News from Hutchins Farm

Short days, cold mornings and falling leaves herald the end of another season. Despite a cool, wet June and July and unusually intense disease pressure on some crops, we managed to field a diverse and abundant variety of produce at the stand and at the three farmer’s markets we attended this year. Strawberries started strong (and were delicious) but came to an untimely (and mushy) end with the unrelenting June monsoon. Blueberries prospered in the cool, wet weather and provided us with an especially bountiful crop, welcome after last year’s disappointing one; lettuce and other greens also found the unseasonable weather to their liking and were spared the trauma of last year’s hailstorm.

Most warm season crops bided their time, ripening later than usual, but finally coming into their own during the August heat. Just as they were beginning to ripen in earnest, some of our tomatoes began to suffer from Late Blight—we were able to nurse them along until hot weather halted the disease’s progress and we managed to harvest a reasonable crop. Melons and watermelons were tardy, delicious, and short-lived. When the peppers finally arrived, they were big, abundant and well worth the wait. Summer squash and cucumbers were seemingly unfazed by the conditions and provided bumper yields in their usual season, going into decline much earlier than it seemed they ought to (as they always do). Beans were quite prolific and, for some reason, didn’t develop the mold we would expect during such a cool, wet time. Sweet corn production was more consistent than the last few seasons, and although the late corn was quite wormy, those of you who braved the worms were rewarded with fine eating well into October. Basil was slow to start, slow to grow, and quick to succumb to a newly introduced disease that rendered all our plantings unmarketable virtually overnight—we hope the plant breeders are working on finding resistant strains.
Potatoes, carrots, parsnips and other root crops, still much in evidence at the stand, all did particularly well and should last well into the winter for those of you who wish to stock up. Winter squash and pumpkins, however, provided a disappointing crop this year—limited by poor pollinator activity during peak bloom time, fruit set was poor, and the fruit that did develop was besieged by unfavorable weather and accompanying disease pressure. Apples set a smaller than usual crop (last year’s crop was enormous but decimated by the hail), but quality has been exceptional. Our garlic crop was bigger than it has been for the last couple years, but we have sold out for the season—onions are also sold out, but we still have plenty of shallots.

As we enter our last week of the season, you can still find: apples, kale, collards, spinach, bok choy, cabbage and Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, limited quantities of chard, parsley, dill, cilantro, lettuce and arugula, some scallions and leeks, lots of potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, daikon, celeriac, Indian corn and popcorn. We’ve still got some peppers and tomatoes, and you might come across celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and radicchio to name a few. We are still taking orders for large bags of potatoes and carrots, and may have some available on the last weekend to those who didn’t place an order. Although the weather this season seemed unusual, it appears that unusual weather is the new norm—and we were sustained through the season by an exceptionally capable, industrious and good-humored crew and, of course, the loyalty and generosity of our customers. Our thanks to all of you, and we hope to see you this week.

Our last day will be Sunday, November 1st. As always, our hours are 11-6 each day except Monday when we’re closed. We will be attending our last Thursday Belmont and Saturday Winchester farmer’s markets this coming week, but will likely continue to attend our Monday market at Central Square Cambridge for a few more weeks yet. If the weather holds out and crop supplies warrant it, local customers may find some produce available self-serve on the porch after we close—check our phone message for details.

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