Last week a stormy weather system moved through our area and brought us rain of epic proportions. And unlike a Hollywood production, this event was very real and not computer generated! Here at HA we got 6.26 inches of rain in a little over 24 hours. Thankfully our house sits high and drains well, though much of the water runs off towards the main garden area. However, the garden itself is on a gentle slope and most of the water keeps on going to a drainage ditch at the back of the property. It all makes for wet conditions down there for sure, and we affectionately refer to the back part of our property as The Swamp.
This is my fourth year of recording precipitation for the CoCoRaHS organization. And this was by far the largest amount I have ever recorded from a single rain or snow event. We got even more rain yesterday on top of the rain from last week. I had left a Tubtrug out in the kitchen garden area with a few weeds in the bottom. They were destined for the compost pile but didn’t quite make it that far. Now I have a bucket of rain water! We have already received more than 7 inches of rain in April, and this is only the 8th day.
After all that rain, the soil in the raised bed where I plan on growing onions this year does not appear to be completely waterlogged. I decided to scoop up a handful this morning to test it, and after forming it into a ball it easily crumbled in my hand. That’s what Jim Crockett called the ‘chocolate cake’ test: if the soil stays in a ball it’s too wet to work but if the soil crumbles like cake it’s ready. Mine is more like a moist cake still, but I think later this week I can turn it over with a fork and add some fertilizer and it will be good to go.
According to the calender it’s time to plant onions and potatoes here, though not all have arrived yet. I don’t have a good local source for onions any more, after my favorite garden center (Robin’s Nest in Boonville) decided to stop carrying them. The ones in the big box stores are usually all dried up and sorry looking, and the varieties aren’t what I want to grow. I can get decent seed potatoes locally, but usually those selections are limited to old standbys like Kennebec, Red Norland and Yukon Gold. All three generally do well in our area but I am hoping to grow other types too, like fingerlings for instance.
I’ve had good luck with fingerling potatoes in the past, and this year I’m growing French Fingerling, Red Thumb and Russian Banana. I also want to try a couple of blue/purple potatoes, Adirondack Blue and Purple Majesty. They are supposed to be improvements over All Blue. Both these potatoes have a purple skin and flesh, and are loaded with anthocyanins. The Adirondack Blue is here and the rest I have ordered should be here later this week.
And speaking of purple, this year Norma Chang (Garden to Wok blog) was kind enough to send me a purple sweet potato she thought I might like to try. It does well for her in the Hudson Valley area of NY, where sweet potatoes are challenging to grow, so it should perform well here with our longer and hotter growing season. I am looking forward to growing it this year.
I’m also growing a purple sweet potato given to me last year by our friend Carla. It did great in its first showing, and will be back again this year. I’ve got both the purple sweet potatoes rooting in water to make slips. I stick toothpicks in the potatoes to suspend them in a jar of water. They have rooted, and are starting to sprout already. They should be ready in plenty of time for a late May/early June planting. I am so happy that people are willing to share their precious planting materials with me, and it’s always fun to try new varieties.
At least the rain has made things grow. The cold frame spinach in the above photo is giving us enough for salads, while we have cooked some of that growing in the greenhouse. We’re still waiting on the first spears of asparagus, and with warmer temperatures predicted for later in the week they just might magically appear. That will be a treat for sure.
I’ll close on a bit of good news. The deluge may have slowed down the planting a bit, but as of today we have two bluebird eggs in the nest! It will be great to have bluebirds here again this year, and I feel blessed they have again chosen Happy Acres for their home.