Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Encroachment Maintenance

We have been really bad about taking photos of the field in recent weeks. I am sure this is because we have been demoralized about the weeds and the various dying veggies that are the result of some of the wettest July weather ever recorded. I regret now that we have not taken more photos so that I could have before and after shots to demonstrate the work we have been able to do this week. Today we nearly completed weeding the remaining salvagable beds and it is great to see orderly rows of plants again. I am ignoring for the moment the overgrown potato beds and the four beds of colorful carrots that are totally lost. Those shall be mowed down within the coming week. As we have been using the recent rainless days to weed, landscapers contracted by Vermont Gas have been on the fringes of our field maintaining the green invasion even more drastically by cutting down and chipping the wooded margins. This opens up so much more light and air movement for that end of the field. This year we could tell the blueberries were ripe next door at Adam's Berry Farm by noting the blue, seed-filled bird crap on our tomato trellis. Now we will be able to actually see the fruit-laden plants! So with a little dry weather our spirits have gotten a real boost. Again, most of the plants made it through the crazy weather and it was our will that was the weakest link. Today, we discussed with enthusiasm our plans for the fall planting and tossed around ideas for next year.

The weather is always hard to predict and is one of the greatest challenges facing the successful production of high quality vegetables. This realization frustrates the planning process as I think about next year. We can plan so many aspects of our farm, but in the end, so much relies on the weather. It is hard to plan for a wet year (a dry year can be compensated for by irrigation), but when I cannot get over the idea that we did plan for a wet year. Last year, we bought the Haygrove hoophouse for this exact reason. It is hard not to dwell on the idea that we have already anticipated this problem and spent considerable money to deal with it. Yet due to various bureaucratic holdups, we were prevented from using this tool this year. I am not entirely sure what the current status of the hoophouse hoopla is, but we remain committed to erecting it this late fall for next season. After the semi-favorable decision this spring, we joined the Intervale Center in appealing the decision, due to some overly restrictive language for them and some ambiguous conditions for us. Last I have heard, the state agencies have gotten our appeal thrown out of the environmental court and sent to the state supreme court where it could be delayed for a long time. This may be an attempt to win by financial attrition. As one of the Intervale staff said, it is like trying to describe a diffuse vapor, as it is always in flux. I may not fully understand all the maneuverings that seem to be going on around this minor issue. But we are planning on the Haygrove rain fence for next year. And maybe some chickens and geese to help us with weed control. Next year, as always is the best year ever. For now, we maintain the encroachment and use the pleasant downhill slide toward Fall to experiment and plan and especially harvest lots and lots of beautiful tomatoes.

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