Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rain and More Rain

Well, this certainly is an interesting year! The last three growing years here suffered horrible drought. But this year we have lingering cold and rain, rain, and more rain. Now, I'm not griping about the rain; it is much needed to replenish the depleted water tables from the droughty years, and I would rather have an excess of rain than drought. I have to admit though that the high water has me nervous. What worries me is the lingering cold. In the last three years, late frosts nearly wiped me out, so this year I've waited to plant. Most of my seedlings are hardening off out in the high tunnel, but since time is getting late in our short season, they have to go in the ground this week while the moon is in good sign. The cold temps don't bode well for growing, and the lingering off and on heavy rains favor plant diseases and root rot. Today, heavy rain, high winds, and possible hail are forecast for tonight, so I decided not to plant the seedlings in the field until tomorrow. After today, the rains are supposed to lessen for a few days so I figure that will be enough time for the seedlings to adjust to being transplanted. Because it is so cold, I have decided not to plant gourds, pole beans, and some finnicky winter squashes. Most of what I do put in the field will go into raised beds and be covered with agribon most of the time. I am also worried about pollination -- I have only seen ONE BEE so far this year.

I have managed to finish planting the high tunnel: I found some Bloody Butcher, Riesentraube and Chadwick Cherry tomato seedlings in the basement that I missed when I took the other seedling flats out to the high tunnel, so hopefully we will have at least some tomatoes this year. The new flat of tomatoes I started are still in the basement and I do intend to plant them in the high tunnel and try for late harvest. We'll see what happens even though I don't think I'll get any kind of harvest. Yesterday I planted the Round Mauve Eggplant (boy, do those transplants look nice!) and a whole flat of Perkins Long Pod Okra. Okra did so well for me at the farmers market last year that I decided to plant even more of it this year. The St. Valery carrots look very good, and the Italian flat-leaf parsley is starting to sprout. The spearmint, while not very much, is looking great, and the catnip that made it through the winter looks positively champion. I planted two varieties of lettuce, Jung's salad blend and some of my beloved Forellenschuss, and both are sprouting nicely, though the Forellenschuss actually looks much stronger than the Jung's blend. I will direct seed many more greens (see my Feb. 17 entry Waiting for Spring and click on the title to go to my 2008 seed list) tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

In between rains, I finally finished taking down the compost bin in the front yard (the electric company didn't like it being under the wires). The whole project only took me about two weeks. I have to admit the area looks a lot better and I will be very happy to put all the compost on the field this fall. Slowly but surely my worm count (and soil fertility) is rising!

Friday is my turn for annual blood work and mammogram, so I will stop by the Ag office in Phillips and pick up some more Food Atlases (to to get Father's Day gifts, too!). I received the brochure holders I ordered on-line and will take some filled holders to the three businesses I talked to that said they would let me display them. Now that Tom finished his daily trips to Minocqua for cancer treatment, I should have a bit more time and will be able to look at scheduling the Atlas Committee meeting.

A nice customer called last night looking for beet greens, and to everybody, yes, I will have beet greens from Bull's Blood Beets again this year. Also, I will have some MacDonald rhubarb -- not much as the plants are still on the small side, but I will have some. I have to keep an eye on the garlic with all this rain, but the last I checked, it was growing very well, too.

It's time to take care of Lara, so I'll leave off for now. Prayers and best wishes to all who are suffering in the flooded areas of the Midwest . . . .

Sarah called from Ft. McCoy this week. She sounds good and is very busy with all the training. I don't like to think about my brown-eyed baby girl learning "hand-to-hand combat", but on the other hand, I can't help but feel kind of sorry for anybody my "Little Red Chief" tangles with. God be with my Sarah and all our troops! May you come home safely SOON!

I read an interesting article from ATTRA today about new research that shows that people are willing to pay up to twice grocery store prices for locally grown food. That bodes well for small farmers like me (if we can get anything to market in this wild weather!). Reading articles like that helps keep me positive.

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