I’m just home from a trip with Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, to the Allegheny Mountain School, where we each gave several presentations. My new one, Cold-hardy winter vegetables, is embedded here. For my others, go to SlideShare.net and search for Pam Dawling. Here’s titles I’ve up-loaded previously, if you’d rather cut and paste than browse:
Fall vegetable production (60 min)
CFSA 2012 – Growing great garlic
Southern SAWG – Producing Asian greens for market
Southern SAWG – Intensive vegetable production on a small scale
VABF Farm School 2013 – Sustainable farming practices
VABF 2013 – Crop rotations for vegetables and cover crops
“Allegheny Mountain School (AMS) is a not-for-profit experiential fellowship program designed to serve our region’s communities in developing a more secure food system. AMS is located in Highland County, VA. Allegheny Mountain School (AMS) has assembled its third cohort of nine Fellows where they are working and studying sustainable food cultivation and restorative, nourishing traditions. Our goal is to teach Fellows to train others to grow their own food and to understand the benefits of eating local, whole foods. AMS is a fully funded intensive 20 month two phase program. Phase I (April 28,2013-November 1, 2013) takes place on a mountain farm in Highland County, VA where Fellows experience a full growing season to cultivate and harvest their own food, prepare nutritious meals and put up/sow food for winter. In addition, Fellows engage in mentored research on topics relevant to food or medicinal cultivation and health. During Phase II (January 1, 2014-December 31, 2014), AMS Fellows are provided stipends to work in positions for our Partner Service Organizations, local nonprofits focused on food systems activities which positively impact community and environmental well being.”
The nine energetic and enthusiastic Fellows are a small temporary community farming together and learning about sustainability. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them, as well as Kayla and Trevor, the two farm managers, and Laurie Bergman. They farm in a splendidly isolated zone 4 mountainous area. Their gardens are almost weed-free, and their onions and leeks are stupendous! Brassica flea beetles are the main insect challenge. The fresh air was a lovely change from muggy central Virginia. Several of the crops we grow outside (eggplant, peppers, watermelon, sweet potatoes) are creatively packed into their hoophouse.
The August issue of Growing for Market magazine is out (the June-July issue was the most recent previous one). This one includes my article on Last Chance Sowings.
In line with my advice, at home we are busy preparing beds and sowing beans, bulb fennel, cucumbers and squash. As well as being our last chance with these warm weather crops, it’s now our first chance to start again with the spring and fall crops such as carrots, beets, kale,scallions,turnips (no rutabagas for us these days – it needs extra time to grow to a good size, and we’re never ready soon enough). It’s too soon for us to sow spinach (although the weather is surprisingly cool for August!) – we wait till the fall chickweed, dead nettle and henbit germinate before sowing spinach. we’re also out in the garden every evening transplanting broccoli and cabbage. We’re over half way, and the mild weather is really helping.
Also in this Growing for Market issue are valuable articles by other growers, such as Ben Hartman on arranging their farm’s CSA into two separate seasons, spring and fall, with a two week gap in the middle. What a great idea. I got a two week gap myself, thanks to our stalwart crew keeping the crops happy while I was gone.
There’s encouragement from Lynn Byczynski, the editor, to comment to the FDA on the proposed food safety rules for produce. Jonathan Magee (author of the book Small Farm Equipment) writes about irrigation pumps, which will likely be a big stress-saver for anyone who has stood in exasperation over a non-working pump. Andrew Mefford writes about useful tools for the hoophouse, including some nifty little Harvest Scissors, worn like a ring, freeing up the hands to alternate with other tasks while working.Erin Benzakein, the regular writer on cut flowers, covers ideas for early spring blooms, and, as always, has some beautiful photos.
For the next issue I am writing on strawberry production systems, including our latest method – using landscape fabric with holes burned in it.
My presentation on Planning Fall Crops at the Virginia State University Commercial Berry and Vegetable Field Day on June 27 is now a full blown video. you can view it at their website, along with those of the other presenters; Reza Rafie on specialty crops such as baby ginger, Steven Pao on food safety and Debra Deis from Seedway Seeds on their variety trials.
I’ve recently found a website I think will be very useful for help in predicting pest outbreaks, as well as counting accumulated Growing Degree Days and recording the weather. It’s called My Pest Page. It’s for the technically minded. To modify our page for your area, start with the map and zoom out then in again on your area, using your nearest weather station. Then you can choose which pieces of information to have displayed, by clicking on the plus button by each topic to expand the list of options. Then click on the big Refresh button and bookmark the site. I see we’re now at the point when Late Blight infection is possible. . . , so I’ll keep my eyes open.A few years ago when we thought we had Late Blight on our tomatoes we spent a lot of time removing infected leaves into trash bags. When we sent a sample to the plant diagnostic clinic they said we didn’t have Late Blight. I think it was a heat stress condition caused by us using the wrong kind of drip tape. (We had too much on at once, so not all the plants were actually getting the irrigation we thought they were.)
Talking of irrigation, It’s time I left my desk and went to switch over to today’s fourth sub-system.
<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/SustainableMarketFarming/fall-vegetable-production-60min” title=”Fall vegetable production (60min) – Pam Dawling” target=”_blank”>Fall vegetable production (60min) – Pam Dawling</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/SustainableMarketFarming” target=”_blank”>Pam Dawling</a></strong> </div>
Here’s the presentation I gave at the VSU 2013 Commercial Berry and Vegetable Filed Day at Randolph Farm, Petersburg on Thursday (6/27). Actually this slide show has some extra slides that I had to cut out to fit the time available. Registration for the field day had doubled compared to last year and reached 500. I don’t know how many were at the presentations, maybe 250. The other option was to continue the outdoor exploration of the research plots.
One section I would have loved to have seen, if I hadn’t been signing and selling books, and answering questions about VABF, was Clif Slade’s “43560” (Forty-three five sixty”) plot. He is aiming to demonstrate the viability of earning $43560 per year from one acre (43560 square feet) of intensive vegetable production. There are some You-Tubes about this project on http://www.youtube.com/user/VSUCoopExtension/videos
Around mid-July, check out http://www.vsuag.net/
for a video compiled by Michael Clark, combining my slideshow and me speaking.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, I’m sowing fall broccoli, cabbage and senposai, weeding sweet potatoes, sowing another succession of beans and one of edamame. More of our time is spent harvesting these days. Today we pulled a bag of beets, 2 buckets of beans, 2 buckets of lettuce (we’ll have a short gap until the next bed comes in), 6 buckets of broccoli, one bucket each of cukes, squash, zucchini, turnips and kohlrabi. Most of our crops are getting harvested every two days at this point (except lettuce, cukes and zukes). So no cabbage, kale, chard, scallions, blueberries or celery today.
I’ve now posted a Twin Oaks garden task for each month of the year – December’s is included with November’s. I don’t want to repeat them, as much remains the same each year. Or at least, our plans remain similar, and some things work out, others don’t!
You can search the category Garden Task List for the Month, or you can click on the linked name of the month you want. At the end you can click on “Bookmark the Permalink” if you might want to refer to this in future.
Lettuce Factory: Sow VERY harvest garlic, harvest potato onions, s, every 6-5 days, under shade-cloth, #15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Transplant 120/week (1/3 bed) under shadecloth. Transplant #12, 13, 14, 15 this month. Could store seed in fridge.
Deal with Colorado potato beetles, if necessary, every 7 days with Spinosad (or Neem.)
Mow buckwheat before flowering, and sorghum-sudan at 3-4’ (cut high) to encourage deep rooting.
String weave tomatoes once a week, first 3 rounds with thicker baler twine, then thinner binder twine.
1st June: Chit (pre-sprout) seed potatoes for 2 weeks in trays in the light. Let all sprouts grow.
Harvest garlic and potato onions (see Task List for late May)
Sow corn #3, edamame #3, beans #3 (6/7, 24 days after #2). Sow cauliflower 6/1.
Finish planting watermelons (transplants or sprouted seeds). Remove rowcover after 3 weeks.
Transplant leeks, lettuce #12, late tomatoess, (cukes & zukes #2 6/7, if not direct sown). Replace casualties in Roma paste tomatoes, okra & peppers.
Look for Mexican Bean Beetle on the first cloudy day in June. Order Pediobius foveolatus wasps when larvae seen . Maybe predators too (Lacewings, Nematodes).
Weed asparagus in this last week of harvest. If possible give more compost. Mulch again.
Weedcukes & zukes #2 if direct sown. Clear spring-sown collards, kale, if not done already.
Seed potatoes: cut into pieces, with approx 2 sprouts per piece.
Plant & mulch potatoes, Flag end of each row. 1.3 hours for 2 tractor passes.
Sow carrots #7, corn #4, drying beans, limas #2. Consider sowing sunflowers in leek beds to flower in late July/early Aug for grasshopper predators (to protect kale).
Transplant lettuce #13 & 14, zinnias. Clear turnips and kohlrabi.
Weed and thin to 24” winter squash as soon as they have 3 true leaves.
Till between rows of winter squash and sweet potatoes, if not using bioplastic mulch.
Harvest bulb onions when >50% tops have fallen, (6/11-30), cure indoors for 14 days with fans. Store at 77-95°F or 32-45°F. Take non-storers to walk-in refrigerator after trimming, weighing and recording yield of each variety.
Stop watering spring potatoes to encourage them to finish up. Bush-hog July 1st at the latest.
#5 Spring Tractor Work – by mid-June disk the rest of the garden: Corn #6 &7, any odd areas not done earlier. Get mulch for asparagus, Roma paste tomatoes. Bushhog broccoli, and sorghum-sudan 4’ tall or more (as well as spring-planted potatoes)
Sort Potato Onions 6/20-6/30 (without breaking clusters), starting with the biggest, and remove rotting ones. Remove ones >2” for eating, or refrigerate for September planting; or sell to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange before 7/31. Continue to cure small and medium ones for 2 months or more in total, with fans. Use Worksheet and Log Book. Be sure to write down where you store them!
Store any seeds not needed until fall (okra, nightshades, peanuts, melons) in basement
Snip, sort and store garlic after curing 2-4 weeks. Store at 60-70°F (basement), never 40-50°F. Seed garlic is best stored in garden shed (or 32-35°F).
Cover crops: can sow buckwheat, millet, soy and sorghum-sudan during June. Japanese millet is good for small equipment. Sorghum-sudangrass is not!
Perennials: Water all.
Till in oldest strawberry beds after potting up any needed runners. Bushhog or mow, weed and mulch strawberry beds, mulch paths. Don’t compost until August.
Mow aisles in grapes and raspberries.
Weed, compost and tuck mulch round asparagus, (late June/early July).
Weed and mulch rhubarb.
New grapevines: remove side branches and fruitlets. Late June/early July:
Make a visit to the new blueberries and grapes, log progress, tie in, prune if needed. Water, weed, & harvest blueberries & select plants to propagate.
Blueberry Harvest: 12 person-hours 2 x week from 5/30 to 7/8, then 6 person-hours 2 x week till 7/27. 7 weeks total.
Lettuce Factory: Sow heat-resistant lettuce outdoors, every 8 to 6 days, #10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Transplant 120/week (1/3 bed). #7, 8, 9, 10, 11 this month.
Deal with potato beetles with Spinosad [or Neem] once larvae are seen, if >50 adults/50 plants or >200 larvae/100 plants. Spinosad: Spray when bees not flying (early morning or late evening.) Shake well, 1-4 Tbsp/gall. Expect to need 1.5-2 hours and 9-10.5 galls. Clean and triple rinse the sprayer. Do not flush in creek or pond. Repeat if needed in 6-7 days – could spot spray where larvae are seen. Flame weedpotatoes before 12” high, if needed.
Deal with asparagus beetles, if necessary. See notes under April.
Continue cutting sweet potato slips until we have enough.
Transplant when hardened off: celery, celeriac, lettuce #7, main tomatoes (2’).
Set out drip tape & bioplastic mulch , transplant Romas (2’), peppers (18” when soil 70°F, dogwood blooms dropping), hot peppers, and melons #1, sweet potatoes.
Sowpeanuts (120d), asparagus beans in bed w/ celery, okra, sunflowers. limas #1, cow peas #1 (68d)
Roll out driptape and bioplastic mulch for watermelons.
Cover Crops: Sorghum-Sudan, soy, buckwheat, or pearl millet as summer cover crops, now frost is past.
Plantsweet potatoes, 16″ apart, with 4-4.5′ between ridges, 5’ at edges of patch. Install drip irrigation on ridges and plant at every other emitter. Ideal if soil temp is 65°F for four consecutive days before planting. If weather dry, dip roots in mud slurry before planting. Plant 2-3” deep, with at least 2 nodes in ground, and at least 2 leaves above ground. If slips are long, plant horizontally to increase production.
Transplantlettuce #8, eggplant (2’ apart, single row in center of bed, spray off flea beetles with jet of water & cover immediately), watermelon, insectaries, (okra if not direct-sown – mulch later, when soil warm).
Set out drip tape and biodegradable mulch and transplant melons and watermelons at four weeks old max. Cover for 3 weeks. Move rowcover off broccoli (12 pieces) and strawberries (~8 pieces) Watermelon needs 12 pieces.
In greenhouse sow tomatoes #3, filler watermelons & Romas. Sow cukes & squash #2 if spring is late and cold, and direct-sowing not wise.
Sowbeans #2 (5/14, 28 days after #1), edamame #2, carrots #6, sunflowers.
Till between rows of corn #1 & transplant in gaps and/or thin to 8”.
Weed onions 3 weeks before expected harvest date, and broccoli.
Garlic: Harvest garlic scapes, remove mulch from garlic, and weed. Move mulch to weeded broccoli.
Check maturity of potato onions and garlic.Likely harvest order is fall potato onions 5/25-6/10, hardneck garlic 5/30-6/15, spring potato onions 6/3-6/18, bulb onions 6/11-6/30, softneck garlic 6/5-6/15.
#4 Spring Tractor Work mid-May – Disk areas for June potatoes, corn 3,4,5, & later succession plantings of beans, squash, cucumbers.
Mow between no-till paste tomato rows before mulching with hay. Fill gaps, weed, tuck mulch. Set up posts and string weave the tomatoes, using thick baler twine for lower 3 rows. Really try to keep up with weekly string-weaving.
String weave 1 row around peppers, using short stakes.
Clear empty coldframe and mulch with cardboard or plant something.
Till each corn twice, undersowing at 2nd tilling (30 days), when 12” high, with soy for #1-5, oats/soy for #6. Thincorn to 8”. Avoid cultivating corn after it’s knee-high—roots are shallow.
Sowcorn #2, cowpeas #2; cukes #2 (picklers and slicers), summer squash & zukes #2 5/24 (or in greenhouse 5/14, transplant 6/7), watermelons #3, winter squash 5/26 (put woodash with seeds to deter squash vine borer). If squash sowing is late, don’t sow Tahitian butternut – slow. Cover cucurbits (perhaps not winter squash) against cucumber beetles. Max. cuke beetle population is mid-May; keep susceptible plants well-covered until flowering.
Transplantlettuce #9, 10, 11;Roma paste tomato replacements for casualties, insectary flowers. Fill gaps in eggplant, peppers, melons, watermelons.
Store any seeds not needed until fall or next spring, in basement (radishes, onions, winter squash,watermelon).
Harvest fall planted Potato Onions in dry weather, after tops have fallen, (5/25-6/10, spring planted 6/3-18). May not all be ready at once. Handle gently. Dry as clusters in barn on wooden racks for 1-2 months, using fans. Service fans or buy new as needed. Eat potato onions >2.5” without curing, unless yield is very low, in which case label & refrigerate, then plant in September. Weight after drying for 1 week is approximately twice the final weight. First sorting is late June. Use the Worksheet and Log Book
Harvestgarlic when 6th leaf down is starting to brown on 50% of the crop (ie .5 green leaves, so that 5 skins cover cloves), or cut open horizontally- when air space is visible between. stem and cloves it’s time to harvest. [Could replant small cloves immediately for garlic scallions.] Allow 15 mins/bucket harvesting and 15 mins/bucket for hanging in netting in barn,.
Till garlic area, sow soy & buckwheat to control weeds until fall carrot planting.
Plan fall and winter crops for raised beds.
Cover crops: can sow buckwheat, soy, millet, and sorghum-sudan during May.
Perennials: Put up blueberry netting before fruit sets. Weed & water & top up mulch. Mow grape & fall raspberry aisles. New grapevines: remove side branches and fruitlets. Weekly: visit grapes and log progress 4/20-5/30. If asparagus weeds are getting out of hand, mow down one or more rows to keep control.
Lettuce Factory: In flats, (on greenhouse bench) sow lettuce #7, 8, 9 (romaines & small varieties to interplant with peanuts). Transplant 1/3 bed lettuce (120 plants)/week. Plant #4, 5, 6 this month. Compost Needed for April: 6-9 tractor buckets for beds, 24-30 bkts to disk in.
In greenhouse, sow lettuce #7;
Keep celery above 55°F, and celeriac above 45°F (don’t put in coldframe). 10 consecutive days <55°F for celery, <45°F for celeriac, causes bolting.
Spot lettuce, harden off in coldframe. Spot peppers, tomatoes, & eggplant. Protect new pepper seedlings from mice. Keep tomatoes above 45°F at night, eggplant above 55°F.
Cut sweet potato slips at 6-12”, put in water. Once a week, plant rooted slips in 4” flats.
Sow outdoors: carrots #5, beets (see March notes), parsnips with radishes #2, (in celery bed), sunflowers.
Weed and thin early crops. Side dress or foliar spray over-wintered spinach to boost production.
Take rowcover from turnips, senposai, cabbage #1, kohlrabi, little alliums, onions as needed for broccoli.
Transplant lettuce #4, main cabbage & broccoli under rowcover (12 pieces) within 6 weeks of sowing.
Till beds for mid-April. Compost beds for late April plantings.
Garlicbulbing is initiated on/after April 10 (13 hours daylight), and soil temperature above 60°F.
In greenhouse sow melons #1 in soil blocks or plug flats, replacement paste tomatoes, lettuce #8, and okra.
Sow beans #1 when lilac in full bloom, sunflowers. Sow edamame #1, corn#1, if warm, and soil >60F.
Till beds for late April (chard, cowpeas, peanuts). Compost beds for early May (okra, toms, melons, celeriac, lettuce 7,8,9, asparagus beans)
Hill uppotatoes when 6” high. Cover half the vine. Repeat after 2 weeks. (Flameweed if too wet to hill.)
Take rowcover from kale, collards, early lettuce for raised bed tender crops.
Transplantbroccoli #2,insectary flowers #1, bulb fennel, lettuce #5, cukes #1 w/nasturtiums, zukes #1; use spring hoops for cucurbits. Take rowcover from spinach to strawberries.
Install stakes every 8-10’ for peas and fava beans, and stringweave them to final height of that variety.
Weedgarlic [or flameweed it early in the morning after a good rain. Direct flame at base of garlic plants]
Harvest lettuce as heads rather than leaves, from 15 April
#3 Spring Tractor Work (mid April)– Disk areas for sweet potatoes, winter squash, watermelons, (Romas and peppers if no-till cover crop insufficient). Bush-hog late food crop plots when rye heads up, to help clover or peas develop. Also clover patches, eg Green Fallow (All Year Cover Crops).
in greenhouse sow lettuce #9; watermelons #1 & 2 in soil blocks or plug flats; calendula and various insectary flowers, filler corn & Romas.
Sowcorn #1 (1/2-3/4” deep) in two phases, and peanutsif soil temperature is 65°F. Also cowpeas #1, and sesame.
Sow more leeks if needed in Little Alliums bed outdoors. If not, sow more mini-onions and scallions #3.
Transplantlettuce #6, leaf beet, chard, insectaries; finish transplanting gaps in the main broccoli &cabbage plot, plant Alyssum. Take rowcovers from broccoli & cabbage for new crops.
If mild, plant tomatoes. Harden off nightshades by restricting water.
Till beds for early May (okra, toms, melons, celeriac, lettuce 7/8/9, asparagus beans). Compost beds for mid-May (edamame, eggplant, limas).
Store spring and fall seeds (spinach, peas, beets) in the basement for the summer.
Foliar feed the potatoes, ideally the morning before hilling up, and every 2 weeks.
Roll out Driptape and Biotelos corn plastic mulch for peppers and Romas where no-till cover crop not used.
Cover crops: sow rye to wimp out. Sow buckwheat in any beds not needed for at least 5 weeks eg. leeks limas; add soy if bed not needed for 7 weeks.
Haybine or bush-hog vetch & rye for no-till planting of Roma paste tomatoes, late in the month (or very early in May). (Mow strips; or till strips through the cover crop for the rows, with narrow-set tiller). Water the area before digging holes, if dry.
Perennials: Weed blueberries, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, grapes as needed. Mow aisles. If asparagus weeds are getting out of hand, mow down one or more rows to keep control. Monitor asparagus beetles, spray spinosad when bees not flying, if >10 adults/100 crowns. Spinosad: Shake well, 1-4 Tbsp/gall (1fl.oz=2Tbsp=30ml.) Repeat in 6 days.
Cover strawberries if frost threatens – take rowcovers from spinach. (Pick flowers off any new spring plantings.)
Visit grapes, log progress, remove flower buds from new vines. Note deaths and where replacement arms are needed. Check and repair fruit drip irrigation, thin raspberries to 6/foot of row.
Harvest and weed: Asparagus, chard (hoophouse), collards, garlic scallions- pull at 8″, kale, leeks, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, senposai, snap peas in hoophouse, spinach.
For ten years I have been keeping phenology records, as a guide to when to plant certain crops, and as a way of tracking how fast the season is progressing.
Phenology involvestracking when certain wild and cultivated flowers bloom, seedlings emerge, or various insects are first seen. These natural events can substitute for Growing Degree Day calculations. Certain natural phenomena are related to the accumulated warmth of the season (rather than, say, the day-length), and by paying attention to nature’s calendar you will be in sync with actual conditions, which can vary from year to year, and are changing over a longer time-scale..
Many people know to sow sweet corn when oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear. By this point, regardless of date, the season has warmed enough to get oak leaves to that size, which happens to be warm enough for sweet corn seed to germinate and grow well. Some people transplant eggplant, melons and peppers when irises bloom; sow fall brassicas when catalpas and mockoranges bloom; and know to look for squash vine borers laying eggs for the two weeks after chicory flowers. Some transplant tomatoes when the lily of the valley is in full bloom, or the daylilies start to bloom.
Lilac is often used to indicate when conditions are suitable for various plantings:
When lilac leaves first form, plant potatoes
When lilac is in first leaf (expanded), plant carrots, beets, brassicas, spinach, lettuce
When lilac is in early bloom, watch out for crabgrass germinating
When lilac is in full bloom, plant beans, squash, corn. Grasshopper eggs hatch.
When lilac flowers fade, plant cucumbers.
Also, recording the dates of the same biological events each year can show longer term climate changes. In Europe, 500 years of recorded dates of grape harvests provide information about summer temperatures during that time. Project Budburst is a citizen science field campaign to log leafing and flowering of native species of trees and flowers across the US each year. Each participant observes one or more species of plant for the whole season.
On June 27 2013, I’ll be giving a presentation on Planning for Fall Vegetable Production at VSU’s Randolph Farm, as part of the Annual Summer Vegetable and Berry Field Day, which runs from 9am to 3pm and includes a field tour, a chef competition and then a choice of educational sessions.
I’ll be presenting two workshops at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, Friday September 6 and Saturday September 7. It was a lovely event last year, with perfect weather. let’s hope for similar again. I’ll be presenting my workshop on Producing Asian Greens on Friday Sept 6 and one on Succession Planting on Saturday Sept 7.
I’ll be at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs, PA September 20-22, 2013. I’m presenting a workshop on Winter Hardy Vegetables. If you haven’t been to a MEN Fair before, consider going. They’re a lot of fun and a lot of useful information, all at a very reasonable price. Weekend tickets are $20 if you pre-order by March 31, 2013: (Price at the gate: $35). There are workshops on renewable energy, small-scale agriculture, gardening, green building and more. There are vendors of books, tools and organic foods. You can book a room at the Seven Springs resort, or camp nearby. Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/fair/SevenSprings.aspx#ixzz2F3JVesVm