|April 02, 2012|
In Your Box
Featured Herbs: Oregano and Sage
“It is going to be an interesting year.”
- John Steinbeck
Helping to manage a diverse vegetable operation serving direct markets in a wet planting season is not unlike fencing with a skilled opponent (I imagine). We find ourselves husbanding our strength as the weather circles us, feinting and probing our defenses. We have but the smallest windows of opportunity when our partners’ defenses have momentarily dropped (a windy morning in between storms, a three hour window dry enough to cultivate) to strike before we are forced into ‘back stepping’ and parrying frantically as the rain drives itself back into the landscape, infiltrating the soil and making more field work impossible.
To speak more tangibly… I went to sleep last night expecting, based on my perpetual internet weather stalking, to awake to a deluge. When I woke, before the dawn, I was jolted into alertness by the silence that surrounded me, the rain has not come yet, how heavy was the dew? In the fields with the light, looking at the sky I realized that there was a window, albeit a short one, to uncover our new plantings of Spring crops and weed until the rain returned (soil moisture dictates all). And so we ran while we worked, cut our morning meeting out and hula hoed, racing, until the rain came. This was a three hour (or less) window and before ten a.m. the rains returned in earnest, soaking us before we could finish recovering our crops.
All of this is good fun, dynamic farming/fencing that keeps us engaged and focused on the work that we are doing. The beauty of it all is that within a world where too many choices abound, we need not think what we will do each day. The decisions are made for us. All we need to do is listen within. As farmers, we are not only managing the land, we are managing the weather. As Jared mentioned last week, we are elated that long awaited rains have finally arrived.
Our New Orchard...
Compost tea is a great foliar orchard spray because it is packed full of microbial life (assuming that it is derived from a good, diverse compost pile and is aerated correctly). The advantages to applying a diversity of microbes are many: they augment the existing soil food web, aid in incorporation of organic matter into a form soluble for plants, and (we think) help to manage detrimental fungal and bacterial pathogens which can be destructive to our orchard ecosystem.
To many people this idea sounds counter-intuitive: if fungus is the issue, why add more of it? The reply is that there are a vast array of beneficial fungi and bacteria existing in the soil all of the time. By allowing the pathogens to be outcompeted. preyed upon by components of our innoculant we are helping to create a diverse eco-system.