Growing food is a humbling experience; it is also, physically demanding, intellectually challenging and incredibly stressful. Above all else there needs to be an abundance of patience and perseverance. Along with the work there is waiting, waiting to see if seeds germinate, if the weather holds or will bring much needed water. Waiting for the right time to release beneficial bugs to attack during the detrimental insect various stages of development is a critical for our integrated pest management plan. Waiting for signs, deviations or changes. Which creates the need for contingency planning. And then a new, one of a kind, problem occurs, one of those once in a lifetime events like when farms were first invaded by Japanese beetles, ours is BMSB.
The brown marmarated stinkbugs die with insecticidal soap as long as they are in the first four stages (instars) of life. We have to get the trap crops in the ground early to catch the over wintering adults as they mate and leave their larvae. We use an early rising crop like radishes and surround that with sunflowers, which take longer to reach maturity. At maturity, the bright yellow sunflowers attract the adult BMSB and that allows us to use a mix of Pyganic and Surround. This is a lethal combination and can kill beneficial insects as well creating a negative environmental impact.
There is waiting for the actual fruit or vegetable to appear and then nurturing them to maturation. You wait for the first signs of things that will reduce the yield or destroy the crop. Growing is filled with hope, anticipation, failure and joy. Pulling a tomato off the vine and biting it wakes up most of your senses, first you will taste, then smell the inside, see the red flesh and get the real taste of Umami, the elusive 5th taste that we as humans experience. Those sensations go with all the fruits and vegetables you grow.
This is an incredibly hard job not just physical, emotional, intellectual and dangerous, but expensive too. The big picture can be overwhelming that is why we have chosen to be part of a farmer-mentoring program. The farming community is unlike any other that I have had association. I have written a lot about calling asking for advice and visiting farms (field walks) to find out ways to do things. The older farmers have plenty of knowledge, experience and information at their fingertips as well as generations of friends and colleagues. Without these people and their wisdom there is so much more room for error and failure. You could say that it is nice for these people to be so important to the rest of us. However, passing on their knowledge to others they see it as, it is more important to be nice.
Buy Local: Support sustainable, healthy, humane farming.