Ghostwood Farm


Vegetables

In 2011, we planted test crops, basically, to see how different crops would do in essentially un-amended soil. It was a very hot, very dry summer (the new norm?), so some did very well (corn), some did not (potatoes).

Our annual plants are grown in beds of varying width, 4 to 10 feet wide, by 100 feet long. This makes it easier to get around (with walkways every few feet) and makes planning easier. We amend the soil with chicken bedding, composted horse manure, and some purchased compost. One of the primary items on my “to do” list is to track down a regular source of manure for the beds.

Our topsoil is not terrible here, but it is fairly shallow (6-12″) and has a heavy clay component. Once you get through the topsoil, it’s pure clay. It does not drain well, so crop selection is important as we build the soil with more and more organic material.

We planted 250 asparagus starts last year, which will be ready for one harvest this spring. We plan to plant another 250 starts this spring.

Right now, we have five beds prepped, plus the two asparagus beds. This spring I will be tilling/installing as many more beds as I can. Wet springs make it difficult, because the tiller gets bogged down in the poorly-draining clay soil. That is why we have so few beds right now–last spring was ridiculously wet.

We do not use any chemical fertilizers, nor do we use herbicides or pesticides. For some crops (notably the cabbage family) we may need to pursue organic pesticides, as cabbage butterfly caterpillars absolutely shred cabbage, collards, etc.

The one acre plot is enclosed in a six foot tall, five strand electric fence. This is due to the high deer populations in the area. As long as I bait the fence with peanut butter (so that the deer get shocked on their sensitive noses), it works like a charm. It is completely solar powered. Rabbits, however, are another issue, as they can get under the bottom strand of the fence. We have not yet determined a solution to this problem, but they can be murder on beans, peas, etc.

In 2011, the only produce we sold was a few summer squash and a bunch of watermelons. I hope to be much more successful in 2012!


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