2020, what can we say? Tough from the beginning—47 million acres burned in Australia—through a pandemic (overwhelming on its own)—to giant hornets and spotted lantern flies–to bizarre weather (for us, a freeze in May, tornado in August, heat, rain, hail, etc. in-between)—to working on daily survival.
The weather extremes have been hard on all the crops. Many tree varieties were frozen out by the May weather, and others have suffered through the deluges of rain (9” in one week was our personal farm record this year). The result has been tough on the peaches. I have struggled with getting them to ripen properly—one early variety defeated me completely, although my mother was successful. Not as many peaches as usual. We have been fighting the humidity. It’s just plain been a struggle.
This is when we draw on our family history to help sustain us. We, all the grandchildren of John and Rachel Webster, grew up on my grandfather’s stories about peaches: the one year when he and my grandmother split one peach, the ENTIRE crop for the year. The next year, after my grandfather worked hard to nurture the trees, a late season hurricane blew the trees first one direction and then the other. All the peaches were on the ground, and many of the trees were uprooted.
Peaches are not as bountiful this year due to the frosts and freezes in the spring, but at least there is more than one peach for the summer! And this year, August is…still hot. Hurricane Isaias, followed by EF-1 tornado and severe storm three days later. More flooding. More power outages. Trees down. Still humid. And yet, there is more than one peach!
We will look back on 2020 and be grateful that we survived. We know that this hasn’t been one of the great peach crops. We are grateful that there was a crop. And it is a wonderful thing, that in spite of the weather, the plants keep growing and there are still crops to harvest. Peaches, plus the first apples, patty pan squash, blackberries, eggplant, watermelon and cantaloupes, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn. The bounty of summer, especially in a challenging year such as 2020, is amazing. If there are not as many peaches, there are more blackberries. It’s why we grow more than one crop!
It is hard to believe, while it is so hot, that we are planning and planting for fall and winter crops. Sometimes it is hard to visualize cold weather while it is 90 degrees! We have already started the fall kale, chard, spinach, lettuce and arugula, and next week should see the start of cucumbers and snow peas, among others.
Meanwhile, fall flowers are showing their vibrant colors. Black eyed Susans, celosia, hot pepper plants, and –by the end of the month—chrysanthemums! And a few pumpkins, butternut and spaghetti squash. Wait! Are we really done with summer? Nah, corn is still growing, peppers and tomatoes are abundant, and watermelons are sweet and juicy. But don’t put off that barbecue—summer will flee in just a few weeks.
A special thank you to all of you who have been so patient, waiting in line if need be, respecting social distancing, wearing your mask on these hot days, and for supporting the farm in your community. We appreciate you! Eat well, stay safe!