Thursday, September 6, 2012

What Did You Do Today? Mulching cucumbers and spring tomato preparation all in one.


Weeding, a plague to farmers and their families for centuries.  There are many sides in the war on weeds and although the spectrum ranges from those who choose to leave their weeds be and others who choose to spray highly toxic chemicals, there is always an investment of time and energy into this inevitable battle.  While there is no one "right" way of taking on weeds, some methods offer more benefits than just simply suppressing weed growth.  Some techniques actually...

help add nutrients back into the soil as well.  Mulching, especially with a medium such as decomposing straw is a great addition to this seasons cucumber crop and for future crops.

As we've stated many a time here at HYEPAC, "There is no waste, only potential" and there doesn't seem to be a more shining example than right here on the farm.  At the beginning of the season, Eliot purchased a large order of straw to use for various reasons throughout the year.  As is commonly the case in life, things did not work out exactly as he pictured and instead of using all the straw he had an abundance of leftover stacks.  Well at this point, these stacks had been battered with rain and basically taken over by nature.  In one futile attempt to pick up a stack, I realized I had no shot, as roots from surrounding plant-life developed right up into the straw and held it so tightly that I couldn't lift it off the ground.  It really makes you think, although we can stare out into nature and it can look so still, it is full of life and constantly, patiently stretching and moving and reaching to eat just like we are at all times.  

Now this straw was looking beat up, in all honestly I had never even noticed it.  Eliot asked me to scoop it all up into a tractor bucket and lay it thickly into the greenhouse containing our last flush of cucumbers.

A process that took most of the work day.  After a while I started thinking why was this important?  Why would this task be a good use of my time, what was I learning?  What was I helping?  What difference was I really making saving a couple of cucumber plants that were going to last 2 months longer at best and probably didn't produce that much income for the farm.

I started to get a bit frustrated, but then looked up and down and started to realize how clean and clear the space started to look, it started to feel good and I later learned just how useful and efficient this was.  This wasn't just about weed suppression, the decomposing straw mulch was allowing the soil to retain more moisture and more heat as the days began to get colder.  As it decomposed further and eventually got tilled into this patch of land, it would act as a nutrient rich source of compost for next seasons tomatoes a much needed and high grossing crop.  

Not only was this task making easier and healthier plants now, but building a better soil for the future as well.

There is no waste, only potential...there's something incredible in understanding that.  When looking to build something long-lasting and high quality over time, there needs to be a focus on weighing the short-term vs the longterm goals.  I could have saved time and effort by not doing this, pleasing me in the short-term, but instead adding the extra effort is going to create a better, higher valued product later on.


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