Newsletter 9/5/18- Reemay Wrangling
The great David Allan Coe once sang, “Sometimes it seemed so useless to remain,” in the perfect country and western song. This may be the case for a country and western singer, but in the eyes of a farmer there’s always a reason to remain—still we sing the same tune, just a little differently. Our lyrics go, “Sometimes it seemed so useless to Reemay,” because, bluntly put, it sometimes seems useless to Reemay due to its bad habit of coming off the intended bed. Well not useless, but it can be frustrating! Agribon, our ‘season extender’ otherwise referred to as Reemay or row cover, requires a lot of shovel work and diligence. It’s applied over specific crops to help them sustain a proper growing climate, somewhat like a personal greenhouse and comes in sheets that span either one or many beds. In order to apply Reemay, it first must be stretched across the length of the whole bed then opened to cover the width of the bed. If the wind doesn’t interfere, two people with shovels will make their way down from one end of the bed to the other; shoveling dirt onto the Reemay every five or so feet. Supposedly that’s all there is to it.
All finished—until the wind blows off one end of the Reemay. Until the Reemay covered beds need cultivation. Until the Reemay rips… notice a pattern? There is more to it, but that’s what farmers are for. Often, we find ourselves revisiting old stretches of Reemay for one reason or another: tending to cultivation needs or keeping it from becoming a giant sail that flies up. Yet again, a shovel in one hand and Reemay in the other, we head down the bed from one end to another piling dirt every five feet or so.
Despite the wrangling, Reemay is actually a great tool to have around the farm. Reemay consists of a lightweight, but strong, fabric that manages to only transmit roughly seventy-five percent of available light and provides frost protection down to about thirty degrees Fahrenheit. It also keeps unwanted bugs out such as aphids and loopers. Thanks to Reemay we are able to grow brassicas that are not infested with bugs, peppers that don’t have sunscald from too much direct sunlight, and are also able to extend the growing period of certain crops by as much as several weeks. Although it takes some effort for us farmers to install and maintain Reemay, it’s well worth it and makes the impossible possible.
Furthermore, we will be here remaining and Reemaying.