Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Lessons Learned and Still Learning
One of our dear neighbors and best friends passed away earlier this year and we are so saddened by his loss. He was a life long farmer/rancher and taught several generations of farmers around here how to grow and prosper off this land. Last year we were trying our hand at our first large scale vegetable garden and we were so eager that we planted at the beginning of March because the weather had been so beautiful. Our old friend found out that we had already seeded the garden and stopped by our place to tell us that we should have waited till after Easter here in Central North Texas. To soften the news, he brought us a few wonderful vegetables out of his Winter garden. Oh was he right! A few weeks after our plantings were popping up everywhere, a late March freeze came and killed about 30% of our vegetable garden. Hard lesson learned. If only we had sought his wisdom out BEFORE planting, but again lessons learned.
That's the great thing about gardening and farming, there is a constant learning curve. Every planting season and harvest teaches us a new technique or trick. This year we are trying a new technique that our local Sheriff imparted to us. He learned it from his neighbor who learned it from the Japanese when he was a POW in a Japanese work camp. The sheriff patiently drew out a diagram of tomato cages fed by a compost tea IV contraption when he heard we were getting into heirloom vegetables. Ironic that something learned by the enemy during the war would bring several generations of joy and great harvests to him and his neighbors and now he was passing his knowledge on to us. That's really what I love most about farming. It breaks down age, ethnic and economic barriers. I have seen a room full of gardeners who would otherwise have nothing to talk about because of their different lifestyles, but you get them talking about their garden secrets and you can't get them to stop.
I have noticed something else about farmers and gardeners. There is a bit of gambler in all of us, sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us battling weather, natural disasters, wind, heat, cold and bugs. But once we bite into our first tomato or saute up some fresh greens, we know that our gamble has paid off hitting the gourmet jackpot.
So as we watch the weather report for tomorrow, we find out that there is more cold and rain on the way. Easter is only a week away and the tangy taste of a Cherokee Purple tomato is yet a few months from consumption. But patience is a virtue, and that too, is a lesson well learned out here on the farm.
Happy Planting Everyone (but not till after Easter)! This years planting is dedicated to Don Tolar, a thick neck Czech who could grow anything. We will miss you and your wisdom Don. Wise lessons learned.