The spring and beginning of summer was so promising. The fruit trees managed to reach full bloom this year. We did not have a May snow which seems to occur every other year and wipe out any possibility of fruiting. The fruit this year was also larger than usual.
All the vegetables had grown huge, with larger leaves than ever before. Sales were going strong and the tomatoes and peppers were reaching their peak. The pumpkins that we had to pull and replant had finally recovered and a number of small pumpkins were starting to grow.
Thunderstorms are not unusual here. We have plenty of them and in some locations hail is no surprise. We’ve had our farm for 4 years now with plenty of storms but never had a hailstorm do much damage, especially since we have started to use fabric covers on many of the tender plants. But this year…..
We both have full time jobs outside of the farm and were both on our way home after a day of thunderstorms in the area. I got the call from my husband who warned me that he was seeing piles of golf ball sized hail on the sides of the road leading to our house. What a disaster!
Unlike the small hail that bounced off the fabric covered tunnels, this golf ball sized hail took it’s toll on them! Family came to the rescue to help us clean up. Most all the fruit and many of the leaves from the fruit trees were on the ground. The large leaves of the squash and pumpkins were shredded and many stems were broken. Almost none of the above ground vegetables were spared. It all had to be composted.
In order to save the plants to hopefully get back in production we had to complete the slow process of pruning off the damaged parts of each plant, yet leave as much as possible so photosynthesis could still occur improving chances of recovery.
Tossing vegetables that were perfect in every way except a small dent was painful. You can’t have a hail dent sale like you can with a car. Any pit in a vegetable will cause it to quickly rot. We won’t sell anything that doesn’t meet quality specifications.
Luckily many of the crops did bounce back. The tomatoes and beans were remarkably spared due to placement and covers, and the root vegetable were obviously fine as they were underground. Squash and pumpkins did recover but took 2-3 weeks to come back to full production.The cucumbers, lettuce and celery were destroyed. Nothing could be done to save them. We did replant lettuce but since it was already August it was too late to recover the others.
Reality set in this year especially when reviewing the yield drop. All we can do is focus on additional fabric for next year as it was helpful, and cross fingers we do not have the same experience again.