Diversity

It hasn’t rained here in weeks.  The seeds I put in the ground last week are still there, baking and ungerminated.  The seedlings I spent 3 long days putting in, are now wilting and dying.

This morning I’m going to bite the bullet and purchase a drip irrigation system.  I should have done it years ago.  Overhead irrigation just isn’t sufficient in times like these.

But here’s the thing: if all our summer crops fail, then all I’m out is my labor and the cost of the seeds and transplants. In a worst case scenario I’ll till everything under and start over again, with plenty of time to get the crops in before the first frost.

That’s a great advantage of course to having a long growing season.

A more likely scenario is that only some crops will fail. Already this year we lost our spinach, rainbow chard and snap peas.  So where they were supposed to be, now we have beautiful kale and Swiss chard instead.

Here we expect and plan for failure.  We go into the year knowing that not every crop is going to succeed.

A few years ago we lost our tomatoes to blight.  If we were tomato farmers, then we would have had no income that year.  If we had borrowed the money to fund the crop, we might have ended up bankrupt.  But because we plant as many as 100 different crops each year (in addition to keeping goats, chickens and pigs), losing a few crops doesn’t put us out of business.

As I wrote yesterday, nature doesn’t like monocultures.  Nature likes diversity. When we plant lots of different things, not only do we avoid having all of our proverbial eggs in one basket, but we’re also mimicking nature.

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