You know talking about the weather has come to represent the lack of meaningful conversation in our culture, but I find there's a really good reason people talk about the weather a lot. It's the reason I'm going to talk about it right now: It rained. And it rained the perfect amount at the perfect time. It was the difference between figuring out how to water a half acre of bone dry soil, and sitting back and letting the sky do it for me. What a wonderful thing.
The garden is coming along quite well. I have a method that I use which was inspired by Eliot Coleman. I plant on rows of hilled up soil and grow clover in between. In these pictures when you see black dirt with rows of green, it's probably that I either haven't planted that row or it hasn't germinated yet. The row of green is the clover in between the rows. There are a few reasons for doing this and I'm finding new reasons every season. My attitude is that weeds are going to happen. If I tried to have a completely weed free garden I would go crazy. So the idea is to start your plants with an advantage over the weeds and then spend the summer maintaining that advantage. If you do this you can get the plants to do a lot of the work for you. The biggest way that I give my plants the advantage is by planting my own "weed." This is what the clover is for. Clover is an aggressive plant that will compete well with weeds. It's a legume so it fixes nitrogen and is great for building the soil. By planting my own "weed" I've already eliminated half of the work. So you might be wondering how I keep the clover from competing with the crops. Good question. I use a weed wacker. Sure there are times when I need to get a hoe out or even hand weed, but for the most part I can keep the crops well ahead of the clover just by cutting it on a regular basis. This accomplishes another task which is mulching the plants. The clippings fly off to the side and land at the base of the crop plants keeping in moisture, fertilizing, and acting as a weed barrier all at the same time.
This year we did some experimenting with yurt frames. I built a greenhouse out of a yurt inspired structure called a bjurt, and I'm using an old wooden yurt frame to house my leafy greens. I'd like to grow green beans up the side of the lattice walls and turn it into a green bean house. Our broccoli is forming heads and will be ready to pick next week for sure if not sooner. And our cherry tomatoes have little clusters on them. I'm going to experiment with root pruning this year. You can basically shock a tomato plant into ripening early by pruning the roots. I'll see if we can get some ripe tomatoes by the end of June. That would be a record for me!