As the papaya trees grow taller, we can no longer harvest it at a certain height. Those trees need to be plowed back into the soil. While the younger fields are being harvested, we have to be preparing for replanting the fields.
Starting new plants means growing a bunch of seedlings and caring for them to reach a good size to plant. This is a job done after harvests and processing. The field itself has to be prepared with some fallow time and plowing weeds and old plants in.
After the field is cleared and the old growth composted back in, it’s time to plot the field. This means measuring out the rows and plotting the planting spots. This task can take several days to do and is usually an after work task.
This weekend was the planting of the trees. I haven’t planted a field in years since I still work full time. Given no time during the week, my dad decided to plant this weekend. My mom called me at 8 p.m. the night before to let me know. Since we had nothing planned, I decided to haul the kids down to the farm.
Planting papayas mean a lot of squatting down and covering up the seedling. We used an old shovel that I played with as a kid. My dad used junkyard iron pieces given to him by an old welder for his trailer. The old tractor used was a dumped one left at an abandoned farm. My brother laughed that the 4″ pots they used is reused every year so they never have to buy new ones. Goes to show how green farmers are!
Planting is indeed a team effort. My dad drives his beat up salvaged tractor with a homemade trailer carrying seeds and water along the rows. One person digs the holes where the chopstick marker stands. Another person drops a teaspoon of osmocote fertilizer the feed the new plants. The rest of us squat down and plant the seedling and cover up the roots. The last thing we do is give it a good drench of water.
We planted some 300 plants this weekend. It was like doing a bunch of squats and dead lifts. I really got a gym workout by doing that. Planting the field so it can feed people is so much more satisfying then pumping iron to make myself look good. Our tired bodies were worked to it’s max and we farming folks get a great feeling of satisfaction when people appreciate it.
If you want food, it comes from a farm. If you aren’t farming and get your food from an air conditioned store while pushing a cart, you are darn lucky. When you pick up the produce at the market, be sure to remember who grew it. It wasn’t the loud, selfie-obsessed, internet activists growing it. It’s your long time farmer who is producing what you buy.
After busting butt in the fields this weekend, I have a new respect for the work of our farmers. My skin feel parched. My legs are sore. My feet is tender. I have a blister on my baby toe. My hands are stiff and achy. I hurt all over but feel good that my work will bear the fruits of my labor.