The apprentice managers inspect their crops at least once a week. A magnifying glass is often employed to peer at damaged leaves; does that damaged leaf edge look like flea beetle or slug jaws? Is that faint yellow shadow just the cloudy weather, or the beginning of a disease?
It's also important to stand back and look across each planting. Is there variation in the growth from one plant to the next? Perhaps one area is stunted, or growing really fast. Are the plants the right color green? Yellow squash leave will never be as dark green as zucchini, so both must be judged against the healthy version of themselves. What weeds are present? Where are they located, and how could they compete with the crop?
Our experienced managers mentor those who are new to the farm, or new to the crop. We train everyone to collect samples and bring them to their mentor or the group to evaluate the situation, and likely responses. Without the dedication of all our apprentices so many little signs of trouble would be missed.
In organic farming, if we miss a problem early, it's often very difficult and probably impossible to fix it later. Our apprentice managers regularly make the observations and correlations that improve our growing systems, maybe not for this planting, but certainly the next.
At market this week: We are adding some "new crops" - spring kohlrabi, plenty of basil, and we hope to add rainbow chard to our spring greens. Hope to see you there!