My motto this year and mantra on the tough days is, you win some, you lose some.
For example, I've been struggling to understand why my flint corn is so sad looking.
That's mid-summer corn?
I was so excited when I planted it with the 4-row corn planter. I cultivated it with the tractor thinking I'd just saved myself a bunch of hand weeding. Not so. A duckfoot plow is very different from an actual row crop set-up. I couldn't get too near the plants otherwise I'd tear them out or bury them (which I did on some). Row crop cultivators have shields around them to protect the plants. And you can get really close to the crop. So, I still had a ton of hand weeding to do (and still do) and of course, got to it late (and am still getting to it), and couldn't find any help (and still can't).
So for a long time I thought the weed pressure was causing my corn to suffer. But, the milk thistle next door, also row-cropped, didn't seem to be too bothered by the weeds. Then I thought it was the fact that despite the wet spring, there just wasn't enough water in the soil for the plants. But that didn't explain the decent looking corn on the north end of the field.
Finally I dug up a stressed plant and discovered the roots running laterally across the block of soil rather than down. That probably means they couldn't get through a hard pan of soil, so instead traveled across those first couple inches looking for water where there was none. So the plants on the north end were able to push through the soil down into where the moisture is. As for why there is a hard pan to begin with, I'm not entirely sure. It certainly has something to do with our clay-clay loam soils, and it might have something to do with timing of plowing or method of plowing (I used something called a rod weeder at one point).
Corn roots looking for water.
All of this to say that I'm not sure I'll win with the corn this year. But I will with the milk thistle.
Flower head forming.
And the garlic.
A gorgeous garlic scape.
And the black chickpeas (hopefully).
And the buckwheat (also hopefully - both were planted late).
Whenever I get down on myself for some disaster, I stop to remind myself of what is going well. I also remind myself that though there is work for 4 or more people, we're pulling it off with 1 1/4 people. You win some, you lose some.