A bear of a spring
A wet, cool spring could possibly mean a hard winter to come. At our camp it is shaping up that way. I am planting my fall and winter garden now. Nothing unusual about that really, except that during the last two weeks of June I was just planting my summer garden too.
The Fish & Game officer stopped near our driveway this weekend to wait for a colleague to show him where to release this bear. We chatted awhile and weren’t too surprised to hear that they have been trapping bears for the last two weeks. It seems that the berries the bears usually dine on in June are not ripe yet, or in some cases nonexistent because of poor pollination due to the constant cold and rainy weather all spring. It seems the bruins are hungry and developing a taste for chickens, and household foodstuffs, hence the trapping and relocating.
I know how the bears feel, a quick look at our fruit trees show a dismal harvest ahead 😦 I guess I shouldn’t be in too big of hurry to eat up my applesauce – it will have to last until the next year. That really does show the beauty of canning, food put by and canned properly keeps well and can take you through hard times if need be. I have plenty of provisions in the freezer too, but the shelf life is questionable.
It seems funny to post about a cool spring when everyone including the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a heat wave. We wore down vests for late night 4th of July festivities, and now we are making hay in close to 100°F weather. Go figure. Lots of things to post about, so little time to write them down. Our pastures are amazing, and I have some great photos … more on that later. But gardening is on my mind too, so here are some pictures to show just how behind we are.
It was a good thing I decided to fallow some of the garden this year – the cover crop was a runaway. And since we are a one tractor farm, I need to get my tractor work done, so Hangdog can get to haying.
Close to 7 feet tall, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it didn’t lodge at all. Della’s last contribution (besides Jane of course) was providing enough manure this winter for this cover crop patch. If I had put too much on the excess nitrogen would have made the rye grow tall but with weak stems, and the heavy rains would have brought it down. Thanks Della, this spot will be a bang up garden next year.
I use a dust mulch and wide spacing for my garden, and we water very little in our main gardens. So for that to work I have to maintain a weed-free, well cultivated area for my vegetables. Hoophouses and intense plantings are the exception to that rule though, they do need irrigation.
When it is this hot, it is critical that I conserve the soil moisture for the seeds. To do that, I don’t mark my rows, which would dry out the furrow, until I am ready to plant. As you can see in the photo above the soil is dark and damp just under the surface. More information on this type of gardening can be found in Steve Solomon’s, Water-Wise Vegetables. Obviously, this method won’t work for intensive raised bed type of gardens, and for people who have adequate water for irrigation. But it is the way truck farmers around here grow many crops in our dry, Mediterranean type summers and I can attest to the fact that it works. And if you’re a new reader, going back through my blog posts you can see I grow lots of vegetables every year, consistently. I worry about peak water… .
While it may seem like we have missed the boat this year in the garden, I haven’t felt the need to worry too much. We ate our last root crops from last year in May. In our climate we are able to store them in the row were they grew, and dig as needed. So we have adjusted our diet and tastes to match what our gardening conditions allow. Since we dined on fresh carrots, beets, rutabagas and celeriac all winter and into spring – we really have no cravings for any now. We have been happy with huge salads and braising greens until different crops mature.
And so it goes, planting by the summer solstice so I will have something to eat come next spring equinox.