Sunday, March 18, 2012


We are planting and transplanting fall crops right now, as the full-on harvest of late summer starts to tail off. The squash and pumpkin leaves are withering and dropping away, revealing the hulking fruits that rest beneath them. The tri-colored bush tomatoes have given up their fruit, except for a few tardy green monsters. The cucumbers are done--not a good year for them. The broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are almost done, but new seedlings of all three are thriving. We've harvested three of nine beds of carrots; each week they're better. There are tons of green onions, which we're harvesting while we wait for the bulb onions to mature fully--those we'll preserve for winter. A beautiful, deep green, wrinkled new crop of kale has just matured. The bright green leaves of the young buckwheat we sowed as a cover crop after harvesting the garlic beds covers the earth in the back corner of the garden. Three peach trees are producing a bumper crop of delicious, white-fleshed fruits. One variety of corn is in, husked, and the other is still maturing on the stalks.

Harvesting and threshing rye and buckwheat has been the big job in the fields during the last couple weeks. We harvest with Japanese sickles, bent double, intimate with the stalks. The threshing we do with a machine borrowed from a friend, an enthusiast of Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming methods. He invented and built the machine. It's about the size of a kitchen island and has four rubber tires on which we trundle it around the field, from one stack of grain to another. It's powered by a lawnmower engine which spins parts that mash, shake, blow, thrum, whir, rattle; very steampunk, it looks like a piece of Howl's moving castle. Shutting it off and allowing the comparative silence of bird calls and the river to reassert itself is a pleasure, as is plunging my hands into the full hopper of cool, heavy grain.