Note from Farmer Al: April 16, 2018
Dear CSA Members,
The grass is taking over. Tall, dense and deeply green. This green is the color of energy. I love the way the farm looks right now but we have to control the grass. It uses up too much water for healthy tree growth, and it's getting so tall that workers can't work in it. Especially at 7:00 am when it's dripping wet. So we'll mow it, and the cut grass will turn brown, biodegrade, and slowly return nutrients back into the soil. This process also covers the soil reducing wind erosion and minimizes dust in the orchards.
Dust is a huge part here in the hot inland valleys of California. It causes air pollution, interferes with photosynthesis, causes breathing problems for people and animals. For us, dust creates an extremely severe problem. It gets in the leaves of the trees, creating the perfect habitat for spider mites. These small spider-like critters are almost oto small to be seen with the naked eye but once established in the orchard, the effects of the damage can cause can probably be seen from a satellite. Mites suck the leaves of all their nutrients, turn them brown and crackly, and cover them with a grey mass of webbing. Its horrible to look at and devastating to the health of the tree. In fact, mites will completely defoliate (cause a plant lose all of its leaves) a peach tree in just a few weeks.
So grass is also part of the mite control strategy. Everything is so interconnected here on the farm that timing of everything we do is critical. Every action has a reaction, a ripple effect. Farming organically is complex, just like the spider mite webs of a peach leaf.