Daylight “shaving” time took an hour away from us at the end of the day and added it back to the start of the day this week. At Terra Firma, this is not normally a welcome development this time of year. Late fall is generally a moist time of year, and the dew in the morning is heavy. So heavy, that soil that was perfectly dry this afternoon will be soaking wet tomorrow morning. In fact, in November and December, sometimes the dew never dries on the plants we are harvesting at all. Our broccoli harvesting crew wears raingear even when it’s sunny, since the waist-high plants can hold enough water on the leaves to soak a pair of jeans through.
It is ideal weather for harvesting any kind of greens, since they stay nicely hydrated. On the other hand, we are finishing up our last green bean field this week, and they are the opposite. If harvested when wet, they will rot in the cooler. So every day for the last two weeks, we have had to wait until noon, one or even two o’clock to start harvesting them.
Other tasks on the farm are complicated by moist fall mornings as well. Planters do not work well when they are wet or when the soil is wet — the dirt sticks to the moving parts and quickly clogs them up. So where morning is the favored time for planting much of the year around here — before it gets too hot — this time of year the schedule flips. We had to wait until after noon today to plant our first overwintering onions, for example.
Another complication for morning work at the farm in late fall can be frost. Sure, the sun comes up at 6:30 right now, but by Friday night we are expecting temperatures to dip into the 30s for the first time since March. Plants that are covered in frost cannot be harvested until they have thawed out. And humans don’t get much done when it’s that cold either. So there’s not much point in starting work that early.
Meanwhile, sunset arrives much too quickly this time of year, and darkness quickly thereafter. There is very little work we can do in the field after dark. But since with a daily schedule compressed between cold mornings and early darkness, we do harvest right up until sunset. This invariably leaves us with several tasks to do after dark — washing and packing. Relatively pleasant tasks when it is warm and sunny; not so much when it is frosty and dark.
Fall is a great time to cook, though, both because I have more time to cook, and because there are so many great things to cook with. I hope you are happy to see them in your boxes and plan on spending lots of time in your kitchen this winter.
With daylight in short supply, this newsletter gets written after dark this time of year. As I am writing this, it looks like the election has been called for the President to get a second term. Meanwhile, California voters have voted not to label Genetically Modified foods (Prop. 37). I would remind everyone that your best option for avoiding GMOs, as always, is to buy certified organic products. They are required to be free of GMOs.