We had our first hard frost here at the farm early last Thursday morning—late in coming this season, and many of the crops it would have killed were already finished, so practically it made little difference. But mentally that first fall frost is always a significant threshold for me, a sign that our long adventure is nearly at its end.
All this month we have been readying the farm for winter. Partly that involves bringing in all the “hardware” from the field—tasks like unstringing the tomatoes and pulling our their stakes; dismantling, draining, and storing the irrigation system; and winding up the electric deer fence. And partly it means taking care of the field itself. As each section cycles out of production, I mow off what remains with the tractor’s brush mower (a deeply satisfying job), then disc the residue back into the soil. Finally, I sow a cover crop of rye over the now bare soil. Once the rye has germinated and started growing, it will help protect the soil over the winter and early spring.
Much of that work is finished now. There are a handful of lines of drip tape to be wound up, some row cover to be put away, and a couple of sections of the field waiting to be sown in cover crop before it rains next week. Only a few beds of cold-hardy vegetables remain standing. Otherwise, the field is at rest, peaceful and green, patiently waiting.