Farming in the rain

I just ducked in to escape an April Fool’s hailstorm and downpour. The build up to the thunderstorm was amazing from the top of the apricot trees. The orchard looks beautiful and lush out there with all the rain. I know I should be hating the rain coming down on all the baby peaches, and keep checking them for any signs of disease, but after the drought this winter, the abundant green fills my heart up with gratitude. We’ll all be a little late planting this year, but that’s OK, right? Much better than the brown, dry soil crust we had before.

I’m also feeling so grateful for all the help in the orchard this year. Katie Fyhrie is my new farm partner and she is great! She comes to the Cloverleaf after starting a small vegetable farm last year and is currently in the California Farm Academy. Katie’s also trying to start a juice business (Juice Mama!) for the farmstand this year and is currently hard at work deciphering all the regulations. I could go on about how complicated this state makes starting a small business.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We’ve been weeding, thinning, working on signs & owl boxes, and … planting vegetables in the orchard! We are both very excited about this – we’ve planted beets, carrots, strawberries, spinach, arugula (in very small quantities) and wild leeks (or ramps).

We’re going to be planting all these crops on the berms to increase our water use efficiency. Rather than watering weeds on the berms, we’ll be watering our crops! We’re also going to try a strip down the side with perennial herbs and one strip down the middle with peanuts and sweet potatoes. Oh yeah, and about 300 basil plants in the nectarines because they are supposed to help with thrips. Maybe we’ve been getting a bit too excited – we can’t lose sight of our big thinning task and the fruit! I estimate we’ve got about 5 weeks left until harvest begins… We had a wine and weeding party and some classy looking ladies helped supervise Tree weeding on his knees in the cleavers.

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And good news – we just got our official organic certification this morning! It’s been a long transition period. I’m hoping that this will help the net sales this year and hopefully I will finally break the minimum wage barrier in my fourth season! The cover crop that we planted with our EQIP grant is another thing that makes me so grateful and excited lately. The BIOS cover crop was a mix developed with almond farmers and researchers at SAREP – it has over 20 different kinds of seeds. The tidy tips, mustard and red clover are just blooming, we’ve been harvesting cilantro and dill for about a month now, there’s carrots, wild celery, rye, alfalfa, lupine, calendula and the vetch is just starting to climb out of the mix. The idea is that the cover crop will go to seed and I’ll be able to mow it just before our first U-pick.

When taking this selfie, we both realized it was the first time for both of us to take a picture we called a “selfie” (also later learned that we are making duckfaces). Slowly joining the 21st century… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA