I stepped out my front door to discover a solid layer of frost on our greenhouse this morning. While the low appears to have only reached zero degrees, it is a sure sign of the changing seasons and a warning of more cool temperatures to come.
Since all of our production is outdoors, the low temperatures and short days will bring a certain end to our fruiting crops like cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, and tomatoes. Their growth has already slowed dramatically, so even if we don't get a killing frost soon, you likely won't see many more of these crops at the pick up stand this season. I'm sure you won't shed any tears over this news, because if you've eaten half as many cucumbers as I have, you will also be ready for a change of pace!
The end of season for these heat loving crops also brings a welcome end to their strict harvesting regime, especially in the case of the cucurbit family. Cucumbers and squash need to be harvested every 36 to 48 hours during the summer. To help minimize my travel time, we have planted them at the same plot, but I still can't miss a day between the mid-June and mid-September. While it has been great to have a steady flow of cucumbers on the farm, it will be nice to have a break from this plot as well.
In the photo below, you can see the two trellised cucumber patches in the background with celery down the middle, and a few beds of covered salad greens in the foreground. The tarp is covering beds that were active earlier in the season. When crops finish their cycle at this point in the season, it is too late to plant something new, so we will just cover the space with a tarp to keep the soil moist and stop any weeds from growing. The squash and cucumber beds will get this same treatment at some point in the next few weeks, and our attention will shift to other locations where we have more root crops still in the ground.