I have been reading the threads about raised beds, intensive farming and crop rotation. We have a commercial farm, we do intensive, no-till, 100% vegan organic raised bed gardening and grow 364 days a year (we have had a freeze two years in a row, hence the 364!) I live in deep south Texas, but close to the water so our summers are more moderate than those farther inland. Even though we are large scale, I think our experience can help everyone. I've made a lot of mistakes, learned many things the hard way and still learn new things every day.
We rotate crops based on their groups, but also have to rotate based on what is in place in the bed, i.e. tomato cages and soft root crops. Our soil pH was 8.5 at the beginning, now it is down to 6.5-7.0 depending on the age of the bed. We use overhead sprinklers, an inground system with automatic timers, plus valves that can be manually operated. Our beds are 34 feet long, 4 feet wide with 6 ft isles between the sections, one foot isles between beds and we have 289 of those beds.
This is one of the newer sections. It contains salad mixes, tah tsoi, arugula, onions, carrots and 12 beds of fingerling potatoes. Some of the potatoes were damaged by the freeze. The very last bed (#27) contains okra which I replanted yesterday because the first planting froze. It is used as a wind break.
Here is a bed ready to plant. These beds contained squash that froze the first of the month. Cabbages will go in one, carrots in the other. The squash was pulled out, the beds were raked with a large landscape rake and rows are made with a small triangle shaped hoe. We use stringline to make straight rows.
Because we do not till, some seeds germinate when the bed is raked. I have salad greens all over the garden (along with cilantro and dill). Here is a photo of new broccoli with lettuce growing all around it. I leave the salad greens, the broccoli shades them and they will eventually get crowded out if I don't harvest them.
When seeds are planted, they are allowed to germinate and then covered, unless they need extra heat or in the case of summer temps, extra shade to germinate they are then covered at time of planting. New transplants are covered with remay at time of transplanting, covers are pulled down tight over them and held down with bricks. As the transplants grow, the covers are allowed to float somewhat. We have daily winds in the 10-15mph range with gusts up to 45mph, so the tight covers are necessary to keep from beating the plants to death and tearing up the edges of the beds. We are working on permanent hoops for the beds (photo later), but haven't finished those. Remay also keeps the rabbits from eating the new transplants and keeps cabbage loopers and diamond back moths away.
The only pest we have constant trouble with is snails. We do use Sluggo, but because of the constant moisture and non chemical use, they are always there. We have ladybugs, lacewings, soldier beetles, green tiger beetles, frogs, toads and lizards always in the garden. Birds love the garden, especially the fly catchers, warblers, wrens and little sparrows.
These are carrots under cover. The cover will be removed next week, the beds weeded, the plants allowed to harden off and grow and will be harvested a couple of weeks later. This variety is "Rainbow."
We experimented with row covers and uncovered rows of carrots. We found it best to allow them to germinate and then cover. Same with onions. In winter, carrots take about 3 weeks longer to finish if not covered. In summer, the covers must have hoops and ventilation or it gets too hot under the cover. We grow carrots year round. Carrots can take freezing temps, but the tops are damaged. We sell these with tops attached and can't have burned tops so we cover even the mature carrots if a freeze is predicted. We only grow sweet bunching carrots like Nelson, Mokum, Yaya, Napoli, Rainbow and some purple ones. (Purple Haze, Purple Dragon and Deep Purple) We don't grow storage carrots.
I wounder how many people know that a garden with rows that have deep furrows running along each side is a raised bed garden?
I have watched your post for a couple years and you guys have come a long way with lots and lots of work.
Question: When you plant a veggie like carrots for example, do you stagger your planting times. Do you plant like a 1/3 of a row , too weeks later plant another 1/ of a row, and then two weeks later yet another 1/3 of a row and so on? Or do you plant an entire row and when most of the crop is ready to harvest pull the entire row then sell what is marketable and compost the rest or how ever you discard?
Cauliflower, spaced 18 inches apart in rows one foot apart. At transplanting time these are given alfalfa meal, kelp meal, cottonseed meal, dry molasses and greensand if needed. Many of the crops we grow are heavy feeders and since we grow vegan, that can be difficult to acheive. The amendments we use are slow to release and depend upon the microbes in the soil and that is why we try to disturb the soil as little as possible. These beds are also full of earthworms. I hate cutting my earthworms in half when working the soil. A second dose of amendments will be given to the transplants about the time the plants start to touch each other. If I wait longer, it's too hard to get the amendments down to the soil.
We plant an entire bed and harvest the largest ones first. Usually one bed is harvested in 2 weeks. The unmarketable ones are composted or sent to a nearby farm for his animals to eat. In some beds of carrots, because I don't need a whole bed of purple carrots, I will plant 5 rows of orange and 1 row of purple. In the rainbow carrots I planted yesterday, I mixed a few purple seeds into the mix.
I will take some photos of the partially harvested beds later today. Now I need to get ready for a board meeting for one of the farmer's markets we attend.
We sure have come a long way! I started growing veggies in a small (well small compared to what I have now) garden that was 20 x 42. Lots of farmers here grow 1 row of veggies with 4 ft between rows. I can grow more on my 3.75 acres than they can on 12 acres! During hurricane season, they can't get into their fields, but mine drain nicely and I hardly ever lose anything to too much rain.
I never tire of your photos and descriptions. I, too, learn so much. And seeing the palm trees in the background just adds that dash of the tropics and adventure to the whole thing. You must work so hard and then be so satisfied at the end of the day! But the dog is really in charge, right ;~P!
The dog is definitely in charge (along with a cat we call Harley the Horrible). Harley leads the dog astray. The other day Harley thought the double row cover would make a great trampoline. Then he decided to go under the cover, between the two covered beds and play in the "tunnel." Duke went in right behind him! Harley leads the dog into the garden and walks under the tall plants (he also likes to sleep in the carrot patch) and tries to entice the dog into the beds. Duke knows he gets in big trouble if he gets out of the isles. Most of the time he is an obedient dog. After playing for a while, the cat rolls over and exposes his tummy, like he is saying to the dog "go ahead, pet my tummy." Duke falls for it, ends up with cat wrapped around his head, then cat runs and the game is on again. Cat then runs out of the garden: his litter pan is in the garage.
Honeybee, yep, we're pretty level except for the slope down to the water. Wind causes more erosion than water here.
Gymgirl, you're doing an excellent job with the Intensive Farming Thread! I enjoy reading it.
Photo of sweet potato harvest. Probably a mixture of Georgia Jets (yes, mine split also) and Centennial. It is time to get the sweeties in the ground, but my starts were nipped back in the freeze. They're putting out again, but it will be a while before they're ready to plant. With the sweet potatoes, I plant two different ways. I plant either a single row down the center, cuttings about 8 inches apart, or three rows, each a foot apart with plants 18 inches apart. They do well either way. After planting, I cover with Remay until they are established. I do not root my cuttings first.
Golden Beets. I have modified my planting of beets. I am bad with beets! I plant them too thick with rows too close together. This past week, I made only 4 rows in the bed and planted my seeds one at a time, 3 inches apart. Boy did that take forever! I'll let you know if it works any better.
Beets on the northwest side of the garden were damaged more than beets on the southeast side during the freeze. The front had come from the north, northwest.
I promised a photo of partial harvest. Here is tah tsoi. I posted earlier there were 6 rows of tah tsoi, but the bed in the photo only has 5 rows. Today is harvest day for an afternoon market. I will post more photos later.
One more. This is our squash garden. We are in the process of building hoops for this garden to cover two rows at a time. This section is 94 ft long by 17 ft wide, half the width of the normal gardens, planted beside one of our young orchards. The orchards have "bubblers" and also flood irrigation capability. The squash beds are 5 ft wide, planted two rows down the center, one foot apart, 6 - 8 inch spacing between plants. Along the edges we planted salad mixes, kales, mustards to give shelter from the wind to the young seedlings and also to maxamize space. With all our plants that take a while to mature, we plant right beside them items that will be finished by the time the main crop reaches the edges of the beds. No wasted space. This garden has not been weeded. It was partially replanted after the freeze. The plants on the left side are bigger because they were protected by a double layer of Agribon. The plants on the right are second planting. The Agribon was heavy, the freezing rain weighted it down and smashed some fragile squash plants. Definitely need hoops under the Agribon when it is over fragile plants. The remay in the center is over some romaine lettuce. I planted too thickly and had to space it out a few days ago. That particular romaine is Green Forest, a large one. We also grow Little Gem.
I have two beds of Thunder cucumbers in the center. They will be covered with a hoop soon. They are parthenocarpic. The cukes froze completely. Not one survived the freeze, no matter how much cover was over them.
"At transplanting time these are given alfalfa meal, kelp meal, cottonseed meal, dry molasses and greensand if needed."
I would love to be able to afford these amendments, but I only find them in one, two, or five lb or there about quantities. Perhaps if I could find 25 or 50 lb bags I may be encouraged to give it a try.
How do you determine how much of the above to apply to your garden?
TXRock-You can mix it into your planting medium prior to planting.
From the Dirt Doctor's site:
Add amendments. Add 4 - 6” of compost, dry molasses or other organic fertilizer (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), zeolite (10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), lava sand (10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), greensand (4 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), and whole ground horticultural cornmeal (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.). If the budget allows, add ½ inch of decomposed granite. Rototill or fork to a total depth of 8”.
"Add amendments. Add 4 - 6” of compost, dry molasses or other organic fertilizer (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), zeolite (10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), lava sand (10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), greensand (4 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.), and whole ground horticultural cornmeal (2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.). If the budget allows, add ½ inch of decomposed granite. Rototill or fork to a total depth of 8”."
I add the amendments at planting time. Some are only added once per year, like greensand. It can raise the pH if I use too much and I've worked too hard lowering that to mess it up. Kelp and cottonseed meal I buy in 50# bags, the cottonseed is certified organic and is made by Ladybug. I can buy cottonseed meal from the processing plant about 25 miles away (like most of the organic farmers in the Valley do) but I'm afraid it is loaded with chemicals, especially exfoliants. It sells for $15 a ton from the mill. I use a Folger's coffee can (the plastic one) full per 34' bed every time I plant.
Kelp meal is probably the most expensive amendment I buy. It contains lots of trace elements and I won't plant tomatoes without it. I add 1/2 coffee can full per bed at planting. If peas, tomatoes or beans are yellowing, this will usually straighten them up and I add more if needed.
Alfalfa meal, pellets or blocks will work. I prefer the meal, I try to buy certified organic but will buy from the feed store in a pinch. I add two coffee cans full of this per bed at planting time, except the blocks, I just toss them around on the bed, water them and when they soften up, I crumble them on top of the soil. This makes my hands sore, so I don't use the blocks if I can find pellets or meal.
Green manure is put in the compost pile. We have a Bobcat to turn the piles. Four inches of compost is added to each bed, once per year unless needed sooner. Our soil varies from what we call delta muck (slippery, slimey when wet and hard as a rock when dry but very fertile soil) to very sandy. If I dig down a couple of feet, I can run into layers of small pebbles, sand and shells. I haven't found a rock anywhere. We don't have the caliche layer some parts of Texas has. I try to plant carrots in the deepest beds with the most compost. In most of our beds I can plunge my hand in the soil to above my wrist. One of our restaurant customers described the texture as "chiffon."
Dry molasses I buy from the feed store in 50# bags. I used to buy the organic horticultural kind, but it is packaged at the same factory as the cattle feed one! Horticultural molasses costs $50 for 50#, animal feed kind from Tractor Supply less than $20, local feed store $25. I add a coffee can full once or twice per year, per bed. I think this amendment is what gives our veggies their flavor!
Sugar snap peas and a few other heavy feeders will sometimes yellow because the amendments we add are all slow release. If the kelp meal hasn't brought them around, I will spray them with a liquid organic fertilizer and it usually greens them up. I like both Medina and Daniel's.
Each year we have soil tests done. Texas A&M offers farmers free testing in January, but I prefer to use a local lab because they do a wet test which is more accurate (it tells me what is available to the plant, not just what is in the soil). Funny story.The results for last year's free soil test came back. High phosphate. Little note included said "stop using manure, your phosphates are too high. Buy commercial fertilizer with 6# per acre phosphate" Local lab said phosphates not high, it was soft rock phosphate. Because I'm organic, A & M assumed I used manure.
I keep detailed records of what I plant, when I plant including variety, soil amendments added, if I add Sluggo (we have terrible snail problems here) and anything else used like Bt or Spinosad. We use row covers for insect control more than anything else. Row covers also protect from wind damage.
A photo of fresh tilled earth. We till to a depth of about 1 foot before the beds are formed. The soil will never be tilled again once the beds are formed.
I thought I had a photo of the beds being formed. I'll have to search thru my photos to find it. Meanwhile, here is a photo taken last summer.
The plants to the right are violet queen cauliflower. I pushed the limit a little too far into the summer trying to see how late I could plant certain things. The heads on the cauliflower were weird looking and slightly bitter. The leaves were eaten by loopers.
I've found some things just won't grow when the soil is too cold and some things just won't perform well in summer. Every day is a learning experience.
I think I'm starting to get the picture here. What size plastic coffee can?
I'm familiar with Medina as I use it every 14 days after planting by pouring up to a gal of mix per tomato plant depending on size of plants.
How do you control aphids, spider mites, and stink bugs? Aphids can be a real problem for me. If I don't get them early they will devastate my garden. Once they reach a certain level of infestation I can't get rid of them. I use sevin but would like to go completely OMRI.
I have found the more crowded my plants are the more prone they are to aphids. So the past two growing seasons I have been moving toward having more open space between some stand alone type plants such as tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, etc. and thinning more heavily the crops like carrots, greens, etc. This seems to at least allow me to spot aphids easier and sooner.
When I read about intensive gardening and sq ft gardening my first thought is insects, fungi, and lower production due to over crowding and how this can be better than a more open space type of gardening. Maybe I am taking a too narrow view of what intensive gardening is all about.
You seem to be right on track so keep up the good work and keep us informed. Your threads and posts are always informative for me.
I wish I were sitting in the chair right now! Its a bit chilly here today. Supposed to be warmer this weekend.
Woohoo! And DH is loading up the lawnmowers to take them in for their semi-anual check ups. Which means we'll be driving right by the farmer's co-op with an empty trailer! Let's...a 50# bag of alfalfa meal (I've been wanting that anyway), 50# bag of hort. molasses, I wonder if they have kelp meal?...I'll have to call...They love it when I call (=8~0). I used to ask the oddest questions. But now they tell me more and more people are asking for the same stuff. My little world is growing to be a brighter place with more and more folks taking up organic methods =D!
Once again, thanks for sharing the photos! Especially the ones with the palm trees in the background!
Calalily: Do row covers work to keep squash borers out of your squash? I would imagine they would. Would you recommend covering the whole vine or just the hill and out a few feet since that is where the eggs are usually laid? I hate it when my zucchini just ups and dies when in full fruiting mode!
I'm getting ready to head out and pick for a market today, so will give quick answers now.
Aphids? I don't have a problem with them. I have ladybugs and lacewings and I know they eat aphids so there must be some out there somewhere! We have soldier beetles, green tiger beetles, lady bugs, lacewings, spiders, lizards, toads and frogs along with assasin bugs, wasps, parasitic wasps and more. We don't mess with the balance of nature (except armadillos are not allowed in the garden). I have experimented with spacing and even with intensive farming there comes a point where things are just too crowded. Broccoli needs a minimum of one foot spacing, carrots have 6 inches between rows. Beets were too crowded with 5 rows per 4 ft bed but are doing well with 4 rows.
I buy hybrid seeds (NOT GMO) for disease resistance and toughness. The only fungus and bacterial problems I have are with powdery mildew and leaf spot on my beets. I bought PM resistant squash and bacterial spot resistant beets. I don't have a problem with stink bugs, but if I do find one I just smash it. All weeds are cleared from the garden and surrounding areas and some things are left to flower as a food source for beneficials. We left overgrown okra for weeks because the soldier beetles and lady bugs were having a feast on soft scale.
Kelp meal might be at the co-op. If you can't find it, sea water will work. One part sea water, 10 parts fresh water. Spray on plants for trace elements. I have used this and it really works.
Squash vine borers, use one tablespoon sulfur at planting time, do not use it on the stems or leaves of plants, but add to soil when seeds are planted. Row covers work to help lessen the SVB, but remember squash need bees for pollination. We cover squash with hoops, then row covers only over the top (ends are open). This allows bees to enter, because once they find the squash, they go down the row pollinating then fly out the other end. Moths tend to fly in from the top and run into the row cover and leave, but if they find their way in from the end, they will lay eggs. (at least that is my theory)
For pH reduction we have been adding composted wood chips from our friend's cabinet shop, and sometimes fresh chips. He separates out the walnut for us so it isn't added to the garden. Wood chips are very acidic. We add more alphalfa to supply nitrogen to the decomposing wood. We also add elemental sulphur for things that need a quick drop in pH. Rhinocerous (spelling?) beetles love the wood chips, help them decompose and leave wonderful droppings in return! After a couple of years, the pH has dropped significantly. The beetle larvae are the reason I don't use beneficial nematodes.
This is great info. When you have time you should write a book.
I was able to find 50# Alfalfa meal, large bags of gypsum and green sand. I bought a yard and a half of compost. I have an eight yard by 9 yard area that I want to make as organic as possible. My four rabbits yield 30 or so gal of manure per year more when they have babies.
Waiting for more of your pictures...maybe some of your market setups.
Thanks, Callalily. Great info on pH reduction -- I will work on it. Also glad for info on SVB.
You mentioned sulphur for the SVB and also that you can use elemental sulphur for pH reduction around certain plants that need it. Question -- is that all the same sulphur? ("sulphur" and "elemental sulphur"?). Thanks, if you have time to respond.
Lise, sulphur is available as elemental (the yellow powder in a bag) and as a sulfate. Sulfate is immediately available to the plant, is in some fertilizers but won't reduce pH (such as epsom salts -magnesium sulfate or gypsum - calcium sulfate). Sulfates are usually water soluble.
Elemental sulphur is not available to the plant until it is converted by soil bacteria to sulfuric acid, but will immediately lower pH of the soil in its elemental form. Elemental sulphur is not water soluble, so the be sure you work it into the soil before planting so the little microbes and bacteria can start breaking it down.
Elemental sulphur dust will kill spider mites, but be careful because it will also kill lady bugs. Sulphur dust is highly flamable and gives off toxic fumes while burning so don't use near open flames! Don't use the dust on the leaves of cucumbers, squash or pumpkins because it really burns them and stunts the plant. When using for SVBs, put it in the SOIL.
Gotta go, workers will be arriving soon and I need more coffee!
I need to start taking notes when I'm in the garden. I thought of something yesterday and now I can't remember what it was!
My tomatoes and peppers are up in the seed bed. I don't have my hoops ready so used plastic coffee cans to raise the fabric off the seedlings. I turned the cans on their sides, spaced four cans down the center of the bed and pulled the remay tight over them and fastened it down with bricks. Worked like a charm!
I have been having trouble getting amaranth and spreen to germinate. I noticed yesterday the seeds I planted months ago are now germinating in the beds I reworked and something else has been planted. I did a little research and found they need light to germinate (seed catalog said 1/8 inch deep).
Here is a photo from one of our markets. Our enclosed trailer is hidden by the booth next to us. This market allows hand made crafts and the lady next to us sells aprons along with her vegetables.
A photo from one of the smaller markets we used to attend. This one was a hassle, no place to park to unload (all other markets we can park by our booth), grumpy customers, manager allowed vendors to sell early, etc...so we stopped attending this one.
Argh! I had a whole page typed about squash and cucumbers and it just disappeared! I'll be back later. My computer is acting up.
Yes, we are organized. It's taken several years and lots of practice to develop a system that works. For our biggest market we arrive 20 minutes before it starts. We have a reserved spot, but can't back into it until the booth next to us moves their truck, so we can't arrive earlier. We are unloaded and completely set up (36 linear feet of table space) with all product displayed and a line of people waiting for opening bell all within 15 minutes. I think people line up just to watch us set up! Our record sell out was 19 minutes (almost $1000 worth of produce) with two cashiers.
I'll look for a photo of that market. Meanwhile, here is one from another small market we attended.
Gymgirl, you've got the right idea on that book -- with lots of lovely pictures! But lest this turns into another long thread of nothing but "aye!" posts, let's just say, we I'll bet we ALL think Calalily should write a book!
$1000 in 19 minutes? That's amazing, Calilily! -- and a testiment to your great produce (and hard work).
I'll look forward to your thoughts and tips on the squash and cucumbers too. I hate when I accidentally hit a "back" button or something and everything I'm just typed vanishes.
I love your sign at your produce stand. I just finished reading Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. For anyone interested in learning more about "local and sustainable" farming, it's a great inspiration.
Yesterday I planted squash, cucumbers, the last of the fingerlings and the first sweet potatoes of the season. I have found cucumbers and squash other than zucchini and yellow do not do well when planted Nov-Dec here. I can't figure out why. Even with row covers and 80 degree days, they just don't do as well as Oct or Jan planted ones.
My zucchini that survived the freeze (both new seedlings planted in Jan and older plants) are bearing fruit. I started thinking about powdery mildew, about the only problem I have with squash besides pickle worms. Here is what I've found about control of PM. It shows up when it's bone dry, wet, cold, hot...doesn't seem to matter. On the squash, the first sign I sometimes see is rot on the blossom end of the squash, or little immature squash turn yellow and fall off, even before the blossom opens. That is PM, and in a few days the tell-tale spots will appear on the leaves.
When my seedlings first appear I can spray them with a 10% milk solution and if I'm faithful in spraying, I won't have as much trouble with PM.
Neem gave some control, but also damaged the leaves. It is toxic to bees.
Sulphur dusted or sprayed is a NO NO on cucurbits, especially after an oil spray like Neem. It will possibly kill the plants, but definitely damage the leaves severly.
Organicide didn't phase PM.
Serenade is a bacillus and works but isn't a quick fix. My best control was using it as a preventative. This is probably my choice for control of PM along with resistant varieties.
Hydrogen peroxide spray...nada.
Fixed copper spray works to control PM but is also phytotoxic to cucurbits. I'm always afraid to use copper in the garden except on my brassicas as a one time spray to prevent black rot. I don't have BR, but my neighbor has been fighting it for a couple of years.
I now buy resistant varieties when available. This can be a problem though as I also need precocious squash (stay yellow even if attacked by a mosaic virus). CMV is a big problem over the whole county. Usually the varieties are either mosaic resistant or PM resistant! High Mowing has a PM resistant yellow squash that is fairly PM resistant. The problem is it is a weak plant, is not resistant to anything else and is one of the first varieties to show "greening" of fruit even though no other virus symptoms are present. The fruit is small and tender, but never attains any size.
We are trying something different this year to control pickle worms. Bud is building frames to fit over the beds to be covered with 30% shade floating row covers. The ends will be open to allow bees to go inside (they usually start at one end of the row and go all the way down the row so they should go in one end and out the other) but deter moths which lay the eggs that make the pickle worms because they fly in from the top. I'll keep everyone posted on the effectiveness of this. We also bought parthenocarpic cucumbers and these are grown under row covers with no opening for bees because these varieties don't need pollination. This is my first year with parthenocarpic cukes and I'll take notes.
Gymgirl, come on down. Addition to barn and walk in cooler is under construction, so pardon our mess please.
I had been noticing lady bugs everywhere. I kept looking for aphids, couldn't find any until yesterday. Of course we were rushing to pack greens for market. The tah tsoi was COVERED with aphids. Some had been parasitized and there were clusters of ladybug eggs and baby ladybugs eating away. I'll probably pull that bed and toss the plants on the compost so the ladybugs can continue munching.
Beneficial insects are wonderful at controling pests, but they don't work fast. In order to stick around they need food, both for the larva and the adults. Some OMRI approved pesticides kill beneficials as well as pests, so do your research before applying anything.
Calalily, I have learned a lot from your posts, thank you for taking the time to help us. Say, I read about potassium bicarbonate being a good fungicide and approved for use on organic gardens. Have you tried it yet?
I haven't tried it yet. It would be good to have one more product to use.
We are having cool weather again, 49 last night and super high winds when the front came thru. We were packing up at the farmer's market and what tents weren't down were ripped to shreds and wrapped around utility poles! It was not fun pulling the trailer home in the wind but we made it. Temps dropped from 86 to 56 in minutes. My row covers were still in place when we got home but the squash was all leaning south. It rained for the first time since Feb. freeze. Crazy weather this year.
HoosierGreen wrote:Calalily: You mentioned that you used Daniel's Plant Food fertilizer. I've heard great things about it, but can not find it for sale anywhere. The website is no help. Where do you buy it? Thanks!
So sorry to hear about the wind making a mess of things, Calalily. It blew through here (north central Texas) pretty hard too but we knew it was coming and got ready. Yep, the weather in Texas sure flip flops -it can go from freezing to the 80's in a twenty-four hour period!! Plants don't like that very much (understatement.)
I am curious to know if it is just you and DH that take care of that land. You guys must work your tails off.
The winds were fierce here in NE Texas Saturday. I was trying to set up my new tomato bed but finally have to give up. The Corgis were hugging the ground with their ears flattened out the whole time they were watching me (they like to suppervise all garden projects). The Catahoula wouldn't even come outside! I think they were afraid of blowing away!
Glad you made it home safe =). Pulling a trailer in high winds always sets my teeth on edge. Wish we had gotten some rain with all that...
I see someone else answered the Daniel's question. We buy from a big wholesale supply house in Donna.
Still getting lots of wind, but no rain. Our local weather has Friday forecast "windy" and I know it will be high winds because all week it's 20-30 mph sustained winds and they didn't even get "breezy" designation. Ten miles north of here got over an inch of rain!
Bud and I did most of the work up until last year, and have had help off and on (hard to find dependable help, even if you pay well). We have a couple of volunteer workers that help out regularly. They help us because we donate produce to the food shelf, soup kitchen, hospice and the children's home. Twenty percent of our farm is dedicated to feeding the hungry. We have one full time employee and one part time seasonal employee.
One Hundred Carrots I don't know why this is black and white, my photo is in color.
Thanks for all the sharing, Calalily! I really appreciate it! We recently moved, and I am finally setting up gardens at our new place. We have over half an acre, but it is mostly shaded. I staked out the sunniest and largest spot I could find for my gardens...two 4x24' beds for veggies, a 3x24' bed for passionfruit and malabar spinach, and a 4x20' bed for herbs and some antique roses. If my gardens are only half as productive as yours I will be pleased :)
Passiflora, do you like malabar spinach? It gets huge and is very agressive. I planted one plant on each end of a 34 ft row and the two met in the middle! The cucumbers in between didn't stand a chance.
Edited to add:
Hot weather spinach alternatives:
Magenta Spreen: nutritious, flavor similar to spinach, mild and tender especially when young. Sow seeds on top of soil (don't cover), in cool weather can go in full sun but in how weather appreciates some shade. Just keep replanting for steady supply. Can be weedy if allowed to go to seed, but it's a pretty plant. Will grow in poor soil, but will be lush and tender in good soil.
Amaranth: comes in red, tri color and all green. Really delicious when young, taste is stronger when plants are mature. Tip shoots are good even on mature plants. Loves hot weather, grows well in poor soil. Sow seeds on top of soil, or lightly covered. Really weedy if allowed to go to seed!!
Orach, oracle, mountain spinach: My most favorite spinach alternative. This green (well, most are purple) is one of the most nutritious greens to grow. It has a spinach flavor, sort of salty tasting (but not high in sodium) and great raw or cooked. For salads, the young leaves and tips are best, for cooking the bigger, older leaves are better. Chill the seeds for 10 days (this is important) before planting, Just put the seed packet in the fridge. Sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep, keep moist. Let plants get 4-6 inches tall before first harvest and you will have better production. High Mowing seeds sells cleaned seeds which are easier to plant.
I got the malabar spinach idea from a local farmer. I already purchased the seeds, so I'm obligated to at least try it. I'm only going to put in one plant in the 3x24' bed. The rest of the bed will be passionfruit. I will just try to keep it trimmed so it doesn't take over. Thanks for the alternatives - I may be coming back to these if the malabar doesn't work out :)
passiflora07 - I once grew passion fruit in South Florida. I remember sitting in the garden reading a book while my baby boy was asleep in his playpen next to me. When I got up to leave, I found a tendril from the passion vine had curled around my chair! After that day, I would actually take time to watch it grow - facinating!
P.S. - that baby boy will be thirty four in October! Time really does fly.
I just had to pull this thread back up.
I am preparing a plot to grow my fall crop. I will be selling the produce to the public from my home as I do tomato produce also this fall.
Preparing the plot is getting on my nerves. I'm tired and aggravated.. I was trying to remove all the perennial weeds with a tractor bucket and box blade before tilling. But I was also trying to leave as much top soil as I possibly could. It was a hit and miss aggravation. Now I have hooked up the 4 ft wide tiller to the tractor and going to attempt lightly tilling the surface to break up the perennial roots and box blade all that away. Then I can start tilling for beds.
They will be slightly raised.
The plot is only 30x100 with fairly good soil. (if I don't rake it all away with the weeds) The plot next to it is a 30x100 but it is all hard clay and will be worked on for future expansion.
This is my first attempt to grow and sell cole crop produce.
Fall crop consist of=
I will be back on later to RE REad this whole Thread. I love it!!!!!!!!
well, I think my wants are bigger than my ability at the moment not to mention the fact that I shouldn't over
do it cause I don't know how much I can really sell...so...while I was out there cleaning the plot , I decided to
only clean a 16 x 100 area for the fall crops and see how that goes.= Plus the severe weedy growth was kicking my tractors behind.
I'll have to widen it a little each season.
Cricket, when we first till and have weeds, we let it lie fallow, see what grows back, till again and sometimes solarize with plastic to kill weeds and seeds. Bermuda grass seems to be the hardest to kill but I'm finally seeing victory against that pest! We have one section that was overrun with bermuda grass and weeds. Bud tilled it and waited about a month to form the beds. I planted potatoes and had horrible weeds and poor production on potatoes. We pulled all the weeds (sandy soil, not clay though) and I've been solarizing it most of the summer. We uncovered it, raked the beds clean, watered and waited for any seeds to germinate. We solarized it again. Now, finally no weeds!
Forgot to add, Bud mows the area before tilling. Our tiller is a 6ft one. We don't have a box blade.
Cala, we just got a hard rain 2 days ago. I been waiting on it so the plot would have its new growth so I could till it up again.
I have 4 weeks to get the beds ready. I won't have time to solar kill the weeds so I was just going to till it many times as new growth showed up for the next 4 weeks.
Another farmer told me to use Round Up until a week before planting because you can plant 4 days after the last application = tilling and adding preplant nutrients on the day of planting. Not sure if I will use the RoundUp
As for the carrots. I have 4 4x10 foot raised beds with good loose soil that has no rocks. But they currently have other veggies growing in them but I am about to clean them out. Plus= I have 3 Table Top Gardens that are 2x8 with loose soil in those. I won't plant the carrots all at once. It will be done one bed at a time within the next two weeks.
I just hope I can sell this stuff. I am diving in head first.
I will only have 2 new 4x70 ft raised beds this year.
I live in the country but on a busy road. The Junior High Elementary School is 1/2 mile down the road . Lots of traffic.
I have a commercial arrow sign out front. Hoping once I announce fall veggie produce that I will have customers for it.
The sign works great for the greenhouse plant sales and the tomato produce sales.
I'm not strictly organic.
I use the Round Up on fence lines and around the the greenhouse structures but I have never used it on a garden plot before planting... I'm kinda scared but- If I follow directions - maybe everything will be ok. They make it sound so easy. !?!?!?!?
My intensive garden plot did great considering it was my first try.. but...I was very sick for 8 weeks straight and didn't have the strength to kill a pee ant.
had tons and tons of veggies to go to waste...no one offered to help. Everyone knew I was sick but they were all busy with their own personal life.
Anyhow...I was happy with the production even if I didn't get to harvest and sell it. I know I can do it now. Just call it a successful learning course.
I am still harvesting carrots. (today)
have more pics on my other puter...so maybe later.
Somehow I had missed this thread (along with your question to me Crickets.)
First let me say I am so sorry you were sick, Crickets. And it is sad about your time and effort, and resulting beautiful veggies not being sold. Hopefully that won't happen again.
In answer to your question, I have a fair size garden (approx. 25' x 35') for just our use (I don't sell produce.) The good news is we have had rain the last few months so have been able to plant and harvest turnips, collards, arugula, radishes and lettuce. The weather has been mild most of the time (thankfully.) It is such a welcome relief from that hot dry summer we had here in north Texas.
You all grow some fine looking carrots! Do carrots need extra nitrogen? How do you get them to grow big like that?
Carrots don't need a lot of nitrogen. High nitrogen would make the carrots grow long and thin. You would have a lot of foliage and skinny long carrots or no carrots. I add a good amount of Bone Meal to the soil before I plant and a little Cotton Seed Meal. The bone meal is high in phosphorus which is good for root crops. Cotton Seed Meal is high in nitrogen but not too high. I think mine was 6-1-1. And since it is organic and natural, it won't make the roots go wild or burn the plants if used moderately. I did not measure . I sprinkled a nice layer over the soil enough to tell I had done it. The bone meal is white and can see it clearly. But the cotton seed meal is almost the same color as the soil and hard to see.
An expert like Cala would know exactly how much per square footage. I think she used coffee can measurements.
I grew Danvers carrots...not the half long but the regular. They are pretty good carrots. I didn't grow mine in a garden bed either. I grew them in a Table Top Garden that was 12 inches deep and one bed was 7 inches deep. The carrots that grew in the 7 inch deep ran out of root length space and turned at the bottom of the bed. L shapes.
Cricket is right, hold off on the nitrogen with carrots. Too much nitrogen will make the roots forked and hairy(lots of baby roots). I use a coffee can (folgers 3# size) full of cottonseed meal per 34 x 4 ft bed. I also add alfalfa meal and some things get kelp meal and neem cake. The good thing about natural fertiliers is their slow release, it takes microbes to break them down into plant available nutrients and it's hard to give an "overdose."
I don't use animal products so don't add bone meal. Texas has high phosphates in most areas, so not much phosphorus needed. If a soil test shows it is low, I use soft rock phosphate.
Thank you for that info, Calalily and Crickets. . Also, does it matter that my soil is clay? I have amended it with compost, horse manure and sand, but it is still mostly clay, of course. Could that be part of the reason my carrots never get big?
I like the idea of the table top garden, but will have to stick to planting in the garden for now. Do you have yours in a greenhouse Crickets?
clay would be a big problem with carrots mostly if it had a lot of rocks in it. I have grown carrots in clay by sifting the clay through a screen then adding compost, peat moss or promix to it . The carrots grew much better after that.
>> by sifting the clay through a screen then adding compost, peat moss or promix to it
I'm hoping that fine and medium pine bark mulch, turned under, will aerate & last longer than peat or compost (but compost is needed aqlso, just for the OM.
I'm buying bags of mulch and screening out the big chunks to use as top-dress mulch.
Medium-size, I use for potting soil and seed-starting.
Bark fines, I mix with clay and compost to make raised beds.
I also like crushed stone or very coarse sand (grit) for making clay friable, but many disagree with that.
The compost is the main thing. If we could mix 6" of finished compost into the clay every year for several years, we wouldn;t be calling it clay any more. But we need something slow to break down, or we'll have to KEEP adding lots of compost every year to keep it from reverting.
We don't have many rocks in our clay here. I guess that is something to be thankful for!
Sounds like a good plan, RickC. Is that crushed stone granite? Do you have seaweed available? (just curious) I have not found a place locally to buy crushed granite yet. And it is just to far to the coast to gather seaweed...
Yep, the more compost, the better. I built another compost heap today and put a lot of old (aged) wood that was meant for the fireplace (but we've had a mild winter.) The Sustainable Alternatives forum inspired that - I read about "hugelkulture" yesterday and incorporated the idea.
So far, yes. I would love to find a place that sold cubic yards cheaply, in which case it might be mixed rocks, but what I found so far is "chicken grit". That's affordable for seed-starting and potting mix, but I wouldn't want to lighten many raised that way. It was $10-11 for 50 Kg (around 1 cubic foot or maybe a little more).
I went to a farm coop / feed store that clearly boosts its profit margin with a pretty little store for Yuppies. There, I could have bought one quart of chicken grit for $9-10, in a pretty, resealable plastic bag.
Instead, I got the 50 Kg bag for $10-11, something like 20-30 times cheaper!
No seeweed! I'm in such an urban area, I would have to drive a ways to find a neighborhood with enough trees to put bags of leaves by the road. Instead, "Starbucks" is my best source of compost.
Around here the granite chicken grit is the quart size expensive package also so I haven't put any in the garden (it's bad enough to have to pay that much just to give it to the chickens.) Fortunately there are plenty of bagged leaves around here for the taking in the fall (if you can beat the other gardener/ composting people to them.) The weeds are growing like crazy now so I have been cutting them with a linoleum knife and adding to the compost before my DH gets them with the lawn mower.