Observation of vegetable fields

A month ago, a long-lost friend of mine called me and asked for my help in managing his vegetable fields.

Naturally, I was puzzled. Firstly, although I grew up in the countryside, I have no practical farming experience. Secondly, I have never systematically studied agricultural techniques, as evidenced by the small and weak succulent plants I grow on my balcony. Thirdly, we haven't been in contact for a long time, so why did he ask me?

To these questions, my friend gave an illogical answer, no matter how I interpreted it.

He said, first, he often heard me talk about "vegetables" and call myself a "vegetable," and he happened to be growing vegetables, specifically leeks. Second, my pen name includes the word "worm," and his vegetable fields are currently threatened by "insect pests." Third, I have unique ideas, and maybe I can make unexpected discoveries.

So we discussed the compensation, and with the assurance that "it's okay if you can't solve it," I went to his vegetable fields.

It was truly a magnificent vegetable field. My friend explained that this vegetable field was square-shaped, with each side measuring 80 meters, covering nearly 10 acres of land. "Actually, it's 9.6 acres," he said, "and all of this 9.6 acres of land is planted with leeks."


"Amazing," I praised, and asked why a software engineer like him was farming.

He explained that we hadn't been in contact for a long time, and I didn't check his social media, so I didn't know. He had been laid off by the company ten years ago and, after driving for a ride-hailing service for over a year, he accidentally learned about the lucrative way of leek cultivation. He then returned to his hometown and took over a piece of abandoned land that had been unused for several years, integrating it into a large leek field. In the following years, with mechanized management and hiring skilled farmers, this leek field brought him considerable income. However, the situation gradually deteriorated, with leek production declining year by year and the quality not as good as before, making it difficult to sell at a good price. The output of this leek field is now almost unable to cover the costs.

I asked him what professional methods he had tried.

He said they had tried almost everything they could think of, whether it was increasing soil fertility or practicing crop rotation, or introducing soil microorganisms that are beneficial to leek growth... but the results were minimal, at most slowing down the decline in yield.

"Perhaps you haven't found the real fundamental reason," I said.

"We have done everything we can, and we have consulted everyone we can find. You are the last one. If even someone with such strange ideas as you can't solve it, then I will give up after this harvest," he said, clearly having made up his mind and sounding skeptical of me.

Of course, I had no confidence in myself either. But with a trial-and-error mentality, I began my field investigation.

The soil was moist and fertile, and it seemed to be suitable for leek growth—a soil composition analysis provided by my friend also confirmed my intuition. As for the insect pests, they were not as severe as I had expected, as my friend had always maintained strict field management. Since I was considered to have unique ideas, I planned to look for other reasons elsewhere.

In short, after a week of research, I finally discovered some things that even agricultural experts had not noticed. Below, I will introduce my findings and propose some corresponding solutions, hoping to provide some valuable information to other leek growers and help them produce higher yields of more delicious leeks.

Overall, the core problem is: Leek growers often focus on the hardware conditions of the vegetable fields and neglect the psychological development of the leeks themselves.

The management of the hardware aspects of the vegetable fields is the domain of agricultural experts, and I am naturally not professional in this area, so I cannot provide any constructive advice. However, in terms of the psychological development of leeks, although I am equally non-professional, I do have some shallow suggestions.

  1. The language used in the fields is not suitable for leek growth. During my research, I often heard growers in the fields talking about "harvesting leeks," "selling leeks," "eating leeks," and other such phrases. Indeed, these statements describe undeniable facts, but they are too harsh for the leeks. I suggest that growers use appropriate language to downplay or even beautify the way leeks are handled. Some suggested phrases include "contribution," "dedication," "sacrifice," "benevolence," and "devotion."
  2. An open-field environment is not conducive to leek management. My friend's vegetable fields have always been open, and the leeks can easily see the neighboring fields of other farmers and the wild plants growing in the abandoned fields. Leeks with good eyesight can even see the pomelo orchard on the distant hillside. Such a field environment is very detrimental to leek psychological management and spiritual development because the leeks involuntarily compare their living conditions with other crops. They then realize that compared to other crops that require careful care, they not only receive less fertilizer but also get harvested more frequently. As a result, they feel hopeless about their future, develop collective psychological barriers, and become unwilling to grow. I suggest building fences around the leek fields, preventing the leeks from seeing the outside scenery. If conditions permit, screens can be installed on the walls to play tragic stories from outside the fields, making the leeks believe that their vegetable field is the best place to grow.
  3. High-quality leeks require competition. My friend's entire vegetable field adopts a single management model—both the east and west fields receive the same fertilizer, and the south and north fields are harvested at the same time. This fair strategy is not conducive to cultivating high-quality leeks because in such an environment, the leeks feel no need to make an effort and may even choose to lie down. To promote leek growth, competition among the leeks must be encouraged. The first step is to create a goal for the leeks to strive for, such as the great revival of the leek garden or reaching the level of moderately developed crops. Then, the fields should be managed in a graded manner, providing more and better fertilizer to leeks with good growth, reducing the frequency of harvest, and encouraging them to grow more vigorously. For leeks that are not making an effort, a field atmosphere that criticizes them should be created to force them to make an effort. Of course, growers should not always favor hardworking leeks. When some leeks grow too successfully, they can be publicly harvested, accusing them of depriving other leeks of nutrients. This way, growers can periodically win the support of weaker leeks.
  4. Pest control needs to be guided by the situation. Based on my observations, relying solely on pesticide spraying is not enough to completely control pests because they can develop resistance to the pesticides. When neglected, these pests may even form violent groups. They not only harvest the leeks themselves but may also attack the growers. I suggest using a combination of kindness and severity in dealing with pests, incorporating them into the farming community. Before opposing this idea, there is a reason behind my suggestion: firstly, many pests are transformed from leeks, so they have a deep understanding of the true growth conditions of leeks; secondly, pests have low consumption but are ruthless, making them more suitable for dealing with unruly leeks; finally, when leeks are dissatisfied with the growers' cultivation strategies, growers can portray pests as enemies that need to be fought against, winning the support of the leeks by launching "pest eradication" campaigns and avoiding instability among the leeks.
  5. Strengthening the public opinion construction of the vegetable fields. Growers often overlook the public opinion construction of the fields, thinking that they are just leeks, at most reducing yields. The cost of public opinion construction is not low, but this overlooks the inherent power of the leeks. If not guided, the leeks may even overthrow the growers and implement self-management. Therefore, I believe that the public opinion construction of the vegetable fields is one of the most important issues. Here, I will explain a few key points. First, it is necessary to establish positive and negative examples among the leek community and establish a clear system of rewards and punishments to guide the leeks' growth in the desired direction. Second, create an external danger that threatens the security of the vegetable fields. This danger does not necessarily have to be real, but it must make the leeks believe that they can only respond to this external danger by uniting around the growers. Third, create a sense of pride in the leek community, making the leeks believe that all the growers' actions are for their healthy growth, even if they are harvested or make cultivation mistakes. If done well, it may even make the leeks willingly and actively offer themselves for harvest. Fourth, encourage the leeks to report on each other, making them proud collectively but isolated individually; make them distrust each other, thereby preventing them from forming risky alliances.

As can be seen, these observations and suggestions are very shallow and strange, with almost no professional terms related to agricultural science and psychology, but as my friend said, these strange perspectives may provide new insights for leek growers and help them develop new leek field management techniques.

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