Monday, May 2, 2011

Vegetable Gardening

Last year we retired to be farmers. Local growers are already rather sophisticated raising and marketing fresh vegetables. They have a web site ordering system and designated delivery points. The commercially successful growers have slowly built up a clientele by establishing relationships with people who then specify their produce. This type of farming is very competitive.

However, Kit is eager to open our own vegetable market. She wants to start by using the back of our truck alongside of the road. No kidding ! She's hopeful to begin this year. I'm not sure that we can raise much more produce than we eat this year. But, we are improving our intensive raised beds for tomatoes, potatoes, corn, broccoli, peas, okra, peppers, and squash. And we’ve put in 100’s of perennial asparagus plants. We also established a commercial quality raspberry bed. From it we could propagate 100’s of vines for a larger operation. These are experiments to determine what we could economically grow in Arkansas conditions.

I think that “U-pick” pumpkins and watermelons could be our best chance to make a profit at farming. Raccoons don’t eat pumpkins, we hope. This year I rented Home Depot's biggest roto-tiller to make field plots. Artifacts tell me that ours was a depression era farm. I'll bet that the last time anyone ploughed this land was with a mule. Still, using the roto-tiller was easy and fun. But, I tilled too much to start. Preparing all of the mounds for pumpkins and melons after tilling nearly killed me. See me working too hard for someone my age. Maybe I was never that young. Yea, I wish that I had a tractor. I'll get one, if I can justify the cost.

Anyway, if we prove that we can raise commercial quality pumpkins or melons, then next year we could put in much larger plots and advertise a U-pick operation where the customers select their own from the field. We are aware that getting customers to come requires providing a charming family type experience as well as the produce. Nobody could do that better than Kit, if Drew can just raise the stuff.

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