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The Things That Went Right When Something Went Wrong

Posted 4/5/2018 9:07am by David Zemelsky.

There is a tendency for people in my position to paint a rosy picture about how everything is going so well on the farm that one just can't believe it.  In my humble opinion, as I start my 20th year of farming, if someone is trying to convince you of that-be skeptical.  The truth is, that things do sometimes go well and likewise maybe not so good.  We had a setback this year in our growing process, but we're past it now.  It bears no resemblance in magnitude to when the greenhouses caved in.(How did we ever get past that one?).  This one has to do with tomatoes (and a few peppers).

We started our first group of tomatoes on January 9th, in our basement under grow lights.  They did a great job of germinating and an even better job of growing.  After 8 days, we take them off their heat mats (the heat mats warm the soil and help the seeds germinate so much faster) and let them enjoy the artificial light.  When they got too big for the shelves, I was faced with a problem to solve.  Normally, we'll take them outside to  the nursery and let them enjoy natural light until late March, when they'll get planted directly in the one hoop house that has a furnace in it.  However, the little furnace that we use in the nursery had failed to measure up.  Because of end of winter budget restraints, a new furnace was not in the cards.  I then hit on the idea of asking a nearby fellow farmer if I could "borrow" some space from them.  This farmer was very agreeable, especially when I told him that I'd babysit his nursery while he went  away for a week.  So far, so good.  This particular nursery has a temperature sensor that will telephone the farmer on his cell phone, no matter where he is.  In this case, that would be California.  So, around 1:30AM, the vacationing farmer called me up and said that the sensor has phoned him-low temperature.  Ok, an adventure- I can do this.  I got dressed, got my flashlight and drove over to troubleshoot the problem.  I won't bore you with the details of what we collectively tried to do to fix the problem.  Whatever we tried, it didn't help.  So Plan B was to fire up his auxiliary heater. Problem solved temporarily.  During the day, the furnace repair man came over and gave the furnace a clean bill of health after looking at it.  That night-same scenario.  Low temperature reading.  MayDay! So over I went.  Etc. Etc.  And gave the auxiliary heater another go.  Problem solved again.  In the morning, more stuff was tried and another bill of good furnace health was issued.  I went to bed that night with trepidation.  However, no phone calls.  In the morning, as I approached the greenhouse, there was something erie going on-too quiet, especially considering how cold it felt on that day (March 10).  My feelings proved correct because when I opened the greenhouse door, I could tell that it was too cold.  My glorious plants had been frosted.  I swore, but that apparently did no good.  But here's where the story gets interesting (in case, it wasn't so far)- I decided that there was still hope for these plants.  True, many leaves and the top growth was done in.  But from past tomato plant frostings (yes, there've been others), I observed that new growth can happen.  The actual stem probably didn't freeze, just the leaves.  I continued to care for the vacationing farmer's plants and mine as well.  By the time he returned, I told him to keep watering them, that things would work out.

I've been over there several times since then, and saw after about 4 days-new growth.  The plants have lost most of its lower leaves, but there is now new growth.  They live!  Probably, this mishap has set the plants back by 2-3 weeks, but still-who cares?  I'm just glad for life.

Where you see lush, healthy looking growth at the top of the plant-that's all new growth.  This picture saids to me that this tomato plant will be ok. The damage is clearly visible, too.  Where it look brown and withered- that's where the frost nailed it.

To finish this story, I'll need to thank Joel, who got it in his head for some reason that these tomatoes had to be planted all today. And they now are!

Still room and time to sign up for the CSA.  This is probably the most cost effective way to get great food at a substantial savings.

Shed News: Order by 8AM Friday and pick up in shed at 54 Fowler Ave. after 2pm.  Checks ok.  Bring a light if you come after dark. Self service.

Special on Spinach!  A regular bag is $6.  For $3 more, we'll give you at least twice as much, maybe more.  This would be a real stuffed bag.  These are really happy plants, making tasty, sweet spinach for soups, salad and stir fries.(The three "s")

Salad Greens- with spinach,shocking red lettuce, kale, claytonia $6/bag

Claytonia-its still the height of the season.  I've already seen signs that there is an end, but not yet.  My current estimate is that we'll make it through the end of the month.  After that-we'll see.  $6/bag. Unique taste, look and texture.  You might want to try this one.

French Fingerling Potatoes- white, tender flesh.  Great for hash browns, soup, or roasted $4/lb

From Farmer Peter:

Famous Northfordy Tomato Sauce $10/jar

Sun-dried tomatoes $5/package

Bay Leaves $4/package

Red Raspberry low sugar Jam- $8/jar.  This is something to consider seriously