If you think September was hot, you should have tried getting through it as a plant. For Scott Klehr, at Villa Klehr Farms in Elgin (and his greens), this summer was the hottest he can ever remember. “For plants, it’s not so much about the air temperature – the soil temperature is much more critical because that’s where the roots are.” And when there are long stretches of hot temperatures without cool nights, the soil never has a chance to cool off. What does this mean for plants like leafy greens and other fall crops? “It means that no matter how much we water, the plants just can’t get cooled down. For any that are already growing, they taste bitter because the sugars can’t develop. For seeds in the ground, it means they won’t germinate. We’re starting to see some cooler temps now, but it’s going to delay production by a couple of weeks.”
For locavores, that means leaning on hot weather stalwarts like peppers, eggplant, and okra a little longer. Greenhouse-grown crops like lettuce and mushrooms provide cool, fresh alternatives, and baby greens are making an appearance. We’re all doing what we can to mitigate climate change, and one of the most important things you can do as a consumer you’re already doing – supporting our local growers through weather extremes. When you adjust your cooking and eating habits, you’re doing real work to strengthen local agriculture and build systems that support sustainable practices. Scott knows it, we know it, and Mother Earth knows it, and we all thank you.
Contributed by Elizabeth Winslow | Co-founder, Farmhouse Delivery
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