Extreme Weather and Vegetables

A giant wind blew across our bed at 5 am and a wind tunnel enveloped the upper story of our house for the next half hour. I initially thought it was just a front which would quickly pass over and I could go back to bed, but as the intensity increased, I knew I’d have to move and move quickly. Any passerby at the time could have caught the sight of me streaking across our yard at a breakneck speed to drop the roll-up sides of the greenhouse. You see, a hard and sustained wind like that would turn that open greenhouse into a 100-foot airplane wing, which, if I were lazy and stayed in my room, I could have watched take off into the neighbor’s field like Mary Poppins leaving a party.

In my line of work, I always hear about weather, and one of the common stories I’ve heard this week and I’ve told myself is how the weather has changed.  I’m 40 years old and I distinctly remember hail being a very rare occasion – maybe once every 2-3 years. Neighbors with more life under their belt than me always talk about a time when rain came slowly. A gentle rain would give the earth its 1 to 2 inches of precip over 8 – 24 hours. Instead, each time we receive and inch of rain as of late, it drops out of the sky in 40 mintues or comes with a 40-mph wind. This was the case the evening of the 4th of July. Violent winds coupled with hail and a downpour of rain – the level of downpour I imagine one would find in the rainforest. 
This change in the weather has a signficant impact on agriculture. Although this effects all forms of ag, I think it has an acute impact on commercial vegetable production.  Certaily my friends growing corn and soybeans have issues with extreme weather and it can certainly affect their yield, but, at the end of the season, these tough crops almost always produce something to fill the contract. I’ve seen field corn laid flat on the ground in July which produced a decent crop by October. Hailed-on lettuce or ripped greens, on the other hand, don’t pass muster with a customers and just don’t get sold. Vegetable crops are delicate and fickle. In the big picture, they were bred to grow under very specific conditions and as our climate changes, I have to wonder what the future will look like in the long run. 
In the box: 
  • ‘Farao’ Green Cabbage: See recipe below  
  • ‘Imperial’ Broccoli
  • Flat-leaf Parsley
  • Spinach: You’ll see evidence of the hail 
  • Romaine Lettuce: Not the prettiest lettuce I’ve grown…looking good until the big storm this week. 
  • Bunch of Beets
  • Green or Fresh Garlic: Garlic with the stalk still on. You can use right now (it’s a bit more pungent when fresh), or simply leave out in a dry, sunny location to cure it over the next 10 days for longer storage. 
  • Zucchini
Dave’s Mom’s Best Slaw

6.5 cups of coursely chopped cabbage, loosely packed
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup prepared mayo
1/4 cup sugar 
2.5 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup evaporated milk 
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or scallions (optional)
Working in batches, fill a blender to the top with chopped cabbage and add cool water until 3/4 full. Whirl on low speed for about 4 seconds, just until the cabbage is evenly chopped – but not too fine – and transfer to a colander. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage. 
Place the carrot chunks in the blender and cover them with cool water. Whirl for about 8 seconds. Drain the carrots very well. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sugar, vinegar, salt, and evaporated milk and set aside. 
In a serving bowl, mix together the well-drained cabbage, carrots, and parsley. Toss with the dressing and add more sugar, vinegar, and/or salt to taste. If you like, serve with chives or scallions. Tightly covered and refrigerated, this slaw will keep for a week. 

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