Yes, yes, I like the foliage. Actually I love it. It’s one of the many factors that contribute to my intense love of a Maine Autumn, my favorite season. The blaze of fire that is a maple forest as it goes down in it’s last glorious show of the year is truly something to behold is it not? But my all time favorite color after the Equinox has got to be green.
There is nothing like going out on the front porch in the morning and looking out over the gardens to see a lush carpet of green baby spinach, cold and wet with the dawn yet happy when other plants are shivering and bidding us adieu. I have a lot of ash and large pine trees in the front yard. The ash trees are now completely barren and stand like weathered statues from another age. At their feet lay a lawn hidden by the burnt orange and beige of those trees’ spent solar collectors. But across the driveway, cascading in neat rows lay the promise of an autumn and, more importantly, winter filled with fresh, green goodness.
The above photo represents a real triumph for me. I finally managed to time my fall spinach plantings juuuuussst right. Baby bear himself would be ecstatic. Years past have found me too busy with other tasks at the opportune moment and the spinach was planted late. This leads to spinach that just begins to achieve the hope of baby spinach when the weather turns cold enough to send it into dormancy. There are few things more depressing that two hoop houses filled with spinach that is too small to harvest. The only thing more depressing is when it stays that size for three months waiting for the sun and warmth to return in March.
Other years I’ve thought myself brilliant and decided to jump on the spinach planting bandwagon early. This leads to spinach that gets too big too fast in the heat of August and early September. This isn’t quite as bad a problem because at least I still get full sized spinach all winter. But older plants don’t weather the bone chilling cold and total lack of sun found in a Maine January as well as the younger ones. So by March I have tons of spinach that begins to go crazy as the sun returns and the days warm, but it shows the winter stress a lot more.
This year though? Perfection.
And I’ve had some other successes this season too. I think I might actually be able to get fresh, fall lettuce mix in time for my last two Hampden Farmer’s Markets of the year. But even if I don’t a little extra protection in the form of a low tunnel inside the hoop house will have my CSA members enjoying fresh lettuce into the late fall.
And our plantings of salad turnips and radish are doing quite well. Radishes at market last week were the first crop from our new farm. I will have more over the next couple weeks and should be able to bring salad turnips to market soon.
These two quick root veggies will also allow me to pull a nice quick crop off three rows. This is a market gardener’s dream because it allows for intensive use of the beds. As soon as the radishes and turnips are gone the bed will be prepped with more compost, leveled and cleaned and planted again. Who knows what I’ll put in there? Probably spinach. I love spinach in the winter. There can be four feet of snow outside the door but just on the other side of the hoop house doors will be a lush, green carpet of nourishing vitality that means neither my family, nor our CSA members will need to return to the wasteland of the industrial ‘food’ system when the snow flies. Local Food. Eat well – be well.