Hello from Shaker Organic Gardens, October 2016!


by Stacey Cooper, Co-op Organic Farm Manager

A brief update on garden things…

This week and the coming weeks will be focused on digging the remaining root crops from the field and prepping the ground for winter. This week I harvested our first round of daikon radish, more mixed carrots, beets and the rest of the parsnip bed. These beds were also weeded in preparation for winter covering (plastic sheets to protect the soil).

My storage areas for root crops are officially full and I need to do a few deliveries before I pull anymore crops from the ground. Not a bad problem to have =)

I cleaned up and chopped in the buckwheat in several raised beds to prepare them for our garlic planting this fall. I’ve gotten about half of the prepared area covered with plastic sheeting to help break down the buckwheat and protect the soil. Next week, with a hand or two, I can get the rest of these rows covered.

Volunteers helped pull all of the tomato and pepper plants from the field this week and clean up the fabric under the crops. I may wish to move the fabric to other areas of the field next year, however since it is too late to get a cover crop established in these rows, I will leave the fabric in place until spring to protect the soil from compaction. We also cut back the rest of the strawberries and weeded them and weeded about half of the center field to help get rid of perennial broadleaf weeds that are going to seed.

I’ve removed the summer squash and all cherry tomatoes from the hoop house. We still have hot peppers and lettuce growing inside. Crops that we still have to harvest are carrots, beets, daikon, some red stem turnip, tomatillos, scallions, hot peppers, and late fall lettuce.


A gorgeous week with low humidity, warm sunny days and cool mornings…

As a continuation of fall preparations I’ve dug another 100 lbs of carrots from both the center field and raised beds and I harvested another round of daikon radish. The fall carrot crop was really nice and very large. I have enough carrots to supply Micro Mama’s for the upcoming workshop on fermenting. We still have 3 rows of carrots, 2 rows of beets and 2 partial rows of daikon left to dig. I plan to get all of the crops out of the ground next week as they won’t be sizing up much more with the cooler temperatures and shorter days. The only fresh crops left are a bit of arugula, mizuna, scallions for Micro Mama’s, chard and tomatillos.

I harvested almost all of the hot peppers from the hoop house and have them drying in my car. The barn temperatures were getting too cool and they had not finished drying yet, so my volunteer suggested using my car. It seems to be working well, however it is a bit spicy when I open the door to get in.

Alan helped me to get the rest of the 2017 garlic beds covered with plastic and I was able to get about half of the second plot covered. I will get the rest done once we finish our harvesting. The tiller is stored safely in the hoop house for the winter. The irrigation drip and header lines have been removed from the fields.

I was able to get a good start on cleaning up the hoop house and garden shed and staging materials for the fall and winter. A ways to go, but it looks much better.


The countdown is on… 2 more weeks in the garden until we are put to bed for the season. A lot of small tasks and organization between final harvests and winter preparations. I’ve stocked up on potting soil and media for growing out the belgain endive. I’m working on staging my seeding station for the winter.

All of the root crops have been pulled from the field. Amazing carrots and beets have been put in storage for the kitchen to use in the coming months. Alberta helped me tackle the cleaning of the garden shed … a work in progress, but we can see the floor now.

We also cleaned  the garden barn attic and consolidated the dried flowers and garden items for the holiday ornament workshops. I’ve cut back the asparagus and rhubarb tops, labeled our totes and trays, moved straw bales, cleaned the hoop house a bit, and did a lot of weeding in the raised beds and center field.

Next week brings garlic bed prepping and planting. After which we can officially chop in the buckwheat and cover the rest of the raised beds.
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This week I prepared all of the raised beds that were still planted to cover crop by chopping the buckwheat into small pieces and raking it into the surface of the soil. I then covered the remaining raised beds with plastic sheeting and weighted them against the Shaker Winds.

I prepared 3 raised beds for garlic by weeding, forking, amending, and raking. With the help of volunteers, we cracked and planted 3 full beds of garlic this week (60 lbs). I used clean wood shavings from the wood shop on site to help mulch in the garlic, a layer of straw will go on top of the shavings next week. The soil is still very dry so we watered in the newly planted garlic before mulching and added irrigation lines for the spring.

I’ve removed the rest of the summer crops from the hoop house, cleaned the beds out, and moved the potted perennials and strawberries inside for the winter. The strawberry rows have been staged with hoops and boards to prepare for row cover in the spring.  A seeding station has been set up inside for late winter seed starting. A few bags of organic potting soil are inside as well because it can be hard to source locally in the winter months when alliums need to be started.

Next week will be our final harvest from the fields with a full bed of scallions for Micro Mama’s and some finishing touches to prepare for the winter. I’m holding off on taking down the deer fence until the last minute as I know the deer are just waiting to get back into the strawberry rows.

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The week started with collecting straw bales from the Ghost Encounters events and spreading the straw in a thick layer over the newly planted garlic. Due to the high winds this week I then watered the straw to weigh it down and hold it in place.

I did another round of tool collection, fabric and plastic adjustments and finalized all field work for the season. I did some more repairs to the hoop house to hold it through the winter and disconnected and stored the hoses running to our wash station and old hoop house beds.

37# of scallion were harvested, cleaned and delivered to Micro Mama’s for her fermenting processes. I did a final cleaning of the garden shed and a bit of organization of the garage. I added fuel stabilizer to all the equipment and cub tractor and got them tucked inside for the winter.

I’ve started growing out the Belgian endive inside although I can’t quite get the soil temperature where it needs to be (70-75 degrees). My heat mat and registers are too warm, but room temperature is a bit too cool.  I’m sure we will get a crop out of it either way, however the heads may not be ideal in size.