Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time to throw out the rule book?

As the temperatures quickly climbed to above 90 degrees in my greenhouse this morning, I like everyone else is wondering what this season will bring. This winter, many people asked me what effects the lack of snow would have and now about this early Spring. I don't know yet...we will find out together. We are all learning together what will result from these climate changes and severe weather abnormalities. I do not have enough years farming experience to do anything but learn from this. However, I have a plan and I force myself everyday to stick to it. I may lay awake at night psyching myself up to just go for it, put seeds in the ground...push everything 2-3 weeks it! Everyone will be so happy! But morning brings reality and I hold myself back. Planting too early when we could still get very cold weather would kill the tender crops and set the farm back weeks.
So I'll control what I can and feel satisfied that at least I did that. I will come up against a lot of uncontrollable factors this year. If temperatures remain unseasonably warm, the spring cool-loving crops, like broccoli, may struggle to make it to harvest. Broccoli doesn't handle the stress of temperature swings well. 
Farmers and gardeners everywhere are realizing this will be a difficult year for pests and diseases that winter failed to control. A winter void of a long, hard freeze allows these populations to remain strong and eager for a farmer's hard work of planting their favorite meals.

This is the reality of farming. And while many farms are spraying every inch of plant material to make it so undesirable, the bugs won't touch it. We will rely on building healthy soil and an environment for beneficial insects to keep our harvests safe. I rely on crop rotation and intercropping to confuse the insects and out-compete the weeds. And I will recognize that I will lose crops...probably quite a few. But this is why I plant a wide variety of crops and make sure to keep careful notes on how each variety does in a difficult year. Weather predictions are hard to make, so we just go for it and put our faith in knowing there will be a bounty.

I'm looking forward to this new year!

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