To say we’ve had a lot of rain would be a gross understatement. One downpour can leave our heavy soil wet for days afterwards, and this month has delivered a solid succession of them. Indeed, we’ve had standing water in some fields for the first time ever. I don’t believe our young transplants enjoy standing in wet soil any more than I enjoy working in wet boots, so we’ve been on constant alert for breaks in the weather—a 48-hour span with no rain—when we can swoop in with hoes and agitate the top few inches of soil. Yes, we’re looking to knock back the weeds that are steadily gaining ground, but our primary goal is to aerate the soil and prevent disease from setting in. Our current motto has become, When in doubt, hoe. Needing to jump at a moment’s notice makes it hard to keep up with the other late-summer tasks—harvesting, planting, hauling in the onions, etc.—but our fall crops hang in the balance, so we keep at it.
On the up side of things, 2018 might go down as “The Year of the Pickle.” Our last bumper crop of cucumbers was in 2008, and I’m convinced it was a fluke—the kind that tricks new farmers into thinking they’re unnaturally skilled so that they dig in. But beginner’s luck is usually just that—luck—and the novice comes to understand that only experience and hard work beget skill. Our subsequent cucumber experience has shown that early plantings do well enough, but later plantings aren’t worth the trouble. So this year we doubled up on the early plantings in the hopes of forcing another bumper crop. The result? Cucumbers coming out the wazoo! If ever there was a year to make pickles, this was it. Many CSA members made their first attempts, which included successes, failures, and even an exploding pickle! No matter the result, these attempts are the stuff experiences is made of.
In another week, Dan, the kids, and I will be taking off for a few days to join our extended families on vacation. As much as we could use a break, it always pains us to leave the farm at this busy time of year; it’s even harder when the weather refuses to cooperate. Nevertheless, we’re fortunate to have Steve Cecchini—our assistant grower since 2015—ready and able to hold things down in our absence. We’re also fortunate to have Peter Notarnicola, who’s been with us part-time since 2016. Steve and Peter are as devoted to the farm as we are, and we know that along with Alison Riley, Anthony Notarnicola, and Michelle Donovan, our seasonal apprentices, we’re leaving the farm in strong, capable hands.