It’s another rainy day in North Georgia. When market customers would lament rainy conditions with me, they would often catch themselves and say, “oh, but I guess it’s good for you. Farmers love rain right?”
I guess that is partly true. We probably appreciate rain more than the average person, but once the aquifers are replenished and the plants are hydrated, its appeal diminishes significantly. Too much rain makes it impossible to use a tractor. It also makes working in soil on foot incredibly difficult and messy, and actually compacts the soil which is bad for microorganisms and plant health. With shorter and colder days, fields often don’t dry out during wet winters. If it’s super wet for months at a time, it really limits the work you can do and becomes quite a problem.
When growing in tunnels, your beds are largely protected from rain, which is mostly helpful. Often times though, farmers are not experienced in the construction practice of grading and find that after going through significant effort and expense to build their tunnel(basically a greenhouse), it gets flooded from all the thousands of gallons running off the roof, down the sides and into the tunnel. The beds get soaked. The plants stay too wet. The tunnel heats up like an oven the moment the sun comes out, creating a muggy, humid, warm environment perfect for diseases and pests. Fungus gnats sweep through, carrying viruses. Botrytis proliferates, Sclerotinia shrivels your ranunculus to nothing overnight. Downy mildew starts out as an innocuous blemish that by the end of the month requires you to pull out thousands of ruined and contagious snapdragons.
So, like everything else in farming, the answer to the rain question is “yes, but...”
There’s no easy prescription or one size fits all solution to anything in ag. It’s a delicate dance and the more observant, attentive and flexible you are in your responses to unexpected conditions, the better your odds of success in growing. The better you are at adjusting your plans the next year, based on the previous year’s observation, the better your odds of success as well.
Here’s the stripped down overview of how to grow something: Observe. Plan. Implement. Observe. Respond.
Don’t get too attached to your initial plan. Rigidity has no place in gardening/farming. The only rigidity that’s beneficial is a firm determination to keep trying. You need that to get through all the challenges nature bestows upon you. So, be firm in your conviction, but flexible in your execution.
If you are new to growing in the winter. Use raised beds so that your soil has more opportunity to drain out. Saturated soil leads to anaerobic conditions which are bad for plant health.
If you are building a tunnel, bring in soil and raise up the footprint of the tunnel relative to the surrounding area, so that it will always drain and never pool up with water. If it’s too late and you are already having water problems in an existing tunnel, rent a backhoe and dig a French drain outside the perimeter and/or put rain gutters down the whole length of your tunnels and diver the water elsewhere.
For non gardeners who just love flowers, there’s probably a few metaphors for life tucked in there somewhere.
Also for the flower lovers!!!!…in response to many requests over the years, we are super happy to announce our Spring Flower Subscriptions!!! For everyone who loves having our fresh flowers every week, but doesn’t love waiting on the computer at noon each Friday to compete for limited supplies of flowers, you are free from those shackles :)
You can now pay in advance for weekly or even bi-weekly flowers and take your Friday lunchtimes back. You also save money with a subscription as we’ve knocked a few bucks off the price each week for subscribers.
We did a test run with our dahlias this fall and the subscription process went great and recipients loved it! The Spring version will include a lot more variety from week to week since we have so many more flowers in Spring, so it will be fun to get a sample platter, or a flower flight, that will brighten your home with all the flowers you love and likely some new ones that you didn’t know you’d love. Everyone loves ranunculus, but so many people have been surprised by how much they love our Icelandic poppies and by how long they last. The same for anemones and butterfly ranunculus. Not to mention Hellebores and our specialty varieties of fragrant daffodils. Everything in spring is amazing!!
Go ahead and check out the product link here and email Rachel@3porchfarm.com if you have any questions about subscriptions.
Have a wonderful weekend!