Perrin was out in the field the other day getting ready to plant some more snap beans in a newly turned over bed here on the farm. She has been working here on the farm as part of our crew a couple of days a week this spring so working with the plants, soil and seeds aren’t anything she is now unfamiliar with. Young and idealist as are most of the people that tend to want to work on an organic farm trying it seems to connect to a world that lends itself to be so disconnected from real life. She is on a journey, spiritual, mental and a physical journey seeking a good life for herself and trying to experience meaningful things. Dressed in her coveralls looking very much like a farmer indeed she donned her work gloves a requirement for working in the soil here. I pulled up close beside her as we were both hunched over the dark dirt looking into its mass teaming with earthworms tiring to squirm back into its depths and out of the light. It is late spring and very hot right now here in Middle Tennessee as a heat wave and afternoon thunder storms have been the weather pattern for the past couple of weeks after the massive flood. The air is thick with humidity and the sun hangs high and hot beaming down on our skin. It is early in the morning so the dew is fresh and wet on the grass seeping through my pant knee as I bent over to take hold of a container of seeds in which we are getting ready to plant. But before I turn Perrin loose planting alone I want to talk to her and center her on the task she is entrusted with this morning. We have a lot to do today and more than one bed needs to be planted so I have to allow the farm crew to help in that department. More than not I myself like to do all the planting on the farm. There are some things I will let the crew sow and we are running behind with the flood taking out our early summer crops in the lower beds and I need to replant these beds asasp or we could be in trouble come late June with our market and CSA offerings. On a small farm like this one every dime counts and to lose a few weeks with no harvest can mean the farm going broke and quick. So today’s planting is probably the most important of the season and a lot is riding on making sure things get planted correctly and with love. Now you might be saying to yourself…with love? What does emotion have to do with planting a row of beans…well I will tell you.
Forget about the proverbial green thumb…there isn’t one…or not one that I’ve seen anyway. Everything to do with growing anything has to do with know-how and want to. In other words you have know how to plant something and you have to want it to grow. Lovingly, wantingly and motherly attentiveness is required to have a good garden. Anyone can do it…but in my experience several that try and skip any part of what I described above will find a less than stellar outcome. So, Perrin I said…do you want to know the secret to growing great snap beans? She looked at me very focused as if I was going to share the secrets of the universe with her. yes..she said…I held out a couple of small pale bean seeds in my palm passing them to her hands…and said you have to want them to grow… A few minutes later I walked by Perrin planting the bed of beans…I could hear her talking as she was planting one by one down the long 40ft bed…she was whispering kinda singsong…grow little beans grow…:) I am happy to report Perrin’s bed of beans are now 6″ tall and growing very nicely indeed.
As the days get hotter here on the farm the weeds get taller and we begin to see our nemesis “Bermuda grass”. Oh how Mark and I hate dealing with this aggressive, evasive bloody mass of green that will take over a bed and a garden if left unchecked over night. This is where we spend a great deal of money, time and effort trying to keep this grass from choking out our crops. It loves this hot weather and will grow like a wild fire. Nothing can stop it but plain old digging it out. You can’t pull it…you can’t mulch it…you can even kill it with Roundup…it will come right back….and stronger. We lose a couple of farm crew every year about mid summer…they just can’t handle weeding out the Bermuda grass anymore. Well that and having to work the weedeaters…nobody likes that either. I offend wonder if people really think working on a farm is going to be easy work…not hot, sweaty, weedy…mud on your boots and under your nails kind of work. I think all those magazines about Urban farming and backyard gardening with their weedless gardens and dewy looking perfect produce are about as realistic in real life as vogue is in representing what real women look like. By the way….this is what a real female farmer looks like with no makeup:)Lovin that CoOp cap and muck boots:)