Another rainbow

Evening rainbow

It’s almost “yet another rainbow,” but not quite. We’ve seen a good collection so far this season, including quite spectacular horizon-to-horizon double rainbows two nights in a row. Which means there’s been lots of rain, and all the cloudiness that goes with it. It’s nowhere near as miserably wet as last season, though—rainfall this year has actually been great, averaging around the golden inch-a-week (2.5cm-a-week)—but 4-5 mainly cloudy days out of 7 is slowing things down.

How slow? The first summer squash that should’ve popped in size in a few sunny days, has been slowly expanding for well over a week. Root crops like beets, carrots, potatoes, aren’t affected as much, and seem to love the rain. But toms, peppers, eggplant and the whole cucurbit family (squash, melons, cucumber) are in slow motion, maybe a week or two from where they’d be with lots of sun.

Still, all in all, everything is growing along well enough, and we’re bound to hit a sunny stretch. Right?

In the photo, a third planting of green and yellow snap beans, with scare ball in place to scare off birds (it seems to work). To the right, a freshly tilled section, waiting for a third planting of spinach… This weather’s great for summer spinach!

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16 Responses to “Another rainbow”

  1. Jen says:

    Just curious, does the slow growth of the veggies to due lack of sunshine, affect the texture and/or flavor and if so how?

  2. Glad to hear your spinach is growing well. Our spinach already bolted on June 27. It was a hot dry June out West this year. Farmers without irrigation lost some crops. Rains started this last week though, so everyone is happy now!

    P.S. I grew Bloomsdale Spinach, I’ve heard there are some varieties with better bolting resistance. What variety have you had best luck with?

  3. Jamie says:

    Hi. I just wanted to say that your website is fabulous, and it’s such an asset to the sustainable farming movement. It’s the best blog about tiny farming that I’ve found so far.  My husband and I plan to buy land for a farm in about two years (when he’s finished grad school), and I read your blog every day to try to learn as much as possible.
    I’m sure it’s not easy to post regularly while you’re juggling the farm. Anyway, just wanted you to know I really appreciate your work!

  4. Great post, as usual. I also discovered the forums and am so excited to dig in more and ask all my questions.
    Like Middle Earth, I’m also curious about summer spinach varieties. We’re down on San Juan Island and our Spinach bolted long ago. We don’t have any more on the docket for planting until August or so…

    • Mike (tfb) says:

      Jen: In this sort of market gardening, where everything is left almost entirely up to the weather, every harvest is a little different, so there’s always a range of size and taste, no real baseline. Even within one planting, there’s variation. Like, from one bed of broccoli right now, I got an early head nearly two weeks ago, harvested about half last week, and the rest will have sized up for Monday, 9 days later. With more sun, they’d have probably all matured within a few days. As for taste and texture, probably no big difference. Tomatoes are very much affected by sun and heat, taste and texture both. This affects different harvests of toms from the same plant, like, poor weather and the first tomatoes have less taste and mushier consistency, weather improves and the next ones to mature have perked right up. So it’s kinda common sense and non-uniform: some things affected more or less, depending on the weather! That’s what I’ve noticed. :)

      Middle Earth Garden: For the last 3 years or so, I’ve grown just two varieties, Spargo, a fast semi-savoy hybrid, and Bloomsdale, open pollinated heirloom that takes a little longer. The Spargo is quick, reliable, with a nice “standard” spinach taste. The Bloomsdale usually has a superrich, earthy-mineraly taste, which I love, but a some people have found strong(?!). Before that, I side-by-side tried a few others: Space, Melody, Tyee (supposed to be particularly bolt-resistant). I didn’t notice much difference in taste, and, as the weather/ground got warmer, germination (at least, without lots of watering) was uniformly terrible, and then whatever grew bolted quick. So for now, I don’t rely on or search for heat-friendly varieties, just go with the weather…

      Jamie: Glad you enjoy the journal! It takes time, and I’m more behind recently than EVER, but that’s more because I’ve developed a weird attraction to Twitter of all things that’s taken up my bit of computer time. I sort of use it as a mini-blog, NOT to go, “I’m hoeing now” from a cell phone in the field. :) Still, I should stop.

      Jess: Have you checked out New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides, previously T. expansa)? It’s a completely different plant than spinach, but apparently is used as a summer substitute, grows great fine in hot weather. I’ve never seen nor tasted it, but I bought some seed last summer. Didn’t use it ’cause the summer here was so cloudy and cool, regular spinach grew fine. And same this year… But I will eventually try it!

  5. Natalie says:

    Your blog is great! Lots of great information. I notice your post from 2007 about your wheel hoe. Are you still pleased with it? I’d like to buy one for myself.
    Btw, I grow New Zealand spinach every year and I really like it. :)

  6. Thanks Mike and Natalie! I’ll have to get my hands on some seeds and check it out.

  7. Mike (tfb) says:

    Natalie: Yes, I’m happier than ever with my wheel hoe. It’s taken a pretty good pounding, hit LOTS of rocks, and the original 8″ blade hasn’t broken. I  quite often even use it to get through heavier weeds, like on paths, when the walking rototiller would be the easier choice—it’s quicker and quieter, and the bit of a workout is fine (the backstroke is powerful!). And for regular maintenance weeding in a straight line, it’s unbeatable. I like my Valley Oak handmade-by-an-organic-farmer wheel hoe, but I suppose any well-designed and built one would be equally cool!

  8. James says:

    You can’t have too many rainbow moments – I couldn’t resist adding one to ‘random plantings’ a couple of weeks ago.
    http://www.randomplantings.com/?p=269
    James
     

    • Mike (tfb) says:

      James: That’s a great photo, seeing it actually touch down! Of course, you’re right, never really too many rainbows. I have an OK shot of one of the double rainbows I mentioned that I’ll post whenever I catch up on missing blog days earlier this season. :)

  9. Gustoso says:

    Beautiful rainbow. Wish we had more of them.

  10. What a lovely photo! We had some hot weather and now its raining again…in the Pacific Northwest you just never know when its gonna rain! Kim

  11. Glenda says:

    We LOVE your website!! Thank you for all the cool information and work you put into it.
    What camera did you use?  It’s so clear, it’s just as if we were standing right there:)

    • Mike (tfb) says:

      Glenda: Last 2-3 months, it’s been a point-and-shoot, Canon SX110. Before that, I had a Canon G9, but kept progressively damaging it until it didn’t work any more. Before that, a Canon S45, which seems indestructible, still have it as a backup, but it’s lower resolution, 4 megapixels, A more-or-less pocket-sized point-and-shoot is all I really feel like I need, although people keep talking about DSLRs… They’re relatively big, heavy, EXPENSIVE…

  12. Gorgeous rainbow.

    I’ve also just found your blog and have added it to my RSS reader. Really enjoying catching up on your past posts and look forward to seeing your updates :)

  13. Such a nice view…graded A for perfect shot!! Very relaxing and fulfilling

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