Ghostwood Farm

Starts for sale!
May 1, 2014, 1:07 pm
Filed under: Farming, Veggies | Tags: , , ,

We will have several varieties of plant starts for sale soon. The peppers are coming on a bit slower than the tomatoes, but the soil here in southern Indiana is still a bit chilly and I for one don’t plan to move my peppers and tomatoes outside until the week of 18 May this year, a week later than usual. The peppers may go out a bit later than that, even. You know the old adage: “There’s nothing more productive than a June garden!”

I have provided links¬†for each variety, mostly to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, from whom I buy most of my seeds. Many of them are quite limited in availability, and all are first come, first served. I will have starts at the Smithville Farmer’s Market the first few weeks (17, 24, and probably 31 May). Starts will be $1 each for the bigger ones, 2/$1 for smaller ones (at my discretion).¬† If you see something here you want, contact me to see if the variety is still available.

Here’s what we have:

Bell Peppers

Hot Peppers

Paste Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Full-sized Tomatoes


Let’s go to beds, I: The trouble with corn.
May 14, 2012, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Farming, Veggies

I’m thinking a lot about the beds these days. The farm beds, that is, not the beds inside the house. Well, I’m thinking a lot about MY bed, too, but that’s another issue.

The farm is planted in beds. Most of the beds to this point (12 total) are four feet wide by 100 feet long. The first four run north-south, the rest run east-west. This is because as I planned last year’s beds, I realized that tall plants in north-south beds have the potential to shade shorter plants in adjacent beds. So I plant short stuff there. Lesson learned.

One of the four foot, N-S beds is planted to asparagus (250 plants). Asparagus is a long-lived perennial (which means it comes back year after year), so it needs to be in an out of the way spot. It was my northernmost bed until last fall, when I put in another bed to the north of it (for 250 more asparagus plants, which will be planted next year). However, I couldn’t afford 250 more plants this spring, so I put it in peas to fix a bit of nitrogen, with an eye toward next year.

Many people use beds that are four feet wide, so that the entire bed can be weeded, harvested, cultivated, etc. from one side, without having to walk in them. However, last year I put in an 8-foot bed for corn, because if corn isn’t planted densely enough, it won’t get fully pollinated, and the ears won’t fill out entirely. Well, my 8-foot bed was not wide enough. The field corn did not fill out, some of the ears remaining completely devoid of kernels.

The other contributing factor to the corn problem is that I planted it in the Native American style–corn, beans, and squash planted in hills together. This means that there were only 4 or 5 corn plants across the bed–not enough to ensure proper pollination. The field and sweet corn did poorly, though the popcorn did okay.

This year I’ve planted over half a pound of popcorn seed, plus two field corns and two sweet corns. I’ve planted them in 8-foot beds, 8 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. I expect much better pollination this year. In addition, the squash will get its own beds this year, though I think I will be planting pole beans among the corn to reduce my trellising effort (the beans climb the corn stalks).

You want some of this corn meal, don't you?

You want some of this corn meal, don’t you? Green cornbread? Green tortillas? Nice!

I’ll post more later on additional bed concerns.

Baby, it’s COLD outside.
February 12, 2012, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Chickens, Farming, Veggies

I am working on a post regarding the diversity of chicken breeds that we have on the farm, which I will hopefully have posted in the next day or two. I just wanted to post an update on the weather:

It is COLD.

I was starting to get nervous. It has been raining all winter, and warm. The snow we have now, barely a dusting, is the first of the year that has stuck around for more than a few hours. I ordered and received my seeds for the coming season about two weeks ago. With the weather warm and the ground muddy, I was starting to feel pinched for time, like I should be considering planting the spinach, lettuce, and peas. Now, with the ground frozen hard and the temperature not forecast to warm up to freezing for a few days, I feel a bit relieved.

I DO have time, I DO.

I remain concerned about this spring, though. Last spring was so wet that I couldn’t plant or till properly until well into April. Our clayey soil does not drain well, so water stays and stays. It’s a blessing in the heat of the summer, but a curse in the spring. And so far, this spring is shaping up to be as wet as last.

As for the chickens, they deal with the cold very well. Their coop is warm at night, or at least warmer than outside. It’s ventilated but very well walled off from wind, and 50 birds keep it warmer than one might think. I get a bit worried about some of the single-combed roosters, because frostbite is a concern for them. In general, though, they eat more feed and forage less for themselves when it’s cold and snowy…so I prefer it to be a bit warmer!

Water is another issue. Yesterday the temperature reached only the mid-20s. Their water was frozen solid when I let them out in the morning. They managed to keep it open during the day, but my rain barrel’s spigot is also frozen, so I must bring them a five gallon bucket of water in the morning. I have a heated waterer, but it leaks faster than they drink it, and anyway it’s only three gallons–they drink about 4 gallons a day.

This morning, I took them a five gallon bucket of hot water and put it on the fount base, which was crusted with yesterday’s ice. They immediately run to the water when they get out in the mornings. The birds that are lower on the pecking order (yes, pecking orders really do exist) run outside and eat snow. Apparently, making eggs is thirsty work.

Finally, as I fed the birds this morning, I heard a hen in the barn, behind the hay. I look back there daily for eggs–with the loose hay it seems an obvious nesting place–and have never seen any. Today, apparently I looked closer than usual, and under some styrofoam, in what can only be described as more of a tunnel than a nest, I found 34 egg-cicles. I don’t know how old they are, but they were frozen solid, many of them cracked. That’s $8.50 worth! This is the wonder of free-range chickens: They lay wherever they want, and it’s up to me to find them.

Tonight, I will boil those 34 eggs and feed them back to the chickens. They love eggs. I try not to think about it.