Sunday, March 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Market - Raised Beds

Don’t you love springtime? I can’t believe that we haven’t posted a blog since last July when we joined the Hillcrest Market. We were working hard for the market. Then we were traveling and involved with other major projects. Now, it is springtime in Arkansas. We’re busy again on our little farm getting ready for the market opening in May.

Kit has been experimenting with new Artisan breads to offer starting in May. Featuring lots of healthy grains, she’ll have “Seed”, Buttercrust, Whole Wheat, and Cinnamon Raisin Breads. Plus, she’ll have the items, which were so popular last summer such as her blue ribbon poppy seed bread, granola, “double chocolate almond” biscotti, and muffins with various berries. Her gluten free products will be missing, except by request. They just didn’t sell. Two cute little boys nearly always came in for her gluten free peanut butter cookies. She’ll have those ready, just in case the boys show up.

Drew has already planted peas, potatoes, onions, and broccoli (under caps). He diligently moves his tomato seedlings outside during the day and inside at night. During the fall, he doubled our raised bed garden space. Raised beds with carefully created soil have plenty of nutrients with organic material, sand, and our natural clay. This soil can produce the best vegetables with minimal effort and chemicals. Although we’ll use the new bed this year, it will take several years for it to be fully ready. We spent 18 years perfecting our garden soil in South Carolina. Anytime we needed perfect planting soil, we simply took it from our own garden. This reminds me of an old joke. The groundskeeper at the British Tower of London was asked, “How do you keep such nice grass?” “No problem really.” the gaffer answered. “You add nutrients to the soil, cut it moderately, then roll it for 400 years.”

I had reported to you the failure of our pumpkin crop last summer. We did sell a few small early ones from the failed crop. This was before the glut of pumpkins for Halloween hit the market. We replanted the pumpkins and controlled the squash vine borers with the mild and safe Malathion insecticide. Almost nobody actually eats the pumpkins or cares if they are organic. By October, we had grown some beautiful pumpkins. But, in October everybody had pumpkins. We couldn’t sell a single one. By contrast, the tomatoes and cucumbers we were able to raise in August (Peak season is in June.) were very popular. This year Drew is hoping to grow nearly organic vegetables before and especially after the peak seasons. By "nearly organic", we mean minimal chemicals and none directly on the vegetable fruit itself will be used. We can’t technically call our stuff fully organic, if we’ve even used a little chemical for a different crop on that ground plot several years earlier.

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