Friday, December 27, 2013

Ah New Years, Out with the cold, in with the...ah crap!

Its plenty festive darnit! I'll have you know Napa cabbages have a wonderful radial display of bright green and delicious leaves! Fine...I'll start the darn article.

Happy New Year!

What too soon? Aw, We at LITFM were hoping to do a new year’s episode this year but again the calendar makers win! Well this is the last post of 2013, and with it as promised we publish the yearly test garden numbers. As some of you may have heard the end of the year is a period of renewal and validation at the test gardens as we seek to verify through the data recorded all year long that indeed we are on the right track. As such, let’s begin with the harvest amounts in order of month harvested.

January – 74.5 ounces
February – 144.6 ounces
March – 161.5 ounces
April – 125.5 ounces
May – 3.0 ounces (Remember the point it rained for about three weeks?)
June – 23.2 ounces

July – 53.15 ounces
August – 81.0 ounces (Black magic fertilizer invented and used)
September – 125.3 ounces
October – 55.66 ounces (First killing frosts were early)
November – 9.3 ounces
December – 8.0 ounces

The totals from the above monthly numbers indicated that on average productivity was stable, despite the weather slowing things down in some places. We had that weird three week rainy period in May that stopped growth and starting in October we’ve had exceptionally cold temperatures and early repeated frosts. Even so the six-month counts and year total below indicates the test gardens held up.

1st Quarter Harvest total: 532.3 ounces (33.26 lbs)
2nd Quarter Harvest total: 332.41 ounces (20.77 pounds)

Total harvest amount 864.71 ounces (54.04 pounds)

The yearly record for note in 2011 we harvested 111 pounds of produce; in 2012 it was 62.88 pounds. Considering that this year we had 54 pounds despite uncooperative weather and that it roughly matches last year’s harvest total which featured an oddly warm winter It draws question to the accuracy of the 2011 number. However depending on what 2014’s harvest weight results are the 2011 number will stand for now. That said, we still made about a pound of fresh produce per week and with the invention of the black magic formula, it is possible that 2014 may see an explosion in productivity.
With that said the top crop categories are next in this discussion, as the information was collected it revealed clearly which plants were performing the best and thus validates their return in the next growing year.

Top 5 crops (individual) for 2013
Mustard, Red Giant – 176.5 ounces
Cabbage Collards – 93.0 ounces
Collards, Georgia – 72.0 ounces
Tomato, Paul Robeson – 38.3 ounces
Lettuce, Romaine – 32.5 ounces

Top 5 crops (by group) for 2013
Cole Crops – 454.00 ounces
Tomatoes – 96.28 ounces
Salad Greens – 59.25 ounces
Peppers – 42.2 ounces
Figs – 30.9 ounces

I’m personally not surprised Red Giant Mustard ran the show in 2013, the inclusion of collards and cabbage-collards however came as a surprise. All three were planted in fall of 2012, and grown as a winter crop through the winter. The amazing part is that often these crops do little the year they are planted, but seem to spring to life in January or February and become a food powerhouse just before the heat of spring rolls in. Paul Robeson Tomatoes proved to be slow to produce, but once they did their tomatoes were large, flavorful and utterly fantastic. To the point it did so well I’ve got cuttings of this plant in rooting chambers in the hope of cloning the specific specimen. The myth that one can’t grow big tomatoes in the south is officially debunked. The fifth entry on the list was Romaine lettuce, a salad item I’d never bothered with before. I suppose it’s the Straight upright leaves that make romaine so well adapted to the climate. Maybe Romaine is uniquely adapted for southern climates or perhaps its form resists bug damage and reduces dirt accumulation between the leaves. I might add that were there a 6th place Bibb lettuce would have it uncontested.

The top crops in comparison were quite clear; the Cole crops ran the show, period. For note Cole crops includes Cabbage, Cabbage-collards, Collards, Kale, Mustard and Mustard Spinach. Tomatoes made a good snowing holding 2nd place and salad greens (Lettuce, Dandelion, Chicory, Amaranth, Malabar Spinach and, Radicchio.) held 3rd place. Not surprisingly Peppers held 4th place and Figs held 5th place.

Radicchio, my dear you are most certainly uber-festive....and soooooooo delicious! Wait where are you going *chases after radicchio waving a bottle of salad dressing* come back!

With all that covered we bring to you the precipitation numbers for the week. This week we did not have as much rain but there have been light night rains and the overall total is 0.45” give or take 0.01” for the additional night rain activity. The soil is moist and I doubt we are suffering drought, but the low temperatures have not been helpful. I’m hoping the weather will eventually stabilize somewhat, but even so you can expect I’ll keep manning the booth at the farmer’s market. From what I gather tomorrows forecast for the Market will be a high of about 60 no rain and a slight wind. The city/Farmer’s Market is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville and runs from 9:00 am through 1:00 pm. You can stop by and get some good farm fresh foods and hit up the sustainable neighbors booth. This week we’ll have the following available at the booth.
Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening

This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the weather coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed. I forgot to mention that the book is also available online through for $10.00 in electronic format!

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem
Bagged Fresh Rosemary No stems

3x Spineless Prickly Pear
6x Morris-Heading Cabbage Collards
3x Georgia Collards
1x Stonehead Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage

That's right folks screw buying a dead tree or getting a plastic one! Who decorated a Pencil Cactus for Christmas? THIS GUY! Put that Douglas fir tree in your pipe and smoke it you modern lumberjacks!

Well this wraps up the last episode of 2013, with the arrival of 2014 you can expect new garden trials, more botanical mayhem. I thank you all for reading this blog and sticking with us please have a safe and happy new year and as always folks keep ‘em growing!

Agricultural lime, good for pH adjustment, necessary for growing wheat, and surprisingly effective at hiding those pesky in-laws you got rid of.

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