Fresh Facts: The Farmer’s Shadow is the Most Important Fertilizer

By December 12, 2013Newsletter

Volume 7, Week 15, December 6-7, 2013

We’re supposed to get some nice freezing weather over the next week. Historically, we know that dry = cold because soil moisture holds heat from the daytime a lot longer into the night and my goodness is it ever dry. I say “nice” freezing weather for several reasons.

First off—speaking as a stone fruit farmer of course—it puts our fruit trees squarely into rest mode, called dormancy, which is critical for next year’s crop.

Second, a nice hard frost can knock down the population of some of our overwintering pests, making our job a little easier next year.

Third—this time as a citrus packer—we need an upper 20’s frost to harden the rinds on our mandarins and navels.

Prior to this event every year, we have weak fruit that’s prone to decay. After a nice frost, we’re almost bulletproof in that regard. The downside of course, is a frost cold enough to damage the fruit internally, so you can know your citrus farmers aren’t going to get much sleep for a while. They’ll be running water (remember how soil moisture holds heat) and wind machines—those big propellers in the middle of the groves—that mix the warmer air above with the colder air on the floor; all in an effort to buy a couple degrees for a couple hours.

Our vegetable farmers take similar steps on the leafy greens, especially your lettuce, but broccoli and cauliflower and such just grow a little slower when it’s cold.The best part about freezing weather of course is how nice hot tea and hot chocolate feel when you come in, and of course it feels a lot Christmasier when it’s cold, don’t you think?

 ++++++++New Subject++++++++

Here’s how my life’s been lately: “Did you get my email?” “I sent you an email.” “Have you had time to read my email?” “I copied you on an email.” …No, I haven’t read your dad-blamed email! If you’ve got time to ask me if I’ve read the thing, why don’t you just tell me what it said and I’ll tell you what I think of it like real people? Oh, but you’re soooo busy I didn’t want to bother you. Well yeah I’m busy cause you’re sending me so many cotton-pickin emails for cryin out loud!

Now I appreciate digital communication as much as anybody; obviously this whole thing wouldn’t work without it. But somehow it’s gotta be the servant, not the master. We see clearing the inbox as something that’s gotta get done as if there’s a message from the president in there and before you know it, the emails got cleared but the fields didn’t get walked. If the farmer’s shadow is the most important fertilizer, it can’t be cast off a computer screen, but only the sun and the moon.

What I started to notice was the quicker I responded, the more I’d get so I tried an experiment for the last month; I just start 3 days down. Heresy I hear some of you saying, but here’s what happened: The correspondence that needs attention dropped in half, yet the world kept turning.Now don’t worry, Blanca’s committed to 1 business day customer support for you guys, that’s just good business, similar to somebody answering the phone in the day. But for me, by slowing the response, it lets me give a more carefully thought out reply the sender deserves, and suppressed the tyranny of the urgent so the fields get walked. The technology properly used multiplies our effectiveness. Embrace it, manage it like any other tool, and…



 ~Vernon Peterson

Author Jessica Lessard

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