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Giving crops and kids a strong foundation on the farm

We’ve been transplanting sweet potato sprouts cut into the field, and many of the transplants were grown in a greenhouse. Watching my kids walk through a greenhouse full of sprouting sweet potatoes the other day, I realized there are a lot of similarities in raising children and raising sprouts.

As parents, we try to give our children a strong foundation so when they leave home, they are ready to stand on their own.

Farmers do the same for the sweet potato sprouts growing in the greenhouse. You don’t just lay out a layer of seed sweet potatoes and come back in a few months to cut the sprouts. They are pretty high-maintenance and require a lot of attention over several months until transplanted to the field.  

Temperature, humidity, and moisture are key in a greenhouse. We use overhead irrigation to water the seed sweet potatoes, so someone must turn it on and off.  

Temperature and humidity are checked daily, and several times a day as winter turns into spring. Curtains on the sides are lowered or raised to control the temperature. Unless the greenhouse has automatic curtains that can be programmed to move based on settings, someone has to visit the greenhouse and crank the curtains up or down. A cool morning means the curtains stay up, but a warm afternoon calls for the curtain to drop.

As the plants grow, they will need to be mowed. This not only makes all the plants a uniform size, but it strengthens the stem so the plant will be hardier in the field. As it warms up, they may need mowing several times a week.

It takes a lot of time to raise sprouts and when they get to the field, they get some attention but they’re on their own. You hope the plants are strong enough to handle the hot, humid weather summer brings.  

Raising children takes a lot of time, but one day they will grow up and leave home. Just like the sprouts, we are still going to check on them regularly hoping we’ve given them a strong foundation to thrive, grow, and stand on their own.

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