Whewww, it's been hot! And "gnatty'" - a term we are using to describe when the gnats or black flies are thick and not only buzz annoyingly but seemingly attack by flying in eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. It's enough to make us want to hide in the house! We've found slathering vanilla on our necks and faces to be a pleasant way to repel them, and it seems Bill follows me more closely since I smell like freshly-baked cookies.
Lately our focus has been on irrigating the fields. The heat of the hot sun along with several windy days had dried out the ground so we were watering everyday until rain came Tuesday night. Bill got a regular rotation going while checking the fields each morning in case a certain one needed to be bumped up. The pea plants are loaded with blossoms and just starting to yield so they need extra water now through the end of their harvest. The sweet potato slips that arrived last week and were planted over the weekend also require more water until they start to vine. And so do the newly-transplanted cucumbers.
Walking the fields this time of year is exciting - sometimes it feels like a cross between a surprise party and a treasure hunt. We search for problems but also anticipate seeing signs of crops beginning to yield vegetables. Sometimes we are surprised by something ripening early than expected. Take the sugar snap peas for instance. The past couple of seasons we planted them as soon as we could get in the field to get an early abundance of peas but kept experiencing a disappointing result. The germination rate was dismal even though we soaked and inoculated the seed. Not ones to give up easily, we waited a couple of weeks longer this spring to plant the pea seed. It felt scary and wrong, but we had made the decision thinking the delay would give the soil more time to warm and improve the germination rate. This week with pods hanging on the vines earlier than usual, we think we might have found the best time for planting peas on our farm.
The green bean plants are up and growing fast, and the chard and kale have taken off. The carrots and beets are also flourishing. We can't wait to eat baby beets! Tiny summer squash and zucchini are making their appearance. And even though the wind has been trying hard to shred their leaves, the different varieties of head lettuce look so beautiful in their rows that I hate to harvest them!