I think most people believe that weeds are a thing of the past--at least where farmers are concerned. A spritz of this, a tractor over that, and viola, weeds gone.
Ummm, not true.
How do I know ? Because I am currently sporting a brand new, state of the art, hole in my palm otherwise known as a blister. From what you might ask? Weeding around 5 million pumpkin plants with a hoe. Okay, not really 5 million, but when you're on your third row of a five acre pasture, it can feel like that many.
Today I learned from Farmer Greg that despite machinery costing upwards of 100k, there remains the need to do some good old-fashioned gardening from time to time. Each pumpkin plant needs to have the weeds raked around it because the machines they use lack the finesse to eradicate weeds around newly sprouted plants without committing pumpkin genocide. And so there we were, at least a half a dozen of us, pulling weeds one early summer morning.
Did I mention it was summer? And that we did this for three days in a row? And that one of the days had set a record for the hottest day of the year? And that Anderson, California, can double as the surface of Mars. It was hot. Even at 6 a.m.
But what surprised me the most wasn't our need, our need to weed, it was the number of people that showed up to help. Friends, family, neighbors...so many people answered the call. We all grabbed a hoe and off we went, sweating, laughing, and sometimes conferring over what was really a pumpkin plant and what was a weed. (You'd be amazed at how pumpkin-like some weeds look.)
So next fall when you see a field full of gorgeous pumpkins, think about the hard work that goes into growing cucurbita pepo. And when you're hefting your big squash, know that a lot of blood, sweat and tears--literally blood and sweat...mine--went into growing your prize. And that's okay because we wouldn't have it any other way. It's what we do here at Historic Hawes Farms. We grow memories...even if those memories include blisters. :)