Rain, rain, rain marvelous rain! Another 1.8 inches last Wednesday and Thursday. Everything looks great, the weeds are growing too but the ponds are full now! Of course there are always downsides to everything but considering the need for the water I won’t whine too much. We are in the middle of lettuce season and when the plants are getting big enough to harvest lots of rain makes them very fragile and susceptible to disease. We plant the lettuce three rows to the bed twelve inches apart so there is not much air flow around the plants when they get to harvest stage. It is like your closet in the middle of the humid summer, fungus and mold loves to grow in these conditions. There is a soil borne lettuce disease appropriately called “bottom rot” because that is what it does. Our strategy for control is raised beds, many years in the crop rotation, and careful watering at the late stages. Well just before the rains started I irrigated, as I get to where I never believe we will actually get rain, then we got over three inches in the last week. We have seen a fair amount of the problem but I think have worked through all the bad beds. Adding insult to injury I had to cut Weaver Street Market’s lettuce in the rain last Thursday. I waited as long into the afternoon as I could hoping the rain would stop as wet lettuce is very tender and frankly cutting in the rain is not much fun. Finally I gave up and spent two hours hunched over with lettuce knife in hand. Of course by the time I got to Weaver Street’s back door the rain had ended but they had the lettuce they needed, such is the life of a produce grower.
Yesterday was the second installment of covering the Big Tops. This time it was the set that covers Betsy’s flowers that don’t like to be wet when it’s time to cut them. Four bays each covered with 30′ X 100′ sheets of plastic. We had the perfect windless morning and the A team on hand to perform. After three years of trying different approaches we now have settled on a four person system. Two people control the corners on one end and we pull the plastic over the top from one end to the other. Betsy is working a long push pole moving down the length of the tunnel helping the plastic over the top and I scamper around, some on a step ladder, some on the ground pulling the leading edge down as we make progress down the tunnel. Finally with it all draped over the top we clip the starting end on to the end bow and then got to the opposite end and pull the excess down that way and clip that end off. With these tunnels the clips just hold the ends in position. The plastic is really held on with a roping system that criss crosses over the top of the tunnels and are anchored on the legs. It is quite a show as Betsy and Joann pull the rope back and forth over the top as Rett and I follow tightening it. We approached a new world record, covering four bays clipped and roped in three and a half hours! We may be heading out on the road to make the big money!