- high tunnel greenhouses, which in this environment offer great protection from heavy rains, can, and do flood and will smother plants (solution - raised beds of well-draining growing media);
- a tractor-mounted tiller, while a miracle implement, must be used sparingly during exceedingly wet springs lest it overly compact the soil;
- corn can be planted in flats and transplanted into the mud when all else fails, but, don't ever underestimate the raccoons (solution here was to buy electric netting, as the deer fence just won't keep them out);
- and, I believe that winter oats can actually rob the soil of nitrogen early in the season as the woody stems break down.
This is not to say that last year was a failure, but after such an awesome garden in years prior, we had very high expectations for 2013. For one thing, we completed installation of a drip irrigation system which, as it turns out, is not much use when it rains 2 inches every weekend for a month and a half (we never even turned it on).
Last year was particularly mild, setting up for an unusually wet spring. This year's cold weather pattern, I believe, will yield to the type of spring we are accustomed to, and the hard freezes will knock back pests and weeds that are not usually perennial, but manage to live through our recent mild winters. The pear and fig trees will appreciate the dormancy.
We are making a few changes this year - increasing the herb beds, changing our mulching methods, moving crops, and working hard to make the high tunnels produce the way they were expected to. This brings me to the $1 tomato seeds, and the trailer load of crushed pine bark parked in the driveway. One of the high tunnels is being geared to by-the-book (or Greenhouse Tomato Culture) tomato production. We will be building raised beds and utilizing high-quality greenhouse tomato stock and drip irrigation to attempt to duplicate the kind of results that can be achieved in this type of growing environment. It will mean a little more trouble and some additional equipment and new techniques. We will utilize integrated pest management and do this with no chemical pesticides. I consider tomatoes to be the bedrock of a successful garden. Last year's late, wet, spring caused damage to the tomatoes and this year I am determined to produce an abundance.
So as we finish ordering our seeds, start flats of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and early season vegetables and herbs, send out emails to our past and new CSA members, we renew our enthusiasm, raise our hopes, and make adjustments, fully expecting this season to be the best ever.