I had it all planned out. Thinking we were going to have to take some rather desperate measures to get our first round of summer squashes set out into long-saturated soil, I’d intended to point out in this week’s blog that sometimes you just have to make do. That phrase might well have ended up as the title of the missive, actually, as I was going to show a correlation between planting the squash in less-than-desirable conditions to our farm’s various less-than-desirable latches.

As I do every week, I spent a few minutes taking some photos to illustrate my story. I started with the latches.

We have two major gates along the fence line surrounding the farm, both of which are held shut with bungee cords. Farmer John occasionally promises to procure the necessary hardware to make real gate closures, yet I rarely pay attention to such crazy talk. Through the years, as each bungee has been stretched and frayed beyond its usefulness, we’ve simply bought a new one. This is the way it’s always been. It’s how we’ve made do.

Same goes for our two small greenhouses. For the longest time, the entry to our oldest greenhouse was through only a windowless metal door – there was no screen. To keep the insects out when we propped the door open, we’d precariously balance two wooden-framed grates atop one another in the doorway. Then last year John snazzed it up when he brought home an honest-to-goodness screen door from the hardware store.

It was a monumental addition to the farm in general, the old greenhouse in particular. Thing is, though, the door isn’t attached to the doorframe. There are no hinges – it’s just shoved in there. When we go into or out of this greenhouse, we have to remove the entire door.

We make do.

The door to our newer greenhouse is hinged, like a real door, but there’s a closure issue with that one as well. It has no door knob. Instead, the door has its own makeshift – or make-do – latch, involving a plastic string (snipped from our weed whacker) with an irrigation end piece stuck on it. On the outside, the mechanism is pretty obvious.

Once inside the greenhouse, however, it’s a little more precarious. In order to open the metal latch from inside, we need to pull on the loose plastic string that sticks out through a hole beside the door handle.

Believe me, each of us has experienced a momentary anxiety attack more than once while tugging on that string, particularly when it’s really hot in the greenhouse and there’s nobody close by to open the door from the outside, should the string fail.

So it was with these examples that I’d planned to compare latches to our squash planting strategy. Just like we make do with our ingress and egress issues around the farm, we were going to have to make do with a somewhat drastic method of setting out our squash transplants.

With such a wet winter and spring, the ground hasn’t had much chance to dry sufficiently enough to till the heavier soil areas of the farm. When you work wet soil, rather than ending up with a loose, crumbly seed bed, you get clumps and clods that turn rock-hard once they’re forced to the surface and baked by the sun. Trouble is, when you’re faced with hundreds of squash plants growing too large for their pots…

…you don’t have the luxury of waiting until the soil is perfect. Because of this, Farmer John planned to mow the cover crop from the designated squash rows, dig holes by hand, and add amendments to the holes one-by-one. It would be an arduous, time-consuming task, yet since John told me that’s what we’d be doing, I anticipated dutifully reporting the details of the experience.

Then, at the last minute, he pulled the old switcheroo. In a stroke of genius, he tweaked a few adjustments to his tractor’s spader and was able to lightly till the rows after all. The resulting soil turned out not merely satisfactory, but downright fluffy. In less time than it took me to harvest broccoli, everyone else planted the first two 200-foot beds of squash.

Good news for the farm; bad news for the farm blogger’s plan for this week’s story. Still, since I didn’t have nearly enough time to dream up something else to write about, I decided to go with my initial idea and simply modify it a bit. Because sometimes…you just have to make do.

* * *
Here’s what we’ll be bringing to the farm stand this Wednesday:

LOTS of spinach; bags of broccoli side shoots; big, beautiful head lettuces – butterhead, romaine, green leaf and red leaf; lettuce mix; lettuce/chicory salad mix; pink and purple radishes; Asian greens mix; bags of arugula; bunches of young leeks; green onions; green garlic; bunches of chard; bunches of cilantro; young Brussels greens and Dinosaur kale (these two will be in kind of short supply this week, but more coming soon!).

Thanks!
Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm

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