After giving us less than an inch of rain in three months, Mother Nature decided to play catch up Sunday. We got more than inch of precipitation, most of it in just one hour, accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning. The storm put on quite a show, right up until the finale Monday morning.
A nice end of March storm complete with a rainbow, how nice, right? Just after I took this picture, I got a phone call from the people just arriving to harvest baby spinach and arugula: “Please come immediately, all the leaves are torn to pieces”
Mother Nature to Terra Firma: “April Fool’s!”
As I’ve sure I’ve mentioned before: we like rain. But we like it much better in January and February than in March and especially April and May. There are lots of reasons why this is true, but the Easter Sunday 2013 storm illustrated one of the biggest: Hail.
Despite its icy texture, hail most often occurs when it’s warm near the ground, during thunderstorms — which usually happen here only in the springtime. Since we don’t get many thunderstorms, we don’t often get much hail. Which is just fine with us and all the other farmers in our area. There’s nothing good about hail — it is a horribly destructive natural phenomena. In this case, the heavy rain flattened the delicate leaves of baby arugula, spinach, lettuce and radishes against the soil and then the hail finished them off. Any leaves that were not actually torn were too bruised to harvest. We had three beautiful plantings of salad greens in one field, and they are all severely damaged now: these greens would have gone into your boxes for most of the next month. They are (were) a critical component of our spring CSA offering, representing many thousands of dollars of income for our farm and employment hours for our crew.
The hail didn’t just damage greens. In the peach and nectarine orchard right now door, it dented, bruised and ripped open pistachio-sized fruit. (Luckily many of the peach varieties were still too small to be damaged.) And in the tomato field nearby, the hailstones shredded the leaves of the young plants and snapped many of them in two.
Depending on how badly damaged they are, many of the plants should recover and produce fruit. The one on the left in the picture above, probably not. The damaged nectarines and peaches will most likely rot and fall off the tree.
Because we grow so many different crops, the effects of a one-day disaster like this hailstorm are limited: peas, onions and beets growing in the same field were relatively unscathed. As was the mature spinach that we bunched for your boxes. Our geographic diversification also helped — we have half a dozen small fields scattered over a 5 mile radius and the hail missed many of them including another tomato field and peach field. Our strawberry patch was also spared.
We will do our best to keep your boxes full of produce through the month of April, but we ask for your patience and understanding about the absence of the fresh leafy greens that are normally a core component of your boxes.