The winds of change blow in what we call the current “shoulder season”. After a seemingly endless summer, the wind picks up to blow in cooler air and shorter days. And before we know it our glorious fall shifts right into winter and all its bountiful glory: leafy greens, root vegetables, lettuce heads, cabbage and broccoli. What we have right now, though, as you may have noticed, is just enough that our farms can get by…whatever has been able to hang on from the summer and what is coming in early for the winter makes up this “shoulder season.” These shoulder seasons can be tough on members and we have been experimenting with sourcing occasionally from other local producers besides our main farms to fill in our shares and add variety. At the same time we try to remain as true as possible to one of the fundamental CSA concepts of supporting a farm through the thick and thin.
This means that for the time being we will continue to see some repetition in staple items like apples, potatoes, onions and winter squash (heirlooms on their way soon) but we will also be filling in shares with items like rainbow chard and lettuce from Merchant’s Garden until the fall season is in full swing on our main farms.
While they were hoping for a few more weeks of summer crops, Laurel at Sleeping Frog Farms reports that the frost last week came a bit earlier than expected this year. It will be a few more weeks until fall crops are really starting to come on but they have seeded beds of lettuce, radishes, turnips and winter herbs like dill, parsley and cilantro. With warmer temperatures back until the end of the month they are hoping that they get good germination on these direct seeded crops and that the transplants of kale, chard and other greens going in this week get a chance to get well established before cooler weather hits again.
Farmer Frank from Crooked Sky Farms just let us know that the last of the produce from his fields in Duncan is coming in this week and the transplants from the green house will start to go into the ground in Phoenix. Think: romaine, brussel sprouts, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and more. Many of those crops will slowly mature through the short days of winter until the longer day length triggers their rapid growth in late winter. Until then we can expect to see fast growing radishes and spicy greens followed by a wide variety of other greens and root vegetables such as beets, carrots and turnips.
Despite short days and potential freezes, winter can be a gentler, more agreeable season to farm and garden in our desert region. The sheer abundance in our overflowing produce bags during the winter months can testify to that! Fall is a great time to plant a garden and we are planning on having our semi annual plant start sale on Wednesday, October 27th and Tuesday, November 2nd for members who would like to try their hand at growing their own food. Laurel from Sleeping Frog Farm will bring in a variety of different winter vegetables and herbs for home gardeners to choose from.