Wow, that was cold! Five mornings in the twenties with the nadir Sunday morning at 20 degrees! Everyone wants to know what the damage has been to the crops but it is really too early to really tell about most of them. The tomatoes survived with some severe freeze damage on the outside rows but they all should grow out of it. The cucumbers look unscathed, amazing. The dutch iris actually look great, Betsy has begun to cut a few. and we haven’t had any open completely yet but so far they appear to have no injury. The big question is the blueberries. That will take a week or more for the damage to be really apparent. This freeze is very similar to the April freeze in 2001, when it was 24 degrees on the 18th with high winds. That season we lost all the blueberries. Most of the rest of the crops look fine, the sugar snap peas are burned a bit along with other odds and ends of crops. Time will tell.
Monday I gave my last big presentation of the speaking season in Spartanburg, SC. While I have traveled around the country quite a bit giving talks on all kinds of farming subjects it is these full day workshops that I seem to becoming known for. This one, for 60 farmers and other ag related folks, is at least the fifth or sixth where I hold forth for an entire day, attempting to cover the entire subject of organic/sustainable vegetable production. Can’t be done really. The best part, is that after an entire day of examples and pictures I think they go away with the most important lesson: this kind of farming is an interrelated system where each action the farmer takes affects other things up and down the line. Sure they go away with a big notebook full of information, and lots of details on soil management, how to control weeds and more but it is the big picture that I hope has become clearer to them. It is hard to get a grasp on this complex system when you only hear someone speak for and hour or so. I am currently working with the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (SSAWG) on a CD-Rom on Organic Vegetable Production and Marketing that is modeled after my full day workshops. Now all of this is really just the Readers Digest version of the Sustainable Vegetable Production course that I designed and taught for five or six years at the Sustainable Farming Program at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro. There I carried on for three hours a night for sixteen weeks! Full immersion for sure. Now the real benefit for Betsy and me to all of this is that the more times I have to explain to people how we farm, the closer I scrutinize why we do things in certain ways and, hopefully, we refine the system even more.