Weather! Yes weather. Not the most creative of topics for a farmer to be talking about but, there’s not getting around it, a dominant feature of our conversations. But that’s because weather is everything on the farm. It can mean the difference between success and failure (both on the the small and large scale) and it certainly has a huge and ever present impact on what we are able to do on the farm, when and how. This spring, the weather has already had a big impact on how the season’s work is going. In contrast to last season’s predominantly dry, hot weather, so far 2017 has been wet and chilly. To start off, this meant a late start to planting and as we move along it has impacted crop germination rates, planting and weeding schedules and certainly growth rates in the garden.
It is actually amazing how much small and large shifts in weather can impact crops. This season, we’ve already seen poor germination in some crops from wet, cold soil and even crop failure – an entire hoop house of cucumbers died from dampening off, a fungal disease caused by damp, cold conditions. Wet weather also means having to work somewhat frantically whenever the weather permits because it limits our ability to work in the garden. We cannot work in wet, cold soil because being on soil when it is wet causes compaction which negatively impacts soil health. It is also difficult or impossible to plant and weed in wet soil because machinery and tools don’t function properly and weeds definitely don’t die!
Weather is certainly a great ego check for farmers because it is quite clear that the weather is in charge. We may plan and scheme and have all kinds of good ideas but in the end, the weather can throw all that away! As a farmer it is best not to get too attached to any of your plans or scheme because of this. It is also why we farm so many different crops and grow for Community Shared Agriculture. By growing a diversity of crops throughout the season, we ensure that some crop (usually many of them) is thriving and are not invested too heavily in the success of any single crop. And by growing for CSA, we are guaranteed an income even if a few crops do not thrive in any given season, ensuring the sustainability of the farm over time.