You can see the tall weeds growing in the pepper rows. When Cameron and I were climbing our way through the pepper jungle, it was quite obvious that weeds make for a much more difficult harvesting. The picture also shows just how much fruit is hanging on those plants, I can assure you it is far more than what we need. So what to do? Last week we got a brand new roll of woven weed barrier for the new beds of strawberries. Nigel preferred using the “Extenday” because it lasts for years, as opposed to the more common shiny black plastic we all see used in fields.
The reason more people don’t use this type of weed barrier is the cost is really high in comparison. The one roll we ordered last week was $1,200.00. Half of that role was used on the new strawberry beds. So you can imagine how much it would cost to use on many crops. I believe part of Nigel’s thinking in the past was let’s grow more, not worry about weeding/hoeing and we’ll have enough for what we need.
But Cameron and I are now finding we have created the most amazing habitat for squirrels and rabbits because they have all these jungles to wander through loaded with food. It also makes it that much harder to discover pests early on, which makes it impossible for us to take any action. Planting more to compensate for weeds, pests, and ease of picking, also means more hours of preparing beds and planting, and more land needing irrigation. Which really translates to more tractor hours as well as man hours. We are doing some serious thinking; with so many factors to consider would we be better off investing $600.00 in reusable fabric and grow 50% fewer peppers? Now that Cameron and I have our first year behind us, we are looking to the coming year as a time for some limited and specific experimentation. We will invest in one roll of Extenday for the peppers, plant all the non Lunchbox Peppers with fabric and plant as many of the Lunchbox as we can with the second half of the roll. We will still have beds of Lunchbox without fabric so we will have an excellent controlled study.