May 27

This has been the most perplexing of springs and by all accounts we have seen some extreme meterologocial events.  First we  had  an extremely mild  winter’s end with some  80 degree days in March that  hastened springs arrival. All of us cynics (mostly my farming friends) knew this would set us up for failure and sure enough by mid May we were battered by heavy frosts with a morning low temp here of 23 degrees. We irrigated the strawberries  13 nights thus far and on that particular morning we were pretty convinced that our blueberry crop had been totally trashed. But despite the local  apple growers suffering almost complete loss, the blueberries survived and although there is  some measure of damage, its not the total loss we thought we would experience with that low of a temperature. The irony was is that everyones peach trees survived the cold temps and are  loaded with tiny peaches,when by all accounts they are less hardy than apples. The only explanation was that  the peaches bloomed so early that the were able to survive. Mother Nature certainly acts in mysterious ways…

Today we picked 32 quarts of strawberries. This is the earliest  ever, by 10 days, that we  have been able to pick measureable fruit. The extreme heat has forced them somewhat,mostly the ones that were grown on  black plastic. On the  other side of the heat  issue,we burned up some transplants in the field with the rowcovers. Three days of 95 degree weather in May is a little unheard of, and it has been tough keeping the  greenhouse flowers and  plants looking decent. At  95 degrees it’s pretty hard to  keep humans looking pretty decent. We were all dragging our sorry dehydrated butts around here and we are very greatful for the return of cooler days.

Buts its pretty dry,and we could use a some rain. That’s something I haven’t wished for after the last two summers…

May 11

Last night we got what my parents  used to refer to as a “black frost, where the temps got down to the mid twenties. We  saved the strawberry crop which is in full bloom but lost the  blueberries for lack of overhead irrigation.

Its not like loosing your house to  an earthquake, contracting cancer or loosing your fishing job in the Gulf of Mexico due to an oil drilling mishap. But it is  discouraging after all the fertilizing,watering,mulching, mowing and  pruning to realize that there will be no fruit to pick this year. If you think anybody but mother nature is in the drivers seat when you or farming, you are definitely suffer from a very large case of egotism.

In another  arena, it would seem as though many new  people are getting  into home gardening, and the interest in  vegetable gardening has really shot up the last couple of years. This year is no exception and we get a lot of questions and the range the gamut from sophisticated to very basic. We  think it a very good  think for  people to  be growing their own food. It makes them consider what is really entailed in eating locally and sustainably here in New England. What really amazes me is is the questions that  novice gardeners don’t ask, and perhaps should.

We had a neighbor ask us to rototill her garden, something we don’t make a habit of doing but consented to because she was a neighbor. When I arrived at her home I was greeted by her and two younger members who evidently  have had some horticultural exposure  in college. I found that they wanted to increase the size of their current garden from 600 square feet to 12,000. I was to rototill up the remaining large lawn up to the  trees. They want to  plant immediately.

This is where it starts to get sticky for me. Do I tell them they are nuts, that they will be fighting the grass clumps all summer? Do I tell them that even if the spray Roundup and subdue the grass chemically that the wireworms will raise hell with the roots and tubers of the vegetables for a year or two?  Do I ask to see their plan for their new garden which is 20 fold larger than their existing one? What about fertility,have they had the  soil tested?  An adequate water supply? How receptive would the the young organic idealists be if the the old fart chemical farmer up starts making suggestions?

In the end I kept my mouth shut, not any easy task. I figured they were just as entitled to retain their enthusiasm  and make the same mistakes I did 35  years ago.