After the local meteorologist finished forecasting another round of rain for the area, Ron the news anchor grinned and exclaimed, “We’re all happy about rain in July!”

Actually, Ron, not all of us.

Farmer John and I recognize that in these parts, complaining about rain verges on blasphemy – especially after last year’s horrendous drought. The thing is, though, water from the sky isn’t always a welcome sight to farmers, as some people imagine it to be. An inch here or there isn’t bad, but almost six inches of rain in two weeks spells disaster for some very important crops, particularly when it falls in June or July.

Fruit is most susceptible to excessive rain. Because fruit is made up of primarily water anyway, it doesn’t take much additional moisture to cause it to crack, and even burst right open. These latest rain events all but destroyed our entire crop of Mideast melons, tropical melons and the last group of cantaloupes.

Usually peppers can handle it better, but even they suffered mightily from too much rain.

No, that’s not road kill. (Still, be grateful this isn’t scratch-n-sniff.) It’s a drowned pepper that only a few days prior likely looked something like this.

Fortunately, the rows had already been staked and tied up so we didn’t lose as much as we might have otherwise. (The weight of the fruit can cause a water-laden plant to keel right over in the mud if not secured, leaving the peppers exposed and scorched not long after the sun makes its subsequent appearance). Fortunately, too, we have oodles of peppers already set on the plants so we still have good quantities. It’s just sad to have to pull off so many waterlogged peppers and splat them aside.

A tomato, of course, is also a fruit. I just don’t have the heart to include a photo.

It’s easy to allow oneself to fall into a funk. John and I aren’t terribly optimistic people anyway, and when we’re faced with this amount of ruination, we tend to convince ourselves things will never get better.

We should probably try to be more like Vicky. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone as optimistic, who always looks for the bright side and almost always finds the silver lining. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone say “It’s all good!” as often as Vicky does. It amazes me.

So when I walked around the rain-ravaged farm to take some pictures for the blog, I tried to think like Vicky and made a point to also search out the good. The hopeful. Like the old green bean rows.

Our bean harvest appeared to be finished a couple weeks or so ago, yet as always happens during the hectic pace of June, we hadn’t found the time to cut and haul away the spent plants. That might be good. After the first five inches of rain, the plants began flowering again, and even put on some infant beans. We have no earthly idea if the flowers and beans will make it to fruition and give us enough of a crop to harvest…but if they should, wouldn’t that be something?

Plus, we mustn’t forget the fabulous cucumber crops we’ve enjoyed most all summer. Last year’s dreadful heat made growing cukes almost impossible for us, but this season they’ve done so well we’re harvesting from an incredible second crop even before the first one has completely petered out.

As for the peppers, now that I’ve finished sliming the goopy ones off the plants, we’re left with a lot of real beauties.

Finally, then, there are the remaining tomatoes. Hundreds and hundreds of green tomatoes cling to the last rows of plants like we continue clinging to the hope that despite the rain, the fruit might ripen to red without first cracking beyond salvation.

That’s a lot of hope, especially for a couple of pessimists like Farmer John and me. But we need to remember that even if we do lose the last tomatoes, even if the prospect of another green bean harvest fizzles, it isn’t the end of the world. Other crops will make it through. And while that scenario wouldn’t necessarily qualify as “It’s all good,” it wouldn’t be all bad either.

* * *

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

Lots of those delicious Asian cucumbers; Tomatoes (yes, we’ll have tomatoes – they might not be beautiful, and we might not have a huge amount, but we’ll bring what we can!); four varieties of eggplant; bunches of basil; green bell peppers; white bell peppers; red and yellow bell peppers; sweet Corno di Toro peppers; Cubanelle frying peppers; jalapenos; Delicata squash; two varieties of acorn squash; spaghetti squash; and some icebox watermelons.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center on Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)