I thought 2020 was a tough year at the farm but so far 2021 has been much more difficult here! Between the very cold, wet spring and a nationwide labor shortage, we have had a hard time during our busy spring planting season. We are short staffed and only have about 75% of the crew that we need. And the farm crew has only been working 2-3 days per week because of all the rain.
Fortunately, Wyatt and the farm crew were able to get a lot of the cool season crops planted in March and early April. But many of those crops are several weeks behind because it’s been so cold and cloudy. They put in thousands of lettuce plants that should be ready now but won’t be ready for a few more weeks. The same is true for bok choi, napa cabbage, turnips, radishes, chard, kale, and collards. We have a lot of spinach planted, but spinach is sensitive to being over-watered and many of our spinach plants have turned yellow.
The very wet spring will have an impact in July and we might be low on crops to harvest then. We plant a lot of crops in late April and early May that are usually ready in July. It is too hot for greens like lettuce and spinach in July so we count on other crops that can take the summer heat. Wyatt says we had 2,000 cabbage plants and 3,000 broccoli and cauliflower plants in our greenhouse that we had to put in the compost pile. Our fields have to be dry enough to prepare the soil and plant the transplants. We couldn’t do that with all the rain and mud. By mid-May all the cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower starts in our greenhouse had gotten too big for their pots and were unusable. If we were to start new plants in our greenhouse now, they wouldn’t be ready until August.
There is some good news for the crops in our fields, though. We use greenhouses and caterpillar tunnels to get some summer crops started early. We have over 1,000 tomato plants that are already flowering and should give us tomatoes sometime in July. We also have 400 zucchini plants in the tunnels that are already flowering. And we were able to get in a planting of green beans and two plantings of sweet corn that will be ready mid-summer.
On Monday I thought I might have to also report that our farm was flattened by a hail storm! Fortunately, we did not get any hail (only a ton of rain) at our farm on 63rd Street. We did get some hail at our farm on Valmont Road and the plants suffered some damage, but Wyatt thinks it’s not enough damage to kill the plants and that they will mostly recover.
Wow that feels like a lot! This is why we count so much on you, our CSA members! I know that we will almost certainly be able to pull out of this and have a good summer with plenty of crops to harvest. In 18 seasons of farming we’ve always made it through weather disasters–including the 2013 flood. Thank you so much and we look forward to seeing all of you in the next few weeks as our CSA pickups get started!