The Starter Farm

Fall's arrival

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It’s too early!  I did not want to notice it.  I tried to ignore it.  I moved a little more into the sun to not feel it creeping in but there is was - fall.  The breeze came out of the west and contained that first start of chill that whispers something new, like a villainous witch, has arrived.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a blush on a nearby tree, the tomato plants showed a bit of yellow, and nighttime was colder than usual.  It was time to face the reality that fall was upon me and I would just have to deal with it.

            Growing up in New Jersey the signs of fall put me into a tailspin of depression.  My growing season was over for the year and I would have to wait about six months to begin again.  Living in California is different.  I still do not welcome the end of summer but we can grow year-round and that, my friend, provides the drug I need for the entire year.  Fall and winter gardening is not as easy but what I have learned is it is all about timing.  Cool weather crops like peas, lettuces, broccoli and fava beans love the colder weather and most of them can take a frost or two.  The first couple of years my crops were not so successful because I waited until the summer crops were exhausted to plant the fall veggies.  Unfortunately they were planted too late and did not have the required amount of daytime so they just stalled.  I’ve learned recently to plant fall crops at the end of August through September to give them a healthy start and actually get a decent harvest.  This is the first year I am following that advice so I will let you know if that is the trick!

            Fall is not all bad.  My pumpkins are finishing their maturity and the butternut squash will be ready in two weeks.  I get to make hot soups for the cool fall nights and fireplace season is about to start!  The first batch of spring chicks born in April are starting to lay and will do so throughout the winter.  The May Polish chicks should follow shortly.  Our last attempt at breeding the goats in the spring did not take but we are bringing in a buck for the fall with new hope.  Oh, and the puppies!  I experienced my first batch of puppies this week.  The tiniest noses you have ever seen were delivered on one relaxed Friday afternoon to the delight of all.

            Perhaps fall is not that evil witch I mentioned before but just a different type of gal that I am figuring out.  It is a bit more complex with the growing season but does present a challenge and change from the summer.  As I think about it, it’s actually the longest growing season with kale, beets and other winter crops producing for months. I will miss the summer flowers that are fading and not present in winter.  Will I now welcome this breeze that tells me fall has arrived?  Probably not, since I still like taking a dip in pool during that wonderful hot summer weather. Not everything is about plants!

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