Friday, October 24, 2014

So much for that idea



Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the Farmers market or LITFM for short. Due to events out of our control the tree-planting demonstration is yet again delayed. Let’s just say it’s a good delay not a bad one. Instead of planting a tree; lots of other things needed planting at the test gardens and we would have photographed it but that’s a surprise for the big garden tour coming up next week. For those of you who don’t already know, the Sustainable Neighbors Garden tour is Sunday November the 2nd between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00pm. The event starts at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical complex where the feature is the bridge garden, a project started by one of S.N.’s members. The museum is located at 801 Arsenal Avenue. From that starting point anyone on the tour can chose which of the two garden tour locations to go to. This Sunday, or literally one week from the event the garden locations will be announced at the link below.


So then, since our intended topic just isn’t ready this week, I would like to point out that it is time to consider your land. I know that sounds a little odd but I don’t mean going out in your yard and dropping pickup lines every time you get near a garden. I’m talking about soil testing and evaluation. By this point you no doubt have sent soil to be tested so you know what to do or what not to do in regards to plant productivity and quality of soil. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences offers residents of the state free soil testing from April to November. Literally you can send as much or as little during that time period and response time is about two or three weeks. From December through March however a 4 dollar fee is charged per soil sample. With that said, now is always a good time to consider re-enriching your soil before the cool season crops go in. Since crops such as collards, cabbage, mustard, cabbage-collards, lettuce and so on as plants can be installed up until late November you have plenty of time to make minor local adjustments to your soil or make large changes as you see fit.
The thing to remember is that, if you are planting a winter garden, individual plant vigor is a critical factor in ensuring regular and ample harvests later. Also as you grow crops year-round certain plants will use certain nutrients and by switching crops and enriching the soil between rotations will ensure greater overall soil quality over time. If you don’t believe this and are planning to attend the garden tour I can show you the last few years’ worth of soil tests for the property and you can judge for yourself. In fact the tests from this fall revealed that in some beds the soil went from being almost pure sand to soil that is more or less organic matter with a dash of sand and clay in there somewhere. This is almost terraforming on a very miniature scale. But of course you may never know if you don’t do regular soil testing in any space you are producing crops in.

Soil aside as this weekend is supposed to be beautiful, and so the Farmer’s market goes on. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street in the parking lots of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum and runs on two days of the week. The market is open from 9:00 am through 1:00 pm on Saturdays and 2:00 pm through 6:00pm on Wednesdays. Below is the plant list for this week.


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.


Cold Season Crops
7x Romaine Lettuce, “Rouge d’Hiver” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Romaine Lettuce, “Parris Island Cos” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Radicchio, “Rossa di Verona” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
9x Mustard Greens, India - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
9x Mustard Greens, Japanese Red Giant - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Cabbage, Copenhagen Market  - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Cabbage, Savoy – Perfection Drumhead  - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Collards, Georgia Southern Creole - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Snow pea, Snowbird - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

P.S.
Can you really imagine that pickup lines for every garden bed? “Hey baby is that Organic matter in your soil composition or are you just happy to see me?”  Terrible…just plain terrible. Think of the Children folks! Friends don’t let friends hit on soil!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Oh October, well played you saucy month!



Welcome back to another episode of LITFM,  and we were planning a post about how to  plant a tree but unfortunately a material shortage put that planned event on hold while the property was prepared for the garden tour in two weeks. For note the Sustainable Neighbors Garden tour is on November 2nd, so if you want to be a location on the tour or attend the tour please sign up at the sustainable neighbor’s site below.



The container garden persists even in winter as this picture demonstrates. Lettuce, radicchio and Japanese red giant mustard all occupy spots in this winter container garden. The last of the peppers and eggplant are there just to squeeze a few more fruits out of the plants.

Striped Togo eggplant. As the fruit mature they eventually turn all-orange, which makes them kind of cool as a Halloween decoration. At his point they are super-bitter as the seeds inside are nearly mature and ready for harvesting.

A very large male Wolf Spider. I found this guy in the dining room barely moving because it was probably cold, so using a drinking glass and a piece of cardboard I got him back outside in the sun where he could warm up.

Amaranth 'Love Lies Bleeding' - Amaranth did super-good this year but this patch of love lies bleeding was from seed sown early on that finally germinated.

All those zinnias I planted in mid summer have paid off, as this Monarch butterfly visited and sat still long enough for me to snap this shot at close range.

             The weather looks gorgeous for the market this Saturday and possibly for the Wednesday beyond. The Fayetteville Farmers Market is a year-round event that runs from 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays and 2:00 to 6:00 pm on Wednesdays. Also there are a few farmers who set up for fourth Friday and indeed we have really good market coverage if any of you are willing to come on down to the biggest farmers market in the region.

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.

Perennial:
1x Grape, Copper Muscadine - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Cold Season Crops
6x Romaine Lettuce, “Rouge d’Hiver” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Romaine Lettuce, “Parris Island Cos” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Bibb Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Radicchio, “Rossa di Verona” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Mustard Greens, India - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Mustard Greens, Japanese Red Giant - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Cabbage, Copenhagen Market  - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Cabbage, Savoy – Perfection Drumhead  - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Collards, Georgia Southern Creole - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Kale, Redbor/Red Russian - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Snow pea, Snowbird - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

This brings to a close a somewhat short episode of LITFM, hopefully by next week we'll have something really cool for you to consider, and if not....FARM TOUR the week after!

Friday, October 10, 2014

October events



Welcome back to another autumn episode of Lost in the Piles of Discarded Leaves. No really, if I had known the nearby Pecan and Ailanthus would conspire to dump their leaves early this episode would have been on time!  Despite autumn difficulties this episode of LITFM will continue. First off some of you who visit the Sustainable Neighbors page at meetup.com will notice a recent posting for the Fall Garden tour. It’s not a mirage nor some autumn trickery, the tour is back, and it’s on the first Sunday of November (the 2nd) with a rain date of November the 9th.  Occasionally I get folks at the booth asking why we are doing a garden tour at all and that’s a simple enough query to answer.

The original garden tour was conceived, produced and organized by Sustainable Sandhills as a means to promote urban farming and sustainable practices. The original tour was spread across two counties and featured upwards of twelve tour locations that offered varied means and insights into sustainable agriculture. The tours were generally run on Saturdays and the entire event lasted about four hours. After two years of the Urban farm tour, it was decided to centralize it at one spot down town at the community gardens on Vanstory and Mann Streets and call it the Urban Farm Day. After the second year of the event the concept was dropped with no chance of returning.

The end of UFD/UFT would have been the last anyone would hear until Sustainable Neighbors got the idea to pick the tour back up again and it all began with the “Urban Farm Tour and home grown & Brewed Wine Tasting” even held on October 27th 2013. We followed suit with the “Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour” on June 8th 2014. Respectively the first event drew 21 neighbors (by RSVP) out to see the sights, while the second drew 17. Both events could easily be called successful. At the least it proved that a tour every six months or so could definitely work as the cool season garden is a differing animal than the warm season garden. Since sustainability also champions gardening 365 days a year it makes perfect sense to demonstrate how that works too.

So this year we are prepared to do something a little different, The tour begins at a central location, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex with the Bridge garden being the central focus and from there members of the tour radiate outward to our additional locations in any order they desire. As of this writing my test gardens, as well as Melissa Brady’s Celtic gardens are confirmed locations, but we would love to get one or two more locations. You can sign up for the tour at the link below as a visitor or a location.




             With the Sustainable Neighbors Garden Tour discussed I do have to talk about the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. As you might know the farmer’s market is a 365 day affair that runs on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. The Wednesday market runs between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm. The weather this Saturday is supposed to be quite nice so of course there is no real good reason not to show up at the market, certainly the great fall foods and staples make filling your fridge with the best produce of the year an easy thing. Below is the market list for this week.

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.

Perennial:
1x Grape, Copper Muscadine - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Cold Season Crops
6x Romaine Lettuce, “Rouge d’Hiver” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Bibb Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Radicchio, “Rossa di Verona” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
9x Mustard Greens, India - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
9x Mustard Greens, Japanese Red Giant - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Collards, Georgia Southern Creole - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Kale, Redbor/Red Russian - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
5x Snow pea, Snowbird - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

This brings to a close a somewhat shorter and less colorful episode then normal but hopefully next week we’ll have more enjoyable content for all of you out there to read. Before the month is out we will definitely have a step-by-step guide to planting a tree which should be a first for LITFM and a fun project to record, stay tuned and as always Keep ‘em growing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

And Finally Autumn



Welcome back to another episode of lost in the farmer’s market. It’s October and this in theory is the first month in which the possibility of a frost might occur. As some of you might know our first possible frost date is around the 25th-29th of October depending on what source you consult. This first frost however is not liable to be a killing frost as those often don’t show up until December or in the case of a few years ago not until February of the following year. With that said I often answer queries of if it is too late to get in a fall-winter garden as somehow local gardeners have it in their minds that it is already too late for some reason.

Radicchio Rossa di Verona” - Chicorum intybus
To be perfectly honest, you can plant your fall crops as late as mid-November as long as you make provisions for their care and if need be are ready to place anti-frost protection as needed until the crops settle in. The settling in of your fall crops takes about two weeks and generally is accelerated with a root stimulator type fertilizer. Alternately one can simply place a bit of Black Hen in the plating hole before the plant is placed to have the same effect. So of course this leads to the next most common question, “Will ___ survive the winter?”  Well most of the cold season plants will do just fine, Kale, Collards, Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Mustard greens, Spinach, Beets, Swiss Chard, Radishes, Lettuce, Radicchio, Carrots, Cilantro and Parsley will all generally make it through winter. More so since most of the above list are sold as Annuals but are actually Biennials, it’s in their life cycle to persevere in cold weather.

Bibb Lettuce 'Black Seeded Simpson - Lactuca sativa

At the test gardens the bulk of my harvested produce is not during the warm season but the cold season because the leaf greens are very productive in the colder season. For instance Red Giant mustard is notable for producing 12” long leaves and yielding a half pound of greens per plant per harvest. Collards and Kale are no slouches for winter food sources either and can most certainly pick up the slack for other species of food crop. In short there is no reason to avoid starting a winter garden, the only obstacle you face is you. Also this leads to the third question I get a lot at the market. Occasionally someone will ask something like “It says it takes ___ days but…it’s October!”  I personally would call this an excuse.

Romaine Lettuce ' Rouge d'Hiver - Lactuca sativa

The reality is that, when you see a set number of days on a seed packet or plant label it’s a literal statement of how long it might take a plant to mature from seed. By the time the plants are available for sale however a portion of that time has passed. For instance my lovely Rouge d’Hiver lettuce says 60 days, but it took me about 40 to get it to salable size…so maturity might be by the end of October if one were to buy it right now and site it properly. I might point out that it is generally unwise to get too wrapped up in the numeric of gardening because they can be misleading as many factors such as care, siting, weather and soil conditions can have major effects on your progress. The maturity numbers are actually there to give a gardener a general estimate/average of the start up time but they are not an absolute statement of fact. Indeed as observed with the month of September the weather can play heck with your garden plans. For instance while there is no current precipitation information for the first week of October, for the record, the test gardens received a total 3.8” last month  over six precipitation events in total or about an inch a week which is ideal for the plants. What is ideal for the plants does not relate to what may be ideal for your planning and so we have later than normal start on cold season plants.

Mustard Greens  India - Brassica juncea
But there is some good news, as some of you have seen the good stuff is in at the market and you can get those fine cold-season staples on Wednesdays and Saturdays at my booth.  The Fayetteville Farmer’s market is located in downtown Fayetteville and is open two days a week. The Wednesday market runs from 2:00pm to 6:00 pm, and the Saturday Market runs from 9:00am to 1:00 pm. The market is located on the property of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum which is on 325 Franklin Street. As always the Museum will be open and there is public access to bathrooms and there is an ATM on the premises. Without further ado here is this week’s plant list.

Mustard Greens  Japanese Red Giant - Brassica juncea


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.

Perennial:
1x Grape, Copper Muscadine - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Ornamental:
6x Baloon Flower, White 3.5” pot ($2.00) <On Sale! Last Week>

Cold Season Crops
6x Romaine Lettuce, “Rouge d’Hiver” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Bibb Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Radicchio, “Rossa di Verona” - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Mustard Greens, India - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Mustard Greens, Japanese Red Giant - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Collards, Georgia Southern Creole - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
6x Kale, Redbor/Red Russian - 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Onion, Red Egyptian - 3.5” pot ($3.00)

As you may already know the forecast for this weekend seems to be going every which way but to a clear statement of what things might be like. For note a depending on how things go this month I may or may not continue with Wednesday markets in November. You can expect that should it change I’ll announce it here. Saturdays will continue regardless.