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Thawing Out December 2013

Sarah West

The deep freeze we experienced earlier this month affected every farm in the area. Hoop houses and greenhouses helped some. But as Kimberly Bolster at Deep Roots Farms shared in a newsletter sent out earlier this week, it can still get too cold.

Frozen Broccoli in the FieldWe have been growing over-wintered vegetables for 15 years, and while it is not unusual for temperatures to dip into the teens for a few days in December, we have never experienced below zero temps before this year. We bottomed out at -2 degrees Farenheit. Thirty four degrees below freezing is extremely hard on even the hardiest of veggies. Like broccoli, poor, poor broccoli.

The outdoor kale and cauliflower is likewise melted.Heads of cabbage, which I’ve been told can completely freeze and thaw three times before they are considered bad, are as limp as they get when boiled. Tasty.

Greenhouse Kale FrozenThe biggest shocker for me is our greenhouse kale. We have three greenhouses of kale, two of which have been harvested a few times. At first glance we thought it looked fine—it just needs a few weeks for the leaves to grow to a harvestable size. Unfortunately, that won’t happen. The stems are completely mushy and starting to ferment on the inside—there’s no coming back from that. The kale in the greenhouse we have yet to pick looks less dead, but for the most part everything we had growing: broccoli, cauliflower, four kinds of cabbage, collards, all three kales, chard, parsley, kohlrabi, radishes, mizuna, turnips, red mustard, bok choy, and arugula will not recover.

Fortunately, the chickens survived just fine although keeping their water from freezing was a task unto itself. Deep Roots Farm will be coming once a month in January and February to sell eggs.

Stories like this one are repeated throughout the region. When shopping this weekend, ask the farmer how he or she is doing after the freeze.

 

- Eamon Molloy, Market Manager