So we thought farming would be easy this year….

We finished the “Ultimate Deer” fencing project last fall and thought that farming would start getting easier after elimiating our crop loss to deer. (We think we have finally fenced out the deer from our fields!) We thought we were on easy street now. How wrong we were. “Easy Street” just doesn’t happen in farming when dealing with Mother Nature.  
For the past five years we have transplanted our broccoli and kale out to the field the beginning of April – this year we were right on schedule and transplanted these crops April 2nd – then on April 8th we experienced a “killing freeze” when temperatures dropped to 16 degrees. If we just waited one week all would be well, but there was no warning that Monday with the temperature hovering around 75 degrees, so we transplanted broccoli, mustards and kale to the field, knowing that the crops would be ready for the CSA mid May.
That Thursday we were alerted that the forecast was for cold weather so we covered our strawberries. We didn’t think it could possibly drop to 16 so we didn’t worry about covering our broccoli and kale. After all, in years past, the broccoli and kale have been through snow storms and survived just fine. Monday after that deadly temperature, we walked through the newly transplanted crops and the broccoli and kale had died.  After uncovering the strawberries, we are guessing that we probably lost half or our crop because the strawberries had an amazing amount of fruit set after having temperatures in the 80’s for most of March.
We are working diligently to try and recover from this crop loss by seeding extra greens that will substitute for kale so hopefully we will have something to put in our CSA baskets. We did have another succession of broccoli but we had no other succession of kale to transplant. Perhaps next year we will invest in more row cover or seed an extra succession of kale just in case. (Some CSA members may be excited with a little less kale in their basket!)
Last fall was the first year we decided to seed only rye and crimson clover as cover crops in our spring growing areas in hopes of gaining nitrogen a little earlier in the Spring.  Normally we seed a combination of rye/vetch/clover with the vetch giving us more bio-mass and nitrogen later in the spring.  This “Killing Freeze” killed our clover, which has never happend before, so now we will not get the nitrogen fix or the bio-mass we were hoping for.  The growing areas where we seeded the rye/vetch/clover is fine becuase even though the clover died, the vetch is still growing strong, and we should still gain some bio-mass.  From this day forward… We will always seed a combination of rye/vetch/clover just in case freezing weather comes along late in spring.

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