Farm Updates & Family Garden
It’s Beth this time, as Ben has asked me to write the newsletter this week. He is trying to plant grass on newly mulched ground and round up more beef and pork.
Those of you who pick up orders at the farm know that we try to have a garden each summer. Sometimes it looks better than others, but we keep trying. Recently I saw there was a webinar entitled Homegrown Food Summit that sounded interesting, so I signed up. We already have our garden planted, but I thought maybe I could glean some tidbits going forward and maybe be able to have a fall garden as well.
One of the topics was “How to grow a year’s worth of fruits and vegetables.” The speaker was Melissa K. Norris. I enjoyed her enthusiasm and eagerness to share her victories and failures. Afterwards I looked at her website which is really great. I saw she has written a couple of books, and I have one of them (given to me by a long-time customer)…Thanks, Ms. Faye. I had read through the book before, but I guess the timing was not right for it to take root.
I know those of you who also have gardens have already planted them, but those who want to start in the fall or even next summer can maybe use these criteria for choosing your garden site.
1. You need adequate sunlight. Most plants require at least 6 hours of sunlight, and some do best with full sun. Take into consideration trees and buildings that may cast too much shadow to have at least 6 hours of sunlight.
2. How close are you to your water supply? You don’t want to have miles of hose for sprinklers that you have to move every time you mow, and you don’t want to have to haul water too far by hand.
3. Look at the slope of the ground. Level ground is best so in a heavy rain you don’t have pooling. You also don’t want to be at the bottom of a hill that runoff from a rainstorm will wash away your hard work. Also look for natural windbreaks to protect tall or tender plants.
4. Know your soil. Put your garden in the area where it is the richest, or add amendments to make your soil healthier such as compost, animal manure or fertilizer.
How do I know what to plant? Start with what your family likes and what grows well in your area. Get advice from gardeners in your area as to varieties they have had success with. Your local nurseries can also give good advice and usually carry varieties that do well in that area. Seed catalogs and seed packets will specify a region or climate zone for the varieties they carry.
The reason to have a garden in the first place is to not only eat fresh as you harvest, but also to enjoy your harvest year-round from your pantry or freezer. Select what to plant also by how well the item can be preserved.
Start with a couple of items and add one or two items every year. Start out small so you don’t get overwhelmed and then you will be eager to plant more next year, building on that knowledge.
If you absolutely cannot plant a garden, you can buy in bulk from fruit/vegetable stands and/or U-Picks. However, be sure to ask how they were raised to make sure you are OK with the practices used.
The website www.MelissaKNorris.com is full of great information. She also has worksheets to help you plan what to plant and how much you need to plant. If you don’t have a garden for this summer, use this time to prepare your garden site and be ready for next summer!
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