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Small Things Matter

When I think about small things, I am thinking about the little decisions that can elevate a conversation to optimism or an argument. Or on the farm, getting ahead of the weather by a day or two can also have lasting impacts on the crops.

Last week, we saw temperatures climb from the low 60s to the high 70s/low 80s. This is the season where a small decision can really influence a June/July harvest. Ideal weather doesn’t exist. The weather is just what it is. Which means, as a farmer, I do my best and then move on. Farmers have an edge about them, it comes with the territory. Some crops do great, some not so great and others just don’t make it. 

Years of farming inform many decisions. A collective wisdom that has been passed down season by season and crop by crop, which means that the weather plays a big factor. But it is out of my control, and when a crop flourishes it probably has more to do with the weather than I give it credit. But the little things like depth of tillage, timely weeding, and timely watering can go long ways towards working with nature to help that crop flourish, too.

80s in May can have a lasting impact on cool weather crops, and the variability of weather can really mess with a plant’s internal clock. Cilantro is always looking for a reason to bolt or “go to seed,” as is spinach. We have chosen to focus on crops that are less temperamental like lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, winter squashes, and garlic. We have tree fruits and raspberries, too.

We no longer grow blackberries. We had two varieties of thorn less blackberries. One came on early; I mean a month before any wild blackberries were ready to harvest, but every bird within a few miles descended upon them and feasted away. The other challenge was that a warm March and cold April with a late frost, killed about a half of them. Their shoots for next year will be fine, but the combination of bird predation and frost susceptibility have made them less desirable to grow.

The other blackberry came on in late August and the birds had plenty of wild blackberries to feast on, but I didn’t like their flavor. They were prolific, big and juicy. I would always walk by them and look for the plumpest berries and eat one and think “meh”. Every time I always thought “meh” when I tasted them. So last fall, I took them out and took out their trellising. 

The beautiful thing about farming is that there are lots of choices when it comes to what crops to grow and every farmer gets to match the crop to their microclimate, their personality, and their temperament!

And with the weather changing, we have new opportunities to grow different crops. But the warmer weather has also come with new pests. I noticed new birds flying over the farm that are now in the valley. Changing weather patterns come with lots of new variabilities and that definitely keeps a farmer on their toes!

Growing good food for you that loves to grow in the Stillaguamish River Valley.