The first part of this post was written on Wednesday, July 1st. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, there was significant concern regarding plant health. In fact, it was suggested that we plow over some of the damaged plants and start afresh. Instead, as we are not a for-profit business (but instead a unique education facility. Also, a farm), we can experiment with the regrowth of the plants. Part two chronicles this a week later, some plants came out better than others. The second part of this post was written on Monday, July 6th.
Part One: The storm strikes, damage report
On this past Tuesday, a severe storm and tornado warning reached the Lehigh Valley. Hail was a contributor and strong winds and torrential rainfall toppled many plants and supports. Indeed, Forks Township (next-door to the Farm) was particularly hard hit with fallen power lines. It is unsurprising our farm saw damage as well. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported in the heavily-impacted towns to the immediate north and west of our location.
Straight-line winds (indication of a microburst, and that no tornadoes touched down) is the monster of the day. The wind topped out at an estimated 80 mph in nearby Whitehall Township and approached those speeds at the farm.
Here’s a general rundown of the damage to the farm:
These onions will see an early harvest and a reduction in overall yield. Having been started back in February and carefully weeded the day before, it was disheartening to see the hard work ruined. “I’m not crying because of the onions, I’m crying because of the onions.”
2-4) Corn, Peas, and Potatoes.
The corn is in an awkward spot, being completely sideways. The last few weeks of anticipated peas were unable to be harvested. The potatoes are also questionable.
Even the chain sculpture (pictured right) was dragged several feet by the wind.
Now, last post, I indicated that I would be having less serious posts for the blog (also cabbages), but this storm is a serious issue for the farm. Beyond the damage to our own farm, there are implications for our food loop and community and discussions on the larger picture. Joe will be getting into that on the other side of the blog.
Part Two: A Week(ish) later:
The onions, as I indicated, will see an early harvest. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the peas were chopped down and mowed over. Most of the potatoes will recover, but the one’s we deemed unlikely to survive were harvested and served at a 4th of July Picnic. The corn, fortunately, popped right back up. All in all, many of our root vegetables (garlic, onions, potatoes) saw an early harvest, while our other plants (such as tomatoes, summer squash, asparagus) is likely to hold on well*.
*Many of the tomato plants (and peppers, eggplant, and other fruits) will see a delayed harvest. The unripe fruits were cut from the plants to have the plant grow more leaves and stems, instead of investing the nutrients into the fruits.
Plague Tracker 4/10
Flies: Large numbers of Colorado potato beetles and Japanese beetles consume our plants
Locusts: Or their grasshopper cousins, anyway.
Thunderstorm and Hail: See above
Blight: Fortunately not on us, but the tomatoes suffer.