Most of the time, I simply take this for granted. I love not having to consider the potential value of every crop. Rather, I look at our fields and see a full plate of food. But on occasion I pause and wonder whether this causes us to baby some of our crops. Failed crops are not simply economic losses - they are disappointed members. For that reason, we take every measure we can to ensure each crops success.
An old farmer once said to me that every failure on his farm was due to his lack of foresight or an act of God...and more often than not, it was an act of God. We may not be there yet, but it is that sort of perfection for which we strive.
A couple days ago, we spent the better part of the day trellising our early cucumber crop growing in our high tunnel. To do this, each individual cucumber plant needs to have a string hung from the roof and then tied appropriately to the individual plant. Needless to say, this can take some time.
Cucumbers dont need to be trellised. Given enough space, they will be fine. But we are really, really excited at the potential of getting cucumbers to our members a couple weeks early. The thing is, cucumbers are not worth that much. At peak season, 40 lbs cases will go for less than $10. But who doesnt love cucumbers in their salad? And early spring lettuce is just so tender and delicious. What if we could bring it together with cucumbers?
So we decided to go ahead, and give our plants every advantage we could give them. By keeping them off the ground, we are decreasing disease pressure and allowing ourselves to fit more plants in a smaller space. Plus there is the added bonus that each of our cucumbers will be harvested easily and dirt free.
As, I moved slowly down the row, I couldnt help but wonder at the way large scale cucumber growers would scoff at the labor costs associated with our cucumber crop. A couple hours into it, I started to feel a little silly. But at the end of the day, when all the cucumbers were tied up and growing with vigor and shine, I couldnt help but look back with pride at the beauty of a carefully cared for crop.