Del Norte Gardening: Weather-wise, we shouldn’t be complaining

Written by Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams July 24, 2012 04:50 pm

Del Norte Gardening runs monthly. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick.

By this time of the year things on the farm are really buzzing.  We’ve made it into our “harvest” season, along with all the weeding, watering and maintenance a seven-acre garden requires.

One thing that we seem to hear a lot of this time of year from folks, is how abnormal of a growing season it is, and how it just hasn’t gotten sunny and warm yet.

We usually do our best to agree and smile. However, the last three years at least have been, in our eyes, pretty “normal.”  We have made it through the blasting north winds of spring and we’ve clearly moved on to foggy summer mornings, giving way to afternoons with sun and light breeze.

If you’ve been paying attention, we’ve had lots of beautiful days in the mid-60s. Another bonus of this year in particular has been the frequency of rain. It has been one of the easier years for keeping things watered. Rain and gloom can be an easy target for complaints, but we try our best to be thankful. Weather is certainly one of those things in life we can’t control, so, plant accordingly.  

When compared to the national headlines, we can clearly see an advantage to farming and gardening in a cool, coastal climate. This season, things do not look good for commodity growers across the country.

Dozens of wildfires have devastated summer grazing and drought has now seriously affected grain crops nationwide. Now, the culmination of these factors has led to the all-so-obvious talk of rising food costs. The only respite we feel from this terrible situation is the comfort of raising food in a “rainy and gloomy” place.

So, maybe its time to rethink some of our complaints about the weather, at least this year. There are a whole lot of people who are in a downright bad situation, who could use our thoughts and prayers going into the summer.

If you need a little encouragement on your garden project this year, here’s a little advice from our vegetable garden to yours:

If you have had trouble with your first plantings, try again. There is still plenty of time to sow seeds and transplant plants through July, August and even September. Our experience says second and third plantings tend to do better than your first plantings due to warmer weather and less likelihood of stress.

Next, do your best to look at planting in the garden as an ongoing thing.  Eating is an ongoing thing, so planting, weeding and harvesting should be too.

By September, your plantings are late enough to be “over-wintered” and could stand to be as free of weeds, or even mulched. Weeds are one of the most pressing jobs in the organic garden. We cannot stress enough the importance of timely weeding. It makes the difference between fun in the garden and a disaster of weeds that chokes out your crop, eventually going to seed, and perpetuates an invasive crop of weeds in the very spot you were hoping to grow your garden.

Don’t take weeding lightly! We often remind our farm interns how much farming is about “following through.” This has so many parallels to life. So, begin cultivating your garden just as weeds emerge.