It's getting to be that time of year when there is not much left uncovered, myself included. Morning work now calls for a toque and gloves. Aside from the last few beds of carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and leeks, everything remaining in the field requires the added protection of floating row cover, a low tunnel, or a high tunnel.
With the help of these extra layers, we hope to be able to harvest more salad greens yet this season. That is if the weather cooperates. These final plantings are a bit of a gamble given the unpredictable arrival of our Saskatchewan winters. We can only control so many pieces of the puzzle as farmers, and the unusually cold and cloudy September conditions have slowed growth substantially. We are thankful to have the flexible support from our farm members and a diverse selection of crops to draw upon. While it's far more complicated and less efficient to have a farm with so many different crops, I always appreciate that when some are struggling, I can usually find others that are thriving.
The crops below ground are still alive and well so the digging tools on the farm have had a busy week. I am pleased to report that they have not been negatively affected by the frosts so far. There is a lot of work and a little art to getting each type of root crop out of the ground by hand without breaking, slicing, or stabbing. Parsnips, for example, are too deeply rooted to harvest by just pulling so each one is carefully nursed from the ground with a long skinny trenching shovel. The other parsnips on the market are harvested mechanically so this is another instance where our commitment using human power makes our farm more sustainable. Sometimes, I consider cutting parsnips from our farm line up because they don't have much going for them from a business standpoint. They require the whole season to grow, they need a lot of attention to get started, and they have a low yield per square foot...but then I taste them in fall and change my mind again! Thankfully, we did a better job of managing our parsnip planting and spacing this season so it was at least satisfying to be able to dig out some substantial roots this time around.