Blessings And Curses Of The Summer Rains

By Kris Holstrom

The FLASH! BANG! of lightning and thunder strike again on Tomten Farm. The monsoons began just after the 4th of July and have held steady. It’s a blessing and a curse in our region. Blessings after a dry June – the garden, the forest, the meadows, the mushrooms and wildflowers are lush and lovely. The curse in human terms – inconvenience and danger of mudslides, heavy hail and pounding rains that can devastate vegetables and vegetation alike – and make an oil-pan scraping roller coaster ride out of our driveway.

Water catchment is a major theme on Tomten Farm this summer. Our big greenhouse is now home to an awesome 3,800 gallon tank that will soon begin to fill with the abundance of moisture hitting the greenhouse roof. Catchment is now legal in Colorado with the proper permit. We can harvest and store water for the dry times – and that tank could come in handy should fire ever be an issue.

Our Permaculture class covered other ways to catch and store water including making swales. We constructed small ditches on contour at The Oasis near Hotchkiss, leading water from a lovely spring into two new areas for managed food production. At Tomten’s Farm Work Party last weekend we constructed several ‘fish-scale’ gardens – small leveled terraces that will naturally catch and hold moisture. These are being planted with fast growing, soil building plants that will form a windbreak and create a new microclimate within the garden itself. Many hands made light work with the land being transformed from weedy slope to lovely terraces in the blink of an eye.

The best blessing of all is community. Having friends, new and old, gather to work and create something beautiful (and then share food!) is a blessing we never take for granted. Watch for the next announcement if you’re around – come on up and see what a high-altitude, off-grid, experimental, demonstration farm can look like – get some dirt under your fingernails. The rain will wash it off!

Kris Summer 2011-2 035

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