NO DELIVERY NEXT WEEK APRIL 11 AND APRIL 15
April 4, 2017
What is in the VEGGIE BOX: Chard, Leeks, Mint, Dried Tomatoes, Carrots, Beets, and Asparags
This Week on the Farm
It didn’t take long for my mentioning in a newsletter a few weeks back that the lack of wind was noticeable to bear fruit. Just in mentioning it stirred the gods of the weather to bring on a week of north winds. A week of variably windy days, not fierce but noticeable, has left the ground dry and workable and the fungi of the past few wet months withered and retired. All this is a great treasure, generally and broadly predictable, of the Central Valley. The historic certainty of the scarifying North Winds, whistling down the length of soggy Valley in March and April has always been part of our agricultural heritage. Defining for our Mediterranean climate the transition from Winter to Spring, from monsoon to desert, from Arctic blasts to stupefying heat, from muddy to dusty, it scrapes and blows away all the residue of rot and decomposition and cleans the plate for the uninhibited explosion of life in April and May.
And so the scary creeping of the brown rot fungus in the growing twigs of the Apricot and the orange has been stopped in its tracks, and as the lengthening days of Spring increase the sun and heat on the living trees and fruit, they seal off the infection and push new growth at the limits of living tissue. The various rusts and fungi that attack the weeds and vegetables are in the process of giving up the ghost, producing the next generation through the billions of spores that blow near and far to await the next years dampness. Yesterday, as I mowed down the winter weeds, the tractor’s passage threw up a cloud of mixed spores and pollen and who knows what other molds and residues That left me giving thanks for whatever it is that has provided me with the ability to work within that cloud. And then, at the end of the day, just to make sure that I know that this was still life on earth, imperfect and relentless in its teachings, the tractor started to cough and sputter and in driving it back to the shop to try to find the source of the problem, I saw our first irrigation set of the year creating a magnificent body of water around a break in our pipeline. So, like the wise and experienced, weary and aged person that I am at the end of this day, I looked at the spreading water while listening to the tractor, got off the tractor, turned off the water, got on the tractor, headed to the barn slowly, parked it and turned it off hoping it would start tomorrow, and walked to the house which at these times becomes a momentary refuge from life. What a gift that is! Tough, but familiar, ending to a wonderful day of shaping up our first beds for potatoes and transplants and watching a new farm arise from the winter chaos of weeds and flowering vegetables. And as I move things around in tomorrow’s mental landscape, adjusting to the new information, I feel at once the familiarity and the inevitability of Spring on the Farm. Is it a trap and dungeon, or is it an old friend whom I know well and who helps me with my weak spots as any friend will? My attitude toward life and my awareness of the world in which I am immersed determine the answer in each and every moment.
I spent some time looking at the apricots, because this has been a particularly difficult year for the persnickety apricot. They are pretty susceptible to disease, and as befits their birthplace on the high lonesome ridges of the Himalayas, would probably do better alone and with the harsh air swirling around them than in our carefully tended orchards, cut, modified, and shaped to please us. But, while it was wetter and warmer than some other years during the especially sensitive bloom time, fortuitous breaks in the weather, not to mention the North Wind’s timely arrival, and my efforts at brownrot inhibiting copper sprays have held the damage to yields to a minimum. In looking at the trees, though, it is as the eternal pessimist on the farm told me, “no hay mucha fruita”. And like the well oiled team that we are, I answered, “Yes. But the fruit will be bigger”. But the upshot of the whole thing is that the crop will be light; perhaps light enough to reduce what we normally deliver. But that’s the way of things with apricots in particular and small diversified farms in general; everything has its ups and downs. On the other side, which there always is, the peaches, cherries and nectarines have survived bloom with a wonderful crop. On to the next challenge for them, with the cherries facing the first challenge. A new fruit fly has rendered our last several crops inedible, but I have hope and a lot of incentive for this year, the trees are loaded, perhaps to make up for the lighter apricots. Wouldn’t it be fun to have some cherries? Don’t say I promised them, but life doesn’t get any better than a bowl of cherries!
The next few weeks, perhaps a month, are going to be lean for us. The constant rain and our inability to move at breakneck pace on anything, has meant that our usual spring planting that helps us make it through this low time is lacking. And so the vegetable box may get a little repetitious, and the bouquets of flowering broccoli and radish and mustard for frying might…..no, just kidding, no weeds for your soup or stir fry. But all kidding aside, this is the tight season for us, and while we have planted the greenhouse full of late winter and early summer vegetables, we will come up a little shy in the next two months. But luckily, we have great organic farmers all around us, and we will be asking them for a little help, in the form of their beautiful produce. If we forget to mention them individually, forgive us, but Full Belly Farm, Barth Ranches, Terra Firma, Riverdog Farm, and Durst Organics each may be part of the next few boxes. So if you see some nice asparagus, or a basket of strawberries, or some big leeks, snow peas or broccoli, we have picked one of those to fill out your box. See you next week. Jeff