What came first: the chicken or the egg? Well, we can’t tell you that, but we can clear up a few harvest myths. From frost bite to “fresh is best,” we’ve heard a lot of farming rumors that just aren’t 100% correct. Farmer Kim shares explanations to those burning questions about prime pumpkin picking season and beyond.
1. Chickens lay eggs year round.
Chickens do lay eggs year round, however, they do slow down considerably in the winter. The chicken’s egg cycle is determined by the amount of exposure the chickens have to daylight, which decreases in the winter months because the days are shorter. By putting a light in the chicken coop, the chickens are “tricked” into laying more eggs during winter months.
2. Crops die when it freezes.
Not always. Tender plants, like tomatoes, can die when exposed to frost. Hardier plants, like radish, can tolerate lowers temps. Perennials like Hosta, become dormant after the first frost and regrow when spring arrives. Some plants produce special hormones that keep them from freezing and some plants are equipped to shed foliage during a freeze and regrow from the stems or roots when weather permits. Different plants freeze at different temperatures, so it is important to understand the hardiness of your crops in order to protect them from the elements.
3. Pumpkins are grown in October.
Pumpkins require a lot of love and a long growing season with no frost threats at all. Pumpkins must be planted once the threat of frost has completely vanished, as one cold night can ruin the entire crop. They are typically planted in late May to early July and require 75-100 frost-free days. The crop is then harvested in September and October, before the colder months bring lower temperatures.
4. If you save your seeds you can plant them the next year.
This is only sometimes true. Only seeds from open-pollinated (non-hybrid) plants will produce the same crop next year. The packet that the seeds came in will tell you if the variety is open-pollinated or not.
Additionally, the plants cannot be cross-pollinated by insects (which would happen if serveral varietals grew in the same area).
5. All crops are best eaten when harvested fresh.
Old fashion storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes are delicious examples of stored crops that can be saved and eaten after being harvested. See our recent post (link to previous post) on harvesting root vegetables for even more examples of crops you can pick and save for later.
6. When your soil has no vegetables growing it is inactive.
Quite the contrary. It is important to rotate planting plots and leave soil barren every fees years so that the soil has time to replenish nutrients absorbed by the crops.