OK, that was a little bit too much rain. I spent a few rainy days in town writing something for the Chicago Reader and by the time I got back to the farm I didn’t realize how much rain had fallen. Oh, sure, on the drive out there I did notice a few fields in Indiana with standing water but I was keeping my eye on the road construction on the highway. On the farm I walked out into the field to find my rain gauge which for some reason had disappeared. I know I had put it in the middle of the field and I don’t think the groundhogs took it. There were no telltale tracks except for a few wild turkeys, a deer, and raccoons. The cultivated fields had turned to sponges and everyone, including me, sank deep in the mud.
A field this water-logged means I have to wait for it to dry before doing any work. Walking on or cultivating soggy soil will compact it turning it to concrete when it dries and less “air” will get to the plants roots. Instead I worked a bit in the greenhouse, waiting for my brother to shift his tomato plants outdoors to harden off so I’d have more room to place my flats filled with basil seeds. On a whim I bought more seeds: sweet basil, large-leaf Toscano, lemon, and cinnamon basil. Somewhere I have heirloom basil seeds saved which I’ll direct-seed. They were given to me by a family friend who’s been growing them in her Chicago backyard from seeds brought back from the Mostar region of Bosnia. It’s highly aromatic basil is used to prepare holy water in the Orthodox Christian church and I usually use the plants as decorations in the flower beds or along the garden borders. I haven’t read the studies on it, but I notice that the basil plants help keep down pests and the basil flowers are filled with bees – which pollinate the vegetables.
We’re planning on the fields drying out by the end of the week so we can start planting seedlings, beans, cucumbers, and melons. Planning, yes. . . depending on how the fields drain and how much predicted rain falls to slow the process down.