Here in Northern California, months of drought brought creek, river and lake water levels to an all-time low. However, good news came with a light rain on Sunday, Feb. 2, and it’s been raining some every day since. While it hasn’t been what my late father-in-law called a “gulley-washer,” the half-inch one day, three-quarters inch the next has been cool and wet and very welcome.
Already I’ve noticed green spreading a bit across hills that have held that dry look of summer far too long. I swear you can almost hear the oak, redwood and bay laurel trees slurping up the moisture, while our fruit, olive and nut trees are certainly doing the same. Once we let the sheep out in the morning, they stay outside and don’t often seek shelter under the trees or return to the barn even when it reaches a steady downpour.
The artichokes soaking up the rain.
How quickly life changes, especially in the country. Last week, fears of an arid future, this week, according to the weather predictors, it will rain at least through this coming Sunday. While we certainly need more, this just might be enough to change what was looking like a rather bleak year for area farmers, like the neighbor who has vineyards, another who raises olives, and our own sustainable produce operation.
We’ve finished our seed sorting and will be reviewing what we want to buy. We’ll try to keep purchases to a minimum by using saved seeds from the the produce that proved to be popular with customers and produced a high yield. We’ll also use those seeds to begin our own starts in the greenhouse.
Last year, we purchased some starts from a reputable nursery and found we had imported a problematic bug, extremely prolific and hard to control. We also bought some seeds from another respectable source and of those 8 to 9 packages, we had a number of low germinators and later, low yield plants.
Our specialty is heirloom tomatoes. Every year we deal with the dilemma of whether to raise a limited number of tomatoes in larger numbers or many varieties in smaller amounts. I vote for finding 6 to 7 varieties that have proven themselves, while my husband loves to offer variety. Usually we compromise, but somehow always end up with 15 or more kinds, especially counting the cherry tomatoes. It works out – I’m always glad when we have so many different, delicious tomatoes to eat, sell and give away. Now with the rain, we have hope of all that abundance.
Finally, a rainy day at Laurelwood.
I know that rain doesn’t suit everyone and sometimes limits people’s activities. Worse than that, in the case of my homeless friends, it means they may find themselves wet and miserable or their campsites flooded out, and I’m sorry for that. But the truth is, we must have rain to survive – all of us – people, animals, plants, the soil, rivers, oceans, the earth itself. So when the rain begins after a long dry spell, I feel great relief and gratitude along with the sense that in the bigger picture, all is well.