Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cool nights and clear skies

Welcome all to the third September installment of Lost in the farmer’s market. Today we are going to talk a bit about transitioning your garden between seasons and you can expect an extravaganza of field photographs. But before I get into that, I have to announce an upcoming event that some of you have been asking about. As some may know October the 24th is the date of National food day.  National food day is celebration of agriculture and the promotion of healthy, sustainable, organic food. I like to think of this as a modern Harvest festival of sorts where ideally you might see folks all about the topic meeting and greeting and best of all swapping stories seeds and of course good healthy food. I know for a fact the sustainable neighbors have something planned for the farmer’s market. But on the Sunday after on October 27th, sustainable neighbors is running a miniature Urban farm tour of sorts and  it has three stops roughly in the same neighborhood. The first stop is Deanna Wong's ‘Farmacy’ garden over by cape Fear hospital on Owen drive. The second stop is at the Suburban Hermit of Fayetteville’s gardens on Martindale Drive. You can see his blog at the address below:

Last on the stop are my own gardens, from which a lot of this very blog you’re reading finds its material. Some folks have asked for this tour since late spring and you get to hopefully see the sights at a time when the weather will hopefully cooperate. That said if you are interested you can sign up for the tour at the sustainable neighbors site at the link below.

Urban Farm Tours aside I’d like to talk a bit about seasonal conversions. As you well know for the bulk of food production purposes you as a gardener or urban farmer ultimately work with two primary seasons. Warm season and Cold season, make up the bulk of your food plants and they are classified into either category by when the plants yield and or actively grow. If one were to be specific you could add others to the mix such as short season crops and permanent crops. The former of course refers to any fast growing crop like the small red radishes or cilantro. The latter term refers to anything permanent such as fruiting vines, bushes and trees and so on.

But the transition periods are where you stress a little because there will be a few weeks if not a month of gap time between crops where you theoretically have nothing to pick fresh. Admittedly short seasonal crops if done right will pick up some of the slack as will the permanent crops but the facts are about the same no matter what. Transition periods are also a great opportunity to correct soil issues and adjust your plans in rotation. As you may figure the prime activity of the cool and warm season plants lasts for roughly 5 months a piece with a month’s turnaround time in between. A case in point for this can be seen in the test gardens. As of right this moment, the transition to cool season plants is coming up rapidly as most of my in-ground Tomatoes are starting to sputter, and if I were to test the soil I’m rather sure I’d find it’d need some turning and a nutrient boost by way of compost.

But of course not all is sputtering; the potted plants are producing heavily still, and will likely continue to do so until frost. So in the beds where the warm season plants have stalled individual plant replacement will occur. This means the plants that are not doing will be dug along with perhaps the top few inches of soil and added to the compost or perhaps buried as part of a project elsewhere. Meanwhile new topsoil strata composed of compost-topsoil mix will be added with limited amount of lime, and azomite. The changed soil will be watered in allowed to settle and in it the first of the cool season plants will be planted and thus the cool season begins in small measure. These means are intended for an existing and well established bed. New beds would benefit from the addition of more soil material such as compost instead to create deeper topsoil and have the same long-term effect.

Ultimately for you, the produce gets a head start and you get less lag time. It bears mentioning that surface soil removal is a method for those who intend to feed a household. For the average gardener who is only supplementing their diet seasonal additions of organic fertilizer and or compost will suffice to get the same effect as long as you turn the soil. Also adding mulch in fall tends to work the best if using pine straw, or in small amounts in spring and fall if using a bark product. Now we move on to some field photos with more to come from the berm project.

Belive it or not this is a flower bud on my Dwarf Pomegranate. With any luck it'll turn into something.

Check it out, these are castor beans and that prickly thing on the right is what the seed pods look like. An average castor bean pod will bear up to three seeds and when they are dry and brown with splits along the sides the seeds are ready to harvest for next year.

Okra pods, Generally an okra pod is ready to pick for the purpose of gathering seed when the tip of the pod splits open like the one up top. You can dry the pods that are split open even if they are partially green. Quality seed with have a gray color and will be about the size of a ball bearing.
 The below is this week's plant list for the Farmer's market this coming Saturday. As some of you may already know the Fayetteville City/Farmer's market occurs every Saturday on 325 Franklin Street at the Fayetteville Transportation museum between the hours of 9am and 1pm. Feel free to come on down to the booth and pay LITFM and Sustainable neighbors a visit.

House Plants:
2x Medicinal Aloe
4x Silver Ridge Aloe

4x Herb, Purple Coneflower ‘Magnus’

Cool Season Crops:
6x Kale, Dinosaur/Lacinato/Black Cabbage
4x Asian Cabbage, Napa
4x Cabbage-Mustard Spinach, Senposai
5x Cabbage-Collards, Morris Heading type
4x Cabbage, Savoy
4x Radicchio, Red
4x Lettuce, Salad Bowl Mix
4x Collards, Georgia

Coming Soon:
4x Mustard, India
4x Mustard, Japanese Red Giant (Spicier then normal R.G.)
?x Mustard, Red Giant

This exciting list of cold seasonal plants caps off this episode of LITFM. As you well know now is the transition time between the warm and cold season food plants and the above is current as of the posting of this episode. So with that said as always folks keep ‘em growing!

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