Stop me before I plant again!

The fields are mostly planted with season-long crops like onions, leeks and celeriac. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and summer squash are starting to flower. Succession crops like lettuce, carrots, beets and scallions are being planted and harvested in succession. We’ve been working in the fields and the greenhouses for two months now and things are looking good. Really good. You’d think that with so many crops in the ground and thriving I’d be breathing a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have cultivated a low-anxiety attitude about farming. I find myself worrying about if there will be enough ……. enough for the CSA, the woodchucks, the deer, the Farmers’ Markets, the food pantries that we supply. I’ve started walking the fields in the morning looking for spaces to squeeze in more row feet of veggies. I study the field maps and count the days until new beds open up and we can plant another crop in its place. In a panic that there won’t be enough to please everyone, I mentally reject the practice of putting land into cover crops during the growing season. In this, my fourth year of farming, this constant “there’s not enough!” worry has become familar.

My knee-jerk reaction to such worry has historically been to plant more crops without much thought given to what happens after the plant is in the ground. This strategy hasn’t worked so well because I can plant a lot more than I can tie, weed or harvest. I’ll leave it to your imagination to picture what happens when tomatoes aren’t tied up off the ground, when there’s no time to weed the alliums and when there aren’t enough hands to harvest the eggplant. Not pretty.

This year, I’ve been countering my panic by pleading with myself: “Stop me before I plant again!” This phrase comes from my farmer/teacher, CY, who used to say it while he laughed. This year I finally get it and it’s no joke. Not sure how successful I’ll be in fighting the “there’s not enough!” panic, but at least now I’m armed with a battle cry.