Newsletter October 2017

Riverbend Farm newsletter October 10, 2017

There was a disconsolate looking robin standing on the ice in the birdbath this morning. We had a low temperature of 30° this morning. It was much colder out in the field. This was our first frost of the season, a little earlier than last year but almost a month later than the old normal.

Walking around this afternoon it was clear what had been frozen beyond recovery and what will make a come back. The first thing I noticed was that the zinnias by the house were fine, even the morning glories were untouched. The moonflower however was very dead. The zinnias in the field were all affected but the ones closest to the barn ad a little higher will be okay. The ones at the end of the row, a little lower ( ~2’ max.) were toast.

All the winter squash leaves are dead. This should convince them that it is time to harden off the squash and call it a season. They were not ready to give up, there were still some new squash blossoms on the plants. The okra leaves are all frozen and wilted but I’m not sure all the plants are dead. Last year they recovered a little after the first frost. It’s possible that it was too cold for them last night but we will see. I’m hoping that some of the earliest pods have mature seeds. It was a cool summer and a great year for selecting early okra.

The Aleppo peppers were not fazed by the frost. Not that they are doing much but it is the first year growing them here. I picked red peppers off 17 out of 31 plants. Some of the plants were pretty pathetic, maybe 6” tall and one tiny pepper. And maybe none. In a few years they will be just fine.

The bell and sweet peppers were heavily damaged by the frost. The plants are not completely dead and the peppers that were covered by the leaves could be okay. It will take a week or so to see how they do. If we get a few more weeks of warm weather they might make a come back. Hot peppers were hit or miss. The jalapenos are fine. Most of the rest of them are probably done.

We are simply running out of some varieties of eggplant but they look relatively good. The top leaves will be burned but the fruit are so solid and heavy it takes them a long time to freeze.

The winter radishes and turnips were unaffected. The salad radishes have wilted leaves. The leaves had not recovered by this evening so I think they may be done. The roots are good but people look at the leaves (which they don’t eat) when buying radishes. All the green s look fine.

It has been a weird fall. In all of September we has about 1.5” of rain. A week ago we had 3”. It was more than we needed but less than they got just west of us. I heard as much as 6” in parts of Montrose. Our fields were pretty mushy. We had to watch where we were walking as we were harvesting for last week’s CSA. Driving a truck or tractor in there would have been impossible.

A couple weeks ago a crop mob pulled up a bed or dry beans instead of harvesting winter squash. The beans were also making new green leaves. Some of them even has flowers. The beans are a variety that the UofM is working on. You have had them as shell beans. Judging by the amount of plants that got pulled it will be a tremendous crop. The vines and all filled one of our greenhouses. With all the rain that came in it was good to get the beans out of the field. I don’t know how the rest of them were feeling but me and Mary were completely shot by the time we were done.

There is a little bit of good news on late blight. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison say that there almost no chance of late blight being transmitted through tomato seed. As it turns out there were a few of the tomato plants in the seed garden survived the late blight. That the disease is not transmitted to the seed makes me feel a lot better about saving the seed from the surviving tomatoes and planting it next year.

The cover crops that we have been busy prepping and planting are coming up and looking good. I did notice a spot where I must have run out of seed on one side of the grain drill that will need to be reseeded. Where the tomatoes were plowed under little clumps of tomato seedlings are competing with the rye grass.

One more week of CSA for this season. It sure went fast. Shortly after that we will go to once a week deliveries.