There are few things in life more satisfying than watching things grow, whether plant or human. Of particular enjoyment is seeing things in yourself that were once weaknesses, but that are growing strengths. When I reflect on my own personal journey, and the milestones that we have passed in this season on the farm, June will standout for not only being the midpoint, but also as the time that a quiet confidence permeates the projects, daily work, and special emergencies. I continue daily to be humbled by the amount of surprises and the things that come up – I don’t know what I don’t know. Still, each day brings the knowledge that the days chores will come more naturally, and that the curveballs that show up will get managed.
June marked the opening of our first Sunflowers. We put the first seedlings into the high tunnel in early March – they were a day neutral variety that many Southern growers like. In putting the Sunflowers in the tunnel, I had a few seedlings which were the runts. After the high tunnel was fully seeded, there were several of the runts still in the trays. I put them in a corner of the garden, and forgot about them. Wouldn’t you know that the first sunflowers to bloom were the runts – granted they were about 2 foot tall, but they still had a happy face, and brought brightness to their corner of the garden.
Meanwhile, the sunflowers in the high tunnel continued to grow, and grow and grow. Eventually topping out at about 10 feet – so tall that we had to take the greenhouse plastic off the high tunnel.
We lost our well early in the month. The things that I would normally do, did not correct the water pressure, and so we brought in professional help, which turned out to be the right call. Not only did they find the crack in the well pipe – which would have been difficult to find – you can see the water leak in the picture on the left, right at the top concrete block line, but they also replaced the well pump with a more efficient pump that will last a lot longer.
Part of our growth as a farm couple (April and I) was that while the well was a setback, it did not stop us. The fields still got watered, and we cleaned up every day. Now I can’t tell you how good the hot shower after 5 days felt, but I can tell you that we could have gone for another week without the well if needed. As I write this, we have installed rain gutters and have collected hundreds of gallons of water, in addition to the water we have pumped into barrels around the farm.
We also cleared a couple of acres of land to make way for a new high tunnel, and to clean up the power line. The contractor who cleaned the land, also cleaned up an area for a pond, which we filled in with Bentonite. The primary purpose for the work on the pond, was to alleviate the flooding issues that we had in the spring, where water seeped underneath the levee and into the lower field. A side benefit would be to hold several thousand more gallons of water which we could use to irrigate with.
The flowers really came up well this month. So many varieties – Strawflowers, Rudbeckia, Sweet WIlliam, Zinnias and Dianthus.
We also started the cooler project – turning the old smokehouse into a flower cooler. This is an exciting development for us, as it will allow us to store flowers for a longer period of time. We are using an innovative tech tool – the Coolbot. The Coolbot connects to a standard window air conditioner and tricks the air conditioner into thinking that 50 degree is actually 65 degrees, keeping the air conditioning running. The Coolbot will cool a well insulated room down to 36 or so degrees. We have been insulating the smoke house very well to reduce the costs of air conditioning.
June was a good month. Its halfway through this the first of what I hope will be many seasons on the farm. When I think about all of the things we have done, have learned this month, and how much more we have to learn, I am humbled at how our ancestors managed these daily tasks. I am thankful that I’ve been able to make this journey.