Lessons

Yesterday I tilled up the tomato garden.  Instead of getting a hundred pounds of tomatoes per day, as we had expected, we got only a handful before the entire garden succumbed to blight.  Garden-fresh tomatoes are indispensable tastes of summer and this year we’ve had precious few of them.

The effect this year’s crazy weather has had on vegetable growers in the South is well-documented in the press.  Fortunately we don’t depend entirely on any one crop.   If we grew only tomatoes, financed the crop with debt, and depended upon the sale of tomatoes to make our living, I reckon we’d be bankrupt.

Because our farm is diversified, we aren’t reliant on any single crop.  Some crop failures are to be expected.  Last year, for example, our cucumbers didn’t produce.  With lots of crops, losing one or two doesn’t mean no food.   So as much as we love tomatoes, we can lose our entire crop and still produce lots of great food.

But this summer has been especially brutal.  We didn’t just lose the tomatoes and our losses haven’t entirely been because of weather.  Deer destroyed our cantaloupes and peppers.  Raccoons ate all of our sweet corn.  Colorado potato beetles stunted our eggplant.  The hits seemed to  just keep coming.

I put up deer fences around the gardens with peas, beans and sweet potatoes, knowing the deer would eat them if I didn’t.  But I’ve never before known deer to eat okra, peppers and cantaloupe seedlings.  I’ve learned a lesson.  Next year all our summer gardens will be protected.

In the meantime, we’ve soldiered on, and so far we’ve been able to keep our CSA going, even though we haven’t been able to provide the variety we’d anticipated.  Fortunately our squash, potatoes and green beans have done well.  We have a few peppers, cucumbers and eggplant.  The okra is starting to arrive and watermelons shouldn’t be much longer. Hopefully we won’t terribly disappoint anyone.

After the rough spring and summer, we’re expecting bumper crops in the fall.  We’ve started cauliflower and brussels sprouts.  We’ll be starting cabbage, broccoli, kale and other brassicas soon.  We’ll be planting dozens of different types of veggies.  Hopefully we’ll soon go back to worrying about having too much produce, rather than too little.

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