ReachOut: Your Field of Dreams

By Mike Zwingman

By Mike Zwingman

The average career of a major league ball player is less than six seasons.  For the complex art that baseball is, six seasons is surely too short of a timeframe to master it, let alone perfect it.  You, grower, have a slightly longer shelf life than a major leaguer.

You’ve got about 40 seasons in you.  Not too shabby.  An honorable length of service, friend.  But you of course understand that that means you have just 40 shots at planting, just 40 shots at growing, just 40 shots at harvest.  And if we’ll call baseball a complex art, then planting and harvest?  There is barely a word to capture the complicated and intricate details of these things.  40 seasons is not enough to master them.

But Jedi growing master or not, you can look out into your fields today and congratulate yourself on another successful planting.  The seeds went in, the plants came up.  Good job.  Truly, pat yourself on the back and make yourself a steak for dinner tonight.

Then tomorrow, set out into your field and listen because your plant stand has loads to tell you, valuable Jedi secrets that can turn you Padawans into Knights, you Knights into Yodas.

Become a scout for a day.  I know, I know—you can pay someone to do that.  That’s okay.  Pay away.  Just go out into the fields too.

Header2Let’s bring this back to baseball: Consider your favorite slugger.  People watch him all day, tell him how to bend his elbow, where to hold his wrist, how to move his feet.  The people watching him: these are the greatest hitting coaches in the world.  They say, “No, no, not like that.  Like this.”  And like this, like this, like this.  But what does that slugger do at the end of the day still?  He watches video of himself.  He has to see for himself how his elbow flies out instead of down, how he lifts his chin too far.  It’s when he sees it for himself that all those directions make sense.

So go out with your scout and see for yourself, because your plant stand has much to tell you.

Like was your equipment well-calibrated?  Did you drive the planter too fast?  Was the field too rough?  Too wet?  Too cold?  How are your hybrids performing after all?

Yes, you might uncover some of the mistakes you committed during planting.  That’s okay.  There ain’t a dang thing you can do about it now, but don’t worry, there’s always next year.  That’s the point.  Mastery—or even just good old improvement—springs forth from mistakes, as long as you learn from them.  And in the meantime, you’ve got another shot at mastering the growing season and 36 thousand plants per acre on which to practice and hone your difficult craft.

Next week I’ll drop the baseball metaphors for a self-help symptom checker to help guide you during your exploration of your seedlings.  I might even draw some pictures.