Wednesday, December 2, 2009

COLD crops

Please note the date. Yes, I am writing this post on the day that it will appear on the blog. So, it is, in fact - December 2.

What did I do today on the farm? Take three guesses and the first two don't count.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you.

I harvested veg today. And, no, we don't have a high tunnel/green house. No, these were not in a cold frame. But, it is a good reminder that crops can hold in the ground for quite some time as long as:

a) the soil temps are above freezing (typically 40 degrees F & up)
b) low 20 degree temps are followed by over freezing temps during the day
c) reasonable amounts of sun and moisture is provided

Our next Waverly Harvest Market is this coming Saturday. So, ideally, I would have liked to have waited to pick until Friday. But, rule (b) is about to be broken (decisively). That makes (c) moot and will certainly change (a) to a lower temp. In short, the crops might not last much longer in the ground.

the most difficult thing about this is the cold temps on hands. I use fingerless gloves because I need to be able to use the full dexterity of my digits. But, as you might guess, the dexterity goes down a bit as I get progressively colder. So, it usually means working for an hour followed by some indoor time to warm up - then back out into it.

Today wasn't too bad until about 3pm - that's when the northwest wind kicked it into gear. It can be a bit difficult to wield a lettuce knife when tears are running down your face (as a result of the cold wind - c'mon now!). Of course, I got smarter and turned my back to the wind - but you can't always face the way you want to.

In any event, I was able to pull in a fair amount of baby lettuce, kale, pok choi and leeks. I also found some smaller turnips and rutabegas and some baby carrots. The surprise was the number of modest sized, but good looking, beets I was able to coax out of the ground. Now, we must work to clean it all and keep it fresh until Saturday. Good thing the garage has become a full-sized walk-in cooler.

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