There is so much beauty in a vegetable field in the fall. Here at Pietree we especially enjoy the beauty the fall brings to our fields. The lay of the land with the slope of the field running gently down to the valley and the hills that surround us to the north wrap us up in fall colors. The cool days with their crisp winds are both relief from the baking summers and a taste of the cold to come.
We worry about erosion here on the hill. Farming has inherent dangers to the soil. Erosion is one and lost organic matter is another. To combat these dangers we have been rushing for the last month to harvest the last of what we can and spin out the cover crop as soon as possible. These “green manure” crops add good things to the soil and protect the field from any winter winds or heavy rains. A few even add to the nitrogen available next year.
This is also a chance to amend the soil for ph and micro-nutrients. We test our soils regularly. Now is a good time to add lime and rock phosphate. We use a pelletized product that dissolves slowly and won’t wash into the stream at the bottom of the hill. We don’t feed in the fall. Fertilizers applied in the fall most commonly end up in our lakes and rivers.
A few of the perennial crops need special care over the winter. The strawberries will be covered after they go dormant. Last year we would have mulched the garlic heavily. This year we planted the garlic under a plastic mulch. The raspberries will benefit from a layer of mulch. Next year will be our first real crop of Raspberries at Pietree!
After the fields are taken care of we will begin to clean and store our tools and equipment. It is amazing how many gadgets a farm can collect; and it is amazing how far and wide those gadgets can be spread. Then we will move on to Maple syrup.