We got our first frost this week.
I love frost. I love the way it looks on plants – the lacy crystals netted across kale and broccoli and carrot tops.
I love how it shimmers and glitters in the sunlight and makes the whole field sparkle.
I love what it signifies – finally, the end of summer, and the beginning of high fall.
Frost kills some plants. We lost our beans and eggplant and peppers. They were all on their way out, anyway. The colder nights were starting to wear on them. The eggplant was withering and the beans were producing less and less every day.
We’ve been enjoying these tender fruits all summer, and they’ve been delicious, but I won’t miss them. Their time is over. Fall is the time of the root, the season of hardy greens. I’m craving kale and cabbage and sweet potatoes and turnips.
A lot of the tastiest fall veggies get better after a frost. Kale and Brussels sprouts react to frost by producing sugars, which makes them sweeter.
Some root vegetables, like carrots and parsnips and celeriac, convert some of their existing starches to sugars after a frost, so they get sweeter, too.
Arugula and spinach just look really lovely with ice crystals all over them, and they bounce back, even when uncovered, after one or two frosts.
The farm is bursting with food right now. There’s a field of broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage and chard,
and all sorts of colorful turnips and radishes – daikons, black storage radishes, watermelon radishes, gold ball and purple top turnips.
This is hardy food, food that keeps you warm, big roots and dark glossy greens, food that thrives with colder nights and crisper mornings.
The first frost is always a relief. It’s a signal that it’s time to hunker down, take a deep breath, settle into the shorter days. I’m looking forward to the month ahead: harvesting frost-sweetened carrots and kale and Brussels sprouts, giving out hundreds of pounds of onions and potatoes in the November CSA, planting garlic, celebrating another season, and finally putting the farm to sleep.