We are getting so close to the local season exploding! The next few months are going to roll in like morning fog, and then heat up like hot summer day. The rain last week has hydrated the crops and added moisture to the fields. The moisture is especially helpful this time of year for 2 reasons.
The first is what you might expect, it waters the crops, and after that hot stretch, the peas and lettuce are happy for the cool weather and a drink! Plants are so amazing. When you look at a plant and study it’s leaf structure, you will notice how they have a center rib that funnels water towards the roots and/or the outer circumference of the plant. This is sometimes referred to as the drip zone. The leaves are accumulators of moisture and funnel it to where the plant needs it most.
Another interesting tidbit about leaves is that the leaves “open up” in the morning to capture the dew and then “close off” to conserve the moisture and nutrition. There is also really good evidence that the birds chirping away are one of the mechanisms that causes the plants to open up and take in the nutrition. Joelle and I have intentionally planted trees, all types, on the borders of our property to encourage a diverse ecosystem.
Starting in the spring, and running throughout the summer, it can get really loud at sunrise with all the avian activity on our farm. I would venture that a rooster didn’t get the farmer up at the crack of dawn, it was all the wildlife singing to the plants!
Another use for moisture is to help breakdown the remaining residue from our winter crops that we plant to protect and nourish our soil. Moisture and heat are critical for the fungi and bacteria world to turn the fibrous plant material into nutrients. Which, in turn, build soil health and feed the plants. Making sure the crop is incorporated into the soil, and there is adequate moisture, speeds up the process and frees the nutrients to feed the plants.
Feeding the soil bacteria and the other host of unseen workers is job one for an organic farmer. Without healthy soil you can’t have healthy food, and without healthy food you can’t have healthy people. If the national health trend is any indication, our nation’s soil is not producing very healthy crops. And to compound the issue, the agricultural crops are turned into a myriad of overly processed foods that are even more unhealthy.
Organically grown fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes consumed as close to their original state is the silver bullet to America’s health crisis. A simple solution, but one that eludes most.
Growing food for you.