If one word could describe the last month, it would be "hustle". The May workload on the farm is very heavy, but the urgency of the tasks are heightened by the fact that everything is finicky at this time of year. Transplants are fragile, newly seeded crops need ideal conditions for germination, and weather is erratic, ranging from freezing to plus 30 C. With conditions like this, it seems every crop has teetered on the edge of life at some point. The rewarding part is to see that our plots have really come alive in this last month, and now that the weather is stabilizing, the crops are beginning to settle in comfortably.
Amid all of the hustling, there have been some highs and lows. On the positive side, our onion and potato crops are looking really healthy and we have had success with some really early crops of snap peas, beets, and carrots. Well that is until the cutworms ate the carrots. Each of these crops required a few special tricks and extra energy to get ahead of the game, but they are really flying now. You can see the peas already climbing the trellis in the photo below from last week.
The lows have been mostly on account of the cutworm. The cutworm is the larvae of a moth that hides in the soil during the day and comes out at night to feed. Plants can generally recover from a few holes in their leaves, but what cutworms really like to do is wrap their bodies around the base of a plant and chew right through the whole stem, ending its life. The photo below shows a cutworm in my hand and a new tomato transplant in the background. We have lost about 25% of our tomatoes, 75% of our early crop of carrots, and 10% of our squash to these little critters and have been busy replanting to fill in the gaps. We are also now experimenting with some plant protection strategies. If you ever find evidence of cutworms in your garden, don't underestimate how much damage they can inflict. Thankfully, they are only present at one of our plots.