The Zen of Farming
This year has been the most instrumental season toward my growth as a young farmer.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go, and that I cannot possibly live and die with each and every seed and plant on the farm. To practice patience and to stay present.
I’ve learned that even in this age-old tradition, everything is new again, that we continue to experiment with new and old techniques, to continue to improve food quality, yield, and to be better stewards for this land and to our community.
Our most successful experiment this season, which some of you may have seen out at the farm, has been the use of silage tarps. The silage tarp is laid out over our raised beds two weeks before we need to direct seed root crops such as beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes. The silage tarp, when laid out over the raised beds, creates a perfect environment for weed germination by maintaining good soil moisture and temperature. No photosynthesis can occur while the weeds are under the silage tarp, so they die from lack of exposure to sunlight.
The tarp is then removed, and we are able to seed our root crops into a weed-free raised bed. What this buys us is time, time to allow the crop to germinate and establish itself before the weeds start to compete again. With this lack of weed competition, we have seen germination rates increase by at least 20 percent. Most importantly, where we used to seed three rows of each root crop per bed, we are now seeding five rows in that same 30-inch wide bed. The method is increasing yields by 66 percent per bed.
I’ve also realized the more I learn as each season passes, the more I still need and want to learn. That with each new challenge we face at the farm, there is a deep desire and excitement to continue to grow, both in maturity as a farmer and in bounty.