Welcome to Oklahoma. What brings you south?
There are many publications dealing with agriculture here in Oklahoma but they are all directed toward big ag. I am still new to this field so there is surely more out there that I am not aware of. Check out thislandpress.com. They also do a radio show on Sundays on KOSU, our local NPR radio station out of Stillwater. I am not sure if you will be able to pick up KOSU in Cyril. Other than that I would look into Transition OKC and the Oklahoma Food COOP. I hope that helps get you started. Look me up when you get to Oklahoma.
After completing the Southern IL Food Network's Farm Beginnings course, my lady and I began to look for land here in earnest. At which point, I was bribed by my family with 10 FREE!!! acres. With the option of buying another contiguous 10 acres each year, to the limit of 160 acres. So as soon as I graduate (and sell my trailer) we're packing up the family and headed south.
Craig Nabors wrote:I have 30 acres in Stillwater and hope to start a small scale farm this coming year. This has been a dream of mine for years and it is finally coming to fruition. I have been really impressed with Allan Savory's Holistic Management and I am now getting turned onto permaculture design as I try to set up a production system on my land. Currently I am reading Dave Jacke's Edible Forest Gardens. My wife and I are also building a small cob cottage now as an experiment and we hope to eventually build a larger home in the next few years. I would love to share ideas with anyone here in Oklahoma and see if we can't come up with better ways to produce food.
Hey Craig, I work on an off grid organic farm about an hour north of Stillwater. I'm starting to implement permaculture techniques this year (hugelkulture, wood chips, solar drip irrigation). My gal and I are also familiar with cob. I would like to know all kinds of info about what you grow, how you water, what varieties do well in our area, etc. There is so much to learn from experience and I've only been at it a few years. We have done a few markets but not Stillwater's because it's quite bureaucratic. Went to school and played in bands there though. Let me know how the summer is going for you thus far.
However in recent years I've improved my diet (eating more vegetables), lost a lot of weight, and gotten more interested in what grows on this land. I've started to carve walkable paths through the jungle bits, and am paying a lot more attention to to wild edibles. This fall after a chance encounter with a deliciously-bearing Persimmon tree, I got serious about surveying the property for useful trees. I found *dozens* more persimmon trees, plus a huge grove of ancient native pecan trees that are now so overgrown you can't get inside the drip lines without a machete and a chainsaw. I also discovered unexpected delicacies like passion-fruit, after literally stepping on them and wondering what the popping noise was.
Without ever having heard of permaculture, I kept mulling the notion that this land (for all its flaws, which are many -- barren oil production areas, aridity, poor thin soil, a legacy of erosion from poorly-managed grazing leases, thorns on *everything*, ticks, poisonous critters) is green and covered with vegetation. Surely there must be some way for a lazy man (I'm not carrying water buckets) to get useful things to grow beyond the range of his garden hose? My mother was a 1970s back-to-the-lander with a Mother Earth News magazine in one hand and a Rodale Press magazine ("Organic Gardening" or "Prevention") in the other, so I was raised with organic gardening. But it's a lot of work! I got to thinking: can't I just tweak what's already growing, find native species of tasty things that can compete with the weeds and thorns and survive on the limited rain and surface water? I started Googling about that, and it didn't take me long to start discovering permaculture notions.
That was a couple of months ago. I'm still reading and learning, and going out every day to play on the land. Mostly I've been clearing around my most promising pecan tree -- an enormous job with hand tools (all I have). But I'm gearing up to plant a few fruit trees this spring and to start all kinds of drought-tolerant annuals from seed, sneaking them into various little holes in the existing vegetation that I'll create and seeing what, if anything, is capable of thriving. I'm also seeding mulch plants under my pecan tree (clover for the nitrogen, some root veggies to bring up nutrients) and I've got my eye on a spot for a thicket of sand plums if I can get some transplants to take in that location. Baby steps, baby steps, too much to learn and too many years of neglect to address all at once with a pruner and an axe and a shovel and a mattock.
Great site and hope to keep coming back.
Any suggestions gratefully received!
Dan Boone wrote:Does anybody here in Oklahoma know where I can find a publicly accessible population of Arundinaria gigantea (cane) where it would be OK for me to dig some rhizomes for transplanting? The distribution map here shows it just two counties south, but I hate to set off on a road trip hunting for the stuff without any specific tips on where to find it.
Any suggestions gratefully received!
There is a lot of it in the Coyle area, we routinely go foraging for it in Jackie Dill's wildcrafting group (more info on the outings at http://www.oklahomawildcrafting.com/ )
My yard projects are doing fairly well, after quite a few setbacks. The tornado didn't help much ... I had one new tree literally disappear, it had just been planted and is probably in the next county somewhere. But it's been a remarkably mild spring and my other trees and plantings are doing great, if I can only keep up with the weeds ...
This year I'm trying to get some patches of cover crops going to give the nibblers some alternatives to my plantings and to help with weed suppression and soil improvement. I've been doing a lot of soil working in small patches where I'm planting a lot of tree seeds, and I'm working cover crop seeds into those planting areas so that even if the tree seeds fail or get eaten/browsed, my work will at least create patches of cover crops instead of the weeds (last year ragweed was king at my place) that normally flourish.
My problem has been finding cover crop seeds on the scale of "a few pounds". Gardener-sized retail packaging is too expensive, and "feed/seed store" places around here tend to sell by the fifty-pound-sack direct to farmers, without even bothering with retail storefronts or smaller quantities. What little planting I've done has perforce been with seeds from small-scale mail order (clover seeds), culinary seeds (mustards, grocery-story sprouting seeds of daikon and a few other things) and a few food grains and legumes. Those have all been on the order of a few ounces each, and it hasn't been enough for the scale I am working at.
I know I could find a feed/seed store in OKC or Tulsa that could meet my needs and sell seed by the pound from a retail storefront, but I don't get there often and I'm usually with other people who aren't interested in this errand.
The purpose of this post is to tell folks here in central Oklahoma that I've found a decent source in Shawnee. S & S Farm Center, on Beard Ave in Shawnee, near the big white Shawnee Mills facility by the railroad tracks, has a pretty good variety of seeds in open 50-pound sacks for sale by the pound, or pre-bagged on site in one and five pound bags. They have about six different kinds of clover, forage radish, a turnip, field peas, rapeseed, sugar beet, hairy vetch, a couple different kinds of ryegrass, a field corn, and probably half a dozen things I'm forgetting. The most expensive thing I saw was the Durhanna Clover and the sugar beet seed, both of which were in the $6-$7 per pound range. The cheapest was the field peas, which were a buck a pound. I spent about twenty bucks and came away with a ridiculous volume of seeds that I've been wanting.
They also sell a good range of heavy galvanized hardware cloth (and chicken wire) in various sizes, mostly packaged in small rolls 10' to 25' long. I got some for making tree protection devices.
The rest of the store is heavy on pet supplies, horsey stuff, and sacks of feed for various farm critters. Despite being a fairly small store the selection seemed better than at the Atwoods stores I've visited in Ada and Norman and Shawnee. Way less large tools and equipment and random housewares, but a very deep inventory on the stuff for feeding and caring for and doctoring your animals.
We've got clay and dust - so last year was 3 raised lasagna garden beds and this year is a 25x25' patch that has layers of mulch, hay, and leaf clippings. I'll add some more soil and manure when the snow gives way to decent temps.
We had some great results last year except that we didn't plant enough okra, beans, or cucumbers to have more than a handful at a time. The squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and spaghetti squash did great.
I'm looking forward to adding some beneficial insect attracting flowers and doing some companion planting. I've had very little luck finding internet info on which plants do best in Zone 7 / Oklahoma. I welcome all ideas!!
Good to meet you all!
About half way through last summer I got a dehydrator and discovered a way to make really tasty kale chips. I was congratulating myself on having planted a surplus of kale, and right then a bug infestation showed up and ate all of my kale plants down to nothing.
Moral: you never can be sure you planted enough of anything!
It all started when I couldn't afford a lousy $4 for a bag of nitrogen ....
That was many years ago. The nitrogen never hit the ground. I have great soil on a residential property a stone's throw from Stillwater. After tinkering for a few years, my favorite garden plots are:
swales and berms
I recently leveled this 1/6th acre by hand and am starting from scratch with a site plan. I have gentle erosion problems. Swales. Berms. Trees. Shrubs. Sometimes I wonder if a spring will not pop up after so many years because all the storm water run off from three sides of the problem flow under and over the soil.
A huge elm tree rests below my storm shelter. We must use a sump pump to keep it down to 1/4" of water on the floor. It's a great example of natural water retention. I try to imagine the entire lot in this fashion with the right growies and swales and berms on contour.
Hopefully, this year, I'll be able to implement some grey water diversion, rainwater capture for potable water and gardening on contour.
My biggest challenge is that my grading is all over the place.
When I was in my 20s I traveled Asia, and got to see how things are grown in India and China. This made me both more and less afraid of using urine and human feces. I now know how it can be done well and how not to do it (got dysentery twice). I also brought back a bunch of seeds for my favorite Chinese vegetables. For the past three years I have been adapting Yard long beans, bitter melon, winter melon, Shanghai greens, 2 different types of onions and 4 different types of cabbages to the Oklahoma climate with a good amount of success. I've collected a ton of seeds (especially Chinese cabbage seeds) if anyone wants to try.