From the Fields: Winter Wears White
This post written by our resident Farm Steward, Emily Thomson.
As this is being written, we are bracing for a heavy wallop of snow from the first major arctic storm to cross western Washington. Some of us living at higher elevations have already been snowbound for a couple of days; thank goodness for the internet which, barring a power outage, enables us to work remotely. The first wave of winter weather last weekend did little to compromise operations at the farm, although some of our greens seem to have sustained a bit of cold damage. Usually they recover after a week or so of warmer weather which enables metabolic processes to resume.
Snow can be a good thing for the plants when temperatures dip; largely comprised of air, it acts as an insulator against freezing. It’s remarkable how much cold our crops, mostly of the brassica family, can take. As plants produce sugars through photosynthesis, most are combined and stored in the plant as starches and other compounds. But in response to cold temperatures, many plants break down some of their energy stores into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, and stash them in their cells to guard against frost damage. It’s wonderful for us. Not only does this process keep the plants hardy, but they taste sweeter too—if we can just get out there to harvest!
Not to worry for long: likely by the time you read this, a warmer wetter system will have established itself, bringing rain and melting all the snow so that it seemed like just a pretty dream. Still, things are quiet. We’re in the middle of the winter doldrums now, and the weeks seem to blend together without much news, or so it seems to us. What would you, our members, like most to hear about? We would love your feedback!