Hello, I finally managed to grow a few ears of corn and would like to try and save the seed. Unfortunately they aren’t very dry yet and the pests are attacking. Caterpillars and raccoons are the two that showed up yesterday. I’d like to go ahead and pull the ears to dry indoors but I wasn’t sure if that was okay? I have a few makeshift drying racks with a 24 hr fan. The corn is starting to dry and the stalks are dying back but the kernels are still pretty soft. Is it too early to pull it? Thanks!
Hello, my beloved fruit farmer has dropped the bomb- he’s not going to live forever and I better plant some trees if I want to continue to have my beloved plums and apples. I’m in a lack of fresh fruit induced panic and started trying to plan my little orchard. He’s going to order the trees for me for next year to save big bucks but I need a plan!
While he grows my most favorite varieties he’s an old school, commercial, spray a lot, straight rows kind of farmer and I’d rather create something more natural and I don’t want to mow anymore.
My best available site is our useless front yard giving me a space of up to 300’ wide and 35’ deep before the shadow of our decorative trees would start to infringe. One end of the strip (maybe 30’) is very wet in the spring and the other end is shaded in the afternoons.
For simplicity’s sake (and budget) I’ll have to have a long term plan that I can add to each year.
My ultimate goal is to feed my family and have enough to can for extended family and friends. I’m planning on 1 of each variety except my most critical (ginger gold apples for winter and Prune plums for canning) which I need to succession plant on different years to try and be sure I have one fruiting each year.
Between the plums, apples and possibly pears with all their assorted pollinators I’m looking at eventually about 14- 18 trees (someday).
I know which main trees I want to focus on but after that my plan gets very hazy after that.
This is our front yard and needs to look what I think of as deliberate. It’s okay if it’s not ultra tidy but it can’t look weedy or insanely overgrown or my hubby will be totally stressed out.
Sorry this is so long, I suppose my ultimate question after all this rambling is “where do I start?”
Free online resource recommendations? Books I might be able to get from the library?
PS- My farmer suggested I just start planting. Today. He’s braver than I am though.
As for sourcing non local ingredients (Norwegian kelp is definitely not local here in Michigan) I decided that being able to confidently feed my broilers and layers a homemade concoction of all local grains was worth sourcing a few distant ingredients. I buy Fertrell nutribalancer, kelp, fish meal, oyster shell and grit that are not local. All together I’m going through about 240 lbs a year of these ingredients. This makes it so I am also able to buy more than 4,800 lbs a year of totally local grain. It feels so good to hand my farmer (who delivers and helps me unload for only $30) cold hard cash.
To be honest I’m working on reducing the non local imputs but I’m not trying too hard. I really enjoy helping to support the lovely Amish family who I buy my “exotic” ingredients from and I love the cause to chat with them while I shop. The ingredient that is most problematic for me is the fish meal, it simply isn’t sustainable or planet friendly but I haven’t figured it a replacement yet.
(We’re only on week 3 of the whole grain broiler experiment but holy crap are they thriving! My layers transitioned to whole grains about 6 weeks ago and my eggs have never been better, a minimum of 10 eggs with the avg of 13 per day for only 16 2 year old layers. I’m loving it. )
Good morning, I was just finishing up poultry chores and headed into the hoop house to water when I realized I forgot to fill my jugs last night. How cold is really too cold for the water to be on my seedlings? Until now I’ve used gallon jugs of room temperature water while the weather is still cold here (45 F high today with an overnight of 29). My space is heated with a thermocouple dependant heater so it never goes below about 36. How warm does it need to be before I can switch to the hose? This time of year our water is chilly but not icy cold, probably about 45-50? degrees. (My beloved children broke the last of my thermometers). Thanks everyone, it takes a lot of trips back to the house to water 32 trays of seedlings.
Thank you! I’ll try all three and report back. I just got my new plastic installed and I think there is enough slack that I can slide the panels between the frame and the plastic and then I’ll backfill from the outside with the old junk straw that I’m breaking down.
I have an old tarp we used to use for the pool that should work well for keeping my blankets dry. Putting a pole on one side is a good idea, it should also help hold it down in the breeze.
Thanks again, happy growing!
Good morning all, I have a small hoop house 8’x14’x7’ at the peak. It’s relatively well sealed from air leaks but, naturally, the temperature drops ultra fast at night. I’m just trying to figure out how to keep it from dropping below about 40 degrees so my seedlings will be safe. The last 2 years I ran a space heater on freezing nights but it’s not a very good option.
I have some stuff laying around that I’m wondering about using. I have lots of 2” rigid foam panels that I had to take out of the barn (the damn chickens started eating it). I am thinking about putting these on the north side of the structure but do I add them inside or outside?
I also have 2 55 gallon barrels I could fill and use to replace my current work bench area.
Another idea I had might be stupid- could I pull an old quilt over the whole structure? It’s hoops are quite strong and I thought that might help stabilize temps.
Thanks for the ideas everyone!
Hello, I have a one year old pulse fence charger that had an unfortunate swim and stopped working. Has anyone been able to get one fixed? I'm not going to try it myself and the only place I could find to fix it charges $35 just to diagnose and I'd have to send it in. If it's unfixable I don't want to pay that. Thanks everyone.
I give this seed source 9 out of 10 acorns. I've been extremely happy with germination rates and their catalog is excellent. Pole bean selection could be bigger but otherwise selection is good, especially on hard to find items like celeriac. Their King of the North bell peppers performed better than any green to red bells I've ever grown! And free shipping on small orders is excellent. My order arrives today, can't wait to get the Dakota Tears onions started!
I'm definitely going to see what comes up this spring. I just pulled some more parsnips for eating and have a question, how small is too small to leave for seed production? Unfortunately I already pulled the bigger parsnips and all thats left are ridiculously small ones. They do look and taste great, seemingly unaffected by the frozen ground.
I have no doubts that Cornish-Cross can be raised to slaughter weight without being "miserable," but I don't know that that's a good enough reason. They still grow faster than, I would argue, they really should. And I'd suggest that having to take certain preventative measures to stop a chicken from eating itself to death (or eating so much, of its own volition, that it cannot properly reproduce) hardly counts as "normal." Can you imagine a beef steer on good pasture that keeled over dead simply from eating its fill of grass?
Hmm, maybe my chickens are spoiled. All of my birds, heritage or otherwise, will eat as much as I give them. I tried free feeding them but when I slaughtered the old layers the fat deposits were ridiculously large and they stopped foraging aggressively.
This topic could continue forever and has the potential to devolve quickly into the world of other ethical dilemas so I'll let it drop now. I will say that I don't think I'm a good enough cook to appreciate the difference between heritage and air chilled corning cross breasts!
Feed conversion is certainly a concern, or at least a serious consideration. But I think we certainly have to consider what we're requiring of the animals in order to get cheaper meat, and whether or not those requirements are ethical.
I can certainly understand the disgust and horror of factory farmed birds but my chickens are raised efficiently without being miserable. They live a normal, happy chicken life even if it is very short. My one extreme dislike of raising these birds is that the chicks come from a factory setting. I haven’t found a way around that yet but I’m working on it! FYI- Jumbo Cornish crosses are fertile, do lay fairly well and can breed if you’re ultra careful about how much food they get after reaching their full size. They will eat themselves to death if you let them.
I have raised both heritage and jumbo cornish cross on pasture, in the exact same way (electronet fencing moved every few days with a very secure night coop). The heritage birds can’t go out until at least 6 weeks because they are too small, the CRX go out at 3-4 weeks depending on weather. I feed both batches 20% pelleted feed and the rest grain with nutribalance. For the heritage birds I shoot for 20% protein and the CRX’s get about 23% protein. It seems high but I also feed them food scraps which are almost exclusively vegetables.
I will say that as far as costs go the CRX’s cost about 2.95/ lb and the heritage birds cost about 4.75/lb (both including processing).
If you’re growing your own grains, you need to think about feed efficiency. While the CRX’s eat more (about 30% in their 9wk vs 16 week life span), they also produce more! My CRX’s are generally twice as heavy and much meatier than my heritage birds.
The one advantage in efficiency that heritage birds have is that they are better foragers. If you grow them a low slung grain patch (or just stomp over the grain and let it shatter) they will find it. CRX’s can do this to but they have to be taught and they tend to be less thorough.
I looked at the Rangers but they are just too small for me. I usually pay for processing and it costs the exact same amount for a 3.5 lb birds as a 7.5 lb bird. Plus nothing beats a big, fat air chilled breast!
Hello, I'm interested in collecting seed from some favorite biennials; carrots, parsnips, celeriac and rutabaga. My problem is where to overwinter them. The books suggest that in my climate I dig them up and store them at 32-35 degrees and then replant in spring. This sounds like a great idea except I don't have anywhere that stays that temperature! We have an auxiliary refrigerator in the garage but the contents will freeze (luckily, apples still taste good when frozen.) I would love to move the fridge indoors and use it but it won't fit. Suggestions of somewhere to store these veggies? I would like to keep at least 2 dozen of each variety (4 carrots, 1 var each of the others) so it's not a tiny amount of space. I do have room in the barn to add something like a used chest freezer or fridge but then I would need to find a way to heat it slightly. We have electricity out there but it's uninsulated.
Thanks for any ideas!
Zone 6b, winter temp vary from 57 two weeks ago to -11 routinely but it's almost always below 35 from Nov30- Mar/April
Thanks for the replies everyone. My main crops that need to grow in these beds are the corn (always dried corn, not sweet), sunflowers (mammoth), potatoes and anything that can feed/bed poultry and conditions the soil. I do grow about 30 other vegetable varieties but not in these beds. Every 3 years I will skip the corn and replace it with something else when my neighbor plants an entire 40 with his field corn.
You asked for the report and as I was looking at it I realized I was wrong about the pH, it's only 7.2 so thats a better place to start! I was going to post it but I can't figure out how. The report says the Calcium is high but my tomatoes have trouble utilizing it. Is there a secret to unlocking it? I am very low in K, Zn, Cu and something labeled P1Bray. Mg is a little low. Of course the report says the NPK levels are all zero.
I will work on bringing the pH down in all the beds if I can. I am trying to find a neighbor who will sell me sulfur or gypsum from their bulk delivery. It's so cheap to buy in bulk in Michigan (about $60 a 1/2 ton) but ridiculous to have delivered or buy from garden stores in bags. Maybe it would be worth renting a truck and driving up to get it? In my clay soil I would have to grow an acid-leeching crop for many years before it makes a noticeable difference but alfalfa is definitely something I could put in the "cover year" slot if I can just weed whack or mow it down at the end of the season. I do have access to wood chips, leaves and 3 acres of weeds just waiting to be knocked down but can't afford to buy much compost or expensive organic additives and it eats up an awful lot of time moving large quantities of bulky material in a wheelbarrow.
This is my third season on this soil and the only total failures have been celery (never again) and the three sisters. I think my corn was too widely spaced and too much ground was left exposed, I got very poor pollination rates on everything. The next year they all did well separately so I'm hesitant to try combining them again. I only chose cucumbers with the corn because they supposedly are repellant to raccoons which are, of course, a huge problem but I also have the electric wire available this year and 5,000 volts should slow them down. I'm very open to other suggestions for companions as long as they are able to be fed to poultry, eaten by us or are a green manure that can be mown down easily. I will say that anything that has trouble with cabbage moths cannot be grown in these beds because they must be covered because we have a huge amount of trouble with the moths.
My sunflowers are so tall that for a majority of our season they actually don't shadow their own feet much and I have successfully grown winter squash and pumpkins under them before but do radishes need totally full sun? I could skip the vines and put some in between rows and leave them to rot overwinter to help with compaction. I suppose I could pull the sunflowers out of this rotation and replace it with something more soil conditioning if I need to but I would rather not. I don't want them shadowing anywhere else in the garden but if you guys think these beds absolutely need another year of cover crops I could try. Or I could pull up the fencing and make another plot but I promised myself I wouldn't.
I basically ordered these in descending nutrient needs, I have enough composted chicken manure to do one of these beds each fall. I am aware that pumpkins are heavy feeders but they are a very secondary crop and have usually done alright in completely unamended soil. I just plant a lot of seeds and hope for the best, we don't eat many but the chickens love them.
Would it be better if I ran potatoes first, sunflowers, corn then cover last?
Thanks everyone, Seeding time starts in 4 weeks!
Hello, I'm looking for advice/tips on crop rotation for a few select crops. I'm trying to make a long term garden plan (goal) to replace my willy-nilly rows and I'd like to grow corn, potatoes, mixed gains for poultry feeding and sunflowers in large rectangles (10x25) instead of in the long raised beds.
My current plan is to set up 4 of these rectangular beds and rotate this cycle-
1. (Amended prior fall)-Corn/cucumbers?
2. (Unamended except pH check)- Potatoes
4. (Unamended_-Oats/Vetch/ Annual Grains anything to increase soil structure and help feed chickens.
Another thing I've considered is adding some clover or other mowable ground cover. I'm not happy with the corn grown on its own, I have heavy weed pressure and it was way to much work but I'm open to suggestions for companions. My ONLY equipment is a wheelbarrow with accompanying hand tools, regular mowers, a garden tiller and a broadfork I'm hoping to get for my birthday!
Zone 6B, medium clay soil with high nutrient contents, low organic matter and calcium and 7.9pH7.2pH!
I've only used my Earthway so I can't compare but I will say it was only slightly useful to me this year. I have rough beds, clumps and clay, and there was no chance of the blade cutting a slice to seed into. I did use to plant 580 feet of green beans (5 varieties) and it dropped with about 75% accuracy. Almost no skips but enough doubles to be noticeable in the bush beans. It is however much easier than leaning over to drop them. It is also ultra short, I'm 6' tall and it feels like a child's toy. I'll keep mine because I got it ultra cheap but I would never buy another.
Thank you, I'll grab some of the minerals next time I'm out, you're correct, my tests came back low in all the minerals on the test. I do have several bags of sulfur already, I just wasn't totally sure how I was going to apply it. I'm going to try the amendment, chicken poo, chips lasagna and I'll post results. Thank you
Chips stay put where you dump them. Unless you live in a tremendously windy area, they don't move at all. If you've got "growing well beds", sprinkling a few handfuls of chips in and among your growing plants is a great way to save water, feed the soil and keep weeds away. No need to build pathway walls. If chips migrate a bit as you walk on them, that's good.
Thank you, I wasn't sure how much they would shift and I'm going to grow celeriac if it kills me but they are easily squashed seedlings..
A layer of cardboard, covered by a thick layer of chips and chicken poo . . . . that's a beautiful way to teach those weedy grasses a lesson.
Hello, I'm not able to expand my raspberry patch this year but hate to toss the raspberry runners onto the mulch pile. Could I root them in buckets this year to plant out next spring ( a full 11 months in a bucket?)
Hello, I'm trying to transition my garden away from tilling but I have so many questions. My current gardens are a 30x70 perennial garden and a 170x70 annual garden, few amendment have been added and my soil test showed 7.2 pH, only 3.4% organic matter and the Potassium, Sulfur, Zinc and copper are all well below optimal levels. . I've tilled beds into the annual garden and mow the strips of grass in between. The perennial garden has rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and grapes planted, the soil is well protected by a forest of weeds.
1st- Is there a good book or website about conversion? I've read the Stout books but there isn't much on the awkward phase I'm in. If not then here goes-
I have unlimited access to wood chips (until my back gives out) and am thinking of covering all pathways with many inches to smother weeds. How do I keep them in place away from my already planted and growing well beds? Do I need to build walls to keep what would then be raised pathways in place? If I do so this year then in the fall I'll cover everything and let sit overwinter.
I was thinking of adding a cuff to the grapes. Probably 6" diameter and sunk below the surface to slow down the slugs. That way I can mulch very heavily without touching the stems. As for the strawberries I think I'm going to save what I can (there is one bed that I managed to salvage,) and I'm giving up on the rest. I'll just mulch heavily enough to smother everything.
I have about 2 cu yds of chicken manure compost for the annual garden that will be fully ready this fall. The way I see it I have two choices, 1. Let it finish cooling in it's pile and in the fall as beds are wrapped up I will put it onto the current beds directly, cover them and let overwinter. 2. I could apply it now to the paths, cover them, then in the fall cover the current beds and then next year swap all my planting spots to what used to be paths. This seems far easier IF the paths will be suitable for planting next year. They are currently covered in weedy grasses.
Sorry this is so involved but I can'r spend another year weeding like this. I'm spending more than an hour every day on weeding and it's too much. Plus I hate tilling up my precious worms.
We have clay soil here, although it's not ultra heavy and no rubble. I'm no expert but I can tell you that last year I used 3 year old wood chips (the kind the tree trimmers deliver free and it just sat exposed in the field) to hill up potatoes. After the season I dug it in a bit, maybe the top 6 inches and that is BY FAR the nicest area in my garden. Once it was spread out over the whole bed I would guess it was only 2" of mulch but wow has it lightened up the soil. If it was me I would use an out of the way spot to collect as much soil building material as I could and then let it sit. If your aren't in a hurry to plant in some spots you can certainly mulch in place.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Grace, what animals do you plan to use this pasture for?
Cows, Sheep, Horses and hogs are grazers and will prefer grasses with some trees around for shade in the heat of the day.
Goats, Donkeys and other browsers will love the brush along with a little grass.
Both groups will need shade trees but you could just add those now so they can get a fair amount of growth on them prior to the animals coming onsite.
Have you given any thought to whether or not you would best benefit from creating a Silvopasture?
This is what we are doing with our land, trees are left so there are shady areas but it is open enough for swaths of grasses to grow well.
Ticks can be fairly well controlled by a flock of guinea fowl.
Amit has made great points, with the time frame you mention, you have a great opportunity to direct this land in the direction you want it to go.
Thanks for the reply. I'm hoping for a combination of cows and goats, followed around by the poultry. I will be adding a few shade trees but the existing bushes are dangerous, the spikes are too sharp and too long. I may have to see if I can add some guineas to our flock, the chickens do an okay job in the gardens and edges of the field but don't seem very motivated to head into the deep grasses.
I think I will mow it once or twice this year and then just keep it trimmed back in the areas we're working on. Maybe mowing will help slow the spread of the reeds too.
Amit Enventres wrote:Mowing will help set it back to grass only where it wants to convert to brush, then trees. Make sure the mowing doesn't leave huge chunks of biomass snuffing out the grass, if your trying to get that to grow. Animals need shade to be at optimal health, so if there's some trees trying to grow, you may want to let them, as long as they aren't toxic to your animals.
Now grass is great for grazers, but brush is good for browsers and provides shelter for small animals. If you are going to have a mixed heard, you might want to leave it as is.
Another note is that tall grass scattered with brush here means tick habitat and it's supposed to be a bad year.
We're just north of you and I can assure you this is going to be the WORST tick season, I pulled one off my three month old yesterday. I do have a few scattered trees along the edges that I'm leaving but will be planting a few more shade trees next year. The brush that's in this pasture is awful, I don't know what it is but it has incredibly sharp and large spikes that will poke right through a leather glove and it grows very fast.
When we mow I'll collect the clumps to add to the compost pile, we never have too much carbon in there.
Hello, I'm not sure this is the right forum but these 3 acres are headed towards pasture- someday. I have a 3 acre parcel next to the house that is just sitting, and will be basically untouched for the next 2-3 years. It's an old horse pasture that's grown up into small brush and above the knee grasses. Is there a reason to mow or not mow it? My neighbor can brush hog it down super fast for me but I wasn't sure if I should. My idea was to mow it 2-3 times just to encourage more biomass growth, our clay soils can use as much organic matter as possible and it will be easier to add animals someday with less brush. Thank you
William Bronson wrote: Try sprouting something in a sample.
If it fails miserably , you'll know it's not ready.
Another alternative is to dig pits ,fill with compost and plant around the pits.
The plant roots can then profit from the compost selectively.
I'm really glad you posted this, I tried it and no bean sprouts even though the others I tested had a %100 success rate. You saved me a LOT of heartache! Thank you
If you need to use it as is, I would turn it into a TEA and Oxygenate it quite well.
I second this suggestion from Bryant. You will best transform the facultative biology (which can switch from anaerobic to aerobic). This is best done by heavily oxygenating a water solution (tea). You could also
to the mix which would inoculate the char with oxygen rich waters and the amazing aerobic bacteria community.
These ideas both sound amazing, unfortunately I'm out of time and money for new projects at the moment but I'm going to try both of these next year, for now I'm going add this anaerobic mud to fresh wood chips and hopefully use it this fall. Thank you
Hello, I'm wondering if anyone knows how many seasons I can expect a raised bed to hold together if I use non-cedar wood. We have a variety of maples, a little oak and lots of unidentified deciduous trees in our wood. No conifers or cedar. My goal is to slowly work an entire 1/2 acre into a heavily mulched bed that I can rotate through freely with annuals. Until that happy day though I need to add some raised beds for more delicate annuals- herbs and things that don't grow well in alkaline soil (we're at 7.8 here). I'm hoping to install a few beds and plant some things straight into our ground while also mulching very heavily on paths and any unused beds. Hopefully in 5 years or so the whole thing will have enough organic matter for flood/drought control and easier weed control that I can simply remove any leftover bed edges and have a blank canvas.
Roger Rhodes wrote:I winter chickens in the garden. This helps with everything but the bermuda grass. It has been the biggest battle. I've now added a chicken moat around 3 sides of the garden to keep new grass from creeping in and we have used a broadfork to loosen what was left in the garden. It is MUCH easier to pull then. Once we have it pretty knocked out I expect much less effort needed. I still have the option to "spot treat" with a few chickens in a small enclosure here and there in the garden throughout the growing season. I leave all the clover and other misc. beneficials in the garden until I want to work them in or let the chickens eat them.
Comfrey is good at shading out stuff too...btw
You're my hero! This is where I'm trying to head but apparently I'm a slow learner And an even slower builder..
Well, I screwed up. I was dumping our food scraps into the compost pile but not adding enough carbon for the last year. Now I have a surprisingly small amount of ultra heavy compost. It's outside and exposed so it's breakdown (and I would imagine nutrient runoff) was mostly done by critters, bugs and the elements. It is smooth (for lack of a better term) so I'd like to add it to garden beds this year, is there a way to improve its texture in the next month or should I just treat it as more of a fertilizer and spread thinly?
Time to start over! Thanks everyone
I just noticed that I totally failed to mention that the litter goes onto not in use beds.
That allows the litter plenty of time to incorporate and our beds are full of hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi as well as lots of bacteria species.
I was afraid someone was going to say this. I suppose I'll set mine aside this spring and apply this fall. I don't have any beds not in use (and promised not to increase the garden size any more next year), how should I store it?
I'm off to try and find someone to deliver expensive (but safe) compost for this year
Hello, it's the end of my first winter of deep litter bedding for the chickens and I have some questions. Aside from the top 3" it's a relatively uniform, broken down VERY heavy and dense compost. It's a little wetter than I would like (leaky barn that I haven't been able to fix) and so dense that I'm worried about how to add it in to the garden. I was hoping to use it this spring, my clay soil is desperate, but I'm worried it may still be too hot. I would be incorporating it directly into beds before planting annuals. The coop smells great, and chickens are healthy but the compost doesn't look like what I'm used too. Ideas? Thank you
I agree with the suggestions for increased ventilation and for a variety of materials, wood chips break down slowly, I suggest adding straw and wood shavings to the mix, plus whatever you have available for free (Leaves, garden wastes). The most important thing though is that if your birds aren't scratching for at least a couple hours a week you'll have to turn it yourself every day. If it was me I would not try this method without the birds turning it. Better for your back to pull it once a week and toss into a compost pile that's more convenient to work in. I have 30 birds in 120 sq feet cooped up about 1/2 the winter, there is no smell except compost smell. Happy Spring!
I'm a total newbie to cover crops and I had a moment of panic this morning. If I plant an oat/field pea mixture as a chop and drop this spring is there any chance it will it get too robust in 7ish weeks to be mowed down with my regular mower? My only options for dropping it are a small mulching mower (my first choice) or our riding mower which involves me having to rake it all back in place. I was planning to seed in around April 1st and would need to drop most of the beds around June 1st-15th to plant in veggie transplants. I'm not totally sure 6-8 weeks is even long enough to help but I have seeds to use up and with this clay any organic matter is better than nothing. Thanks from Southern Michigan Zone 6
As an update I let my 5 week chicks into the big pen today and they just rushed the nipples and started pecking away. Pushing each other right off the hay bales used to make them tall enough, it was pretty hilarious.