Fresh Facts Week 21: What’s New In the New Year

By January 16, 2015Fresh Facts, Newsletter

Last week we started out talking about the value of that first kiss of frost for citrus, but we ended up ambling down some rabbit trails without ever covering some very import aspects of frost and cold as intended. At least I started with a plan, normally I just peck away ‘til we get to 550 words and hope it has some value to you all.

So as strange as it sounds, frost and cold; while potentially lethal, is a critically important component of farming. And that’s why I use the term “kiss of frost” when describing the good kind of cold.

Your root crops—carrots and beets for example—just don’t have the sweet wow until that first frost. The broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower get sweeter too. Funny how crops that grow in the cold get better when it’s cold, and when winter cold demands more from our bodies, that same cold triggers higher nutrition in your food; who’d’a thought?

What grows during a given season is also what our body craves during that season. Right now, it’s cold, your body’s saying: “Must have soup!” and here come all the soup crops.

Much as I’d like to send you a peach or strawberry, we really need the vitamin C and shazamm! Citrus.

Did you notice how sweet those navel oranges are btw? They’re the Fukumoto variety that are normally harvested in early November. Cliff lets ’em hang another couple months to add to your delight. And David’s cauliflower should win the flavor award somewhere; dynamite!

Here’s some other cool things about cold and frost. Frost helps control a bunch of the insect pests that bug us all summer. Kind of a reset button on their generations that give us a fighting chance to keep their numbers manageable come spring.

And of course, our stone fruit MUST have adequate chilling—called dormancy—if we’re to have viable flowers in another five weeks. Typically, adequate translates to around 700 hours below 45 degrees and surprisingly, that’s being met.

So what’s goin’ on down on the fruit farm Uncle Vern? Well, with mixed emotions, we just finished grafting two patches. One was the largest remaining block of heirloom Mariposa plums in North America (4 acres) that are now Festival Red; a larger, more aromatic, more productive and easier to handle red fleshed pluot.

Second graft job was replacing the donut peaches with one of the new French nectarines we’re calling Beach Baby, for the dramatic Coppertone girl tan line under a leaf—a very delicious August nectarine.

We planted the Donuts for your enjoyment, but they just didn’t ship well, and caused a ton of emails about fruit breaking down in the box for Blanca; oblah dee oblah dah. At some point, our brain needs to override our heart, but these two decisions took a couple years longer than they should have; sorry Blanca, sorry bottom line. Look for both of these grafted varieties in 2016, Lord willing.

We’ll be planting 2 other French varieties this week, so hopefully 2017, you’ll get some of them; the best tasting fruit I’ve ever enjoyed.

The men should finish pruning next week, and then help us with the chicken house remodeling project for a few weeks. More cooling for summer and heat for winter = happy organic chickens. Well, that’s 550.


Author Uncle Vern

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