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Fall Task List

Fall is a transitional time, meant to chase us out of the fields and slow down the constant intensity of planting, harvest, rotation, and irrigation. The rains return, and when we find a moment between pulling winter squash, corn and dry beans from the field, we forage for the fruits of our lush, mycorrhizal soils. Chanterelles, King Boletes, Lobster mushrooms run rampant this time of year. Now is the last window to get in cover crops, and if we miss it, to mulch any bare soil. 

October

Harvesting

  • Annuals: Chicory, radicchio, beets, carrots, turnips, napa cabbage, winter squash, collards, kale, spigarello, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, spinach, pak choi, celery, celeriac, leeks, scallions, potatoes, sunchokes, salsify, scorzonera, burdock root
  • The last of cucumbers, melons, eggplants, paste tomatoes, hot peppers – get them in before our first frost!
  • Perennials: Apples, figs, persimmon, quince, pears
  • Forage: Chanterelles

Storage

  • Store garlic below 40F or above 56F, never between 40 and 50F.
  • Harvest and cure winter squash: Acorn (pepo) types (stem still green, ground spot “earthy” or orange), store 1-4 months; Maximas (stem 75% corky) store 3-5 months; Moschatas (peanut colored skin, no mottling or streaks) store 4-8 months, or more. Low humidity and high temperature (60 degrees, or above). Leave on live vines as long as possible, avoiding frost on fruits. Cut leaving long stem using pruners; handle gently. (sourced from Pam Dawling’s Complete Twin Oaks Garden Task List)

Planting

  • Alliums: Garlic, Onions, Shallots
  • Overwintering Fava beans
  • Overwintering grains: Barley, Rye, Spelt, Triticale, Wheat
  • Flower bulbs
  • Get your cover crops in by early October

Infrastructure

  • Pull drip tape out of field and store
  • Install and/or secure season extension structures, greenhouses, low tunnels, cloches
  • Put row cover out over cold sensitive crops
  • Pull trellises out of field and store
  • Erect low tunnels out of electrical conduit hoops and 4-6mm polyfilm and/or 9mm wire hoops and row cover for cold protection

Bed Prep

  • Cut all warm-season crops down to soil level and leave the root buried to decompose, releasing enzymes to the soil’s microbial community.
  • Mulch bare soil with compost, leaves, straw, fermented alfalfa hay, etc.
  • Weed, fertilize and mulch berries and perennials.
  • If you practice tarping/occulation, lay your plastic mulch and sandbag every four feet.

Soil health

  • Liming–and the application of other rock flours, like gypsum–can be done at this point, to allow for these slow-release amendments to incorporate into the soil.
  • Take a nitrate test at the end of harvest, but before winter rains, to calibrate next year’s nitrogen application. This is the best way to know if you are overapplying nitrogen.

Crop Planning

  • Get soil tests done before soil gets too wet.
  • Sign up for seed catalog delivery – a lot of seed companies have their inventory online, but how nostalgic is it to cozy up with your favorite seed catalogs?
  • Gather harvest totals from the previous season and plug in to your planting calculations for next year. Josh Volk is a great resource for record keeping and developing an effective crop plan – check out this article he wrote for Growing For Market. He has some other useful ones on the Q&A section of his website joshvolk.com.

Animals

  • Muck stalls at least once a week during rainy months

November

Harvesting

  • Annuals: Chicory, raddichio, beets, carrots, turnips, napa cabbage, winter squash, collards, kale, spigarello, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, mustard greens, lettuce, chard, spinach, pak choi, celeriac, leeks, scallions, scorzonera, salsify, burdock root, sunchoke, pull all potatoes out before rains set in
  • Perennial herbs

Planting

  • If you haven’t yet plant your alliums: Garlic, Onions, Shallots

Infrastructure

  • Check low tunnels, high tunnels and greenhouses for adequate circulation
  • Make sure ends of plastic and row cover are adequately weighed down by sand bags, soil, etc.
  • Turn off all water and irrigation sources at risk of freezing
  • Gather old trellising, t-posts, irrigation, and rowcover.

Winter growing

  • Are your greenhouses being fully utilized? Take the time to plan for next year’s overwintering crops. Vacant greenhouses can have their film removed, so that soluble salt buildup is leached by winter rains.
  • Consider applying an extra layer of rowcover to crops inside your greenhouse, or a second layer of film and a blower, for extra insulation.

Bed Prep

  • Expect our first frost during this month and protect your plants accordingly.
  • Mulch garlic
  • Spread lime or gypsum as indicated by soil test.
  • Mulch bare soil with compost, leaves, straw, fermented alfalfa hay, etc.
  • Prune back dead asparagus tops and mulch with leaves or other mulch.
  • Weed, fertilize and mulch berries and perennials.

Crop Planning

  • Go through seed packets and determine viability. High Mowing Seeds has a great chart to help you figure out which seeds have a few years left.
  • Accumulate past year’s harvest totals.

Animals

  • Muck stalls at least once a week during rainy months
  • Pull feed buckets and water troughs out of fields and sanitize.
  • If keeping a water source in the field, use a tank deicer to keep water available.
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