What a season! We started out in March way too warm. The warm dry start allowed us to get some very early crops in and growing well. On the downside though, in early April it turned cold again and allour fruit trees were in full bloom a month early due to March's warm weather. We lost all our fruit. Allmost everyone in our area had the same experience, so we had no one we could buy fruit from for our Stand. Then the hot dry weather came, we went without rain for nine weeks! The early crops were all made and did well, but we totally lost the first half of our sweet corn, our cabbage and broccoli crops stopped in their tracks, and the potatoes only made a half crop. We lost the first three plantings of beans too. The rain finally came just in time for the rest of the crops, and the late crops did OK. The best of wich were the wateremlon and fall squash/pumpkins. For these crops we give thanks! We had planted 3 acres of each of watermelon and butternut squash for the Food Bank and this bulk sale is providing for us for the winter. We also had ten members sign up for "Winter shares" in our CSA! So far this is going well, our greenhouse crops are doing OK, with exception of the tomatoes. The tomatoes got too cold for a couple of nights and frosted them pretty bad. we had 18 and 20 degrees a couple of mornings and ice fopred on the inside of the film. In our other greenhouse the lettuce and pak-choi, kale and beets are doing well and this week will be our second distribution and will include some of these greens along with nice white potatoes, butternut squash, and even a large Hubbard squash just in time for Thanksgiving.
We are excited about next season, and this is somewhat unussual this soon after a season has ended. We normally have to go through a rest period to get fired up for the coming season. I think maybe we are becoming adjusted to the summer schedule of trying to cram cultivating and planting into one or two days a week with the rest of the week being devoted to picking , packing and delivering the shares and the farmers market on Saturday. Maybe not getting up at 3:00 am three times a week to get to the Benton Harbor Market helped out with our energy level too! There seemed to be no point in going there, because we had nothing "extra" to sell, and there was not much fruit to buy. Maybe we are just finding we really enjoy the feedback we have gotten from all the CSA Members we have spoken with at the end of our season and all the nice comments they have had for us. We were able to fill (full) the boxes each week for at least 20 distridutions this year and I think everyone was very pleased with all they got even during the most severe weather conditions I have ever experienced. For this I wish to take no credit, especialy at this time of Thanksgiving! I want to thank God for His watchcare over us and for providing just what we need, when we need it.
We are already making plans for next season. We plan on increasing the spring greens, beets, onions, and add some variety to the lettuce we have available. We found some bettter methods for planting smaller transplants this year and for controlling the spacing of the rows and within the rows. We are planing to make use of what we have learned next year to keep the weeds out with the cultivator and in order to grow some crops in a more concentrated population, better utilizing the space we have available. We have lost the use of some of our land that we have had for six years. One of our fields wassold by the couple that rented it to us, and we will not be able to rent it next year. This will not nesisarlly be a bad thing , though, I think we were trying to farm too many acres the past couple of years and we will do fine withoput the extra cost and work. we will have much more time for the land we have left to farm which is still double the number of acres we need for our CSA shares. Years pass and fingers stiffen a bit more and shoulders ache, and back kinks more as time passes, and it may be very well we slow down a bit on the number of acres we bounce over. Better to grow more on less land and do a very nice job of it. It is more pleasing in the end of the season, daughters get more of our time and grandsons get more of Grandpa's time as well. We were very happy to have had two of our daughters, ages 33 and 31, both married too, working with us a couple of days each week picking /packing & delivering CSA shares. This also made the workload esier to handle! It is also a great thing to see your childeren finally having a part in what we do for a living. Many blessings!
We hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Mark & Carolyn Walker