Wednesday, December 1, 2010

4 degrees

Its always 4 degrees cooler here at the farm than anywhere else. I learned this last year during many mornings of head scratching over frost bitten vegetables when the temps were forecasted to be just above freezing. When you think the low might be 35 and its actually 31 the 4 degrees makes quite a difference. Our thermometer reads 19 right now and in Cushing according to wunderground its 23. 4 degrees difference. this absolutely confirms it for me!

The part of the farm that is used the most is a valley. Cool air always travels down which isn't bad in the summer and it isn't really bad at all I suppose if your aware of these things. This knowledge will help to decide what fruit if any to grow. It obviously needs to be somewhat frost tolerant. Blackberries seem to do well. Blueberries would be my choice, so a researching I go.

Growing this winter in the high tunnel has proved to be an absolute joy! now I don't want to speak too soon but it is a jungle in there and during the day when its 40 degrees out, its an ambient 74 inside. These 19 degree mornings do have me a bit on edge. When the temps fall below 32 I cover all of the rows inside of the hoop house with a frost protector. The vegetables still freeze but when they thaw they are fine and have no frost damaged tips. Certain vegetables though wont freeze, it can get really frigid and the cells of the plant are extremely tolerant. This is really amazing to me. However, frost is the enemy of all, it turns the tip of the leaves white and they shrivel and become unsellable. Also I have found watering before a really cold night builds up humidity, and for root crops can really make a difference in the leaves above ground staying beautiful, especially carrots.

Right now I'm growing in a high tunnel that is 14 ' X 60 I am absolutely amazed at the production I'm getting. I'll be planting in the second high tunnel come early February, just to give me a head start for the first farmers market in April. It's safe to say this is a lot of fun to me. The one warning I have for anyone who is considering growing like this is to have patience. The key is to over plant and thin, and as most know, thinning is a tedious process, but the thinnings are delectable morsels and make the best salads, braising mixes etc. I have spent an entire day harvesting on my knees which normally would have only taken me two hours in the field. But you have to make the most of your space and the money that you've put into the cost of the greenhouse, The high tunnel should pay for its self in two growing seasons at most.

I'm busy winterizing the rest of the farm, getting the tank heaters in place, putting up wind blocks and just generally trying to do whatever I can to reduce the drama this winter. Sadly no heat repair guy yesterday, the office says I'm on the schedule for today.

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