First Frost


We had our first frost last Friday. It was a light one—barely enough to wilt the peppers—but a frost nonetheless. We knew it was coming early in the week, and we knew the risk it posed to the seven beds of potatoes and sweet potatoes still in the field. Normally, we wouldn’t have so much left this late in the season, but the rain threw a big wrench into the fall harvest schedule. On Wednesday, the fields were still heavy from Monday’s rain, and there was little we could to but wait for the soil to dry ​and get our storage facilities ready. By Thursday, it was go-time. Steve, Peter, Anthony, and I banged out the regular CSA harvest so we could switch over to potato digging by mid-morning. We managed to dig four rows before calling it quits for the day. Dan, Peter, and Alison were back at it Friday morning. By that time, the frost had wilted the sweet potato vines, but the impending rot had yet to spread to the tubers below. While Dan and the crew were harvesting, Steve and I were leading forty Levittown kindergartners on a tour of the fields. In addition to sampling garlic chives and blowing milkweed seeds on the wind, these kids were lucky enough to get in on the potato-digging action. They arrived just in time to watch the tractor unearth football-sized sweet potatoes, and they didn’t need any encouragement in loading potatoes into the bins. By afternoon, the field was entirely clear. By 3am Saturday morning, when the rain returned, I thought to myself Rain all you want, the potatoes are in!