Our garden, with more of the rows tilled in
Yesterday was the last day of our October CSA session and thus the end of our CSA for the year. I must say, our past two CSA weeks have been really good. Last week, we pulled out and harvested sweet potatoes! I was so excited for this, I should be devoting an entire blog post to it. While I seriously love all root vegetables, sweet potatoes are one of my favorites, not to mention I was incredibly curious as to how to harvest them. All you really need to harvest them are:
- a pitchfork; and
- a willingness to get dirty.
That’s pretty much it! Since our sweet potato vines had spread out all over, the first task of digging them up was to find their central stems. Once we located those and pulled out some of the outermost vine parts, we used the pitchfork to dig around the plants’ roots and lift them out of the ground. And lo and behold, there were sweet potatoes in the ground, just hanging out. It turns out they grow similarly to potatoes after all, even though they aren’t in the same family. While the plants didn’t yield as many sweet potatoes as I thought they would, we still had plenty for our CSAers and some extras for us to enjoy as well.
Ready for Halloween
It’s almost the end of October- what?? I’m having a hard time believing that we’ve already reached that point in the season, but with the leaves almost all down from the tulip poplars, I suppose it’s time. That’s not to say that our garden is all turned over for the winter! In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
As you can see from the picture, we have broccoli! Isn’t it gorgeous? Our lucky CSAers got some in their shares yesterday, and guess what they also got? Pumpkins! Our pumpkins have been hanging out on the vines for quite some time now and are ready just in time for Halloween. I think pumpkins are one of the happiest vegetables.
It looks like we’re going to miss getting hit by Storm Sandy (I suppose she’s not a hurricane by now), but we are supposed to get lots of rain in the coming days. No complaints here! I could use a few good rainy days and I don’t think our plants would mind either.
Guess the vegetable!
Gardeners, I have a confession to make: I overslept on Friday morning! That’s right, I woke up on Friday, looked at my clock, and saw that it was 7:30am. It took me a few seconds, but I suddenly realized that I had completely overslept going to the garden. I was really looking forward to going to the garden again because I hadn’t been in a week. However, I did wake up in time to go on Monday morning, and I absolutely fell in love with the weather.
As I thinned the beets and little dinosaur kale sprouts, I kept looking up and marveling at the sky. I watched the clouds moving quickly across horizon, sometimes dark heralding rain, other times bright with the rising sun. The whole landscape was very poetic.
There’s exciting news in the garden too: the broccoli plants have tiny florets! When I peeked down into the center of the big leafy folds of the broccoli, I could see bright green florets just beginning to grow. Here’s to our fall crops!
See the little broccoli floret in the middle of the plant?
Bright Lettuce Greens
Fall Mornings in the Garden
While it’s been a few weeks since we last posted, we’ve still been keeping busy in the garden! We all almost all the way in fall mode, with our okra and green beans still hanging in there. A couple of weeks ago the PVCC (Piedmont Virginia Community College) Horticulture class helped us pull up all of our tomatoes (it was time). Last Friday we pulled up all of our eggplants and pretty soon our okra will go too. The green beans are going strong though!
Our Garden, minus the tomatoes
As the weather fluctuates between 80 degrees and 50, our summer plants are leaving and our fall plants are thriving. The lettuces are pristine and the beets and carrots have sprouted and are growing past their delicate phase. The broccoli leaves are robust and expansive, and I keep checking for those tiny florets to appear. Maybe not too much longer!
CSA October Shares, Week 1
Nasturtiums in this week’s salad mix- they look beautiful but they’ve got lots of kick!
In other news, we’ve started our October CSA session. We have decided to try a different model: this time, we are requiring our CSA members to come out to Morven to pick up their weekly share of vegetables. I really like this approach because it encourages our CSA-ers to have more interactions with our garden and how their food is grown. Last Friday three of our CSA-ers helped us out in the garden and picked and put together their ow bags for this week. So far, our new CSA model is going well.
Besides all of the vegetables, I love the mist in fall. In the early mornings our garden will sometimes be blanketed in mist and it will slowly rise and evaporate off as the sun rises and warms up the air. By the time I leave the garden, all of the mist has gone, but the dew still clings to the kale. Fall is a wonderful time of year!
A big thanks to everyone who joined us last Thursday for our Back to School BBQ! It was a perfect evening to chow down on delicious Buttz BBQ, with chilly hints of fall in the air and specks of burnt red and orange in the trees.
We are thrilled to see so many new faces, both students and community members, at the BBQ and at our daily morning work days.
Our morning work sessions take place from 7-8:30am every Monday through Firday, and include all kinds of jobs — from planting, cultivating, fertilizing, harvesting, and (of course) a little weeding here and there! New readers interested in learning more about the garden and how to get involved, just shoot an email to email@example.com. If you need an extra motivation to get up early and join us in the garden, you should know that we’ll always send you home with a bevy of veggies as a thank you!
Wondering where we’ve been lately? Well, let’s just say that the incredible bounty that cometh every August has us doing all we can to keep up with all the ripe tomatoes, squash, beans, okra, melons, basil, eggplant, swiss chard.. oh my! While it is definitely a lot of work to get everything picked and into our CSA shares and restaurant kitchens, we certainly aren’t complaining!
The weather here in Charlottesville has been absolutely perfect for gardening the past few weeks — a spotty thunderstorm seems to come by just when our plants are looking a little thirsty, and the mornings and evenings are nice and cool and bug-free — perfect for a quiet few hours working in the garden.
Thanks to all the help from the guys at Morven, our groundhog situation has seriously improved! While we still get an animal getting in every now and then to nibble on our produce, for the most part we seem to be groundhog-free.
A few more updates and dates for your calendars:
- Thursday, September 13th — Back to School BBQ @ Morven! Kick off the fall season and join us at Morven for some delicious BBQ, plus learn how to get more involved at Morven this year! RSVP by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- There are still a few spots left to join the Morven September CSA! Shares are $50 for 4 weeks of produce, an extra $6 to receive a half dozen eggs each week. Sign up by sending an email to Rowan (email@example.com) Curious what kinds of veggies will be in your boxes next month? Check out the photos below to tease your taste-buds and inspire your inner chef…
Looking down on our garden from the hillside
After all the working getting ready for Gazpacho, it’s been nice these past two weeks to focus on other matters in the garden. For the most part, right now in the season we’re just concentrating on caring for our plants and harvesting whatever’s ready to go (for the squash and zucchinis, this means daily). We have planted a couple of crops recently though. Last week we planted beans and snap peas where the cabbages used to be in order to put nitrogen and other nutrients back in our soil. Also, the pumpkins we planted a couple of weeks ago have all come up and are growing well.
Our summer crops are coming in, with the glaring exception of our tomatoes. We would have had a fair number of big, ripe tomatoes if not for a very hairy problem: groundhogs. Groundhogs have been munching on our tomatoes as soon as they begin to turn red on the vine. So rude! Last week we set up a Have-a-Heart trap, but no luck catching them.
The Have-a-Heart Trap
However, this week we asked the guys at Morven for help, and they stepped in with a plan. They set up a trap outside of our garden off in the woods a little, and the trap kills on impact. Since they set up the trap on Tuesday, we’ve caught a groundhog every day this week. While it’s sad that three groundhogs have already died, we don’t have much mercy when they’re eating our carefully grown crops. This morning I picked a tomato off the vine that was red and untouched- finally!
This Week’s CSA: look at all of that squash!
This was the last week of our second summer CSA session. Despite the groundhogs also eating 14 of our melons, we were able to give our CSA-ers a half of either cantaloupe or watermelon. As another surprise this week, we also had some okra which people could take handfuls of. I calculated the total poundage that we’ve given our CSA-ers this summer (8 weeks of the CSA in all) and it totalled to almost 575 pounds! What a great season! We’re excited to start up our Fall CSA in September. Let me know if you’re interested in joining (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
The corn ears are coming in!
At exactly 6pm last Saturday, the gloomy skies parted and bursts of sunshine lit up the garden at Morven — just in time — as friends, families, and fellow farmers began streaming in to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of summer for Gazpacho in the Garden!
The full spread at Gazpacho in the Garden!
A huge thank you to everyone who joined us, for what turned out to be a lovely (and unseasonably cool) July evening! Another HUGE thank you to some of our sponsors: The Local Food Hub for donating boxes of ripe, delicious, gorgeously colorful veggies for the gazpacho, as well as Albemarle Baking Company for generously provided dozens of freshly baked loaves of bread.
Beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the Local Food Hub
Homemade jams + loaves from Albemarle Baking Co.
Carter’s mountain peaches
Veggies, veggies, and more veggies
From three different kinds of homemade hummus, herb butters, bean + corn salsa, cukes, peppers, tomatoes, Carter’s Mountain peaches, watermelon, and 4 giant batches of gazpacho to soup — it’s safe to say there was plenty of deliciousness to go around. It seemed that everyone enjoyed strolling through the garden rows and sitting together on hay bales and picnic blankets — and youngin’s were having a blast digging into and leaping off our giant pile of compost!
Team Morven Kitchen Garden! (Rown, Libby, Marie, and Michelle)
The ladies in aprons (aka Team Morven) loved seeing old faces and meeting old friends — thanks for making our second annual Gazpacho in the Garden a huge success!