I’m gearing up for my Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables presentation on Friday September 12 at 9 am at Monticello (near Charlottesville, VA) as one of the Premium Workshops of the Heritage Harvest Festival. After my presentation I will be signing copies of my book Sustainable Market Farming (see the tab About Pam’s Book) at 10.15 am at the Monticello bookstore. Come by for a chat, even if you’re not buying a book that day.
Jeanine Davis, author of Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal, and Other Woodland Medicinals will be signing copies of her book at the same time.
Last time I looked there were still some tickets available for each of the premium workshops except Peter Hatch’s tour of the vegetable garden.
The Heritage Harvest Festival is a lovely event, promoting and celebrating gardening, sustainability, local food, crafts and the preservation of heritage plant varieties. This is the 8th Annual HHF, hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in partnership with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. There are food booths, music, a beer garden, events for children (last year they were splitting fence-posts and making split rail fences). There is also a seed swap, so bring what you have to offer and take home something different.
This year there is also a Special Thursday event on Edible Landscaping with Rosalind Creasy and our own Ira Wallace. 1-4 pm, $45. On Friday there is also a special Harvest to Hearth event where you can watch a demonstration of cooking on a fire in the Monticello kitchen. 9-11 am, $55. If you are making a special occasion of the weekend there is the Chefs’ Harvest Dinner 6:30 – 9 p.m Friday. It’s $125 and it’s bound to be good. Outside my price range, by quite a bit.
If you can only come for one day, come for the main event on Saturday, with booths where you can watch crafters, buy seeds, plants, tools; taste more varieties of tomatoes than you knew existed; attend various free workshops and tours of the Monticello vegetable garden and woodland walks. Adult general admission for Saturday is $10 until September 11, $15 At the Gate. Child tickets and family tickets are also available. It’s a fun day at a fair price. Lots to see and do, and a beautiful setting.
Ken Bezilla of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is offering his workshop Fall & Winter Veggies: Zero Degree Gardening for free at noon on Saturday at the Vegetable Gardening Tent. So if all the $10 tickets for my workshops are sold out, or you can’t make it on Friday, go to his workshop on Saturday! Or just to hear a second opinion!
On Friday, after my book signing and hers, I’m zooming off with Cindy Conner of Grow a Sustainable Diet fame, up to Pennsylvania for the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs. No, it wasn’t our idea to have both events on the same weekend, but we’ll make it work!
A weekend pass is only $25 (and you’ll need to find accommodation). It’s only $15 if you hurry up and pre-order! Food is available at the Fair, but bring something in case the lines are long. The Fair website has links to hotels and campsites, and there are some rooms at the Seven Springs resort itself. It’s a huge event, with row upon row of vendor and exhibit booths, and 12 workshop locations offering a series of 4 workshops on Friday afternoon, 6 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday. That’s 180 workshops for grown-ups. And there’s a kids’ program too.
I’m presenting Crop Rotations for Vegetables and Cover Crops. I’m doing this one twice, 10 – 11 am on Saturday at the Seed Stage and 11.30 am -12.30 pm on Sunday at the New Society Publishers stage. The blurb says: “We will provide ideas to help you design a sequence of vegetable crops that maximizes the chance to grow good cover crops as well as reduce pest and disease likelihood. We will discuss formal rotations as well as ad hoc systems for shoehorning minor crops into available spaces. The workshop will discuss cover crops suitable at various times of year, particularly winter cover crops between vegetable crops in successive years. We will include examples of undersowing of cover crops in vegetable crops and of no-till options”
I’m presenting Fall Vegetable Production on Saturday 1-2 pm at the New Society Publishers stage and again on Sunday 4-5 pm at the Storey stage. “Learn how to optimize production by choosing a suitable combination of warm weather crops, cool weather crops and cold-hardy crops. Hear seasonal tips on dealing with hot weather, followed by information on dealing with cold weather, as well as advice on scheduling late summer and fall plantings, thoughts about season extension and an introduction to winter hoophouse growing.”
and for those nearer Kansas than Pennsylvania, I’ll be at
The April Growing for Market magazine is out, with my article about mulches. We use a range of mulching materials to help keep down weeds, retain soil moisture and either cool or warm the soil. We use cardboard topped by woodchips or hay for our blueberry plantings,and hay for asparagus. In the past, we used newspaper and hay for strawberries, nowadays we use landscape fabric with holes melted into it. We use hay for garlic, summer-planted potatoes, celery, eggplants, chard, spring broccoli and cabbage. We use the biodegradable plastic (Mater-Bi or Eco One) for watermelons, peppers, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and sometimes cucumbers or squash. it helps warm the soil and so the warm-weather crops grow much better and this alone gives us watermelons a month earlier than previously. We also grow our own mulch, a winter cover crop of winter rye, hairy vetch and Austrian winter peas which we mow down in early May. It’s a no-till cover crop – we transplant our Roma paste tomatoes right into the dead mulch. The vetch and peas provide all the nitrogen the tomatoes need, so we don’t need to add any compost. The rye covers the soil for 6-8 weeks. then we unroll hay bales between the rows to last till the end of the long season. No-till mulches keep the soil cooler than if the soil were disked or tilled, so no-till cover crops are only suitable for crops you don’t want quickly!
Other articles this month include one by Andrew Mefford about watering and fertilizing hoophouse tomatoes in Maine, and one by Brett Grohsgal about smoothing the process of making urban CSA deliveries, including an amusing taxonomy of drivers (Dawdlers, Darters/Weavers, Reckless Racers, Breakers, the Distracted, the Erratic, and Smooth Operators. If only we were all Smooth Operators! Brett also includes his tips on choosing the best delivery vehicle, where he comes out in favor of an Isuzu box truck. Ariel Pressman writes part two of a series on finding good workers and the flower grower Gretel Adams tackles managing multiple markets as well as weddings. Everyone is jumping into action for spring!
This week in the garden we have been stymied by excess rain (again). Beasties have been eating our crops. I caught two groundhogs already. they were snacking on our kale. In the process of trapping groundhogs in a live trap, I accidentally caught a skunk. This happened last year. It could even have been the same silly skunk – it had a lot of white and not much black to its fur.
So, how to let the skunk out of the trap without arousing its ire? We brainstormed a bit and I told how I did it last year, using sticks to open the trap and a plastic sack to screen myself. One of the crew came up with a better idea, which I’ll now pass on, in case you ever need to know how to do it. She got a large piece of cloth, draped it over the trap and then delicately opened the trap by hand, through the fabric. It worked like a charm. The skunk ambled out. But then it turned round and went back in, back to sleep. Skunks are nocturnal, so I guess it thought better of setting out to find a new resting place. We left the trap open all night, and in the morning it had gone.
The fabric was so perfect we are now keeping it in the garden shed in case we need it again. It was a large piece of knit polyester – thick, drapeable, washable, and not the sort of thing anyone would have wanted to make clothes out of!
Meanwhile we have a burrowing animal biting off our broccoli seedlings from flats in the coldframe. It isn’t eating them, just felling them, and stashing them in piles. Argh! My current theory is moles. Although carnivores, they apparently use leaves to line their nests. We tried hot pepper on the seedlings, the rain washed it off. We set the flats on landscape fabric. Now they bore through the landscape fabric. The tunnels are too big for voles or mice. Today we are trying to fob them off with dumpstered iceberg lettuce, and spare kale seedlings. If anyone has ideas, please leave a comment.
On Thursday I’m off to Asheville, to the Mother Earth News Fair, where I am giving two presentations, Cold-hardy winter vegetables, and Crop rotations for vegetables and cover crops.
This weekend (Friday and Saturday) is the Virginia Biofarming Conference, in Richmond, VA. You can see the program here. If you’re going, come by the authors’ table and chat. I’ll be there (James River Foyer) signing books Friday 2.30-3pm and 4.30-5pm. On Saturday, I’ll be there 10-10.30 am. There are lots of great workshops!
The following weekend, Feb 7 & 8, I’ll be speaking (and signing books) at the PASA Conference. On Friday at 1.15-2.35 I will be presenting Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables. Then from 4.10 to 5.30 I will be presenting Producing Asian Greens for Market or at Home.
The following Saturday, Feb 15, I’m presenting a day workshop with Ira Wallace and Cindy Conner at Lynchburg College: Feeding Ourselves Sustainably Year Round! It is already sold out, and there is a waiting list, so no point in me doing much promotion for that! The workshop description is: “Learn about Virginia-specific garden planning, season extension, crop rotation, compost, cover crops and how to interpret seed catalogs”.
Date: Wednesday Dec 11, 2013
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Change of Location: The new location is:
Providing for the Full Eating Season: Succession Planting for Continuous Harvests of Summer Vegetables, and Growing and Storing Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables
People eat year-round and growers need to expect this! Learn how to produce a consistent supply of produce throughout the year. The first half of this workshop will explain how to plan sowing dates for continuous supplies of popular summer crops, such as beans, squash, cucumbers and sweet corn, as well as year round lettuce. Using these planning strategies can help avoid gluts and shortages. The second half of the workshop will tackle growing at the “back end” of the year, with details on crops, timing, protection and storage. Why farm in winter? Here’s the information to succeed – tables of cold-hardiness, details of four ranges of cold-hardy crops (fall crops to harvest before serious cold, crops to keep growing into winter, crops for all-winter harvests, overwintering crops for spring harvests); scheduling; weather prediction and protection; hoophouse growing; and vegetable storage.
Dates: Thursday January 30-Saturday February 1, 2014
Location: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Richmond-Midlothian, VA
Registration: $130.00 for members
Book-signings scheduled throughout the conference
Dates: Wednesday February 5 – Saturday February 8, 2014
Location: State College, PA
Registration: $145 for members for Friday and Saturday?
Producing Asian Greens
Detailed information for market and home growers. Many varieties of tasty, nutritious greens grow quickly and bring fast returns. This session covers production of Asian greens outdoors and in the hoophouse. It includes tips on variety selection of over twenty types of Asian greens; timing of plantings; pest and disease management; fertility; weed management and harvesting.
Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables
Details on crops, timing, protection and storage. Why farm in winter? Here’s the information to succeed – tables of cold-hardiness, details of four ranges of cold-hardy crops (fall crops to harvest before serious cold, crops to keep growing into winter, crops for all-winter harvests, overwintering crops for spring harvests); scheduling; weather prediction and protection; hoophouse growing; vegetable storage.
Date: Saturday February 15 2014 10am to 3 pm
Location: Lynchburg College, SW Virginia
2.00-3.00 Crop Rotations, Cover Crops, and Compost — Pam Dawling
Details to be confirmed soon
Dates: March 6-7, 2014
Registration: $70 for access to both days
Crop Planning for Sustainable Vegetable Production
A step-by-step approach to closing the planning circle, so that you can produce crops when you want them and in the right quantities, so you can sell them where and when you need to and support yourself with a rewarding livelihood while replenishing the soil. Never repeat the same mistake two years running!
Mother Earth News Fair, Asheville (confirmed 12/21/13)
Dates: Saturday April 12 – Sunday April 13, 2014
Location: Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road,
Fletcher, NC 28732
Workshop topic to be decided
I always hated how plastic fruit labels concentrate in compost as the huge piles of mixed ingredients convert into much smaller piles of lovely fertilizer. So I invented these Fruit Label Sticker cards, which we pin just above the compost bucket. they work a treat! Everyone loves to put stickers on cards, it seems, even if the “card” is just a hand-drawn scrap of paper like these. Hardly any plastic labels make it into the compost these days. Look what happened when we were given several boxes of ripe avocados;
Look more carefully! The labels all say Golden Del. I suppose that’s why they were given away. Wrong labels. Crazy world. Perfectly nice avocados. I’m a locavore, but I like treats from warmer climates from time to time. And gifts are always to be appreciated.
We’re harvesting our fifth planting of sweet corn (Bodacious, Kandy Korn, Sparkler and Silver Queen), and I beefed up the raccoon traps following the suggestions from Joanna Reuter of Chert Hollow Farm, staking the traps down and smearing peanut butter high on the stake in the back of the cage. Well, the first morning I caught a small, very white skunk! I let it out carefully. The next morning I caught the same skunk again. And the third morning, again. The little animal never seemed ferocious or scared, more curious about how to get out. I was more scared than it was, I think! I bet you’re wondering how I released it. Well, I gently laid a large plastic bag over the top and nearside of the trap (just in case. . . ) and gingerly unlatched the door. Then I used a strong stick to lever up the door a bit, as it is a tight fit. Then I bravely put my foot on top of the trap and pulled the door up by hand. Then I dropped the stick and ran! Later the skunk ambled out. By the third morning I think it was happy with the arrangement. A small can of cat food is a big meal for a small skunk, after all. But I was tired of the game, so I took the traps away. Raccoons don’t seem to like Silver Queen as much as Kandy Korn anyway, maybe because the husks are tighter and harder to rip off. Actually I like Kandy Korn better than Silver Queen too.
Meanwhile we are working on setting up a temporary electric fence around the last corn patch, with our new solar charger. The corn looks to be Raccoon-Ready, so I hope we get the fence up soon. I’m leaving it in someone else’s hands, as I’m off to the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Pennsylvania tomorrow. I’ll be speaking on Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables, twice. and here’s breaking news for Mother Earth News fans in the Asheville, NC area: A MEN Fair April 12 – 13, 2014, at the WNC Agricultural Center.