, this is the month when some farm managers begin to take vacations.  David and Israel will be visiting family in Texas, while Farmer Jim and I will be travelling to the Finger Lakes region to attend events hosted during Cider Week Finger Lakes.  After we’re all rested and relaxed, we’ll be in excellent shape to close the 2017 season on a strong note during the mid-late November!  

NATURE NOOK by Sherry Dudas  

Migration time is exciting at the farms as we always are treated to interesting bird and butterfly sitings!  Recently, while training a new farm stand attendant in Pennington, I noticed a huge bird flying over the Pennington pick-your-own fields.  I quickly registered that it was larger than a turkey vulture, so I was hoping it was a bald eagle.  My gaze quickly went to its bottom and sure enough, a fan of white plumage was quickly receding into the distance.  I had to interrupt my training session to declare to the new attendant that we just had a bald eagle fly-over, which I thought was a good omen for her first day of work!  
The following week, I stepped out of the Pennington farmhouse and was nearly clocked in the head by either a sharp-shinned or Cooper’s hawk, as it glided through the front yard and landed in a nearby tree.  That woke me up faster than a cup of strong coffee! The chickadees and downy woodpeckers have been active in the wetland area adjacent to the Honey Brook (our namesake water feature flows past the farm house) and occasionally we see a great blue heron fly over on its way to Wargo Pond, part of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association’s Nature Preserve.  

Over the weekend at the Chesterfield farm, a pine warbler and solitary sandpiper, two birds I have never observed at the farm before, visited us on the same day a “kettle” (a large flock of migrating birds) of broad-winged hawks were taking advantage of thermal air currents swirling above the farm to lift them closer to their southern wintering grounds.   

In both Chesterfield and Pennington, we are seeing more monarch butterflies as they begin their journey southward. In other insect news, in Chesterfield the ripening figs are attracting a plethora of native wasps and other pollinators, which is unfortunate, since they are feeding on the figs and damaging them.  But even the insects know our figs are the best!

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