A weather blast from the Arctic is NOT what our seedlings needed. We soaked them in seaweed water before planting and watered them in and covered them up with row cover - that is about all we can do - besides pray a lot - and wait till the weather breaks, apparently Thursday, and see what happens. I'll give them another round with seaweed water, then, too, and hope for the best.
The good news is that it is early enough that if we need to replant for winter crops we can. I'm looking into what is available the soonest from the certified organic grower we got the present starts from. However, we didn't get them all planted anyway so there are still a good number of most varieties we can replant this weekend to replace any we may lose.
On another note
I had a great conversation with another farmer today, (to line up some goodies for us this weekend), and it was interesting to hear her take on the weather this year. She said they'd had a difficult year themselves, and they've been farming for over 30 years so I'm sure they've seen their share of challenging weather. Too much rain in June drowned her tomatoes, the strong summer winds that seemed to never end this year drying everything out, the lack of rain this fall which made plowing up a new area all but impossible, now these early, long lasting freezes.
In fact, she said she heard on the news today that this is the coldest, deepest, Arctic Blast we've had the earliest in the year, since 1901! And, unfortunately, that is what has done in the season's squash and cucumbers I'm afraid. They seemed to hang in there for the few frosty nights we had early on, but between the freezes in November, I think I counted 3 of them at below 32, and now this long lasting freezing 20's, I'm afraid they are toast. Or mush actually. The plants are still alive, but I don't know yet if they'll reflower and continue to produce after this last blast. A little unheated hoop-house can only protect them so much. It's not like we put up green houses out here.
Anyway, another farmer I spoke to over the weekend said we sure picked a difficult year to start farming. She too noted plenty of difficulties, many echoed the ones Wendy cited. But, every year will have its challenges. That is part of farming and why it isn't for everyone.
Those who support a farming endeavor and those who do the farming are few and far between or else we'd have a lot more local farms around. And with this recent resurgence in the interest of eating more healthful foods, you could say that we are all pioneers of sorts as small farms are making a comeback.
It warmed my heart to hear the kind words of encouragement from these two seasoned farming women though. And although I realize that supporting a farm via community supported agriculture is not going to be for everyone, I think it is going to be rewarding for those who are able to endure the start ups and downs. Despite the slow start, the set backs and the challenges unseen yet, I am still excited about this project. The ways in which people who are part of it will benefit will be priceless.
Our working share members and volunteers have helped me and worked very hard to get this plot of land going, and to see their faces when we pulled 34 pounds of some of the best looking veggies we'd seen out of that ground last Saturday was worth its weight in gold! "We grew that!" Yep - and we'll grow a lot more as time goes on.
A lot about farming is timing - and, as my friend Wendy told me, you can do all the planning you want, but it doesn't always, or even usually, go the way you planned it. You have to be patient, flexible and understanding to rely on a farm for your livelihood and your food.
This fall we could have caught every drop of rain on time, planted in early August, as planned, and had a hail storm dump on us as the flowers bloomed on the plants - and we'd still have gotten very little for our work. It is a big risk to farm and to eat from a farm as opposed to a grocery store. But to me it is worth all of the work. And to many of you, it has been worth it, too. I'm glad to hear that because it has not progressed as well as any of us had hoped, I'm sure.
But you have to decide for yourself if the benefits outweigh the risks. And I know I'm not willing to make that decision after only a few seasons, much less the first one. I'm in this for the long haul for one thing because it is too important to give up on. Those of you who may know me personally know that I'm not a quitter. I'm determined to grow organic, healthy safe and local food for myself and my community and to spread the word about local farming, encouraging the next generation to follow.
I'll keep you all posted on this weekend's share pick up via email. But it looks like we'll have turnips, golf ball sized and perfect for cooking, turnip greens and some mixed greens, too. I will check with Judy to see if she can supply us all with eggs as well as keep trying to reach Harmony Harvest Farms, too. I only want to supply your shares with locally grown food, and that is why we are doing this - to support local agriculture.
We'll also be working in the field and taking advantage of the warm snap this weekend. We may move plastic to the newly planted lettuces and replant the things that didn't make the freeze we're enduring as I type this. We'll also try to get an early jump on potatoes this Jan. so we'll start preparing those beds soon, too. Even though early potatoes may not like whatever weather we get in February, oftentimes we can get them going early here in North Texas. We'll have a back up crop to go in later on, too. And onions will go in around Valentine's Day or so. We'll see what old man winter says about that.
As for soybeans, my friends tell me yes, we can grow them - I'll just be careful who supplies the seeds as we all know there are a lot of GMO soybeans out there. Ick.
Keep warm and please pray for mercy on those seedlings. A lot of folks worked a lot of hours to get them into the ground this weekend. I'd hate to think this early cold snap would do them in.
Eat Your Food - Naturally!