Hi loyal readers and customers,
I’m usually in an upbeat mood when I write these notes, but today I’m feeling a little down and sober. So I hope you’ll indulge me, and I think you will, since most of you are probably old friends and longtime customers.
It’s been a tough season here at the farm, and in fact the last couple years have been increasingly difficult for us. After 18 profitable years (which followed the first 25 lean years) we now find ourselves struggling to make a living. It’s ironic, considering that we were hoping to retire (gradually) one of these days.
Several new challenges have arisen in recent years, and the other day we put everything on a chart so we could evaluate the importance of each challenge. We listed eight of them and then we looked at each crop to see which problems hurt which crop.
Looking at this chart, right away it was obvious which problems are the worst. First, weather, as you might expect. 2018 has been our worst nightmare for weather. When it’s dry we can always put irrigation water on but when it rains all the time (over 11 inches in July!) there’s no protection from it. Constant wetness makes it hard to plant and transplant at the right times, which is crucial when you’re planting over 50 different crops, most of them many times through the year.
Constant wetness also damages the health of plants, causing diseases which weaken or even kill many crops. It causes seeds to rot and fruits to blemish. Then there's extreme heat and cold at freakish times of year, 80s is February, 20s in April, which messes up the natural sequences of plant development.
Next on the list is pests and diseases. In the past 6 or 8 years we’ve seen several entirely new pests and plant pathologies. Each of these harms specific crops and makes it much harder to grow them organically, not resorting to pesticides and fungicides. So risks have increased.
Enough complaints for now. But next week I want to tell you about a few other problems, and one bright spot. So stay tuned.
As a reward for your patience and sympathy, I’m gonna give you a secret word for your discount: it’s “pathology”! Isn’t that cheerful?
See you Saturday.