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Rain and Rocks

Posted 10/2/2010 8:47am by Ray.

A lot of rain.  It was heaviest along the coast.  Wilmington got something like 12” in 5 or 6 hours.  We only got 5.5”.  It helped some and hurt some.  Tomatoes split when they get a bolus of water.  The raspberries’ flavor gets watered down a bit.  Their brix reading dropped from 12.5 to 10.5, but never a bland 7.5 like the supermarket raz.  And mold can become a problem.  But the rain also really helped a couple of our fields which we’re trying to prep for winter cover crop or garlic planting.  We’re still in the process of building the soil, so these newer fields are like cement when they’re dry.  We managed to get them opened up with a monster chisel plow before the rain.  So the rain soaked in rather than running off.  And now the soil is soft enough for us to pick rocks out of the new garlic fields.  We’re pulling about 4 cubic yards of rocks out of each half acre field.  That’s 3 to 4 tons.  One rock at a time.  Folks here think we’re crazy.  “What are you doing all that work for?  They’ll just come back!”  At night we dream of rocks in the pile sprouting little legs and trotting across the road to settle in their home field again.  I check the pile each morning.

But we know we’re making a difference, short term anyway.  We picked rocks from a couple of fields last year and planting was easier, weeding was easier, rocks didn’t stab our knees, our digging forks struck far fewer rocks at harvest, we dodged less flying rocks from the mower, ... .  We’ll go through the process with each field a couple of times to get the remaining ones that tilling brings to the surface and the smaller ones we missed last time.  Maybe after a few years we’ll have all the fields cleared.  Maybe not.  Meanwhile, we’re putting a lot of the rocks in some small ravines and packing soil on them.  We tell the Conservation Service agent that we’re doing it to control erosion.  Secretly, we’re trying to bury the rocks so they can’t come back to the field.

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