Moving from Summer into Autumn

A randomly selected CSA share from Week #10 of our Summer Share

A randomly selected CSA share from Week #10 of our Summer Share

With Autumn approaching, and a forecasted hot week ahead, we are reflecting on the cool, moist summer we have had here in Southern Victoria.  Many of our farming friends in other states have been coping with very dry and hot Summer conditions, while we have been hoping for more heat to ripen field tomatoes and doing what we can to ward off the mildews and fungal diseases encouraged by the moisture.

Our Autumn CSA begins on Wednesday 8 March (Fortnightly Boxes) or 15 March (Weekly Boxes). If you would like to learn more, read through our online Farm Store. You can also use this link to see what crops we are growing this Autumn and/or check out our album of CSA shares from last year on facebook.

Growing within polytunnels has helped our harvest of warm weather crops like tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and chilies through the summer and with some of the bounty of these crops just starting, we are looking forward to continuing to harvest them into the Autumn.

Eggplants...the plants are over a metre high now.  We have been using string lines to help them support their fruit.

Eggplants...the plants are over a metre high now.  We have been using string lines to help them support their fruit.

Capsicums maturing within this unheated polytunnel Peter and my nephew Aleix built this Spring

Capsicums maturing within this unheated polytunnel Peter and my nephew Aleix built this Spring

Field tomatoes and pumpkin patch

Field tomatoes and pumpkin patch

Field tomatoes finally ripening!

Field tomatoes finally ripening!

The beans, potatoes, greens and other roots have been thriving in the fields. Most have enjoyed the cooler weather although sudden heat waves have caused more stress then we have seen in the past...the plants have not had the chance to acclimate to temperatures over 30!

Summer Beans

Summer Beans

Wheel hoeing beetroot.  Potatoes to the left, herbs to the right and Autumn leeks and celeriac in the background

Wheel hoeing beetroot.  Potatoes to the left, herbs to the right and Autumn leeks and celeriac in the background

Summer Beans and Lettuce - with green manure crops preparing soil for Autumn Pea plantings

Summer Beans and Lettuce - with green manure crops preparing soil for Autumn Pea plantings

We choose to not plant corn and melons this season.  Last year we lost three corn plantings to foxes...yes the foxes here eat not only rabbits and chickens but corn, melons, tomatoes, capsicums, berries!!  Corn takes up alot of space.  Without a great solution to keep the foxes from the corn, we choose to use the space for other crops.

Melons can be a hit or miss in our temperate climate.  The hot summers we have had have produced wonderful harvests.  But in cooler seasons, it is difficult for the plants to thrive. 

Our Summer Share CSA members have received Basil, Beetroot, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Beans, Capsicums, Carrots, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Chilies, Coriander, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Pimiento de Padrons, Parsley, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Spinach, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Zucchini. Each week the shares continue to be varied - with each share receiving between 10-15 items.  You can view photos of the shares here.

Market Style Farm Pick Up

Market Style Farm Pick Up

We also changed our CSA structure so that all the shares have been collected on the farm this season.  Many CSA members have told us how much they enjoy seeing the seasonal changes and choosing their vegetables at the market style pick up.  Several have organised pick up groups sharing the weekly collection between 2-4 families.  We have enjoyed the more direct relationship with many of our members.

This season we have also been providing a few crops to restaurants - building relationships with chefs!  We are enjoying the shared passion about ingredients, the continued desire to grow high quality, tasty produce, and the exposure chefs can bring to small scale agriculture.  Our farm will be featured in this weeks Weekly Times and Organic Gardening Magazine Australia is also interviewing us for an article and photographing some of the beautiful pumpkins we will begin to harvest this week!!

Part of a restaurant order

Part of a restaurant order

Harvesting these 'Potimarron' or 'Red Kuri' pumpkins this week

Harvesting these 'Potimarron' or 'Red Kuri' pumpkins this week

Pumpkins growing this year for the Autumn CSA include: Marina de Chioggia, Queensland Blue, Galeaux d'Eysines, Red Kuri, Musquee de Provence. Japanese Futsu ... Pumpkins are starting to rival tomatoes in the availability of so many different varieties!  And while many squash originated in Mesoamerica, the heirlooms from all over the world are finding an audience.  We continue to trial new ones looking for varieties that thrive on our farm and that have great flavour!

Farm filling up with Sunflowers for the end of the Summer season

Farm filling up with Sunflowers for the end of the Summer season

Red Frilled Lettuce

Red Frilled Lettuce

coloured heirloom carrots

coloured heirloom carrots

The first broccoli for Autumn forming heads

The first broccoli for Autumn forming heads

Biodynamics describes this time of the season as the last big exhale of the earth.  We can see that in the expression of fruits and the height of many plants.  As farmers we too are still working hard to bring in the harvest of so many crops and seed, transplant and nurture the crops for Autumn - in the next few months we will be "reaping what we sow" as the seeding slows down for Winter, we harvest the crops for Autumn and Winter...some sown in August of last year...and store the pumpkins and potatoes that will feed us through the Winter. The colours and shapes of the Autumn CSA shares are a reflection of the Spring and Summer.  And just as the Earth starts to breathe in, as the days shorten we contemplate the growing season we had and plan for the next.

To our CSA members who support our growing endeavors - Thank you!! We could not grow the way we do without you!

Our Summer Share sold out and we expect the Autumn too as well.  If you are interested, please read more on our online Farm Store.