Friday, July 11, 2014

July; a month that clearly has no idea what it's doing

Welcome back to a shortened episode of Lost in The Farmers Market. As some of you out there may have noticed there was no episode last week. We decided due to workload that it was a wise idea to take that week off and do a ‘half’ post this week for the same reason. Normal episodes will resume next week and this brings us to the current topic.

As you’ve noticed we had a long stretch with no appreciable rain, the latest thunderstorm on Thursday dropped 0.8” on the test gardens and spread that across a few hours. Some would consider a thunderstorm that takes several hours a bad thing however for the purposes of irrigation and replenishment of ground water a slow rainstorm is actually better than a heavy fast one. One of the obvious reasons a rainy day beats a series of short heavy down pours is that rain over time tends to produce less flooding problems. Now to be fair several days of heavy rain will still cause floods just not of the same sort where water is raging though neighborhoods from a torrential downpour that’s also tossing hail.

I’ve said before that thunderstorms are good for the garden and agriculture in general because with the rain comes a slight dose of atmospheric nitrogen. This nitrogen does not stay but it is there just long enough to green everything up for a few days. I might add if this nitrogen is applied over say a few hours…there is a greater chance for your plants to capture and use more of it, also the slow rain ensures that the soil is moistened to a deeper level than might be possible in a short downpour. In fact a short storm poses a greater chance to increase soil loss by the movement of water. What you have is a debate on how much is enough. The test garden rain barrel water levels were at 50% before as the recent and frequent waves of random thunder-showers have done much to keep the irrigation water supply full.

There is the subtle effect of water passing through the soil structure that we must be wary of. Nutrient loss is a common problem in sand-heavy soils that comes from a lack of organic matter and the tendency of sandy soils to lean towards the acidic side of the pH scale. The varied degrees of Acidity in a given soil will allow or prevent your plants from accessing certain critical nutrients. For instance at a pH of 4.0 Nitrogen, Calcium, Molybdenum, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sulfur, Manganese and Boron are limited in their availability to your plants and yet at the same pH Iron, Manganese Zinc, Copper and Cobalt are fully available to a potential that may be toxic.  Ironically your ambient soil pH if kept between 6.0 and 7.0 will auto balance what nutrients it has with exception for any generally low nutrient where the pH is not affecting it’s accessibility to your crops.
On a local Level I have talked about how calcium deficiency causes blossom end rot in tomatoes in general but is especially problematic in paste tomatoes. In this case the regular rains are somewhat of a mixed blessing. On one had regular rain means good growth and fruit formation, but on the other hand with every rain my responses to blossom end rot are being washed away.

The quandary here is that the quickest acting materials at hand are reduced in effectiveness by drenching rains. The slowest acting ones are too slow to do anything in the short term. So the response is simply to increase doses of the short term solution (calcium carbonate) and couple it with a median response material (crushed eggshells) and apply a long term solution (agricultural lime). All three things are organic, all three things have the same effect over time and all three leave no lasting side-effects on the local environment. Rain or not, sometimes it takes a creative and multiple stage strategy to defeat nutrient problems in the field.

But enough about the battle against nutrient deficiency,  as always the conversation shifts from plant information to the activity at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. This weekend weather wise is set to be quite nice with temperatures in the 90’s and modest humidity but a very low chance of precipitation. I would say that is rather fortunate as it makes for some good market weather. The Fayetteville Farmer’s Market is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. The market is open on Wednesdays from 2:00 pm through 6:00 pm and on Saturdays from 9:00 am through 1:00pm. I might add I maintain a table at both market days and my plant selection varies a bit between so, I can assure you it’s always interesting. I might add this week there are some new selections and this is just the start, as I mentioned a few times before, once we hit mid-July through August the strange plants start appearing at the booth including rare and unusual houseplants. The plant list for the Saturday Market is below and there may be some random extras not listed that make it to the table.

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 eastern 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.

3x Cucumber, Armenian, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Cucumber, Poona Kheera, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Eggplant, Casper , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Eggplant, Louisiana Long Green, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Lemon Drop, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Pepper, Jalapeno, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Habenero, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Sweet Banana , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Pepper, Carolina Wonder, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Tomato, Brown Berry, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Martino’s Roma, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry Mix, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Tomato, Red & Yellow Currant, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Tomato, Reisotomate, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

3x Horned Melon, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Vine Peaches, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

4x Basil, Sweet, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Blue African, , 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Basil, Thai, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Basil, Cinnamon, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Basil, Red Rubin, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Artemesia, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Chives, Common, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Fennel, Black, 7” pot ($6.00)
3x Lavender, Hidcote, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Oregano, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Sage, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Thyme, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

1x Passion Vine, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Coneflower, Cheyenne Spirit, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
1x Rudbeckia, Golden, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Muscadine, Copper
Red Egyptian Onions

With the end of the plant materials list for the Saturday market we bring to an end this week’s episode of Lost In The Farmers Market.  Feel free to ask about any of our content at the booth or through this blog. As always, keep ‘em growing.

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