Early Snow Storm Preparation

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:

Yet Another Hailstorm

I spend 4 hours this morning finally planting tomatoes and peppers. Then I replanted new transplants for the plants we just lost in a terrible hailstorm. This included cucumbers, pumpkins, basil, okra, squash and a first planting of sunflowers.

I was pretty sore from all the extra work trying to recover from the hailstorm so decided to get a massage. The first 45 minutes was very relaxing when suddenly there was a roaring noise that distracted my masseuse. She said “do you here that?” I said yes. She asked “Do you think that’s rain?” I knew immediately we were in a hailstorm. NOT AGAIN! I completely lost all the relaxation I had achieved.

I got home and assessed the damage. There was about the same amount of damage as the last storm but to add insult to injury it was the new replantings that took the brunt of it. Luckily I grew extra transplants this second time around so was able to plant again. The only exception is the pumpkins. I need start them all over again!

More severe thunderstorms are projected this week but we have to continue replanting as they come. If we don’t we could lose the whole season. Wish us luck!

Hail Storm Disaster

Green Beans quickly recovered due to fabric protection

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.

Squash took a beating but beets on the right maintained most leaves

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!

Pear tree stripped of much of the fruit and leaves.

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.

Cucumbers could not be saved but broccoli leaves protected the plant base of the broccoli

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.

Butternut squash lost most of their leaves and every squash was dented

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.

Fast hitting rain and hail rushed down the rows. Hail shrunk to pea size after 2 hours from the large golf ball size that fell.