As you can imagine, farmers all across the country are doing a lot of praying this weekend. This Arctic blast is being felt all the way to southern Texas, across Florida and all along the Gulf Coast. As I type this, it is snowing at Disney World!
Last Monday, before it hit north Texas, me and several of our CSA members got our crops as prepared as we could. We watered everything thoroughly with the warm water from the pond, which ironically, has not really frozen over at all, and covered up the youngest plants with frost cloth and the more mature plants with both frost cloth and plastic as they are more sensitive to the frigid temps than the young ones.
Leo, Emily and I have been checking several times a day to make sure the winds haven't whipped up the frost cloth and quickly recovered any flapping corners when it did. 99% of the crops have stayed covered the whole time. We have only seen a small portion of one or two rows that became exposed when high winds tore some of the frost cloth loose.
The tunnel was taken down on Monday as there were a few gaps that the wind was getting in anyway and we'd already picked most of the tomatoes before Christmas. There were about another 3lbs of green tomatoes left that those who came to help Monday had dibs on for coming out to help on such short order. (I hope you all took some!)
We will be working with a new organization called "Feed Texas First" in the next few weeks to build our farm a new tunnel for our early spring warm season crops. This should allow us to get tomatoes and squash started a bit earlier than normally. Those are the two crops that seemed to do the best this fall under our first tunnel. This group is working to help train new farmers with "hands-on" classes which provides some free labor to a farmer while teaching those participating how to do various things such as cultivate, plant, build things, etc. I applaud Trish and her partner/sister for this grass roots effort and look forward to participating.
We'll be seeding trays of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and such soon as this cold snap ends. Our greenhouse is a bit too small for me to effectively build a fire inside - safely anyway - and so I'm glad we waited to seed all of those warm season flats! We carried the few cool season veggie trays into the house when it became clear the heating mat wasn't doing a sufficient job of keeping them warm enough. The only place I would have had space for so many warm season flats is the living and dining rooms and I don't have heat in those two rooms unless we stoke a fire 24 hours a day so they'd not have been much warmer in there. I'm looking into other heating mats and comparing notes with other farmers this week to see who used what and what worked and didn't so we're ready if there is a next time. And I have been in Texas long enough to see this happen twice now, so I'm sure there will be a next time, eventually.
As soon as we are out of the woods for freezing, I'll uncover everything and we'll see what we have going on - I'm hoping for the best. One farmer from Oregon indicated that he had salad greens unprotected during a similar blast up there and even though it burned the existing leaves, the plants themselves survived and recovered putting out new growth once the weather returned to 50's with some sunshine. It may be set us back a few weeks, but I think we'll survive with minimal damage.
I'm ordering organic seed potatoes soon and they'll ship from Colorado, as soon as they get a short window of a break in their weather so they don't freeze on the UPS truck! This is the same farm we got them from last year and any of our last year's members remember they were yummy!
If anyone would like to try growing some at home, let me know. You can see the varieties I'm getting on the shop's website. They are pretty easy and fun to grow - not to mention really tasty. I'll also be ordering onions and soon, 4" organic veggies to plant, too. (As CSA members you all are entitled to a shop discount so you don't have to order them from the website on paypal, but shoot me an email and I'll add them to my order.) Keep an eye on the shop's website for what I'll have coming in. I have started a gardening series on my NeighborsGo blog for those who are interested in trying a little garden at home, too.
And don't forget to keep shooting emails or faxes to your senators about that Food "safety" bill S510. They'll be so distracted with the health care debacle that I'm afraid they'll just push this one through without really looking at it. Let them know it will hurt YOUR food supply by putting way too many restrictions on small, local farms - where the safe food comes from!
You all keep warm and we'll do the same. Looks like we're back to pretty normal this week - let's hope it holds!
Eat Your Food - Naturally!
Eat Your Food - Naturally!