28 May Spring Update
We are due to give farm update so here goes. Whew, what a challenging spring! This has been one for the records and not in a good way. The rains just keep coming, deluge after deluge. Every little window of opportunity we have to plant, or till fields, we take. But the opportunities have been few and far between. Many of the crops that we were able to get in the ground in early spring washed away or drowned in the heavy rains- direct seeded crops like arugula, broccoli raab, spring turnips and radishes.
About a quarter of our new potatoes rotted in the ground, but we had some extra seed we were able to plunk in. (It will make harvest a bit of a challenge as the plants within the rows will be at different stages of development. No more blindly harvesting the whole bed.)
New potatoes pictured above- you can see all the spots where the potatoes rotted and we had to plug in new seed. We are seeing lots of plants experiencing water stress. And since we have had a lack of sun and heat, those that are still alive, crops that we typically would be harvesting by now like the kale and chard, are just kind of sitting there, not doing much growing. We have a whole field of Tuscan kale that looks small, pale and stunted, surrounded by weeds. The weeds somehow thrive, and continue to grow. But its too wet for us to cultivate, especially with tractors, and even with hands. I almost could not bear to put the photo below in here, this one is a heart breaker. Water stressed tuscan kale plants stunted and surrounded by weeds, too wet to cultivate.
Every year has its own sets of challenges, but I have to say this one has felt especially rough. We can always add water, but we can’t take it away, and our fields are a heavy clay, definitely the worst kind of soil to have in a wet spring. Coupled with the late cold wintry weather the heavy rains have been especially damaging.
Weedy swiss chard field on left (too wet to cultivate) and curly kale on the right. Neither have grown much in the month since we’ve planted them.
The hardest part of this spring is feeling resentful of nature. I used to love nature- thunderstorms, downpours, hot humid summers- I loved it all as a child. In the last few weeks, when I was struggling the most, feeling deep despair, my dear friend gave me a visual meditation, to imagine cradling the globe of the earth in my hands. I have found that tool to be so helpful, for I do not want to have an antagonistic relationship with nature- why the exact opposite is what drove us to farming. I want to hear a rainstorm and like the child inside me, dance with glee barefoot in the rain, not feel dread in the pit of my stomach wondering what crops will suffer and be lost. Certainly I feel that we as humans are responsible for so much of the extreme weather patterns we experience, but that doesn’t provide any comfort at all, just a reminder of our shared responsibility for what we are experiencing.
Too wet to work in the fields, the farm crew assembles the trellising pulleys for the greenhouse tomatoes.
I am so thankful for our farm crew, the new crew members jumping in with energy and enthusiasm, for our assistant Sam, and especially for our friends from Mexico who are with us for a second season, so joyful and thankful to be here, and so full of positivity and willingness to work. We never could have accomplished what we did on Friday evening and Saturday without them. Such a small window of dry weather, our fields dried out just enough in places, that with two teams working late into the evening making beds, we got 67 200 foot beds prepped and ready to plant on Saturday. Saturday was a sun up to sun down planting effort (yes, it was finally sunny!)- transplants that have been waiting and waiting to go in- the first corn, the peppers, the eggplants, more squash and cucumbers were all planted. Fields of cover crops were mowed then plowed under, fields that just a few days before we thought we’d never be able to drive into, now the hope is that after these last rains, we will be able to get in and rototill and make more beds for the next wave of plants. It was a hugely productive day.
First sweet corn planting that went in on Saturday, looking pretty soggy after Sunday’s rain.
We are thankful for the investment we made into high tunnels last fall, where we have early tomatoes (and basil in this week’s CSA share) thriving. Pictured below, field tomatoes struggling in the wet ground on the left, versus greenhouse tomatoes on the right (notice the basil planted on the shoulders of the outside beds).
In the field, well, we have dubbed this the season of lettuce. Oh lettuce, how you love the rain and the cool weather. Let them eat salad- the earth is telling us. So we will eat lots of salads this spring!
You will see that we will be buying in a few crops (organic and local of course) over the next few weeks. This is the first time in 13 years that we’ve felt we had to do so, but it is important to us that we are providing a decent share to you our super supportive CSA members. And though we know that the bounty will come, growth cannot be hurried, not without the important element of the sun. So in the meantime we will do our best, to improvise, to roll with the challenges before us, and to keep imagining the earth cradled in our hands.
Post by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.