Monday, October 22, 2012

A Visit from Jack Frost

The frost date in Philadelphia is around Halloween. Last year if you recall, we not only got a frost then, but a few inches of snow! Last Friday there were rumors of a frost in the forecast, so during the day I checked a few different weather reports. One said low of 37, one said low of 33. I thought, “Two weeks before our frost date? If we do get a frost, certainly it will be very light, if at all.” I surveyed the field and noted that many of the most cold-sensitive vegetables were at the top of the hill, and therefore more protected from the sinking cold air. I went to a friend’s party that evening with a handful of farming friends and we spent most of the evening comparing weather reports and our own personal predictions about the frost. Like many of you, I’m sure, I woke up Saturday morning to frost on car windows. The Vermonter in me was excited; the farmer in me felt my heart sink. A frost marks the coming of winter which brings a sense of relief after a long hard season. A frost also marks the death of certain crops which can be stressful when there are still three more weeks of CSA shares to fill. When I arrived at the farm on Saturday to inventory, I realized there was no denying we certainly got a frost, and a hard one at that! It is amazing to see the transformation of some (but not all) plants under 32 degrees. Our basil, beans, peppers and Swiss Chard were hardest hit.  The chard might bounce back, there are some salvageable peppers and beans, the basil looks like it was torched! The silver lining is that some crops improve with a frost, in that they taste sweater. This is true for sweet potatoes, kale, parsnips and carrots.

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