For the past three weeks, we've been having scary flashbacks to last summer's drought. At the farm, only a half inch of rain fell during all of May... until this week, when two inches pounded down. While the rain was a bit rougher on the baby crops than ideal, we are not going to complain! It's supposed to be tapering off today and tomorrow, and then we hope for some good drying weather so we can get back in the fields, where our crops, cover crops, and pastures are growing like crazy!
The rain brought us a real feeling of relief. We have the capacity to water all our fields, but it takes a long time--irrigation after a three week dry spell runs to 3 or 4 hours of extra work a day. This recent rain will basically give us the time equivalent of having an extra person in the field! Even with irrigation, the crops don't seem to grow quite as well as they do from real, actual rain. We can already see a jump in growth out of the peas, greens, and broccoli!
We've been laughing a bit because the weather for much of May has been poster child weather for days that you shouldn't transplant crops--dry, hot, and with battering winds. Yet when plants need to go into the ground, sometimes you have to put them in on these terrible days! We shifted our schedule to start transplanting around 3 or 4pm many days, and stayed out there to water crops in by flashlight as late as midnight. Starting late means the plants will get the cool evening to settle into their new homes (and it's often less windy here at night), and watering each newly planted crop heavily helps get the roots to make good contact with the soil (and gives each plant a supply of water for its first few days). It also leads to groggy farmers in the morning...
So far, all of the 2014 strawberry crop is planted, the potatoes are in, and all the spring crops are seeded. We did lose a couple beds to poor germination (and one to the row cover blowing off one windy afternoon and our nemesis the flea beetles invading the arugula... but more on them next week), but all the transplants that went in under May's non-ideal conditions seem to be doing great!