THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.
COMING SOON: Broccoli, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Lettuce
We have survived to see the end of July. It’s been difficult. Never have we experienced the lack of moisture that we have had this summer. Think back to a typical year in the northwest: It rains almost every day in April. It rains two out of three days in May, and it rains one out of three days in June. And THEN July comes and it gets hot and dry.
Now think back to this spring. (Cue twinkly, flashback music…) It rained in March. It rained a little in April. And then the rain stopped. The temperature went up in May, and the rain disappeared. No rain in May. No rain in June. A week of 100° days in July.
It was great at first. We got early plantings in. “Oh, better turn on the irrigation already!” Chuckle, chuckle. But then it went on…and by the time those 100° temperatures happened, we were getting worried. Crops that we usually seed in the ground, like dill, cilantro, spinach, and carrots…they weren’t germinating. Just how much water would it take to cool the soil and keep them moist long enough to sprout? Well, longer than we anticipated, because we lost them. So when the temperature cooled last week we tried again and were reasonably successful with some. About 50% success. We’ll keep trying, and eventually it will work out.
Our timing has also been thrown off. Early plantings are great for everyone. Until we run out of space because we’ve filled it all up too early. Now we’re rushing to get the fall and winter crops planted, and making rash decisions about what isn’t worth keeping so we can squeeze in just a little bit more. After all the forecast is for a warm, dry winter. We could be picking outside crops until the end of the year. Again. But when the day length is too short to make things grow, we need to make sure everything is full size by the end of October. That takes a lot of space. And we’re still picking summer crops. This is a challenge.
What are we doing for water? Well, we have city water from Kent. No, there are no bulk rate discounts. They consider us a business, and businesses pay business rates. I’m expecting the August bill to be quite high. I’m guessing $4,000. That was our highest one several years ago, maybe it will be higher. We’ve had to use a lot of water, and that’s with taking advantage of frugal measures. Luckily Carpinito Brothers (who owns the property surrounding us) has let us tap into their well, and that has helped us get the larger crops of potatoes, squash, and beans up and running. It’s very high in iron, however, so we can’t use it on leafy greens or cauliflower or broccoli because it turns everything orange. Still, it’s a huge help until we get our own well. And as long as the water table holds water. After seeing how California has squandered its’ groundwater, even having a well is not a forever solution without frugality and conservation.
What about those chickens? They kept up their egg production for a while…until it got to 100°. Then, the week of hot weather made them drop production to half. It takes a lot of water to maintain your health AND make an egg. And then, they went into early molt, dropping all their feathers. And you can’t make many eggs while your body is making feathers. Both operations take a lot of protein. So, not many eggs right now. We’ve had to skip this week of CSA egg distribution so we can catch up for next week. We may be able to alternate weeks for a little while and hopefully their production will come back up.
The up-side is that we received a grant from NRCS that will enable us to build two more big greenhouses. That gives us a bit more work to provide to Teo and Samuel, so we can keep them both employed all winter. It will also enable us to get even more crops started super-early next spring, for even more April and May bounty.
And what about the U-Pick Garden? It’s been a struggle, because it’s the last spot on the irrigation list. The peas came and went in just two weeks. And that was with water and shade. The cherry tomatoes are doing great, and we’ll be weeding and trellising them next week. I planted green beans this week, and they should do well. There are snapdragons starting to bloom, and a few of the spring blooms remain. I just put in zinnias, asters, and sunflowers, so September is looking really great for CSA U-Pick. Thanks for your patience, and for understanding our struggles this year!