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Monday, August 04, 2008

It's Crunch Time

The beginning of August is also known as Crunch Time pertaining to our fields and greenhouses. It's the time to get all the old stuff pulled out of the ground and the new plants and seeds planted for our fall and winter crops.

We completely clean out our hoophouse and plant everything we are going to want for our family to eat through the month of December. Yes, even in Northern Wisconsin, you can grow things into December without heat in the greenhouse, as long as there are enough sunny days.

August seems to be the time of year when everything is going wild. The weeds are truly unbelievable. No matter how much time I spend pulling, they are coming up as I work my way down the row, behind me. The tomatoes are finally ripening, the beans are hanging off the vines and we are trying to understand why we always grow so much zucchini and what the hell can we do with it tonight?

This is also when we stop participating in the farmers market. This might seem crazy at the peak of vegetable season, but it's time for me to start concentrating on filling up our freezer and canning closet. We like to go in to the winter fully stocked and with food prices as they are, we have that feeling more than ever this year. The money we will save by not going to the grocery store, will be more than the money we make when everyone has pretty much the same things to sell. Our best times for market are early spring and late fall. That's when everyone else either is not ready or has been taken out by a freeze, then we can get premium prices for our healthy veggies grown in the hoophouse.

The only downfall to this plan is that by this time of the year, I'm kind of sick of the garden. The bugs, snakes and did I mention endless weeds (?), has me tired out and not very enthusiastic about heading out into it.

But, this is our life and before we know it, the snow will be falling, the fireplace will be going and we will be covering and babying the last of the veggies trying to hold on to that one last ripe tomato and pepper, while trying to experiment with just how long we can keep things from freezing off in the hoophouse.

It's a sad day around here when we pick the last of the salad and spinach in early December and have to do without until early March.

As much as I count the days until spring all winter long, fall and winter have their advantages too and we are usually ready for a few months of being cuddled up by the fireplace with soup cooking on the stove, reading books and pouring over seed catalogs with dreams of what we will try next year.

No matter how hard it is during the crazy season, a few months of downtime and you are ready to go again in the spring. So is the life of a farmer.


Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I know it's hard work, but what you're doing is so amazing. Eating seasonally and organic and doing it yourselves. I am truly in awe of what you accomplish.

so NOT cool said...

I find this so inspiring. While I have gardened all of my adult life and have had, by most people's standards, very large gardens, I have never grown more than we (and our friends and family and sometimes strangers) could use during the growing season. I would really love to garden enough to last us throughout the year.

This all certainly touches on the beauty in the mundane.

Country Girl said...

I'd like to do some type of hoop house or cold frame this fall. Haven't quite figure out what I'm going to do. I do look forward to the lazier days of winter but all winter we will talking spring and gardens. I love all the seasons!
Good luck with your 5 k, I did my first last summer.~Kim

denise said...

It is hard. I have such a tiny garden, but when it is most prolific is also when it is most weedy and buggy and hot and I just long for fall! :) You have an amazing amount of stuff there in your photo - while it is hard work it is so awesome to have all of that during the winter months. We are trying to freeze/preserve more each year and not need to shop as much. Building up a bit each year as we dig up lawn, but it is nice to see.

What snakes are up there? I have been wondering about that lately in general, so your comment drew my interest. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You are amazing! I am hating the garden work (muggy, buggy and sweaty) but loving the rewards at the table. Sadly, one can't have one without the other.

Tara said...

Great post! I like your take on using peak season to put up veggies and such. This is the first year I've canned anything (jam) and I have plans to can some salsa and green sauce. More and more, I am seeing the value in this. Now I just need more storage!

Danielle said...

Ahhhh, now you're talking my language. More details! And photos! ;)

I'm always in awe of farmers who do market. I'd love to hear more about your process for that. My energy levels crap out at the whole wake up ungodly early part of market. I like my CSA where I can set my own hours.