It’s September 7th and it’s going to be 90 degrees today. Tonight temperatures are going to drop into the 20s. We are supposed to get 8 inches of snow with 30 mile an hour winds. Such is living on a farm 5280 miles high. Well, closer to 6000.
In preparation we are pulling over all the tunnel covers that are set up. For those that are not set up, like the fall squash patch, including pumpkins, we laid down loose cover fabric over the fruits held down with sand bags. For melons we added an additional layer of actual weed block which should be thick enough for protection.
Sensitive items like peppers and tomatoes will not make it through the storm. We pulled all the peppers, including the ones that aren’t ripe yet. Sweet peppers will continue to ripen indoors. Our special heirloom tomatoes are grown in garden boxes so we brought them inside to our processing room to weather the storm. We covered the short Roma tomatoes with protected fabric, but the large, indeterminant Juliet tomatoes would blow around too much in the wind so we cut them off at the base and hung them upside down from the rafters in our hay loft. Tomatoes also continue to ripen after pulled. Leaving the tomatoes on the plants lengthens their ability to ripen even more.
The last preparation involved pulling as much of the basil as possible to not only dry the leaves, but to also collect seed. Many of the plants had gone to seed so we did not want to lose any to the moisture.
There is no way to cover the Luffa wall so all we can do is wait and see what happens. We’ve read that a slight freeze on Luffa Squash loosens the skin so makes the Luffa easier to harvest.
Now we hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.
See our garden prep work on the farm’s YouTube Channel:
It worked! It’s almost Christmas and the beets are still being harvested in great condition! A little hay and a fabric cover hooped over the row of beets have kept them just the right temperature through multiple snow storms.
The cold snaps the root vegetables experienced under the covered hoop tunnels actually made them taste even better! The carrots were so sweet and even the beets had a brighter flavor. Also, the texture of the beets were not as hard as they usually are during the summer.
The extra beets were eventually pulled just before a multi-day near zero temperature spell. We did not want to potentially lose them to the freeze. Are finishing the harvest, the beets lasted in the fridge into February!
Since there were so many beets we tried our hand at pickled beets which is something my mother used to feed me when I was growing up. This too was successful.
2019 was the best year to date for successfully storing and preserving excess vegetables!
Now that the snow is gone we can progress again on the crops. This weekend we are laying irrigation. We haven’t purchased a hoe attachment for the Grillo yet so we purchased a rolling hoe tool to make the job easier and faster. Once the ditch was dug last year’s subsurface irrigation taped was re-laid in the bed. We invested money into good commercial grade irrigation tape so we could use it year over year. We used the Grillo’s power harrow to smooth the beds back out.
Just to confirm the tapes were still good we tested the irrigation by starting it up and making sure the water fully came through at the bottom of the row. Once we knew it was flowing, we folded and put ends on the base of the tapes. Then we turned the system on once again, leaving it run for 20 minutes, looking for moisture meeting the surface. Circular patterns appear on the top. If the pattern is interrupted there is a leak or blockage and the tape is removed to the garbage.
Over the last year we have created leaks in tapes, once by stabbing a last minute tomato stake in the ground when the plant started falling over and a few times digging carrots out of the carrot beds. We have yet to have a blockage.
Now that the irrigation is in and tested we can move to laying down fabric. Once again we will be reusing what we purchased last year, saving money. The only beds that we don’t lay down fabric is lettuce and root vegetables. The vegetation should be so thick it should prevent weeds from taking over.
We are really close to planting, but there is one more thing to put in. This will be the first time trying low tunnels in the spring to protect our plants. We installed hoops on the rows with the most concern, such as lettuce, and laid Agribon, a light protective fabric, over the hoops. The hoops were made from 1/2 EMT metal conduit pushed through a special bending frame to make hoops for this purpose. The fabric is tight up with Velcro straps until it’s needed. When it gets too cold or a storm is blowing through you just pull the Velcro ties off and pull the fabric down the sides of the rows. The ties make it a quick process for a last minute storm which are very common here.
Now we are ready to start planting!
Watch as we lay the irrigation and test it on the 5280 Artisan Farm YouTube Channel: