Coldest winter ever?

It’s hard to not write about the weather – this season has just been extraordinarily cold. We’ve discussed how the cold weather affects crops – sweeter greens and sweeter root crops. We’ve talked about how cold weather is beneficial for breaking up pest and weed cycles. I don’t think we’ve written about the work involved in protecting the farm. 

Little Pond Celery – the best celery you’ll ever eat.

On our farm, we mostly utilize frost cloth to protect the fields. The frost cloths are large and heavy woven blankets (made from a similar material to diapers) that can cover large rows. Each time we have a frost event, it isn’t abnormal for the whole farm crew to work together to complete the task. It can take anywhere from half of a day or an entire day getting the frost cloth secured over mini hoops by shoveling dirt onto the edges of the fabric. It’s important to get the fabric tight and secure (because cold fronts often blow in with lots of wind), and adjust the cloth just-so to float right over the plants and not actually touch the foliage. If we are having several cold nights (like this week) we can leave the cloth over the rows for days at a time.


We also utilize heat in our greenhouses to keep our more sensitive crops warm. If the temperature drops below freezing, we have to light our greenhouse heaters by hand. The heaters can raise the temperatures inside the greenhouses by as much as 20 degrees. This is an expensive way to protect crops, so we generally just try to keep air temps enough above freezing to not have to worry about waking up to frozen plants. In the past, this has been a job only Ellen and I (Cole writing) have done. Late in the evening or even in the middle of the night (on those nights where we’ve forecasted wrong and our temperature sensor alarms go off) we’d make our way out to all the tunnels to light the heaters.

This year the heater shifts have been shared among the farm crew – spreading the load and relieving Ellen and me of those late-night duties, for now, as we prepare to welcome our new addition.

Farming in our part of Florida – where so much is ripe and in season all the time – means these frosts and cold winters have to be navigated with lots of care to ensure continued bountiful harvests.

It’s worth it!

Ellen and Cole

Carrots pushing up through the soil
Tulips will be ready in time for Valentine’s Day

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