Story posted June 18, 2012
Hi! It's Peter Rosencranz. Matt Leiwant and I are the new summer student garden interns at the Bowdoin Organic Garden. It's been a fun first month at the BOG and I've been learning a lot. The wet weather this summer has made it difficult to work with the soil at our Pleasant Hill plot but even when rain keeps us from planting we have found projects to keep us occupied.
We just finished building a picnic table for the Pleasant Hill plot, which Matt and I have been working on over the past few weeks. Matt has some carpentry experience but I have next to none, and as we started to put components together, we worried that we had chosen plans for a miniature picnic table by mistake! It was a scene straight out of Zoolander. Nonetheless, we suspended our concerns and continued on. In the end it came out a normal-sized, shiny new table. Can't wait to try it out once the paint dries!
The weather these past few weeks has really impressed upon me the challenges Mother Nature poses to farming. The soil at Pleasant Hill and Wolfe's Neck is Buxton clay and it dries out incredibly slowly. That means that after a heavy rainfall like we had last week it can take days of sun to become dry enough to work in. Checking out the damage after we got several inches of rain over the course of a few days, I was shocked to find that the aisles between rows of plants had turned into rivers several inches deep. A lot of our fabric crop cover had blown off in the wind and part of a row of newly transplanted beets was completely underwater. I feared that we were going to lose a huge portion of our crops. It turned out that I was being a little melodramatic. Actually, nearly all of the plants survived, but many are definitely still recovering.
As we raked new, higher rows to help the soil drain better, I realized how sustainable agriculture involves a lot of risk. We do all we can to anticipate obstacles before they become serious problems but it's impossible to prepare for everything. No matter how much we do to ensure successful harvests, our crops' prosperity will still be determined to an extent on uncontrollable environmental conditions.
We finally got some nice weather today and barring any surprise storms, we'll be back outside at Pleasant Hill and Wolfe's Neck tomorrow. We put in a bunch of tomatoes a couple of days ago and tomorrow we will be planting new things in place of the herbs and radishes we have already harvested from the South Street garden. Start looking for fresh BOG produce in the Thorne salad bar!
"We do all we can to anticipate obstacles before they become serious problems but it's impossible to prepare for everything."
— Peter Rosencranz