My article on nematodes in Growing for Market; PASA Conference Feb 2015; reading the Organic Broadcaster

GFM-November-December2014-cover-300pxThe November-December issue of Growing for Market is out, including my article about tackling root knot nematodes in our hoophouse over the past few years. We found Peanut Root Knot nematodes (RKN) in a half-bed of overwintered spinach transplants in February 2011. As we were digging up the transplants to move them outdoors, we noticed some of the roots were lumpy. I sent a sample to the Plant Diagnostic Clinic at Virginia Tech and got the result we feared.  Nematodes are microscopic worms that parasitize plant roots, stressing crops and reducing yields. They have hundreds of host plants and are hard to control.

We came up with a two year plan, taking the half-bed out of production, growing a series of nematode-suppressing cover crops, and solarizing the soil in the summers. Just when we thought we were done, in June 2103, we found nematodes in the other half of the same bed. So we took that half out of production for two years, while enjoying the extra benefits of the solarization we’d done in the first half: a very happy plot of lettuce with no Sclerotinia rot that winter! We took the patient organic approach, accepting the one-twelfth reduction in crop-growing area.

But then, this summer, as we pulled our early tomatoes from the bed next to troubled one, we found nematodes in the roots of 4 of the 44 plants, dotted along the row. To continue the same approach would mean having the new bed as well as the previous half-bed out of production for one year, and then the whole new bed. That would be a quarter of the space for a whole year! So we looked at less cautious approaches, shifting to a “live with a few” approach, rather than the “yikes, get rid of them all” approach we had been (unsuccessfully) applying. Our new plan is to grow resistant crops for two years, then risk one year of susceptible crops. We’re also looking at biocontrols to apply to the soil in spring once it warms up enough for the nematodes to be active. I hope this will work well enough. I’ll let you know.


Other articles in the same GfM issue include Phil Norris in Maine writing about a rolling hoophouse design he came up with after consulting his neighbor, the much-admired author Eliot Coleman. His design runs on a long four-site track. He addresses issues of structural integrity, pedestrian access via a side door, ventilation and irrigation. The house is so easy to move, he even rolls it along to irrigate one of the not-currently-covered sites for two hours, making use of the overhead sprinklers hanging from the roof trusses, before rolling it back for the night!

Susan Studer King writes to debunk myths about solar power. Like many farmers, she uses the slow part of the season to look to making long-term improvements at her farm. The main part of the article is a Q & A, which I found made installment of grid-linked solar arrays seem quite doable by practical people like farmers.

Walt Krukowski writes about caring for peonies at this time of year, for best results next spring. As you know, I’m not a cut flower grower, but I always read the flower articles in GfM to learn tips applicable to vegetable growing.

The GfM editor, Lynn Bryczynski, gives us a valuable article reviewing the fascinating Japanese manual paper chain pot transplanter, which I’ve often wondered about.  Lynn interviewed six growers who’ve used the tool, which can set out 264 plants in a minute, under the right soil conditions. The initial cost for the hand-pulled tool and a set of paper pots is about $2000. The paper pots are connected bottomless cells that arrive flattened, and open out as a plugsheet. Good bed prep and optimal transplant size are critical for success, and the method is best suited to stemmy (rather than rosette-shaped) crops grown on a close plant spacing. A boon for people in cold climates transplanting crops others of us direct-sow. It’s available in North America only from Small Farm Works.

And I was happy to note the magazine has grown from 24 to 28 pages with this issue!


Another good source of sustainable farming reading material is the Organic Broadcaster, which I have mentioned before. The November/December issue of that bi-monthly publication is also out. It includes an article by Elaine Ingham on nutrient cycling in organically managed soils; Hebert Karreman on winter barn housing for cows; Harriet Behar on foreseeable problems of GM crop-herbicide combos; Kelli Boylan on a new weed control technique using ground apricot pits (a byproduct of apricot processing) to “sand-blast” the weeds; Bill Stoneman155_full on biopesticides; Claire Strader on the challenges of urban farming; harold Ostenson and David Granatstein on controlling fireblight without antibiotics; John Biernbaum on planning ahead to grow healthy transplants; Harriet Behar on FSA programs to help farmers reduce financial risks;

The Ask A Moses Specialist page tackles buying organic seed and dealing with fruit-flies in the greenhouse. The book review is of Market Farming Success by Lynn Byczynski, which I reviewed here. The MOSES Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse Wisconsin, February 26-28 2015 gets a plug from Audrey Alwell, amusingly titled “Pack your plaid for annual MOSES Conference” complete with four supporting photos of six attendees in plaid shirts! The News Briefs include all sorts of useful information on events and publications. And there are classified ads and an Events Calendar.


As well as my booking to speak at the January 30-31 Virginia Biofarming Conference, I have now heard that I will also be a speaker at the February 2015 PASA Farming for the Future Conference. The titles of my workshops are not finalized yet. I’ll tell you when I know more.

And I see my embedding of my slideshow Cold-hardy Winter Vegetables two weeks ago was unsuccessful, and all you got was a long string link. I’ll try to fix that next.


And meanwhile, this week in the garden: we are getting ready to plant garlic. We started separating bulbs into cloves during our Crop Review Meeting yesterday. 2014 didn’t give us a good crop – we think we left the mulch too thick in some places for too long, so that we had big gaps in the rows. Live and (hopefully) learn! Another big task this week is sorting through all the potatoes we stored two weeks ago. We find that a single sorting two weeks after harvest is all we need to catch the ones that aren’t going to store well.

Planting garlic
Planting garlic, credit Twin Oaks Community

 

Events December 2013 – April 2014

LFH_Logo2Local Food Hub, Charlottesville, VA

Date: Wednesday Dec 11, 2013
Time: 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Change of Location: The new location is:

Albemarle County Office Building
Room A
1600 5th Street Extended
Charlottesville VA 22902
Cost: $25 (free for Local Food Hub Partner Producers)

http://localfoodhub.org/our-programs/workshops/

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.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

cropped-vabf-virginia-grass-fed-cattleVirginia Association for Biological Farming Conference, Richmond, Virginia.

Dates: Thursday January 30-Saturday February 1, 2014

Location: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Richmond-Midlothian, VA
Registration: $130.00 for members

http://vabf.org/conference/

Book-signings scheduled throughout the conference

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

Website_banner_v2PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) Farming for the Future Conference

Dates: Wednesday February 5 – Saturday February 8, 2014

Location: State College, PA

Registration: $145 for members for Friday and Saturday?

http://www.pasafarming.org/events/conference

Book-signing

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.

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

Lynchburg College

Date: Saturday February 15 2014 10am to 3 pm

Location: Lynchburg College, SW Virginia

Feeding Ourselves Sustainably Year Round
10-11  Grow a Sustainable Diet–Cindy Conner
11-11:10  Break
11:10-12:10  Year Round Gardening–Ira Wallace
12:10-1:10 Lunch
1:10-1:50  Understanding and Using Seed Catalogs –small group activity.
1:50-2.00  Break
2.00-3.00 Crop Rotations, Cover Crops, and Compost — Pam Dawling

Details to be confirmed soon

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

AiscAvnOsQFURv1wbixykzdTEl5dCrYHumxaW5HMlv_9XK1UpLeQQEgEAD9gMcdG9L_RhllIVVAnqOEAkdAwxOJeL_fFsxWEKQyzNfllayMqc7g=s0-d-e1-ftlogo_sfcCSA Expert Exchange Online Conference, Small Farm Central and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Dates: March 6-7, 2014

Location: Online

Registration: $70 for access to both days

www.csafarmconference.com

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

Registration:?

http://www.motherearthnews.com/fair/north-carolina.aspx#axzz2k02EAfZq

Workshop topic to be decided

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““