Well, we had a fabulous turnout for our first work party of the season. It really did sort of feel like a party this time as everyone was super enthusiastic and hard-working! I'm happy I'm living on-site this year, so we could provide a nice meal of the very crops we were working in: beans and corn tortillas! Plus some salad from our gardens. Thanks to the great turnout and energy, we managed to retrive our large field of corn and loads of beans from the weeds and hill up our potato trials as well. Things are in great shape now as a result.
The earlier crops are mostly on their own now, as they've filled in their beds and are starting to wrestle with one another in areas (namely the unruly peas and grains). My barley is lodging (falling over) a bit, which is a pain, and all of my early transplanted corn - although over knee high, deep green and healthy as can be (yay) - looks to be sending up flower stalks already (not yay). I don't think that's a good sign but I can't remember, to be honest. The flax is flowering, one of the prettiest crops I've grown, and the beans are full and lush. It's interesting being right across the farm road from Dusty's traditionally-managed potatoes, getting watered and having had properly fertilized beds prepared. Ours were planted earlier but are much less full so far. I will be curious how the yields compare in the end, but with dry-farmed potatoes you get le
As if we woke up in an entirely new and foreign (and lovely) land, the summer solstice has brought us warm weather and sunshine today, to last all week (we hope). The field is looking amazing these days, with all of the early crops full in their beds and lush. The field feels vital and enthusiastic as if all the crops are feeling content and productive.
Ok, enough of the poetry. We have had some setbacks this year, such as the birds ripping out a whole lot of corn and bean seedlings, rabbits mowing down the soybeans and storage onion tops, and germination issues with some of the seed purchased from seed companies. Heck, this may be a small operation, but my self-saved seed pops up thoroughly and enthusiastically whereas much of the stuff I've gotten from seed companies has been less than reliable.
Despite the setbacks, most of the crops are flourishing. An update to this point includes the following: the soup pea and garbanzo trials are growing fabulously, with most of the peas in flower (the bush peas have white flowers and so far all of the pole peas have two-toned pinkish, reddish, or purplish flowers! The barley and wheat are headed out, I forgot to look at the oats but I don't think it's headed yet (planted late). The lentils are flowering. The potatoes are weedy and could use another hilling up soon, but are holding their own. Sunflowers (oilseed and edible seed) look strong. Transplanted corn is big and robust. Millet is small but germinated well and is filling in the beds thickly. Amaranth is doing well, still less than a foot tall. Same with quinoa but for the second year in a row, we planted too late and don't expect it to get big enough to harvest. All of the bush beans are starting to take off, pole beans are climbing their trellis. Soybeans and cowpeas are growing slower but will love the sun and heat this week.
We've been working hard to keep the weeds down, hoping to stick with hand-tools during the growing. I'm out with the wheel hoe at least once a week keeping the paths manageable. The evenings have been idyllic out in the field and it is fabulous to be living at the farm this year so I can take advantage of short morning and evening tasks, when it is so peaceful out.
Our first work party is this saturday, June 25 from 3-6. Get ahold of us if you'd like to come. We will be sharing a home-cooked meal of beans and cornbread (what else?) at the end. Cheers!
Birds were what welcomed me to the farm this year. There is a big old dead western redcedar high above the field where a bald eagle perches and sends elaborate vocalizations out across the field from. There is a flock of ravens in the same area. They connect me to the earth and make me feel alive when I am working in the field.
I have been lucky up to this point, very lucky. In fact, I'd begun to suspect that farmers don't have problems with all the pests (slugs, deer, rabbits, birds) that us gardeners have. I had no problems in my first three years farming out here. It's been eerily easy that way. It looks like my good fortune has come to an end.
I did the rounds this lovely, misty evening, as I do every few days, checking to see what has newly emerged (soybeans, Celt's corn, late pole beans, millet) and I noticed that all my squash ID tags were pulled out of the soil and laying on the ground. Strange. What small child was out here messing with my field? But as I kept walking I realized with a shock that there were many many beans pulled out as well, just laying horizontally on the ground next to where they were planted. And some corn as well. Birds. Perhaps even my beloved but mischevious ravens. I am staying calm at the moment, but definitely a bit worried.
Krista is a life-long resident of Whatcom County, Washington State. She has been gardening and farming in the area for over 15 years.