Our season ended without much bang, quietly slipping into the night - a 28 degree one - some weeks ago. We'd been watching the frost warnings, glued to our obsurdly inaccurate iphone weather apps as if there was something we could possibly do to prolong it -- push back the frost just another week so I could maybe sell a few more dahlias, a few more of the cosmos or love in a puff vines. Not that I wanted to cut anything else at that point. Not that I wanted to have to continue to deal with it. At the end of the season it's a maddening pull in opposite directions; wanting the frost to end it all and wanting just one more day with the flowers. C'est la vie.
The second season here on the farm. But our first year planting row crops of flowers in the big field be call Conference Room #1. An 11 acre conference room. So much of this you just cannot learn in a book or on the internet or by talking to people or by attending farming conferences. So much is just doing, failing, doing again. After this year I know our main field so much better - its temperaments, it's drainage disposition, which way the wind tends to blow over it. I love this field and I curse it. In certain places at the right time it can be so rich and the dirt can look so good, and at other times it can look like the surface of the fucking moon; a rocky miserable impenetrable wasteland. So it goes.
I like to think of this year as the grand experiment, my learning year. We didn't really sell that many flowers - maybe a couple thousand dollars worth to mostly ourselves at Saipua and to a few other florist friends. Next year I feel I will be better armed to set up the fields for real production, having learned so much this year about TIMING. And WEEDS. And BUGS. And IRRIGATION.
It was a great year for our kitchen garden; with heavy emphasis on tomatoes. We seeded around 100 plants in March in the basement under grow lights and then set them out in late May when the threat of frost was finally gone. It was such a long freezing spring, the tomatoes had a late start. We were not getting fruit really until September and then by the end of September the plants all fell victim to the usual late blight (the extra tomato plants we put up in the flower field held on longer with less blight, reminding me to move my tomatoes even farther from the kitchen garden for the next few years to get all the fungus out of the soil).
Despite an early demise, the tomatoes fed us sandwiches for weeks and also resulted in a batch of canning that will sustain Eric and I for the winter with tomatoes. (The yellow brandywines make an excellent bright sauce.) Did you know that the acidity has been bred out of many standard tomatoes; that's why you have to add citric acid to your jars. I like the acidity of an old fashioned tomato. Another reason to grow heirlooms; but alas they are more susceptible to disease.
As we go through this project of setting up a farm, I keep seeing more and more how good it is for me, Eric, and Saipua - even though it doesn't always feel that way. I feel like all I've written this year on the blogs is how hard it is, how lonely I am... I usually sound like a whiny, soggy brat. Which I certainly can be. But hidden in this span of difficult months and days are the smallest moments of accomplishment, of beauty where it was not anticipated...
Of course I grew the poppies wrong - I'm still not sure how, we seeded them in May - but in late august after I had long since given up on them, there they came... the tiniest, anemic blooms...defying the weeds and hot temperatures. Sad pretty flowers.
I realize this is what I came here for.