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Rain and Soil Health

May is quite a month. It’s cold, it’s hot, it’s all over the place. It’s also the month in which farmers PLANT. We plant almost every day, soil permitting. It seems like every week the greenhouse delivers trays and trays of transplants, looking beautiful, lush, and vibrant all crammed next to each other on the flatbed wagon.

Each morning, Farmer Mike walks the fields to determine whether the fields are too wet to walk in or run the tractor over. We use the tractor to pull a nifty water wheel and transplanter that we use to create divots in the beds and water the holes.

This morning (5/12/22), even after four days of sunshine, the field where we are planting long-season summer crops like eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, is still too wet. We must change course and plant by hand.

It rained for three days straight this past weekend, the same weekend we had our Annual Spring Farm Tour. It was a tremendous amount of rain, and for this time of the year a bit strange as usually we have that sort of rain in April. It complicates our farm schedule – May is for planting and getting into the field to weed. But when the fields are too wet to work with, we end up pushing back planting more and more. For example, those peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes that we’re planting today, were supposed to be planted two weeks ago.

Rain can be a blessing, but sometimes it can put a tamper on farm production. When we were originally supposed to plant those transplants two weeks ago on a warm sunny day, we didn’t because we knew that intense rains would be soon to come. Intense rains and little baby plants don’t mix well. The plants are susceptible to drowning but more so, it’s a lot of stress for a little plant to handle! When we put out the plants in the fields, we want them to thrive and have the strength to battle all the sorts of pests and potential diseases they might encounter.

Although big rain events are a bit of a nuisance on the farm regarding planting, it’s nothing the farm can’t handle. That’s because the soil is HEALTHY. With its nice soil aggregates and porous structure, the soil can absorb water. With unhealthy compacted soil, the water is susceptible to running off the field, creating erosion and drawing valuable nutrients away from the crops.

With more and more weird weather events and patterns, soil health is more important than ever. The more work we put into create healthy soil, the better off the farm will be during times of climate stress.

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