Dave Ruggiero

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since Oct 05, 2018
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fungi homestead urban
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Recent posts by Dave Ruggiero

I think N Murray covered most of what I would say. Peppers like it hot, so even if you don't have heat mats for everything inside, you should have one for peppers. It'll make a big difference. They are the earliest thing that I start here in Pennsylvania's Zone 6, now that I'm not growing commercially and don't start onions from seed anymore. They take a long time to get going. I planted them last week (Feb 5) in anticipation of transplanting around the 1st of May.

Peppers don't like a lot of nitrogen once they're going (as mentioned above). They'll grow giant amounts of green shoots and leaves, get to be six feet high, and take their sweet time making any fruit. If you've been taking good care of your soil in general I wouldn't bother putting any other fertilizer on there when growing peppers. (Obviously if you have a conventional farm that just treats soil as a sponge to temporarily hold nutrients in you'll need some sort of fertilizer, but a backyard garden that's got lots of compost and worms in it should be fine already). This is sometimes the problem when people say peppers take forever to fruit - their soil is too fertile and the peppers grow like crazy without making any fruit.

Depending on the sturdiness of your plants (the pinching off will help) you may decide you want to trellis them. They won't need it if they get a lot of wind exposure early on and don't have too much fertility in the soil, but if they start to get long and leggy you might as well not let them get killed - put a couple little tomato cages or something over them so they don't blow over after getting heavy with peppers.

Hi Michelle, one more word of advice, you indicated two options in your original post - set out now on your own homestead or keep farming at your current location. Don't rule out finding another farm to work on. I apprenticed for five years at one farm before starting my own and I learned an unbelievable amount in the process, but looking back, it might have been a better idea to move on to another place at some point before setting out on my own. It amazed me how differently crops grew on my own land just thirty miles from the spot where I apprenticed, and working with someone new will help you get an idea what the range of management possibilities are rather than what might just have been your original teacher's quirks. So many farmers have a few tasks that they just always do on their own because they enjoy them and that they then forget to teach their apprentices. It really is helpful to get a range of ideas.

If that's not an option, see if there's any sort of farming network group in your area that you can use to go to classes, workshops, or field days. That'll help you get to see what others are doing and maybe help you meet some local people doing similar things too.
3 months ago
I know that lambs quarters are pretty common in commercial microgreens mixes - you should definitely be able to use them.

Michelle, how do you set up your winter radish and buckwheat? Are you growing them as shoots and eating them  as soon as they sprout, or are you growing microgreens to the point where they have a couple true leaves and need some light?
3 months ago
I transplanted some lettuce into my asparagus bed this summer, around the time I stopped harvesting them in early June. It's a fertile, somewhat shaded spot that I need to keep weeded anyway, so I figure I might as well put something there that can't handle the full July sun. This was the first year I tried it but they turned out pretty well.

You can straw mulch asparagus or not, based on your priorities, just remember that the soil temperature is what triggers them to start coming up in the spring. So if you leave the soil bare in the spring, it'll warm up fast, and you'll get that delicious early asparagus when garden crops are otherwise really sparse (often around April 20 here in PA). If you mulch, you'll cut down on the weeds, but your asparagus will come up later (although it'll also stay productive later into June).  Of course the slope of your land and a bunch of other factors affecting how easily you can leave soil bare for a few weeks may come into play there as well.

4 months ago