Nature of the Fall
I texted Polly as Red and I left town Tuesday morning, later than I’d wanted. Be there in 15.
We arrived around 8:00, however, to an empty parking area, and two puppy-eyed puppies. “Jeez, where the hell is everybody?” wondered Red aloud. “I know I wasn’t here last year, but it’s just weird! It’s CSA day, right?”
It was, and I found the vacant lot a bit strange myself. We approached the pack shed, where Logan was writing up the packing plan on a small whiteboard. He didn’t seem overly concerned.
We got some tunes going and got to work bagging some mustard greens mix for CSA while Logan weighed shallots for the Coop. Monica arrived, bearing scones as a reconciliation for her lateness, and we prepped our orders with amicable lightness as the heavy rain rolled in around us.
We laughed as our packing plan whiteboard soaked and turned into some sort of grotesque etch-a-sketch, and marveled at the nastiness of a cabbage creature. We kept an easy pace and light mood. Earlier in the season, the immensity of the workload simply did not allow for late starts and skewed packing plans. Now, however, the relative ease of harvest days, and the overall removal of plots and plots of vegetables from the ground, has opened space for some lapses in intensity; a welcome transition given the grind of the summer thus far.
By the time Polly showed up, the pack shed duties were accounted for, so I took Julia and Zach, the day’s workshares, and hooked up a wagon for mulching. We spent the rest of our morning mulching our last plot of beans heavily, before turning our attention to another set of empty beds – covering them heavily and closing them down for the season.
As I explained to the workshares as we muscled the hay around, much of our work now is actually geared towards next spring. Every plot we get harvested, mowed, and mulched or cover cropped in a timely fashion this fall equals an enormous time- and labor-savings come spring. While the frenzied flow of the summer (plant, weed, harvest, repeat) is largely behind us, the remaining workload remains significant, and the next challenge is prioritization of fall activities and ambitions.
As I mentioned, it would be nice to have all of our plots mulched or cover cropped before the snow falls, which will go a long way to next year’s weed control and fertility. We’ve got bundles and bundles of drip irrigation tape scattered around the property, to be collected, organized and stored in some fashion, for reuse next summer. Many of our building and hoophouse doors are decrepit, and in need of a tender touch to coax them into a state of usefulness for the winter shutdown. Large harvests of leeks, pumpkins, squash, melons, beets and carrots remain. We plan to transition our tomato hoophouses into winter growing spaces for kale, beets and other hardy crops for winter market. Hemp flower harvest and processing promises to be a major feat. Then there’s always wood to cut for future Hugulkultur beds.
Which is all okay. Most of it will be fun, and most can be done in the pace of the fall. Dark mornings lend themselves well to a bit of a later start, and dark evenings mandate early departure times, and lamp-lit couch reading sessions. Towards the end of the workday, having mulched and mowed heavily, getting one more plot completely tarped, and another completely mulched, I laid back against a woodchip pile, taking in the sights and sounds of the early fall evening. Red and Asher joked their way through animal chores, while Kelly loaded up veggies to take home and cook. There was nothing significant to note; nothing timely or intense, but it was nice. That may be the nature of the fall.