A Mid Summer Farm's Bounty
Singing Frogs Farm is humming with life and bursting with a vitality that only a moderately cool, mid-summer can bring. We are now in our fourth week of harvesting tomatoes – yes, full size, heirloom, field-grown, dry-farmed tomatoes. We’ve also just begun harvesting our season’s first sweet peppers and eggplant, while our blueberries, plums, strawberries, cucumbers and blackberries continue to spill out of our harvest bins faster than we can bring them in. Simultaneously, we are still harvesting our delectable cool season crops like broccoli, bok choi, spinach, and tender salad greens. The lack of heat waves this summer has allowed everything, cool season and warm season crops alike, to grow beautifully and abundantly, and these mid-summer months of July and August are when it seems like everything is happening simultaneously on the farm!
We’ve finally finished our garlic and onion harvest, cutting the stems and roots, drying the bulbs and packing them away in storage to be meted out over the next 5 to 6 months. Our winter squash field was planted back in June and now our son is daily discovering a new knee-high pumpkin or Blue Hubbard squash hiding among the dense, dark green foliage of the squash plants. Our basil field, – and it does feel like a vast field of basil in its sheer expanse and lushness – is rich with the aroma of dark green, nutrient dense, and richly scented Genovese Basil. Our beets, carrots, turnips and radishes are going off like fireworks, with literally hundreds or even thousands coming out of the rich, organic earth on a weekly basis. Their bountiful productivity is exceeded only by a plethora of lush, tender, and sweet salad greens, escarole, and asian greens growing in the shady, straw mulched beds up under our quiet, venerable Oak grove.
The fullness of the season is immense: the immense pleasure of sitting down to a fresh evening’s meal on our deck overlooking the farm; the immense work required to harvest all of the season’s bounty, the immense challenge to find enough kitchen tables across the county upon which our fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables can be savored, appreciated and enjoyed. And yet, in the midst of our busyness and excitement to harvest these quickly ripening summer crops, we are already looking far ahead to the dark and stormy wintry months surrounding All Hallows’ Eve.
Here, now, at the peak of summer, we are already transplanting the first of our fall crops into the fields – Giant of Naples Cauliflower, Kossak Kohlrabi, Bolero Carrots, Detroit Dark Red Beets, Michihli Napa Cabbage, Italian Parsley, Long Island Brussels Sprouts, Lancelot Leeks… the diverse list of heirlooms goes on and on down the pages of my nursery record book. These fall crops will grow vigorously in the late summer sun, with a marked urgency, keenly aware that the days are now getting shorter and shorter.
Eventually, as the late summer warmth of September dissipates into the dark and wintry month of October, the maturing plants will produce the fruits of their labors – their broccoli florets, their cabbage heads, their crisp roots and nutrient dense dark green leaves. As autumn embraces the land, these crops will all be at their peak sweetness, having been kissed by Father Winter’s first frosts. These are outstanding crops to be eaten fresh from the fields, their taste will leave you craving for more as if they were ice cream on a hot summer day. And it is here, now, in the waning days of July, that the preparations have already been made, the fields are already blanketed thickly in fresh compost, the seeds were sown over the past 4 or 5 weeks, and now, the young plants are being transplanted into the warm, sun-kissed earth of mid summer.
Our smiles reach from ear to ear as we look forward with mouth watering anticipation to the future reward of these fall crops we’ve already worked so hard to bring to life.
(c) 2011 Paul Kaiser
Paul Kaiser served in the Peace Corps in The Gambia, West Africa. He worked with several rural agrarian communities to develop sustainable land use management systems that incorporated multi-purpose trees in the farm fields and gardens for soil replenishment and protection, biodiversity promotion, and household products such as fuel wood, timber, fruits, leaves, animal fodder, etc. Since then, Paul earned dual Masters Degrees in Natural Resources Management and Sustainable Development from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica and the American University in Washington D.C.
In the last four years, Paul and his wife Elizabeth have married sustainable land management with local food production at their biodiverse and family-friendlySinging Frogs Farm. In addition, Paul created his “Night Heron Woodworks” business, where this accomplished furniture maker sells hand-crafted, salvaged hard wood pieces.