The Big Freeze of 2013

It’s been a rough week since I wrote wondering “how cold is it going to get”.  The first day of the “cold snap” it was actually much colder in the Bay Area than it was at Terra Firma.  We caught up on Friday though, with a low temperatures of 18 degrees. And although it “warmed up” over the weekend, nothing really thawed out until Monday afternoon.  On Tuesday morning the mercury dropped back to 22 degrees.  This morning it was a balmy 25.  Generally speaking, anything under 27 is “too cold” for many of our winter crops.

Ice in our cabbage field at 2 in the afternoon

We got plenty of warning from the National Weather Service about this freeze, and we took advantage of it to harvest as many potentially susceptible crops as we could.  We have many tons of mandarin and navel oranges in the cooler as well plenty of cabbage — these are all crops that will store well for over a month.

And of course we still have our other storage crops:  nuts, apples and asian pears, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

Carrots and leeks are relatively impervious to the cold, although we have to wait for the ground to thaw out to harvest them (the ground rarely freezes here).  Beet roots, too, but the greens are ruined so you won’t see bunched beets until new leaves grow.

The spinach in your boxes today came through the cold with flying colors.  On the other hand, much of the kale was damaged by the freeze.  The Red Russian, which is in your boxes today, seems to have handled it okay due to its Siberian heritage.

The biggest loser award in the freeze of 2013 is a tie, awarded to our broccoli and cauliflower fields.  We will also likely have significant losses in our later-ripening citrus, which was not ready to harvest yet.

We will do our best to keep your boxes as full and diverse as possible through the winter.  A lot will depend, as usual, on the weather. It’s supposed to get quite warm next week, which might help some crops recover and ripen later plantings of others.

We appreciate your understanding and continued support as we try to cope with the extent of this event, which is a natural disaster for us and everyone else in California growing winter crops.

Meanwhile, we remain extremely concerned about the lack of rainfall.  Last week’s rain wasn’t even close to closing the gap, and with no more rain forecast through Christmas, 2013 is almost certain to be the driest year in recorded Northern California history.

Thanks,

Pablito

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