Autumn Days

As September turns into October and October moves towards November, the farm rhythm slows down. The unending summer to-do lists become manageable autumn lists where we strike off more items than we add. The fields feel empty with the carrots, beets, potatoes, squash, cabbage, and other storage crops sitting in the cold room and all that’s left to harvest is Jerusalem artichokes, leafy greens, fresh bunching roots, and what looks like a mile of leeks. We bundle ourselves up to keep on working through the cold rainy days and the cold drizzly days; shift from tomato sandwiches to hot soups for lunch; and wait for the (hopefully) inevitable couple of dry sunny days …

I love those dry crisp sunny autumn days where the seed crops are brittle and with a stomp or a wack, seed shatters readily from pods, and chaff winnows easily from the seed.  These are the days when I can process seed crop after seed crop, and as the tarps and tarps of pulled plants drying in the barn and greenhouse disappear, my worry levels about mold and ruined seed also disappear; when I begin to accumulate well-labeled paper bags and envelopes to make new piles in my office and living room for future packing; when it becomes clear what seeds will be plentiful for the fall catalogue and what seeds will be running short … On these dry sunny days, the only thing on my mind is seeds.

Tom and Xander threshing bean seed (I posted previously on saving bean seeds)

Of course, today begins another run of rainy days. But the sun’ll be back sooner or later.

On another note, anybody have any great secrets for cleaning chicory seed?

2 responses to “Autumn Days

  1. The only thing I have come up with on various chicory is to make sure the plants are well dried, we usually have to bring the bins inside next to a heat source for a week or so turning them every so often. Once the stalks are dry and brittle I dump them into a wheel barrow and pound with the blunt end of a baseball bat, 2X4 piece of wood, or other flail. When it appears that most of the seed has fallen out they are winnowed with a fan. Chicory is definately on of the fiddliest seeds we save. If you come up with a better way I would love to hear about it. We normally save Belgian endive, Italian chicory, some radicchio, and Batavian endive on a 2-3 year rotation. I did a little post on it a couple years ago at – http://subsistencepatternfoodgarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/saving-seed-belgian-endive-red-giant.html
    Something I have been considering making for small scale grain threshing that might work well for chicory, especially if the seed heads are removed first, is this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDr8VF2QIPM That’s all I can think of other than building or purchasing a small electric thresher.

    • Thanks for the chicory tips. I’m definitely considering making a thresher like the one in the video.

      If I come up with any great chicory threshing techniques, I’ll definitely share them.

      Dan

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