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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wintry High Wind

Yesterday winter came storming in. The day started off with thunderstorms-thunder, lightning, heavy rain and heavy winds. By dawn the rain and thunder had moved eastward. The winds picked up so that by 9 am they were howling and we were getting gusts over 50mph with sustained winds around 30mph.

it was farm share day as well but since we were aware that the weather would be less than ideal for harvesting I got in what I needed the day before in cold but much calmer conditions. Eugene, on the other hand decided to get in kale, cabbage, red turnips and broccoli before the big freeze occurred.

Personally I avoid harvesting in high winds as the winds can do a lot of damage to harvested crops, especially to leafy greens if they are not well covered. I use towels to cover the harvest and they are not always easy to secure to the picking crates and will blow off (I have yet to have one blow away). But sometimes you cannot avoid unpleasant situations and this was one that was unavoidable.

So the morning was spent harvesting things that did not have enough protection to get through a 17F degree early morning. By around noon more and more time was being spent trying to keep the plastic on the hoop houses tight. Eugene was also spending way too much time trying to keep the row covers on beds-this will not work unless one takes about every row cover rock we have and puts them all on the 15 or so beds we have covered. Even than a lot of the covers will come open in high winds or rip themselves to shreds. In the past I would simply go and open all the covers and secure them to the ground so they cannot harm the plants they are protecting by being blown around in the wind.

This time I did not do that because Eugene thought it was a bad idea. And he was correct on that. if the covers were removed yesterday right after a rain even they would have ended up folded and frozen to themselves and the ground and would have been useless to use until the outside temp went above 32F. So now we hope that the covers did not blow off the beds and stick to the ground (but it looks like we will be well above freezing in a couple of days so we can use them again very soon)

After lunch (temp around 34F) I got to work putting together the shares for the Winter FSI and Eugene went out to harvest turnips. I could hear the hoop houses snapping and growling in the wind but up until 2:30 they all seemed to be staying together. I went back in the house around 2:30 and thought I had nothing much to do with the rest of the day. I reveled in that delusion up until 3:30 when Eugene came in and said he had to warm up for a while and than go back out and take in the rutabagas.

I looked at him and said "rutabagas? You mean the rutabagas in the hoop house?" he replied" yes the rutabagas in the hoop house". Than I said "I take it the hoop house is no longer covered with plastic" and he replied"pretty much".

And with all that I found a hat and gloves and put on a work coat and we went and pulled and topped rutabagas. it was interesting working in an area that was quite warm under an hour before we got there. The soils were still warmish when we started but but by the time we finished they were freezing up. As were the greens on the rutabagas, they looked so sad. The same could be said for the broccoli in the bed next to the rutabagas that had been coddled and protected up until yesterday afternoon. Fortunately we were pretty much done with the broccoli so its' demise is not a big loss.

And with the plastic off it will make it a lot easier to clean out the beds with dead green beans, dead broccoli and a scant few rutabaga runts. Than we can fill the beds with the lettuce seedlings we have ready to be planted somewhere. I don't know if that is what will actually happen but right now it sounds like a pretty good idea.


The Local Cook said...

I'm not a member of your CSA (I live in Michigan), but thank you for all you do!

Anonymous said...

In a pinch, you might try using t-shirt bags filled with soil for cheap weights that don't roll like rocks.
also check out the hanley hoop house design (google search); it held up in the wind pretty good and the rope design kept the plastic from going anywhere when I had an anchor that failed.
Good Luck!

Richard Stewart said...


We suffered the same losses. I had nothing but greens in mine and some carrot and beet and pac choi starts for harvesting in January to March.

I have placed the plastic the following day. Burnt greens and first 1" of frozen ground. I am curious to see what happens.

Your almost neighbor farmer Richard...