Running a small family farm is a constant learning experience. It took three seasons to get a viable crop. Now, in our fourth season we’re applying what we’ve learned over the years.
First year: trial run
We started out small, with only ten of each pepper variety. This first year wasn’t an attempt at a full crop, rather, it was an experiment to try some different peppers and see what their production was like. But a freak hailstorm in June took out almost everything! Fortunately, what little remained was able to give us an idea of what worked best.
Second year: trying for harvest
The second year, we laid our rows out east-west, just like the previous year. And planted a lot more, focusing on those that did best the previous year. But it turned out to be a very wet year, and the slope of the field runs north-south, so the nice furrows between the rows turned into water traps! Everything flooded and drowned – we barely salvaged enough for ourselves.
Third year: flood control
Not wanting a repeat of that, we ran the rows north-south the third year.
The first big storm of the season proved the idea – drainage was much better. We didn’t get the wash-outs, standing pools, and general flooding of the previous year. Things were looking good – but the weeds loved the setup too! And watering with tripod sprinklers wasn’t all that great – the coverage was uneven, so there were spots where everything grew really well, and other spots where the plants didn’t get as much water so didn’t grow as well.
The constant fight against weeds was a losing battle. Between that and the uneven watering, we took a lot of losses again. BUT, not a complete loss – we finally came out of the season with a usable harvest!
Fourth Year: applying what we learned
Putting all those lessons together this year, we are trying drip irrigation with covered rows.
Hoping this approach will help with both problems and result in an even bigger harvest!