Not Perfect

Today I confronted, as I do at some point every year, the fact that this season will not be perfect. I can typically maintain the aspiration to perfection at least until May, sometimes into June. This season I’ve held on to this illusion far longer than usual. It’s the crew that’s made the difference this year—they are working so well and so hard that I talked myself into believing that maybe this time we can pull off the perfect season.

This morning’s field walk disabused me of this fantasy. Despite our best efforts, in some places the weeds are still getting out ahead of us. We’re at least a week behind driving tomato stakes, which means we’re that far behind again getting them strung. A good deal of the fall transplanting still lies ahead of us, not necessarily urgent yet, but about to become so. And the garlic will be ready to harvest in about a week, a big job that will require much time and more care.

All of which is to say, typical for July. There’s just not enough time for everything. So I will have to make choices, sometimes hard choices, about where we apply our energy and attention. Some things will get done. Others will fall by the wayside. And the perfect season will remain tantalizingly out of reach.

The good news: A perfect season is not the same as an abundant season. I don’t need the fields to look textbook pristine. I need them to produce fruitfully. And I’ve learned that fruitfulness and imperfection (and even chaos, to a certain degree) can coexist quite nicely, thank you very much. So we’ll work hard and make the wisest choices we can, and rejoice in the imperfect fruitfulness we hope to receive on down the line.

Crunch Time

No question, it’s crunch time. What happens in July and August makes or breaks the season. And the reality: there’s more to do than there are hours in the day.

Keeping the weeds at bay is toward the top of that list. If we are diligent about cultivating early and often (and so far this season, we have been), we can be in a decent position at this point in the season. But there is always a awful lot of weeding that needs to be done, especially on hot days after good rains, when the weeds grow like, well, weeds.

Responding to pests, too, is important right now. I’ve already sprayed an organic remedy for the Colorado potato beetle twice in the potatoes (and once in the eggplant). I need to spray for the imported cabbage worm soon or risk some pretty holey cabbages and kale. And very shortly the tomato hornworms will arrive, and they, too, will need to be dealt with.

And July also sees the final big seeding and transplanting push for all the crops we need for the shares this fall: broccoli, kale, collard greens, cauliflower, and more. The recent rains have delayed these plantings a little bit, so as soon as the soil is dry enough, those need to get in the ground.

All of which is to say, there is lots to keep us moving with purpose and urgency, as I like to remind the crew (and myself). But in the midst of all the furious activity, there are still satisfactions to be kept in view: Cool, fresh mornings, the grass wet with dew and light mist drifting through the trees at the farm’s edge. Orderly rows of green, healthy crops unfurling across the field in the bright sunshine. Nights full of the trill of the tree frogs, and fireflies winking on and off above the meadow. And, above all, the satisfaction of putting together the shares, boxing up all that goodness, all the fruits of sun and rain and soil and labor and love, and sending it into our members’ homes and on to their tables week after week.