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When the beginner's luck runs out

Posted 8/1/2017 6:03am by Shiloh Avery.

Basil downy mildew takes down the entire basil crop; despite multiple fences, the deer have been hammering the sweet potatoes

I remember when we sailed this boat 10 years ago.  Oh the things we didn’t know, the mistakes we made that should have been fatal. But it sailed.  We just kept tacking and jibing like I didn’t just look those terms up on the internet and somehow we stayed afloat.  Call it beginner’s luck.

It was a sort of farming where you basically throw some seeds in the ground and they grow.  You don’t keep up with the care of those seeds but somehow manage to coax a crop out the sea of weeds anyway.  You let the weeds go to seed, you let the fungal spores regenerate, you let the pests mate and go about their happy reproduction business.  Oblivious to your future farmer self, you call your farm sustainable.

But someday the luck runs out.  You shake fists of indignation at your early sanguine self.  You’ve built up weed banks that will loan you seeds for a thousand years, you have the best fed venison this side of a whitetail farm, you now intimately understand the expression “reproduce like rabbits”, you might as well start a fungus factory, and you just can’t throw a seed in the ground and watch it grow anymore. 

Suddenly, you have problems. You reminisce about when other farmers would talk about problems and you could just shrug your shoulders with lack of understanding.  Ten years later, it’s sympathy and a bit of commiseration.

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