Farm Life Vegetables and Berries

Saving Private Pepper

Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures. I never thought I would find myself doing this, but over the weekend I transferred an entire high tunnel’s worth of peppers to another field.

It had already been two to three weeks that I was worried by their lack of progress. Plants that should have been knee-high were just ankle height. Let’s just say they were food for thought.

What could possibly explain their lacklustre performance? Soil compaction? A sloped bed ending in a depression? Lack of fertilization? Stress due to a cold spell just after the plants were transplanted?

While it could have been any of the above, a couple of quick shovelfuls revealed the culprit : an infestation of June bugs, whose larvae were stealthily attacking my peppers’ root systems. Unlike cutworms which are easily visible in the topsoil, June bug larvae are hidden away further below the surface. There is no magic recipe against June bugs which can, I suppose, be beneficial in some instances but are most certainly not in this case.

Despite the obvious stress the operation will have caused to our peppers, the calculated risk may well be worth it provided the plants seize this opportunity to make a fresh start. What’s done is done, we’ll see just how resilient nature is. In any event, the rainfall that followed seemed like an auspicious sign, so we remain hopeful.