Early autumn is a dangerous and bountiful time of year

The annual late summer hot/dry snap is probably one of the most challenging weather events for our crops all year.  By this point in the season, the ground is usually quite dry already, the plants have aged, and they have already taken just about all the nutrients the soil has to give.  This hot snap will sap a good deal of energy from aging summer plants, which will decrease yields, and our growers will have to shade their leafy greens and other cool season crops or risk their failure.  It’s a challenge for young and old alike this week.  

You should be able to look around at the woods and wild fields and see evidence of the same struggle this week.  Watch for tree leaves to look more tired and brown.  Watch for many of the remaining wildflowers to shrivel up and go to seed.  Expect your allergies to be worse this week as the ragweed throws a frantic burst of pollen into the air so it can propagate before dying back.  This will be a bad week for grassy lawns, which will look just about their brownest and thinnest.  Our fields experience these same shifts, even with careful irrigation.  We eat with nature, and her cycles are ours.  

But with our growers care, we should still see a dwindling amount of summer produce until frost.  Winter squashes and sweet potatoes will begin to take center stage, their long (heat-loving) growing seasons finally coming to an end.  Carefully shaded and watered greens will finally be able to stretch out in the cool autumn air, and we’ll see them return to our table.  Autumn is my favorite season for eating because we get to blend two seasons for so long in our river valley.  While the earth stretches itself to its very limit to provide for us, we eat so well.  There’s a reason we give thanks in autumn.