I know. I’ve got a one-track mind. But the dryness of the year is the story of the year, or, at least, the story so far.
Last night was one where I was happy to be waken up by a hard, pounding rain. The wind suddenly pushed the curtains over our bedroom window, the wind turbine made a quick ‘flup, flup, flup’ helicopter-like chopping sound as the front announced its arrival.
This morning I had in mind to slowly make my way out into the fields since I expected them to be all mud, but, actually, the ground was very firm as every ounce was soaked into very parched ground. The reason this rain thing is driving me crazy is that it’s stopping crops from developing. We have kohlrabi in suspended animation, doing nothing but trying to survive. Their little bulbs should have well formed by now and sitting in your box. Likewise, the Napa cabbage. I had planned on it giving this light box some real heft, but it’s the same story. When I crop is in survival mode, it just won’t give us humans produce we want.
Still, things are looking up and I swear I saw a Napa start to head out before my eyes when our harvesting kale this morning. When the sky giveth, the produce giveth as well 🙂
In the box
Dino Kale: See recipe from this Italian guy from San Francisco. You can use the garlic scapes instead of garlic.
As I sit here writing, it’s 45 degrees outside. The plants of Lida Farm have had their first significant rain since I don’t know when and I feel like I finally broke a super persistent fever after suffering for a month. Nevermind that we’re heading back to 90 on Wednesday: right here, right now, all is right with the world. Cue the ending from A Christmas Story after Ralphie fell asleep with a Red Ryder BB gun in hand…
This year has certainly been the most moisture-challenged early season I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never dragged around so many hoses in my life. Some operations will bury drip tape in the ground when planting with a transplanter, but I’ve always considered that too much waste and not necessary (most years) with our heavy ground. Instead, we have always moved drip tape around as needed with a header that can supply 4 – 8 drip lines, and, for some dense crops like salad mix and carrots, we hook up these overhead micro-sprayers. This situation is fine in a normal year, but a disaster in a super dry year with 90-degree heat. Even if we were getting rain each week, soil moisture is evaporating all over the place in the heat. A person just can’t keep up. After dragging hose for 12 hours last Sunday, we were still behind.
The first casualty of the summer has been spinach. This was its box to make its appearance, but where are you, spinach? Mostly unborn still sitting in the ground. Too hot and dry to germinate. Those that did eek their way into existance found an unwelcome environment and became so stressed that they turned ugly. This is a green that likes cool, wet weather and often gets stressed in the spring, bolting as the days get longer. As we sit here on the longest day of the year, the crop never had a chance.
But all is not a disaster. No rain = less weeds. The potato field is the cleanest we’ve ever grown and the corn has actually been hoed on time.
In the box:
Snap peas: Edible pod, so don’t shell, just eat them.
Red or Green Leaf Lettuce
Garlic Scapes: Basically the shoot out of a hardneck garlic – pretty mild flavor. I’ll often use where ever I use green onions. See recipe below with garlic scapes and chard, but a person certainly could use with basil to do the same.
Me: “It’s gonna rain, I’m going to get these tomatoes in the ground.”
Mar: “It’s supposed to get pretty cold on Thursday night. Why don’t you wait?”
Me: “NOAA says it’ll be 40, it’s gonna rain, so I’m going to get these in the ground.”
Mar: “What’s your hurry? You always wait til the end of May. It might frost and kill off the plants.”
Me: “It is the last week of May. I doubt it’ll frost. It’s gonna rain, so I’m going to get these in the ground.”
Mar: “Well, OKAY…”
Flash forward to Friday. Dead plants all over the place!
And…NO RAIN! All the signs pointed to ‘This is not a good idea, Ryan.’ from multiple conversations to NOAA dropping a forecasted temp to Maree trying to talk me out of it.
Persistence can be my virtue, but persistence also makes a person hold onto an idea a little too tightly, push through no matter what. In this case, my let’s-charge-forward attitude got me. The absolute lack of rain so far this season certainly had an impact on my decision-making. A 50% chance of rain just sounded so good that I could just not let it go by. The weather gods were tempting me.
Moral of the story – I should have listened to my wife. I know that makes all wives reading this smile a little as I’m sure you’ve all had moments when ‘If he only listened to me..’ My neglect to do so in this instance caused me to flush a good $1,500 in transplants down the toilet.
Yes, there is a lot of season left and I’d like to thank Sheila Capistran from Ada Tomato for setting me up with a couple hundred plants yesterday to salvage a tomato planting. Still, this does set us back. Not just in tomatoes, but also the first planting of cucumbers and summer squash as well. Much tougher crops went through the cold no problem.