What’s been going on!
Well last night’s temperature forecast was an April Fool’s joke, we had been ready for mid 20’s but it was 32 degrees on the porch this morning and 27 degrees in the field. Not complaining mind you but surprised it wasn’t colder. Tonight they (the National Weather Service) are calling for 23 degrees for us, we will see but the second night is always the colder one.
Not nearly as bad as the April Easter Freeze in 2007 when we had five nights in the 20’s with the lowest 20 degrees, that one burned the tunnel tomatoes a bit but we survived. We all know that the climate is changing and warming up but Betsy and I are slack jawed at maps we’ve seen recently with the last frost date around April 1st! We used to figure April 21st was the safe date for us here on the farm. I have climate maps from the 70’s that say April 11th for the general area but we are always colder and more akin to Siler City whose date is now listed at April 14th. This interactive map has the most current info with Chapel Hill’s last frost on April 6th
It’s similar to the Plant Hardiness Zones, were we used to be zone 7A based on the average extreme low temperatures in the low single digits. Officially they now have us in 7B but certainly the last few winters we have been in 8A or B, I think the lowest we have seen this past winter was 17 degrees. No wonder the perennial plants are shaking their heads and moving north.
Picture of the week
Our 20 tomato plants well protected under two layers of row cover and inside the tunnel
What’s going to be at Market?
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.
Picture of the Week
The perfect rainy day activity, moving up the 2500 plus pepper plants
Posted in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, newsletters '07, peppers, tomatoes
- Tagged blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, CCCC sustainable farming program, easter freeze, newsletters '07, peppers, SSAWG, teaching, tomatoes, transplants