Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Timing is Everything

Nice, old cliche to start us out today - timing is everything.  Funny, since time is linear and you are either on time or you are not... it's not like there's any margin for error, though sometimes you get a second chance.  But, I digress.  Timing this spring has meant riding the crest of the wave of wild weather.  God help those who have lost their homes this spring.  Here in Ohio, we've had one of the wettest springs I have ever witnessed.  I measure the relative "wettness" of spring here in Central Ohio by how high the creek gets in the heaviest spring rains.  A couple of years ago it crested into the farm field behind us for the first time in my notice (a time spanning just 11 years at this location).  Last year it did so once again.  This year, it partially flooded the farm field more than 5 times! ! !

The soil was so very wet this spring that by the last week of may, a time nationally where we usually see 85% of the corn and soybean crop planted, only around 12% was in the ground.  See, the problem with wet soil is that if you disc or till it, that which has high clay content tends to squeeze like a sponge and not rebound.  It gets more tightly packed and holds this shape.  Once the soil dries out, it is less air and water permeable in this compacted state and is much less friendly for growing crops in.  Not to mention, driving a 6 ton farm tractor through a muddy field is likely to get you stuck. 

A few weeks back, I waited for two precious sunny dry days to pass before I tried to turn the soil in my garden with a spading fork.  It was a bit wetter than I would have liked and clumped a tiny bit.  If things had dried out slowly, I might not have wound up with gravel - but as it is, the sun came out and we haven't had rain very much since, at least not here.  The sun instead baked the roughly turned soil and turned it into rock-like chunks which I had to break up with the garden rake and hoe.  Timing.  If I had waited a few more days to turn the soil, it might have been just a but harder to turn, but it would have crumbled instead of clumped. 

Sometimes, though, we don't have to be at the mercy of timing - we can make our own.  Last year I purchased a timer for our garden hose.  It has a number of modes like, manual (time adjustable period of time), rain delay (in days), start time and run duration.  I set it up to automatically water the now planted garden for 30 minutes each morning before the sun crests over the trees.  I don't have to remember, I don't have to wander out in the morning dew, I waste less water as there's much less evaporation, and the tender plants will be much less susceptible to scalding or wilting.  Wilting or scalding can be increased when water droplets magnify the suns rays and cook the leaves of your plants.  Watering early in the morning allows the water time to soak into the soil and run off or evaporate gently from tender young leaves.

Now the major bit of timing left is patience for my seeds to sprout!

No comments: