Week 35, 2018 | Kristin Kimball | Sep 4, 2018

I have been at my desk most of the week, but I broke off yesterday in the late afternoon to take a walk through the Blockhouse field with Mark. I felt a little wash of guilt at reaping all the beauty of the week without doing a lick of the work, but, the walk refreshed me. There’s no better time of year to fully enjoy a farm than now, after all the season’s efforts have come to fruition, and just before the leading edge of autumn dims the greens. That field! What a contrast from what it once was. Until we drained it, it was scrub brush and sedge, unreliable even as pasture, because it was always too darn wet.

We plunged into the soybeans first, following a trail the deer made. Despite the deer damage, the plants are strong and tall enough to form a canopy that has shaded out the weeds; the pods are plentiful and are beginning to fill out. The soil under our bare feet was cool and soft. It’s a sandy loam, with a good amount of organic matter in it from cover crop and plant residue. Just under the dry surface there was moisture, thanks to the high water table, which was once a curse, and is now a blessing, because the drainage distributes it, and carries off the excess. Almost every rain cloud missed us in August, and we are 8 to 9 inches behind in expected rainfall for the season now, and yet see very little stress on the plants in this field. Even the bugs looked healthy and happy. We stopped to admire one soybean plant that was host to three different instars of ladybug – a larva, a pupa, and an imago – plus a parasitic wasp – all beneficial insects that eat pests such as aphids. I’m hoping that we can harvest some of the soybeans green for edamame in a couple weeks. Further along, there was a row of cilantro so lush and fragrant I couldn’t pass it without taking out my knife and cutting a giant armload. Then a row of green beans, totally loaded. We moved 500 pounds of them into members’ kitchens last week, and expect the same this week. I swiped some of those, too. Then Chinese cabbage, full and ready to harvest for the year’s supply of kim chi, and red and green lettuce, truly plentiful at last. And on and on, until my arms were entirely full and I had to head back to my desk. If you would like to see it all for yourself, we have a tour leaving the barnyard tomorrow (Saturday) at 10am, potluck lunch to follow. If you can’t make the tour, come help us harvest on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday mornings. It’s beautiful work.

Meanwhile, every bit of open ground is planted to cover crop – a victory for the health of the soil. The fields that were planted 3 weeks ago are fully germinated and 8” tall. We took a load of lettuce to the field for transplanting yesterday, the last of the year before we switch to the greenhouse. We’re nearing the end of the cucumbers now. Tomato production is up and down. If we’re lucky we will get another 4 weeks of them. Please let us know if you want large quantities of basil, cilantro, parsley, Swiss chard, kale or sorrel for your freezer. And that’s the news from Essex Farm for this fruitful 35th week of 2018. Find us at 518-963-4613, essexfarm@gmail.com, on Facebook, or on Insta and the web at Essexfarmcsa, or, on the farm, any day but Sunday.

-Kristin and Mark Kimball

Good Husbandry