On June 12th, we experienced a hail storm that effected all of the fruit and veggies that weren't in our greenhouses or under mesh hoop houses. So, pretty much everything. We ended up needing to call on our organic farmer friends to fill out our CSA boxes this week instead of having a partial box or skipping a week. The organic community in the North Okanagan - Shuswap region is pretty tight knit and several farms offered up support when they heard of the hail damage here.
In the end, Wild Flight Farm in Mara, Fresh Valley Farms and Pilgrims' Produce (where I started farming 10 years ago!) in Armstrong provided the kale, lettuce mix, salad turnips, and rhubarb. Even though I was fully aware of the generous nature of the local organic community, this still deeply impacted me (read, tears of gratitude) to experience this mutual aid from friends and family.
Kat & Dan (with Little Liam) and Kathryn (Rob is missing) from Pilgrims' Produce.
Hah! The Matrix 'farm truck' does it again. Just got everything in there :-)
With strawberries just starting to ripen, we were stoked to include small baskets in each of our CSA boxes this week, as well as some rhubarb. The perfect combination for sour cream rhubarb cookies! Here is the recipe that I modified to match our sugar tolerance (which is so much lower than most recipes) and including strawberries:
Sour Cream Rhubarb Cookies (more of a breakfast biscuit, well, I'm not sure -- the texture is different, that's for sure)
(Modified from www.today.com)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla, making sure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and repeat until all the ingredients are combined. Stir in the rhubarb.
- Drop rough tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies start to brown and the tops of the cookies get a little color. Let cool slightly, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Let's start with the good news! Although it was overcast early in the week, we were able to rescue our carrots, get through weeding the newest salad greens, and quite a few of our onion beds (you can see kohlrabi at one end of them in the photo above). As the thunderstorm was rolling in on Friday afternoon, Amanda and I were able to weed the long greenhouse, prune and train tomatoes, and replace basil plants that were felled by cutworms (it's looking good in there!). Unfortunately....
The thunderstorm turned into a couple of minutes of marble-sized hail. It was intense! With a heaviness in my gut, I went out to survey the damage when the worst of it had passed. It was bad. It is bad. Buuut, plants are incredibly resilient, so most will recover -- they've just been set back a bit.
On my way back to the packing shed, I ran into Tristan just coming back from picking up our daughter from Grandpa Don's. Tristan was laughing. You can tell he grew up farming and these kinds of setbacks don't seem to phase him. I eventually came around to laugh with him, but, geesh, tomato transplant spaces shouldn't be brimming with hail pellets.
Update from June 19: The flattened brassicas above have bounced back for the most part. Tomatoes and zucchini also seem to be doing fine, however our greens are thrashed, wow. Our very gracious CSA members accepted beet greens and spinach that looked raggedy, however tasted as delicious as ever! It was the first box this week and what a memorable one it was.
Since our last blog, we've completed the transplanting into the greenhouses (supervised by Moonbeam, as you can see). Our short greenhouse has eggplant and cucumbers in it. The longer greenhouse has tomatoes, peppers, basil, and the leftover eggplants. Now we just need the heat units to see their growth.
The cauliflower and cabbage have also been covered with mesh (to prevent cabbage moth and cabbage worms), thanks to Amanda's patience in working out the prototype. We've been sitting on the mesh for two seasons, so it's exciting to see it up. Isn't it beautiful?
A life changer this season is the landscaping fabric that we're using for the long season crops, such as the brassicas, celeriac, and what's in our greenhouses. It is often these crops that get lost to the weeds as the season progresses, so we can rest a bit easier knowing we have these laid out and planted. We are grateful to our CSA members, and their early season subscriptions, that helped us to get the landscaping fabric this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Photo credit: Martín Bustamante