It's been a very late, cool, and wet early summer at Bayfield. You might think that that would be bad for things that grow--and maybe you'd be right if you were thinking of corn and soybeans--but we farm berries. Berries thrive in cooler temperate climates and their fruits are nearly 90% water; so if bigger is better, lots of moisture can be a good thing. Our crops will be late this year, but I have never seen the blueberries looking better. In the short time I was gone, the bushes have exploded in new growth, with some vigorous shoots already 20 inches or more in length with large, glossy, deep green leaves. Most of the fruit has set, and it is exciting to see the many large clusters of green berries that promise a bountiful harvest if we will be patient and continue to be attentive.
As good as "cool and moist" can be for berries, these conditions can also be "too much of a good thing" where soils are heavier and less well drained. Such is the situation of our present Raspberry field. Despite our efforts to affect drainage with drain tile, ditches, and raised beds, many of the plants have been severely affected this season by phytophthera fungus--commonly called "root rot" or simply "wet feet". There likely will be raspberries--but not what we had hoped for--so we will have to lower our expectations for this season, heed the lessons Mother Nature is teaching, and resolve to do better for the future. Chris and Magdalen just finished planting a large new field of raspberries on a site we hope will be better prepared and better suited to the crop.
Despite the weather, Jon has made great progress on our new USDA engineered facility for safe mixing of farm chemicals, cleaning and garaging of related implements, and storage of related equipment and supplies. It will be the first of its kind at Bayfield--a model for environmental protection in the region. The complicated concrete work is complete and he is nearly ready to begin framing the remaining structure.
The other change that occurred during my absence is the length of the grass. One can hardly keep up with it in this season. Its time for me to get back outside and do my part for this family enterprise!