The first four months of 2012 saw a distinct break with trends established during the previous eight quarters (2 years), as meteorological conditions shifted away from persistent cold low pressure systems that had dramatically impacted the farm’s production. In their place, unseasonal high pressure allowed an unusually high level of planting activity.
Nonetheless, daily production of vegetables during that time reflected problems experienced during the last quarter of 2011, including insect infestations and extreme cold weather. Analysts are now referring to this as “The Hangover”…
Well, you get the point anyway. Here’s the simplified version: we had a rough winter at TFF, but it appears to be pretty well over. While it’s never a good idea to make predictions too far out in agriculture, I can tell you this: we are in much better shape this May 1st than we were last May 1st.
At this point in time, we are basically caught up on planting. When the rain in late March showed up, we were already ahead of schedule with planting and pre-planting preparation due to the dry weather in January and February. And even during the wet period this year, the sun came out between the storms and we were able to keep planting. More importantly, the seeds we planted sprouted and the starts we transplanted grew. Last many many crops were either stunted by the weather or simply rotted in the ground.
Another big difference is our strawberry field, which is healthy and loaded with fruit. Our 2011 berry patch was a disaster due not just to the cold, wet weather but also because we were unable to get the right varieties of plants for our area. We have had bad strawberry years in the past as well as bad tomato years, but last year was the first time we had both.
We won’t know for several months how 2012 will treat our tomato crop — the weather just before they ripen can make or break the year. The plants didn’t grow much for the first month after we planted them and we are not expecting an early harvest this year. But they are growing now and they are happier and healthier than last year’s plants, which had disease problems due to the weather.
But the biggest difference between this year and last year is in our Peach orchards. Last year, near constant rain during the bloom essentially destroyed most of our crop. This year we have a heavy crop on all the trees, so much so that we have been removing the excess fruit to ensure that we don’t break branches once the peaches start ripening.
You may also remember that we experienced a very late frost in 2011 that wiped out much of our table grape crop. The grapes are still setting fruit now so we’re still not sure, but they are in much better shape than last year.
So it’s safe to say that here at Terra Firma, our leanest time of year is now over, and we have an abundance of spring crops growing to fill your boxes until summer arrives. Enjoy.
In Your Boxes
We’ve bumped up the amount of Strawberries in the Medium and Large boxes this week. If you still want more berries, beginning next week you can get six baskets (half a flat) for $12 delivered with your box. Small boxers who just want a second basket every week should upsize their subscription to a Medium box for the duration of strawberry season. (Although we may occasionally add a second basket to the Small boxes).
Medium and Large boxes are both getting two kinds of peas this week so I will repeat the process for determining which is which. Take a pea out of one bag and try to break it in half with your fingers. Snap Peas will crack in half easily and cleanly — both peas and pods are edible. Shelling Peas will not — the skin of the pods is leathery and tough and only the peas inside should be eaten.
We have a new planting of Carrots ready for you, and is the case whenever we are digging them fresh for you, they have their tops attached. We do this mostly for ease of harvest and washing — while the tops are technically edible, they are usually discarded.
Asparagus fans who get a Small or Medium box will notice that today is the first time in over a month that there are no spears in your box this week. With a myriad of other items coming out of our fields now, you will be seeing asparagus less frequently between now and the end of the season in a month or so. Large boxes will continue to get a bunch every week for a few more weeks.
Spring produce disclaimer: Strawberries, peas, salad greens and other spring vegetables are generally lighter and higher value than winter and summer produce. For the next two months, your box may feel lacking in a volume as a result. The total value inside, however, is equal to (if not greater) the boxes at other times of year.