Heartbreak in Highlands Ranch

Yesterday evening brought heartbreak in the form of golf ball and baseball size hail to our little farm plots. This morning I went out early to survey all the damage and it was complete devastation. Here are a few images to help bring home what happened.

The one to the left is the hail pummeling the artichokes, apple tree, and other such edible plants in my front yard that I use for the CSA shares.

The most heartbreaking of the front yard devastation has to be the blackberry bushes. You can't tell but to the left of the tree there are two younger bushes. Here's what my two bigger bushes now look like (they had blackberries that would have been ripe in about two weeks). Those sticks are all that are left :-(. They should grow back, but no blackberries this year. Then I turned my attention to the other plots and discovered that what were once exciting places to visit, full of potential had now become sites of nubs and general sadness.

The 60 tomato plants we planted Thursday and 30 pepper plants we planted Sunday morning are now no more. Luckily I did have some that we ran out of time to plant so I can replace some from my heirloom seed starts, but the rest will have to be replaced with other plants.

The weather can be such an unpredictable and challenging force when it comes to farming. I was outside securing a gate because of the wind when the hail suddenly began pelting me. At first I thought it was kind of cool as my kids and I watched through an open door.

I quickly realized that it wasn't stopping any time soon and started to brace myself for what I would see.

Through the 30 minute onslaught, I watched helplessly as the beautifully green and lush romaine lettuce that was to grace this week's share become nothing but leaf spines staring back at me.

My eyes progressed down the row to where the collards, kohlrabi, and turnips should be. All that remained was naked leaf spines that just looked sad. You can see them for yourself in the image to the left. The new pea sprouts were torn up as well. I hope that the peas will bounce back, or at least some of them. The next few days will reveal what will grow back and what will not. I couldn't find any of the 20 cucumber plants that had just been transplanted.

When my daughter and I went to visit the location that nurtured 30 cauliflower plants, 18 broccoli, 25 melon, 9 celery, 18 spinach, 40 beans, 18 red cabbage and my son's cabbage (school project) we both just wanted to cry. The greens mix should bounce back. The radishes are fine, but need to be harvested this week because the hail uncovered them. You can see the devastation of those plants in the images below. If you look closely, you can even see the craters the hail left in the ground.

There was still one plot left to visit and we were not excited to see what had become of the zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, chard, German flat leaf kale, and remaining broccoli. The picture was a grim one.

There was nothing left. Everything looked like naked, malnourished fingers reaching out of the dirt.

I couldn't even find the squash plants. There is a silver lining I suppose...the weeds faired just as well as the veggies.

It will be like starting over and will take many hours and many hands to plant all the replacements that were purchased this morning. Any help is welcomed! We WILL bounce back from this weather crisis. Thank you to all of you who support local agriculture and have encouraged and shared the heart break with us. You are the community that makes Community Supported Agriculture possible! Thank you!

Happy Planting!

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