July 4, 2013

Farmers and weather.

We've had two days without (significant) rain!

Last year, we were praying for rain during the long long drought. This year we are wishing it would rain just a bit less...

Yes, rain does satisfy the plants and means we have less work to do setting up irrigation, but there are downsides to too much rain.

For one, if the soil is constantly soaked, we won't go in with the tractor or the rototiller because wet soil will compact and smear together when something that heavy is used to work it. Compaction is no good - it provides a barrier for root growth. We want nice workable and aerated soil for healthy crops and long straight carrots!

When we can't work the soil with machine power, this also makes it more difficult and time consuming to control the weeds. Of course we also have some tricks up our sleeves that don't involve compacting the beds with machines - raking, hand weeding, wiggle hoeing, wheel hoeing anyone?!

A selection of hoes, always useable in planted beds!
Too much rain can also cause problems with pests and disease. Some insects like the wet, cool and cloudy conditions and can just go to town in the fields. If plants are too dense or don't have enough air circulation around them, mold or rust can set in.

When we seed crops directly in the fields (as opposed to growing them in the greenhouse and transplanting out later), we use a push powered seeder. When the soil is too wet, the seeds stick to the muddy soil which sticks to the wheels of the seeder...which doesn't exactly make for straight rows of veggies!

So in the last two days the soil got to dry out a bit and we were so happy! We had to break out the irrigation to water what we planted in the fields this week, but we also got to work the soil, stay up to date on the planting schedule and kill a whole lot of weeds.

I find it really interesting how the farming workday is predicated on the weather and it's changes. There's a bit of excitement in bending our minds to the task of growing the best vegetables possible, no matter what the weather throws at us!

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