Rain Delays...

by Doug Muller

In the distance there is thunder. Again. Yet another pummeling storm has drifted over our farm, dumping a hefty dose of rain on our already sodden fields. The past two weeks have brought a marked change in weather--from a really pleasant, well-balanced mix of cool, warm, wet, and dry to unrelenting rain. No, unrelenting is the wrong word--for the rain does relent, daily. But when night falls, the heavy storms move in like bullies who travel under the cloak of darkness, jarring from their restful slumber all the diurnal farm inhabitants (ourselves included).

At first, we were grateful for the rain. The spring had been dryish previously. But this morning brought spotty ponding to our fields, and aside from a brief window a couple days ago when the ground dried slightly before another rain arrived, we haven't been able to prepare new beds for over a week. This came at an inopportune moment, as we had imagined this last week as our "final push," our last chance to get in a variety of crops we hope to grow for seed this year--such as additional varieties of beans, cucurbits, and some random warm-weather crops like okra and New Zealand spinach. Some of these crops we managed to start in the greenhouse to be transplanted to the field in coming weeks, but many remain in their packets, waiting to be sown. The forecast calls for a couple clear days beginning tomorrow, so we plan on waking early and working late, doing our best to take advantage of what might be our last window for working the soil and planting our final run of seed crops.

At this time of year come the lessons in letting go: you've done your best, and now is the time to work with the garden you've created and make it as productive and beautiful as possible. Of course, there are lots of crops yet to be sown for fall and winter harvest, but the summer solstice marks the end of the seed sowing season for the crops from which we hope to collect seed.

It's clear now that our goals for this growing season were a bit too lofty--a common affliction of gardeners. We've made many strides this year: launching the website, meeting and talking with folks at all the winter markets, spreading the word about our project to folks throughout the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas, selling lots of seeds, and getting into the ground about 40-50 varieties of crops from which we hope to save seed. However, in the midst of all this effort, we found little time to establish relationships with local growers: it seems like we'll be getting seeds from only four or five other Hudson Valley-based growers this year, a number we had hoped would be much bigger. There are also several specific varieties of crops for which we won't be harvesting local seed, notably some of my favorites: the Asian Greens of the Brassica rapa species (such as tatsoi and bok choy).

So, our spring rush is coming to an end. We're happily letting go a bit, turning our attention from the race to "get in" plants to important infrastructure tasks: building gates for our deer fence (currently we slip in through clothespinned slits in the nylon mesh); renovating a former concession stand into a small office and seed storage facility; tidying up the website and adding seed-saving instructions for each variety; and building the fertility levels of our soil by slowly tilling new ground and sowing cover crops seeds. (We're also preparing to start a new round of Art Packs; be sure to get on our e-mail list if you'd like to receive the Call for Artists.)

As our main seed-selling season comes to an end, we'd like to thank all of you who supported our efforts by joining the Seed Library and buying seeds. Our attention is slowly shifting to next year and beyond, and thanks to your support it appears that we'll be able to continue this work that we love.

Stay seedy! --Doug