Sunday, October 28, 2007

Finally fall

After many mild weeks we're finally having fall like weather and the leaves are turning gold, red, orange, and brown. People have been asking since Labor Day whether things are slowing down on the farm. Finally I can tell them "yes!" The farm stand has been closed for two weeks, and the last market in Coraopolis is tomorrow. Tonight we will likely get a frost if not a complete freeze. Today mom and dad were picking tomatoes and peppers in long underwear and stocking caps. Dad actually got 24 buckets of tomatoes, but a lot of them weren't very red. Some people also like to get green ones at the end of the year and wrap them in newspaper till they ripen.
Yesterday I left market early and cut some things left in the field: butternut squash, these cool looking La Estrella pumpkins, and my big lagenaria gourds. There are a lot of pumpkins still in the field that are just now coming ripe, because we didn't get them planted very early. This afternoon dad was scavenging for some pickles from a late patch (he found 40 or so) and brought in the big ones. He just couldn't resist.
Here are the ssssssssssssssssssnake gourds. They are really interesting to look at, but do not seem to be in high demand.Some of the other lagenaria gourds: bushel, African wine kettle, birdhouse, zucca, and swan gourds. They all are neat, and when they dry people do all kinds of crafts with them. I tried to grow luffa gourds as well, but am not sure if they had time to mature enough. I brought the biggest ones in to dry and try to cure so that I can use the insides as sponges, but I don't have high hopes for them.
It's a clear night with bright moon and stars, so it's likely that it will get as cold as 28 degrees, which the national weather service is predicting. Even so, the broccoli and cabbage will probably survive, and we still have squash, pie pumpkins, and the last tomatoes and peppers to take to market through December. If it's not a hard frost, dad will get up at 3 or 4 am and fill his air blast sprayer with water to try and save the tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce for another day. "It's neat to be able to say that I was picking tomatoes in November," he explains.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gourd-eous weather

After a very light, scattered frost on Friday night we've had more warm summer weather. Nothing was badly damaged, though a couple leaves of basil got brown spots. It was damp enough to keep most things safe. We've had a few showers during the past week, but the ground is still dry. Fortuneately, we are done with the major parts of the harvesting. On Sunday I brought in some of my fancy lagenaria gourds. Pictured here are some African wine kettles.

Saturday was the last day of the farm stand being open. Aunt Laurie was busy that day, and our neighbor Shawn who helps out stayed around the whole day in order to say goodbye to all the customers. On Monday Aunt Laurie said, "I think this is the first lunch since July 20th that I haven't had to go out again to wait on a customer." She still is around this week putting stuff away and helping to sort tomatoes, but that's it.

Monday was the last day of sweet corn. Dad no longer has to go out as soon as it's light to pick before going to work. There are plenty of things to pick after work, and less daylight to do it in. The late tomatoes are still producing. Mom is picking peppers, though there are not as many; they slow down in cool weather. Lettuce, on the other hand, is growing really well. Fall cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are also coming in. With all of that produce plus pumpkins, gourds, and all the different kinds of winder squash, it's difficult to find room on the table!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Squish squash

People keep on asking me if things are winding down for the year. We didn't have enough tomatoes to take some to Beaver market, but nothing is winding down yet! Dad is still picking sweet corn before work in the morning, and after work comes home and picks tomatoes until it gets dark. This weekend Sue and I spent all afternoon after market harvesting squash, and there is still more there. Here's some of what we gathered (you may have to scroll a little while):

Festival, a striped acorn squash
Acorn squash, you can tell that it is ripe by the nice bright orange color on the ground spot
Jarrhadale, with blue kuri (darker blue) below
Spaghetti squash
Blue hubbards and green hubbards
Kentucky Field pumpkin
Neck pumpkin, related to butternut
Pattypan squash