Winter Week 3 & 4—Damage Assessment

Savoy (wrinkly-leafed) spinach is much more winter-hardy than flat-leafed spinach.

Savoy (wrinkly-leafed) spinach is much more winter-hardy than flat-leafed spinach.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Sugar Pie Pumpkin
• Topless Carrots
• Topless Beets
• Cabbage or Brussels Sprouts Tops
• Leeks
• Romanesco Cauliflower
• Garlic
• “Viking Purple” Potatoes

NEXT WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Squash
• Topless Carrots
• Topless Turnips
• Cabbage
• Onions
• “Yukon Gold” Potatoes
• “D’Anjou” Pears from Cliffside Orchards
• Fresh Thyme

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Kohlrabi, Brussels Sprouts

First, we need to explain our Winter Holiday CSA Schedule:
The Tuesdays (November 18 and 25) are regular pickup days. Saturday/Sunday (November 22/23) are a two-week pickup, in which both weeks’ worth of produce will be picked up on one day. There is no CSA pickup the weekend of November November 29/30. This allows Teo to take Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday off to be with his family and relax. We will be at the markets Saturday and Sunday, but with a limited amount of produce.

 

So, to be clear, Regular pickup on Tuesdays, no pickup the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Frozen wind has a way of drying out plants that are supposed to be winter-hardy. Even the poor kale plants will need time and water to recover.

Frozen wind has a way of drying out plants that are supposed to be winter-hardy. Even the poor kale plants will need time and water to recover.

When we first heard about the “Polar Vortex” two weeks ago, we started watching weather reports religiously. I watched on the TV at the gym, I downloaded two more weather apps to my phone (for a total of FOUR) and checked them all every couple hours, comparing the predictions.

NONE of them hinted at what we got.

Our Swiss Chard plants survived the week of freezing temperatures, but the leaves are cooked. Hopefully, they will grow new leaves after the weather warms.

Our Swiss Chard plants survived the week of freezing temperatures, but the leaves are cooked. Hopefully, they will grow new leaves after the weather warms.

The average was that it was going to be very windy, and that we would be spared from the coldest arctic air, probably not dropping below 28° or so. Monday morning, we rose, ready to prevent nature from destroying all of our crops that had been flourishing in the extended Indian Summer/prolonged Fall warmth. We rolled out frost blankets on our remaining cauliflower patch of several thousand plants, covered the just-ready Radicchio planting, and the gamble of a fall Fennel crop. They would make it as long as it didn’t drop below 25°. That was our estimation. All of the winter squash, curing in the greenhouse got boxed up and put into the walk-in cooler.

We harvested the remaining cauliflower that wouldn’t make it. Harvested a few crops for CSA and markets. Things we were sure wouldn’t make it. And Monday night the wind DID roll in as predicted, gusting and making a mess for people everywhere through Tuesday. We survived the wind and the bit of chill.

We had hoped the Endive and Escarole would survive the cold, so we would keep enjoying winter salads, but the outside leaves are freeze-burned, even though the center leaves are just fine.

We had hoped the Endive and Escarole would survive the cold, so we would keep enjoying winter salads, but the outside leaves are freeze-burned, even though the center leaves are just fine.

We checked the temperature every night and every morning, and every time we walked past the little computery box receiver. We were feeling pretty confident Thursday, but it didn’t stop. Friday morning it was 17°. Saturday morning it was 19°. All my produce froze as I unloaded it at the U District market. Sunday warmed up a bit. Monday afternoon I checked for damage, and it was pretty sad.

Kale is durable, chard not quite so much. Even though all the plants survived, the leaves were frozen and desiccated by the two days of freezing wind. They will need water and time to pop back to life.

Although Romanesco Cauliflower has a flavor somewhere leaning toward broccoli, it grows like a cauliflower plant with a central head wrapped in leaves.

Although Romanesco Cauliflower has a flavor somewhere leaning toward broccoli, it grows like a cauliflower plant with a central head wrapped in leaves.

The good news is that we still have lots of food. Amazingly, the Romanesco Cauliflower survived with it’s frost blanket. We have lots of squash, onions, garlic, leeks, cabbages, roots, and radicchio. Of those things, the only leafy survivors are cabbages and radicchio—we all need to learn what to do with them for the next five weeks of our CSA. I’ll be updating the Cabbage page with more recipes, and I may just make a NEW page for Radicchio.

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One response to “Winter Week 3 & 4—Damage Assessment

  1. It was so early for the deep freeze! Thank you guys for managing to protect and salvage so much. It will still be a delicious Thanksgiving and winter CSA 🙂

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