I hope that this new year has involved warm cups of goodness by the fire, with perhaps a good novel or loved one.
The 2018 vegetable harvest totals are in and are attached the at end of this post. The overall total weight was close to last year's, but of course the breakdown between crops varies depending on which field they are grown in and the type of season we have. We had a good tomato year, despite the increased precipitation, as well as with the summer and winter squashes and cucumbers. The potatoes and onions, also did well.
It is always during the winter time that we really see the effects of the weather and the field the crop was grown in. This year's storage carrots are a good example of this. The third planting grew large and uniform in our best field. However, they did not keep very well this year, likely due to how wet that field was. The 2nd planting was grown in a very dry and sandy location, and although they grew small, they are storing much better. All that said, we hope to improve our winter vegetable storage by building an addition for the potatoes, which should not go below 38. If we can keep all the other veggies around 34, we should see better long term storage.
Changes due to the differences in our fields will be a constant on our farm as we move vegetables around from field to field to keep a healthy crop rotation. It is always good to keep in mind that we are farming on a hilltop in New Hampshire, not deep river bottom soils. Last year, we had a great cabbage crop, but it is no surprise that these were grown in our most fertile field. This year the cabbage family faired poorly not only due to the change in field, but also due to the extreme weather fluctuations, which has also brought insects further North. For the past several years, this entire plant family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, radish...) has needed to be grown under row cover. Not only does this increase our use of fossil based energy on the farm, but also labor, as the seem of each piece has to be buried to prevent insects from crawling underneath. That said, this method is the best current option compared with the plethora of organic insecticides on the market, which in many cases, kill not only the pest, but also beneficials like bees. All in all, the cabbage family will cost more money, time, and energy to produce for the time being. It is too bad this is such a delicious and prominent plant family; almost 1/5 of our overall land is dedicated to them in a season. We are looking into alternative approaches to growing them and building up our beneficial insect populations to help balance the situation.
Of course much more could be said, but I'll leave it at that for now. If you have any questions, please let me know.