Saturday, July 16, 2011

And it's raining...

So it's raining.  Big deal.  It's the Pacific Northwest, it rains.  Get over it. Put on the raincoat and some rubber shoes and grab your umbrella.  Or if you are a TRUE Pacific Northwester, you don't even own an umbrella (because you know right after the rain comes the wind at which point you loose your umbrella) and slog through it.  Wear your pasted to your head wet hair with pride. 
One of my favorite all time quotes (which I will quote from memory not directly) is from the great, and wacky, Pacific Northwest writer Tom Robbins.  He talks about walking in a Pacific Northwest rain without a rain hat and if you duck, and hide and try to rush through it well the rain just seeks you out like little wet missiles, pelting your head.  But if you stand tall and proud, and enjoy the weather, the rain seems to just caress and envelope you.  I swear this is true - try it sometime!  Especially in a warm wet day like today, I quite enjoy a nice soaking. 
Building greenhouses in the rain.  Sunglasses are a must.

My father asked me last night as the downpour started what I thought of the rain for our crops.  Well, I told him, like most weather related things with farming - it has it's good and it's bad points.  The good - Well, a lot of things in my fields are getting parched.  Yes, the fields are dry.  And I just planted a whole bunch of fall/winter greens and other crops that need to be watered in if they are going to grow so this rain - fabulous!  And the fava beans are setting and were getting parched so this rain - fabulous!  And the dry beans super need a big drink to really set well, so this rain - fabulous!
Properly attired for planting starts in rain.  Rainproof jacket AND pants!
Sure, I could be "watering" instead of hoping for rain.  But when you have 10 acres of veggies all needing a drink at once - well, believe me, it's a full time job and a half to keep the hoses/sprinklers/drip lines running and moved.  And once you've lost 400 feet of newly planted lettuces to take that one Sunday afternoon off to take the kids to the pool instead of watering the ever-demanding plants, well...a free big drink from other nature is well appreciated.
 The bad side of rain?  Well the potatoes and the garlic.  With the potatoes it's kinda a mixed bag - I do need to water the potatoes BUT...having wet leaves for more than 8 hours can lead to blight and other fungal diseases in the potatoes this time of year.  I've been spraying compost tea religiously so hopefully that will help the taters "fight off" any fungal attacks.  We shall see.
The garlic - well we are harvesting garlic right now and wet conditions make that critical "curing and drying" stage that much more difficult.  I have developed an arsenal of "oh crap, the garlic is getting moldy" emergency techniques however, so I'm ready to go with them as needed. 
The other bad thing about the rain - the markets.  Farmer's markets are typically way down on rainy days.  A lot of vendors won't even come on a rainy day (granted, for some crafters, their product can be ruined on a wet day).  At Willowood farm however, have to pick and pack the day before the market and considering we never know for sure what market day we will bring and because we still have the food to sell, rain or not, we come...regardless! And we sure do appreciate those customers who make it out on a wet and rainy day, umbrella or not, to make it all worth it!  That is what is called a win-win situation rain or not! So on that note, here are the lovely wet veggies coming to market today...
From Willowood Farm:
* Garlic
* Garlic Scapes
* New Potatoes
* Shelling Peas
* Arugula
* Raab
* Head Lettuce
* Kale
* Chard
* Carrots
* Beets
* Walla Walla salad onions
* Kohlrabi
* Braising Greens
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Cauliflower
* Snow Peas
* Sugar Snap Peas
* Spring Onions
* Broccoli
* Head Lettuce
* Beet
* Chard
* Kale
And Emmer from Ebey Road Farm!
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie coming to you from the wet and muddy fields of Willowood Farm


  1. Hey Georgie,

    I am a naughty farmer for dry fielding most of my plants but they seem to be doing okay (as is the electric bill for the water pump). But! the taters. How much do I need to water them if I don't live in a rain shadow, or more importantly, now that they are all blooming, do I need to regularly and deeply water them even if they look healthy and vibrant?

    semi-clueless on this one :)

  2. Mike -
    If you don't have to water - don't! I know some farmers don't have to water hardly at all, especially if their water table is pretty high. Is yours?
    With the the soil damp down around the tater when you dig around where the seed tater is planted? If so, it is probably good. If not, I would probably water at least one good soak. It is best to water BEFORE the plants show signs of stress. Also, although I don't know how much difference this makes, there is a school of thought that if the soil is nice and moist during tuber formation (i.e. blooming) then the bacteria or whatever it is that causes scab can't infect the skin of the potato. So there ya go...Good luck!