In an ideal year, all transplants would gradually be placed outdoors during April and May. Each week, one or two new things would be planted in the garden and only the pepper plants and sweet potatoes would remain to be planted at the beginning of June. This would leave plenty of time to put down plastic mulch, drip irrigation, and row covers gradually, as these items were needed.
This hasn’t exactly been an ideal year. I planted most everything during the one ten-day dry spell we’ve had. Because of my haste, the rows are not straight, and plastic mulch didn’t make it down under as many of the transplants as I’d have liked. All the rain has given the weeds ample time to germinate and I’m spending a lot of time hoeing, hand weeding, and wishing the rows were straighter so I could do a little more tractor cultivating. However, there haven’t been many days dry enough for that anyway.
But even when everything isn’t perfect, I still love it. Being out in the sun, rain, mosquitoes, and flies, pulling foxtail grass endlessly, sitting on thistles, dodging poison ivy, getting drip tape wrapped up in the rototiller tines, and standing on the hot pavement every Saturday morning bright and early are all parts of the best job in the world. I see the sun rise and set. I eat fruit warmed by the sun at the peak of ripeness. I watch hummingbirds, discover barn swallows, and am surprised by toads. Even weeds have pretty flowers sometimes. I am in the fresh air and obtain free exercise and a tan. I get to drive a tractor. I pick fruit and vegetables by the pint, quart, bucket, bunch, bushel, and hundredweight. I sleep a blessed, oblivious sleep on nights when I’ve been working in the field. There are always new problems to solve and interesting things to think about.
Besides the pure enjoyment of the outdoor physical labor, there is the satisfaction of doing something to make this little piece of ground better. Organic matter is being added to the soil. Erosion is slowing down, rain is being soaked down into the ground instead of running off. Zillions of microbes of every kind are coming to life and doing everything they do to support life. The ground is making a recovery from its deadening dependence on external inputs.
And as if this weren’t enough, people who care about what they eat are getting a chance to eat wonderful food that comes from 25 miles away from their home instead of the average grocery store food that travels something like 1200 miles. And I get to meet these people! I love this.