let it rain

 June 2. Spring has been an occasional day or two of balmy sun between unusually long stretches of cold rain. Nobody around here is complaining, exactly – after a dry early winter, we’re just now approaching normal rainfall for the season. Still, with soil too soggy and cold to plant, some people have already given up hope for summer crops. If it weren’t for the hoophouses we’d have no garden started yet, either.
The new flower house, 12×24’, is filled with wedding flower starts and some cucumbers and lettuce. We’re eating from the main hoophouse (20×48’) right now – peas, Brazilian broccoli, kale, spinach, chard, strawberries, artichokes. Yesterday we harvested the main garlic crop in there and planted the remaining peppers. Most of the warm-season seeds started indoors in April on heat mats are planted now in the hoophouse: cucumbers, the climbing Trombetta squash, basil, and more of the wedding zinnias, which so do not want to be in cold soil. The other big hoophouse, which we call the cathedral (30×48’), has one tomato variety we’ll save for seed (Persimmon), some winter squash and onions, and all the melons. Poor melons, completely in shock from the cold, not yet growing a bit.  

You can see the Brazilian broccoli –Piracicaba – against the hoophouse wall on the right, and beside it a row of ‘Music’ garlic, slower to mature than our main crop of ‘Spanish Roja’. The tub holds border gladiolus for the August wedding. The spicy fragrant Dianthus in front are best known as Cottage Pinks (on the right) and Cheddar Pinks (left). Both are from Annie’s Annuals, my favorite nursery for perennial flowers (I’m likely to start annual flowers from seed, but go to Annie’s for dependable and unexpected repeat performers).  

Outdoors, whenever the soil dries out enough, we pull weeds and dig in compost. A third of the garden beds are ready but too cold for the seeds we want to plant. Another third are weeded but need compost, and the rest are too wet even to pull weeds. We’re resorting to starting seeds in flats indoors that we would rather plant direct – corn, wedding sunflowers, millet and sorghum.

I have to admit I’m experiencing all this not as a hardship but as a welcome organizer and pace-slowing device. Weather can be great that way – there’s no arguing with it. I remember that last year, with a more normal headlong spring, the hoophouse was neglected while we readied garden beds. This year it’s pretty fabulous, like the greenhouse of some other more fastidious gardener, while the orchard, for instance, still features five-foot-tall grass blocking the paths. Even the hens are having trouble getting beyond the entrance.