Well, it has been a rough start in a strange year in general, but I’d rather not dwell on that.
I’d rather tell you what the garden looks and feels like right now.
Each week brings new growth and what was bare soil not that long ago is now a lush, green garden.
March 20th April 20th
There are as many as 6 Great Egrets that I sometimes see soaring against the backdrop of the many shades of spring green the tree leaves hold right now. I try to take pictures, but when I look at them, they do not do the scene justice.
They are an excellent reminder of why we chose to farm and why, against all odds, we continue to do it. Our love of the natural world and residing in it has always been a strong motivator for our work.
In the garden this time of year, there is an overlap of spring crops being harvested and some succession plantings being tended to for later harvest, as well as summer crops that we are regularly planting and tending to. In the span of two days, I transplanted cucumber and squash plants into the field and seeded a succession of them in the greenhouse.
potatoes with lettuce and radishes behind and spring flowers beyond those
Maxwell and Flora helping to seed a succession planting of cucumbers, squash, and zucchini
Over the winter we assembled a third high tunnel, which allows us to plant even more early tomato plants. In the newest and largest high tunnel, we will experiment with a ‘lower and lean’ trellising system.
newest high tunnel full of tomato plants, April 5th
Growing in a high tunnel sometimes feels like a bit of agricultural magic in an occupation filled with things that seem out of our control. The plants are planted directly into the soil, but the greenhouse-like plastic covering keeps the soil from becoming compacted by heavy rains, protects the plants from strong winds, and gives us a bit of control over temperature. It creates an ideal growing environment in which plants thrive.
our resident tomato whisperer
More tomato plants are going into the field as well, along with flowers, peppers, and eggplant.
We are choosing to keep our focus on the positive things sure to come out of the garden this season!
Everyone’s life looks much different than it did a month or so ago.
Instead of rushing our kids out the door with hugs, backpacks, and wishes for a great day, we all ride out to the farm together. I pop up a tent for shade and lay out a quilt underneath on the soft, green grass near where I plan to work for the day.
After a few worksheets, a snack, and a game, Maxwell and Flora will wander over to me and ‘help’ with a farm job for a while. Some days this will lead to them wandering around the garden, playing in the soil, digging deep into their imaginations, or regaling the staff with their stories. Other days they begin asking to go home early.
I am not accomplishing as much as I usually would, or as much as I would like to, but on Saturdays and Sundays I wake up before anyone else, pour a thermos full of coffee, and sneak off to the farm alone. It has been years since I have been able to enjoy sunrise in the garden. It is completely quiet, except for the bird song. The day is full of promise.
I would be remiss to leave you with that idyllic image of farming, which if I were to read would leave me screaming at my computer screen “That is not what it is like!” The truth is, some days are perfectly pastoral and others are a mess.
On the morning of our scheduled first CSA harvest of the season, we awoke to a flooded farm road and the river on the rise after over 5 ½ inches of rain fell overnight. Strong winds left trees down across the road and the power out at our packing shed, meaning we had no access to water and no refrigeration. Hail had torn through tender salad leaves leaving them looking battered.
Everything will not be perfect this year, it never is. We will do our best and we will all likely eat very well this year, but there will be a bad strawberry in the batch one day, a squashed tomato, some beetle bites out of a bunch of greens. There will be ups and downs. There will be beauty and frustration in each day.
For now, I will simply say how tremendously thankful we are to those of you trusting us to be your farmers!
NEWS FROM THE BEND
From planting time to the growing and harvesting seasons,