One of the greatest benefits of farming this far south is the year-round growing. However, that comes with risks, like this past week when temperatures reached a low of 20ºF with three consecutive nights of lows in the 20’s. Growers call this a hard freeze, which describes temperatures that reach below-freezing for a sufficient amount of time to seriously damage or kill vegetation. Most crops look severely damaged from the freeze and several completely died (pictures below). We lost our broccoli raab, mustards, turnips, daikon radishes, peas, some kale, some cabbage, radishes, mixed greens, beets, chard, and many of our new seedlings. Row cover can be used to retain heat close to the plants, but is too cost and labor intensive to cover the entire farm. We have ordered row cover to have on hand for the next freeze, at which time we will have to identify the highest risk plants.
In response to losses this week, we have reseeded many of the beds without removing the current plants. This will allow any survivors to continue growing and provide an earlier harvest, while new seeds will fill in where frost-claimed-veggies have perished.
Ironically the first freeze of the year has been paired with the beginning of spring! Over 45,360 cells were seeded with nightshades (peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, and tomatoes). This sort of unpredictability is why a greenhouse is so important for us. Tomatoes, our most profitable crops, are extremely time sensitive. They must be started as early as possible since they take longer to the first harvest than most crops and will not produce fruit when temperatures get high which makes for a shorter growing window. The seedlings will remain in the greenhouse for 8 weeks or until we are certain we have past the last frost risk.
Farm Educators have been furthering their education with the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Conference (TOFGA). Farm Educators attended classes and workshops including topics such as Farm to School, systematic weed management, organic insect management, decision making for value added production, media training, food justice, food access, produce storage, post harvest handling, food safety regulations, specialty cut flowers, farm-based education, agri-tourism, and more! It is so encouraging to see how many people are collaborating to expand organic practices in Texas. We were inspired by the stories and struggles of other farmers working with organic production, education, and markets and gained a valuable network of growers.
Come out this Saturday, January 21, 8 am - 12 pm for the first 2017 Farmers Market! We would love to see the entire community come out and support our local vendors. The market will have an array of products including Salve Naturals, Tys Spyce, Monica Charles Designs, LOAM Agronomics, Great Harvest, Lawrence Tyrone Catering and live music from The Beyonders. See you there!