Solistice: Looking Back and Ahead
Solstice is a time for looking back, looking ahead and, above all, being present in the transcendental moment of bright light. As farmers, this incredible time of the year affords us an opportunity to evaluate what has been working, what the season has given us in terms of weather, and how we need to tilt, hold the course or radically change direction for the coming growing months. We need to put on our Ralph Waldo Emerson hat and respond to our “brilliant, perilous present.” At this point we have had three solid months farming, as fields are still being assessed for their fertility, vulnerabilities and their overall health, both in the soil and in the air, where insects try to conquer. This is a critical time when we need to look back, it is a time when we must look forward, it is a time for reckoning mistakes and understanding that within our short growing season every decision moving forward is significant.
This June has been more reminiscent of historical averages, the “Junuary” everyone seems to dislike. When we first started farming in 1995, it was the norm that summer weather would never appear until after July 4th. Low temperatures and higher rainfall would always dominate June, but over the last few years we got used to a warmer and drier early summer, lulling us into a pattern of planting early. So today we stand and look at too many transplants in the green house waiting, fields waterlogged, and air temps that have stunted the usual longest-day-of-the-year growth. Our sights will need to tilt from early season harvest to mid/late summer and early fall productivity. The hatches of menacing cucumber beetles and black flea beetles will most likely hit in July and as the wetness has dominated, wire-worms may now be an issue. We need to gear up in our crop diversification and rotations. Not all is lost, as blueberries have been very content with the cooler weather, and we delight in a large and robust crop this year. Wearing the Emerson hat has been very important botanically, as well as looking at all social injustices. In the early 1830’s he was resolutely against slavery, and his powerful words and literary thought spoke to those putting chains around slaves was a chain around themselves. “I have confidence in the laws of morals as of botany. I have planted maize in my field every June for seventeen years and I never knew it come up strychnine. My parsley, beet, turnip, carrot, buck-thorn, chestnut, acorn, are as sure. I believe that justice produces justice and injustice injustice.”
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