Sagaponack Community Notes, June 13


The sweet potato plants arrived on Monday, when it was still too wet to plant them. It had rained 4.2 inches in Sagaponack on Friday. That is a highly localized report, a reading taken at my greenhouse. Smith Corner may have gotten more; the fields on the highway, less.My brother stayed out all night Thursday, getting the cultivating done before the onset of what is looking like a prolonged rainy spell. So, June is the new April, or at least has a way of reminding us that it is still spring after all. The guy who sold me the plants tells me to lay them out on the potato cellar’s concrete floor, keep them dark, and don’t let them dry out. “Yeah,” he says a little apologetically, “this week’s going to be a tough one.”

The water went away almost as quickly as it came. Unsettling, though, for when I survey the tomatoes, I can see the high tide mark on their green leaves. A thin line of dirt and debris—little weed seeds, fragments of sticks, dead beetle bodies—proves that these plants listed here, especially in the low end of the field. They are again that way tonight.

Rain bucketing down makes writing very difficult. I can think of nothing but how anxious the unmitigated deluge makes me, and the temptation of a whiskey is great. A logjam is formed at the end of the greenhouse. There are flats of celery, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, melons, eggplant, hot peppers, tomatoes and flowers galore. All are ready and wishing to sink their roots into the soil of Sagg, plants whose canopy is prepared to make the most of the longest days. We are together suspended; my tractor is idle.

Here is also waiting what I need to plant direct—the shell beans, the popcorn, and another round of beets. We’ll start the winter squash in flats, which uses more resources, rather than directly sow, but that’s okay, because there are advantages and disadvantages either way you get it done—that is farming, and it’s full of quandaries. That might be why it can make for such interesting work, as your head stays busy when your hands can’t, trying to strategize and navigate a way through the unknowable, erratic growing season that is 2013.

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