Week 9 (Chicago Week 7)

List of this week's vegetables

  • Artisan cherry tomatoes
  • Dragon tongue beans
  • Maxibell French green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Bright lights chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Assorted peppers
  • Italian red onions
  • Zucchini or Mediterranean squash
  • Kentucky wonder pole beans
  • Basil
  • Early bicolor sweet corn
  • Patty pan squash
  • Assorted tomatoes

Facing all kinds of weather, together

A grower who survives drought never loses the sense of foreboding when predicted rain repeatedly does not fall. Seeing rows and rows of parched plants die or fail to yield during relentless, scorching heat – just once, hangs on among worst memories. It grips my whole being in dry spells.

A full day of steady rain, such as we welcomed here Saturday, rinses all that fear away. Until now this year, “just-in-time” rain has broken dry spells over and over.

Those who’ve shared in our journey through all kinds of weather each unique season are now too many to recall. They’ve stood with us in drought praying for a distant cloud to stray our direction. They’ve weeded and weeded with us through rainy seasons. They’ve shared in bountiful harvests and helped us scrape by during thin yields.

I can’t imagine Dela and I’ll ever forget Elise, who’s been a godsend this season. She’s in her 2nd week of a 6-week internship here from a school in southern France. Not even 10 days here, and it seemed she’d been working with us for years.

Even one full day of farm work is too full to recount. Add 90-degree weather and humidity, and it all runs thick as molasses. We can’t keep track of time in a season advancing as quickly as this. Fair weather and fine friends speed time’s passage.

In 22 years, more than 20 individuals found their way to us to learn organic farming. Few of them stepped in beside us the way Elise has. She listens. She cares. She finishes what we start together. She’s already like family that is there facing weather with us, no matter what a season holds.

A French classmate of Elise is coincidentally interning at UW Madison this year. In an interlude from rain Saturday, he came to fetch Elise away for a break. The pair had hardly gotten down the road when more rain began falling. With rain promising to do as forecast all day Dela and I seized the chance to run errands for the farm. It was a welcome break from heat, humidity, bugs and fatigue of mid-summer.

Many years here, we could not do that. Even later on, we did not do it as frequently as a farm couple should. Dry years we struggled as a family make us appreciate time now together in play or rest. Raising, tending, harvesting vegetables gets harder past 60 years of age.

With pouring rain again Thursday and an afternoon and evening of rain Friday, a new fear has sprung up everywhere here. In every foot of ground where I failed to shade out weeds with straw mulch, they are climbing higher and higher than our vegetables now.

Rain, heavy harvesting demands, tedious and time-consuming tiny insect egg removal by hand (to avoid even organic-approved pesticides), delivering produce great distances, too – it’s all crowding out time needed to weed.

Blocks of time I devoted to weeding and mulching are shrinking. Weeds are thriving. In three dry days we enjoyed this week, I also gave two of them to harvesting oats before weeds overcame them and to baling hay before rain returned. I was too tired at night to write down news from your farm mid-week.

If you and family or friends have any time to volunteer during this mid-point in season, please come now to help us. It’s the most difficult time of every growing season.

With visitors and volunteers, we began canning and preserving surplus green beans this week, too. Dela is happy to teach food preservation in our commercial-style kitchen, to anyone who will help prep vegetables and fill glass jars during canning. It cuts waste, diversifies and extends farm income. It especially helps our farm through winter months.

Working together – whether in garden and field challenges, or at inside tasks like canning – helps us get to know one another. It develops community. We welcome any support each of you as subscribers to Scotch Hill can give this farm, this food we grow together through all kinds of weather.

Soil Sister’s Weekend: Thanks for helping spread the word about next weekend’s classes on caring for your skin and baking with health and wholeness. They’ll feature our very own soil sisters, Dela, Miranda and Elise. Please join us for those classes at a discount to members or attend our farm tour day Sunday if you can. The Independent Register printed my release on the events this past Wednesday. You can direct people to it on line, share the release or post with others.