Now that the colder weather is upon us, we are trying to get all of our ducks in a row and prep the farm for the coming months. Our first frost is expected tomorrow night, and many of the fruits and veggies still growing won’t survive that kind of cold. In some cases, the food just needs to be picked and used (baby bok choy, for example). In other cases, we are picking in an effort to save the food and hope that it ripens off the plant.
While we have many hot pepper plants still producing beautifully in the hoop house, we also had many more producing out in the garden. We picked all the peppers off of the outside plants, ripe or not, and are storing them, covered, for the next couple of weeks. The goal is to get them to ripen off the vine. Here’s what they look like now:
Our jalapenos are mostly ripened, but the Thai chile peppers (center) should all be bright red and, as you can see, only a handful are. The Anaheims (right) should be a much lighter green and, ideally, bigger. We can’t do much about the size, but the ripening is still within reach!
We’ve really enjoyed all the peppers and tomatoes from the hoop house this summer, but are now preparing to pull out all the tomato plants which have given us so much fruit. Despite the fact that some of the plants are still producing tomatoes, the quality is dramatically different than at the height of the season. When you look at the plants, you can see them dying and producing simultaneously, like some weird produce martyr. Here’s an example:
So, we will continue to pick for a day or two more, but really need to prep the beds for our winter crops that were planted this past week. While we will definitely miss these treasures, we know the piggies will be extremely happy to “clean them up” for us!
We mapped out the hoop house for the winter and decided to plant two beds of kale (two different kinds), one bed of spinach, one bed of lettuce, and one bed of mustard greens. These are hardy plants that can survive the winter under the right conditions, as well as ones that we can bring down to applewood for use there. Getting seeds into trays right before a frost is slightly surreal, but we think we’ve got a good plan for them.
We learned our lesson this past winter when we had all of our seedlings in the hoop house but (as it turned out) didn’t have the hoop house air-tight. When freezing winds blew across the Berkshires and up to our door, the little cracks and crevices were just enough to finish off the tiny plants. This time, we lined the inside of the door wall with a tarp to provide an extra barrier, as well as taping down all four corners and patching some of the tiny holes that it acquired over the summer. Fingers crossed for a draft-free environment!
And, of course, the colder weather means that we are getting close to finishing the pigs. We have incredibly mixed feelings about this, as we have really grown to love these three porkers. We have spent a lot of time with them over the past weeks. As they get fatter (and fatter) (and fatter), they love to be scratched around their jowls and down their backs. We’ve been weighing them every two weeks–an interesting process that involves measuring them from snout to tail (length) and around their bodies (girth) and multiplying the length times the girth times the girth and dividing by 400. Based on these calculations, we have these numbers from the last weigh-in:
Hammy 173.28 lbs., Bacon 155.52 lbs., and Pork Chop 164.28 lbs.
For these pigs, anything over 200 lbs. simply adds fat, so we want to finish them as close to 200 lbs. as possible. We have gotten almost all the materials we need for the project, but are still waiting on a few items. We have set the date for Monday, November 5th, and will have a small group of neighbors and friends joining us for the event.