It’s been quite a hot and rainy summer so far this year. But rather than complain about it, I have chosen to focus on the many benefits of all this heat and moisture. So I share with you my list of happy thoughts about what this hot, humid summer has given me on the farm this year.
Happy thought #1: No need to water. In the early spring we set up the sprinkling system in the gardens and orchard, but so far, have only had it on just once – and the moment we turned it off, a robust thunderstorm swept through, depositing more than two inches of rain. It’s been raining like that all summer long: thunder storms with one to two inches of rain every few days – our own reliable, natural, automated watering system.
Happy thought #2: Weeds love it. I’ve never experienced such an abundance of gargantuan weeds. This is definitely a first for this novice farmer, so I am happy to have the opportunity for yet another new learning experience.
Happy thought #3: Weeding is a cinch. Once the patch of weeds reaches gigantic proportions, they are very easy to identify (assuring me that I’m not about to pull any of my vegetable plants by accident) and even easier to grip, thanks to their large, solid base. Considering the always-moist soil, a giant weed is also quite easy to pull up by its roots.
Happy thought #4: Weeding may bring world peace. After posting an SOS on my Facebook page, a old, dear classmate friend came up from the Twin Cities to help me out. We spent the day pulling weeds while chatting about the good old days, and pretty much had the world’s problems solved. I am happy to know that if the G-8 Summit had been held on our farm field while we were weeding, world peace would have been achieved. Maybe next year.
Happy thought #5: Meeting Popeye. Getting down on my knees and sticking my nose down near the dirt gives me the opportunity to take a really close look at the eco-system under my plants. One happy discovery was that my spinach patch is being protected by a large toad, appropriately named “Popeye” by fellow SGT writer Tracey Paska. I am so happy to know that Popeye the Toad is keeping my plants safe from slugs and other pests, and that he is getting fatter (in a good way) every day.
Happy thought #6: Snakes are cute. I actually really like snakes. I have always been amazed at how a creature with no extremities can move so fast and eat an animal that is larger than its own head. And the jungle of thick vegetation in my gardens provides lots of cover for common garter snakes to thrive. I am happy to know that any mouse that may dare to venture into my gardens to munch on my plants will also risk being munched on in return.
Happy thought #7: Hiding from politicians. It’s campaigning season, and here in the country it is not uncommon to have local politicians go door-to-door asking for votes. Working in the gardens under cover of tall weeds is the perfect hiding place when such candidates pull into my driveway. I am happy to duck and cover to wait for them to leave. It also gives me some quality time with Popeye and the garter snakes.
Happy thought #8: They’re not really weeds. Everyone has their own definition of a weed. My definition is that they are plants growing in the wrong place. Some of the “weeds” I’ve removed are actually beautiful tomato plants that have sprouted from last year’s crop. But most of the plants-growing-in-the-wrong-place that I’ve removed this year are native prairie grasses and wildflowers that opted to make their home in the gardens instead of the fields where they were originally meant to be. I am so happy to see how our 40 acres of restored native prairie fields are thriving, and in full bloom, thanks to all of this rain.
Happy thought #9: The honeybees love them. Admittedly, I haven’t identified all of the species of plants-growing-in-the-wrong-place, but a few of them have interesting blooms and my honeybees absolutely love them. So I decided to let the bees forage the blossoms first before I tore them all out. I am happy to have an excuse to not pull some unidentified plants in one spot, so I can concentrate my efforts on another spot.
Happy thought #10: I’m not alone. At first I was embarrassed by the immense crop of unplanned plants growing in the gardens, which would appear to be evidence of neglect. But when I confessed to my fellow farmers and gardeners that I have not been able to keep up with weed removal this year, they acknowledged the same problem as well. This, by far, is the happiest news of all. I am happy to know that I am not a completely incompetent farmer.
I am also happy to report, that despite the invasion of enormous weeds, my crops of squash, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, green beans, dragon’s tongue wax beans, and other veggies, are quite happy as well.
Debbie Morrison is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty. She and her husband Jim own and operate Sapsucker Farms, where their certified organic crops include maple syrup, honey, apples, plums and vegetables. Debbie's last post for Simple, Good and Tasty was Life with "The Girls" Provides Entertainment, Free Fertlizer and Incomparable Eggs.