Wednesday July 23, 2014
The cherry tree did not fruit this year. The tomatoes plants in the new garden are yellow. Why does the basil look like Swiss cheese? How come the apple trees look like they are being burned by a blowtorch? The small frustrations pile up to the point where irrational thoughts of a yard less condo begin to feel romantic.
I read a lot. Every piece of literature I can get my hands on about farming I’m on it. Pruning secrets, when to plant, fertilize, weed, mulch, etc. you name it I read it. And still problems happen.
When I was a young boy, the only cherries I liked were the sweet ones in a can you put on top of cheesecake. (Didn’t all cherries come like that?) We did not have fresh cherries and I’m not sure why. When we bought the farm it came with an established cherry tree that introduced me to the love of fresh cherries. I looked forward to that season, netting the tree, fertilizing the tree and even talking to it. This year the leaves emerged, the flowers bloomed and then nothing. What? I don’t get it. I did everything right. I babied that tree, I nurtured that tree, I loved that tree and this is how that tree re-paid me?
I’ve learned that even though you follow the rules, stuff happens. The tomato plants that I mentioned earlier-turns out the nitrogen for the plants in that soil was being stolen by the soil. Unchecked earwigs in the middle of the night were consuming the basil and thus giving it that Swiss cheese look. I’ve discovered that fire blight, a fungal disease, was sweeping through my apple orchard. As far as the cherry tree I’m not sure. One theory was the bees were on strike the day the cherry needed pollination but I know they visited every other flower in a 10-foot radius all week. Our yard is always filled with bees. Who knew bees were unionized?
I wrote my brother tonight about the problems I was having with my new beds. He was of course supportive but I know secretly his thoughts were of the advantage he would have to produce the first red tomato in the family. I was frustrated with the dismal performance of my crops. My frustration lies in my inability to figure out the problem that I was having with their success. I thought I was following the book, dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s but I did not realize that there are many variables to having a successful crop. Just because something worked last year does not mean that it will work this season.
The reality in all this is experience. I imagine that seasoned farmers can spot this stuff in seconds. They know the signs of what is happening and how to fix the issues before they ruin the crop. I’m new and yes I’m reading, but the truth is I think I have to weather the storm, actually experience what other farmers have felt and go through it. Will I be wiser in 5 or 10 years? I hope so but I’m sure that there will still exist issues that I have yet to figure out and of course, bee unions keep happy.