Farmer John Writes: Cold Spring

 In Farm News

Delivery Delay Due to Late Frosts

I realize that you might be reading this during a heat wave; however, due to extremely cold weather for much of this spring, we need to delay the beginning of CSA share deliveries by two weeks. I alluded to this inclement weather and my uncertainty about the delivery start date in a recent issue of Farm News, Roundup and the Snap of the Shank.

The first delivery week will be the week starting on Sunday, June 27th. If you are signed up for a bi-weekly (every-other-week) share, your first delivery week may be the week starting on Sunday, July 4th.

Shareholders, please see your updated 2021 delivery schedule by logging in to your membership account here:

potatoes on a cold May morning

The cold this spring has impacted us in two significant ways:

  • The unusually cold weather has slowed down the maturity of the frost hardy crops which we have planted, such as scallions, radishes, turnips, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, chard, cabbage, etc.
  • We had to delay planting the frost sensitive crops, such as peppers, basil, cucumbers, melons and summer squash, by more than 3 weeks. We usually plant these crops between May 5th and mid-May. We are just now planting these crops, due to frequent frosts up until now which would have decimated these crops, even if they were protected by row cover.

An Example of the Cold Weather Late this May

We transplanted all of our tomatoes in mid-May. In the last week of May, my frosty car window was testimony to a very cold morning. 

Fortunately, I suspected this frost might occur, even though no frost was forecast. So, the day prior to the frost, we covered almost all of our tomatoes. Covering the tomatoes requires a lot of row cover and a lot of labor, but I did not want to risk losing our tomato crop. Row cover will keep the crop a few degrees warmer, and in this case, those few degrees of warmth made all the difference.

this tomato plant was one of the few that was not covered

this tomato plant was one of the many that were covered for the frost

Imagine if we had not safeguarded the tomato crop.


The basil, peppers, and cucumbers, if they had been in the ground before that frost, would likely have been very damaged and perhaps completely lost, even if they had been covered, because they are more sensitive to cold temperatures than tomatoes.

basil protected from frost in our farm shop, late May

Busy Catching Up

Now the threat of frost has abated and we are hastily transplanting. It is a tremendous job to catch up on this delayed transplanting, and all this transplanting work cannot overlap the beginning of the harvest season, or the work would become too chaotic.

transplanting equipment awaits a busy day

I don’t like delaying the start of the season, because it means the season will run two weeks further into cold weather at the end of the season. However, I am delaying it, because we live by what the weather deals us.

Interesting that other delayed starts of the season have typically been due to excessive rains. This season is one of the driest springs I remember, which normally would allow us to get the crops planted in a timely way. Although rain has been sparse, cold has been very plentiful.

We’ll have lovely crops for you soon.

Warmly (in spite of the cold weather),
Farmer John

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Showing 8 comments
  • Julia

    We always look forward to the frost kissed brassicas, so don’t mind the season starting later at all. I’m just sorry it’s more work and worry for you and the crew.

    • Farmer John

      Thinking now about worry. I think farmers always worry.

  • Jim Brady

    Thanks for the update. Keep up the good work.

  • Ruth

    Appreciate knowing this. Thank you for all your efforts!

  • Kate Phillips

    This delay is not a hardship for us at all. Thank you for all you do for us.

  • Gerald O'Keeffe

    Thanks for the nice update. It’s a good explanation and helps me understand what is happening “on the ground”!

  • Mark

    It’s June 4. I’ve just read your March & May newsletters before reading this first June update. You and your family are in our heart of prayer as you mourn your sister’s death. You wrote about being in touch with the earth and it’s cycles (my words not yours). I imagine working the farm and earth informs your sense of your sister’s life and death.

    Thank you for the updates on the farm happenings over the winter. We have a bit of a water drainage issue at our house so I found the greenhouse update very informative. Loved the new carpentry shop and blacksmith space. So organized.

    We patiently await the first delivery grateful for the care you and your team take.

    Blessings, Mark

    • Farmer John

      Thank you for your kind, insightful words, Mark, and thank you for taking an interest in the workings of the farm.

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