Vermont Vegetable and Berry News Ė October 24, 2007
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13, vernon.grubinger@uvm.edu
www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry

REPORTS FROM THE FIELD

(Montpelier)  What an extended "summer" we have had. Still harvesting tomatoes and trying to get winter salad, spinach and mesclun into the greenhouse. Another greenhouse is laying out in the field; I hope to have it up and running by the end of November. All in all a great season, just the cold summer nights caused problems. I already have a long list of things to try differently next year and a lot of planning to do. Demand continues to increase and be very strong. I wish all of you an enjoyable winter.

(Craftsbury) We have 2 acres of kale, chard, napa, pac choi, broccoli and all sorts of other green things that are just sizing up. Going to cover them with extra large wire hoops procured from Canada and use double and triple row cover. Iím hoping to harvest them even on below freezing days through November and early December by crawling under the 3.5 foot tall row cover. Last week's first frost of the year which was predicted to be 25 degrees had us scurrying around (25 degrees for a first frost can do severe damage to most varieties of baby greens) but the fog rolled in and it only got down to 30. Annoying to spend an afternoon of hooping and row cover for nothing, but better safe than sorry. It does seem that the climate might be changing when our part of the Northeast Kingdom does not experience colder than 30 degrees before Oct. 24. We irrigated 3 acres of greens for half that night until we realized it wasn't necessary and did not like the result. Just feels wrong to be dumping water on already wet enough land this time of year and it beat the greens up a bit. Prefer row cover for frost protection. We've got one more week and a half push to finish off our root harvest and then a little break before winter projects.

(S. Royalton) Overall a great growing season. Sales were way up, very little will be left by the end of this week.  I'm thinking this buy local push is bearing some fruit.

(Westminster) What a year! I canít think of any crop that didnít do really well. Prices have been good, and buyers have been happy (mostly). If I knew the year would have been this good I would have planted more! Next year? who knows... One important lesson learned this year: if you love your barns and want to see them last a long time, you must clean them out, vacuum the floor (yes!) and check for powder post beetles! By chance we learned this summer that we were infested after a neighborís barn collapsed. The we found a natural technique to eliminate the pest. After cleaning our barn, we brushed and sprayed (use mask) with linseed oil. Had to reapply in some severe cases or in spots that didnít soak in the first time. Note that linseed soaked rags can combust spontaneously so dispose of properly. To prevent other damage from termites remove soil that might have accumulated around the wood near your foundations and cut back trees that overhang or touch the building. Prevention is easier than building a new barn.

(Plainfield VT) Another very educational growing season. I want to plan the next one working back in my mind from how huge my work load was in late June and early July.  We had a great strawberry crop, but because we were so busy with it, other crops that normally we tend in that period did not get the attention they needed to do their best.  Later, the season felt more manageable. It was a banner year for local sales, even though more neighboring growers are entering the direct wholesale market. Although some accounts I counted on fell through, other new customers showed up and nothing has gone
to waste, except all that lettuce this spring. Amazing late sweet corn and peppers, just frosted last week. Late August seedings of mustards and arugula now being cut. Still cutting cabbage. Lots of kale yet to bunch. Still have a few carrots in the ground.   Planting tomato greenhouses to spinach and mesclun. Winter squash still in a greenhouse, very little spoilage. Iím ready for Eastern Standard Time, so I can come indoors earlier.

(Killington) This is the harvest that will not end.  We're still picking tomatoes in the unheated hoop house. That' a first at this late date. Broccoli, lettuce, onions, winter squash, Brussels sprouts and more are still coming strong. Our customer base drops off this time of year. The next big sales day is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when people pick up turkeys, sausage, winter squash, Brussels sprouts and bacon and eggs. The goal for 2008 is to get a significant crop of tomatoes by the third week of June without sacrificing the flavor of the tomato we grow and not incurring any more propane cost than we can afford.

(Plainfield NH) Itís hard to believe that we are still picking unfrosted peppers, raspberries, field and cherry tomatoes on Oct. 20, but we are. Winter covers establishing and growing nicely. Setting up deer fence in all the small fruit, hoping hunters are good shots this year to relieve the pressure. Mulching blueberries. Sales are holding up well in the wholesale market, after farm stand closing on the 8th. Lots of projects left unattended and will be cramming to beat winter-barn painting, cleaning up and recovering greenhouses and machinery servicing. All in all 2007 was a very good year for us.

(Amherst MA) We're getting into fall crops in a big way around here, but everything seems about one week late this year. The leaves are just peaking, the sweet potatoes are just out of the ground, the cabbage is just coming in, and the root cellar is still pretty warm. The crops are looking very good, with the exception of Brussels sprouts, which didn't seem to like the August/September drought as they were on a sandy un-irrigated field. All other crops are coming in very heavy - winter squash, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, celeriac, and fall greens (kale, collards, bok choy, arugula)  all were or will be bumper crops. If we had planted a late crop of tomatoes and melons we could probably be harvesting right now. As it is those crops gave up before there was any real frost to speak of. There are wooly aphids in the Brussels, but other than that, not much insect pressure or damage in the fall crops. It has been a comparatively easy growing year by many standards - even with the late-summer drought - but any more autumns like this and we're going to have to start having late crops and keep the CSA distributions going past our usual closing date of Thanksgiving. One personal cost of global warming: less of a break in the winter for those of us in the Northeast used to taking it easy from Dec. to March.

(Little Compton RI) What an exhausting year! The drought in southern New England was a bad one. At one point, we decided to purchase an 8,000 gallon water trailer to help us keep different fields alive, but alas, it was not ready for use and the drip irrigation wasn't in place anyway. Next year we will be ready. A lot of small but good lessons this year from the drought. One, plant transplants as soon as they are ready- the more advanced the plug the more difficult the take; two, black plastic really does help with moisture retention; three, plant beans as deep as possible; and four, use the web, sites such as www.acitydiscount.com for deals on digital scales for farmers markets, etc. See everyone in December at the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show!

(Argyle, NY) What a wonderful growing season and beautiful fall weather to harvest everything.  Some crops came on too fast and grew too big...rutabagas are 5-10 lb each (we'll have to do creative marketing for them)!  We installed a much-needed cooling system in our 20í by 30í by 7' high root cellar in the spring, and it is now packed floor to ceiling with about 30 to 40 tons of root crops for several farmers to sell to customers all winter at the many local farmers' markets!  Great to see the customer support for local products continue to increase.  Overall it was a record harvest and sales year, but more
difficult with labor issues. We look forward to conferences and a little slower pace this winter, in between the 2 market days that we

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