Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Red Farmstand, Wednesday October 30, 1pm to 5pm.

Hello friends --

The sugar maple just keeps getting better...
Last Wednesday night, after we'd closed down the farmstand, we got our first frost of the season, as many of you probably noticed.  Fortunately, since it was a farmstand day, we'd just harvested everything pretty heavily, so we didn't lose too much that was edible.  However, that frost marked the end of the road for eggplants, peppers (though we still have a few hot peppers left from last week), summer squash, chard, and flowers.  Wow, that feels like a lot of stuff, doesn't it?  It does to us; we also feel the increasingly cold weather as we harvest and wash greens for these last few farmstands of the year.

Goodbye till next year!
So, I'd like to take a moment to recognize those summer veggies that stayed with us well into the fall.  Thanks to a wet spring and summer, our zucchini and yellow squash barely got going until September.  Our eggplants recovered from an inauspicious beginning to bear what I think can reasonably be termed a bumper crop.  We picked so many peppers that they became a staple on the salad bar at Irwin for several weeks.  Our sunflowers and zinnias graced the Pop Hall faculty lounge and the Admissions rotunda, as well as tables and mantelpieces all over town.  And as for chard, which has been on the farmstand table every single week since that first (rainy) day back at the beginning of June, those plants don't owe us a thing.  So, thank you plants, and thank you to all our farm helpers and customers!  Now it's time to wrap up warm and eat lots of kale, carrots, beets, and lettuce.


What we hope our rye will
look like in March
We are finally, finally done seeding cover crops for the winter.  Let me be the first to admit that we did this really, really late.  We seeded winter rye, which doesn't have a problem germinating in cold weather, but still.  The other farmers in the area definitely had their cover crops in well before we did.  However, it's done now, and we'll hope for the best.

Hairy vetch in bloom
We seeded hairy vetch along with the rye.  Vetch, a legume, will fix nitrogen in the soil, while the rye will grow tall and send down thickly matted roots, contributing structure and biomass to the soil.  We're hoping the rye can serve as late-winter pasture for our sheep -- its high tolerance for cold temperatures will enable it to be green and nutritious long before the wild pasture grasses start growing again -- before being tilled in to make way for veggies later in the spring.

Firming the soil with the cultipacker
The Big Red farm crew seeded most of the cover crops last week, into extremely dry soil.  We haven't had significant rain in several weeks, and it shows.  We use a heavy, ridged roller called a cultipacker to firm the soil after seeding.  This ensures good seed-to-soil contact, and the ridges help to collect any moisture that does come along, such as dew, but we're crossing our fingers for a good soaking rain very soon.  If we don't get that, our cover crop seeds will have to wait even longer to germinate!

Wild rice & kale gratin

To continue in kale mode, we recently had this warm, hearty gratin on a chilly evening.  I'd originally planned to use it as a side dish to some sort of main course, but by the time the baby was asleep and the dog walked and the laundry put away, it became clear that the gratin was the main course.  We didn't go to bed hungry!  (Wild Rice and Kale Gratin)


This week, we hope to have the following available on Wednesday, in front of Edith Chapel, from 1pm to 5pm:
  • Beets - $2.50 bunch
  • Carrots - $2.50 bunch
  • Celery - $2.00 each
  • Garlic - $1.50 each (limited quantity)
  • Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Tuscan Kale - $2.00 bunch
  • Romaine Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Red Leaf Lettuce - $2.00 head
  • Hot Peppers - 2 for $1.00
  • Potatoes - $4.50 quart (limited quantity)


The Big Red Farmstand will be located on the Lawrenceville School campus for the fall, in front of Edith Chapel.  Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane) and bear right into the circle.  The Chapel is about halfway around the circle, and you'll see our sign.  Don't forget your shopping bags!

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