By choosing to farm organically, we don’t use any of those really helpful products that kill all of the weeds and give Little Shop of Horrors results in plant growth. We don’t use soils that contain anything other than soil and there is nothing sprayed on our crops to help them grow, other than rainfall.
The problem with this method is that sometimes things don’t grow the way you want them to. Sometimes, a little jerk of a bug will eat millions of holes in all of your turnip greens. Sometimes, so many weeds will grow between the rows of plants and between the plants themselves that you can’t really tell where the lettuce is anymore. Sometimes, stuff just won’t grow.
But sometimes it will.
Organic farming takes patience, and work, and weeding. Lots of weeding. Weeding is one of the reasons we decided to have children. We thought, “Hey! Kids are low to the ground; they’ll be perfect for pulling weeds!” This was how we thought our kids would look:
We envisioned happily working side by side as a family united with a love for organic farming. But the children do not care how perfect they are for weed-pulling. They do not want to help around the farm. They want to look like this:
It can be daunting and defeating and is most definitely exhausting. There is a seemingly endless amount of work to do in general, so a task as unappealing as weeding will invariably get pushed further and further down the to-do list. At the end of three, four, even five consecutive days we will look at one another and say, “Dang! We didn’t get to the weeding AGAIN!” Eventually, however, it comes down to saving the crops.
Much like a toothache, the longer you put off dealing with it, the worse it gets. When we pulled on our gloves in the morning before the heat really set in, we were faced with this:
This is just one snapshot of the kale, but the whole garden really looked like this. It took the better part of the day (and yes, the children helped) but we got through a good portion of it. We are hoping tonight’s rain will soften things up and make the balance easier for our next go-round on Monday.
It makes a difference, though. And while it would be far easier and considerably more bountiful to spray growth aids and pesticides on our plants, we would rather work harder for less because what we do get is good, clean food. When we lay our heads down at night, we know we’ve done right by the earth and by our children. We rest easy knowing that we are, in our own small way, balancing out the harm done by so many large corporations. When there is a salmonella outbreak from tainted spinach, we can continue to enjoy our beautiful spinach because nothing in our garden is dangerous to any living thing.
And while it takes a lot of work, at the end of the day this little organic garden gives us, and so many others, the wonderful food we believe in so strongly.