Finally, it is raining. It was starting to feel like the ground was concrete and the weeds were iron welded inside. Farming can feel like a struggle, like you’re at war with the elements, fighting the weeds, cursing the heat, praying for rain. And some days (the dog days of high summer particularly), it feels like a losing battle. That tall amaranth is going to seed, purslane is everywhere, and lambsquarter has grown into sturdy little bushes dotting the field.
Crops have been lost: the arugula came in spotty and was immediately choked by weeds and devoured by flea beatles. It was still a joy to smell when I walked on it and retilled the bed. The claytonia never grew bigger than a fingernail but it was cute. Big plans made in the depths of winter have blown away on the summer’s breeze. Selling cut flowers to local florists? Yeah, not happening this year. The seed chest is still full of things that missed their window. Maybe next spring, little guys.
But other things have grown up in their place. The potatoes my farmer neighbors shared are looking good and almost ready to harvest. The tomato seedlings another farmer generously gifted me are bearing fruit, and they’re delicious. There is a volunteer mystery squash plant happily producing large funny shaped gourds, which I have yet to try but the chickens like them. The okra is flowering, and the corn is getting tall. Baby beans and winter squash are growing bigger every day.
I harvested my first seeds yesterday, which feels like an ending, but also a beginning. Hopefully they will make it into the ground next year, growing into delicious and beautiful Chinese flowering broccoli, with its cheerful bright yellow flowers and spicy mustardy zing. I miss the iceberg lettuce, but I’m hoping to save seeds from that too, and looking forward to eating it next season.
If it’s a war, I’m not going to win. I can’t control the weather or the weeds. I can do my best to put the work in and be grateful for what I get in return. It might not be what I imagined, or planned for, or thought I wanted, but maybe it will be better. Maybe it will turn out to be the best squash ever. I’ll get back to you on that.