Monday, July 25, 2011

A Busy Time for Our Family

     Whew, between getting to three markets per week, and running a Goat's Milk Soap business, our family has been busy! 
     Farmer's Markets are a lot of work and time,  but are a lot of fun and offer us an exciting time of harvesting and marketing our produce.  If you don't know where your local farmer's markets are you can find out here
    Cucumbers are a major market item for us.  We grow long English type of cucumbers that are mild and sweet without bitterness.  Young helpers are perfect for helping to harvest more than a hundred per market!  We grow a variety from Japan.  These are trellised up to save space and to make the cucumbers straight and long.  We use diatomaceous earth- (Diatomaceous Earth is a non-toxic, safe substance made up from fossils of freshwater organisms and crushed to a fine powder) on the young plants to keep the sow bugs at bay.  The d.e. has to be reapplied each time they are watered.  This is only necessary while the plants are small.  After they reach maturity then we only have to fight the mold or virus that infects the plants through cucumber beetles. 
     We are also at markets with Basil, Spinach, Chard, Beets, lettuce, summer squash, tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, herbs; rosemary, sage, mint and chives.  And of course our handmade goat's milk soaps.
     Tomatoes are a major crop as well.  We trellis them up as well and keep the suckers trimmed off to encourage growth in the plant and to keep them healthy.  Air flow is what discourages mold growth.  We also keep the clusters of tomatoes that are set down to three per cluster.  This gives us big tomatoes and also allows the energy of the plant to continue to grow into more tomatoes. 
     Weeds, are also a major source of work on our farm.  Weeding is something that always has to be done, but we try to get ahead of weeds by doing several different things we have learned to do to keep them manageable.  We use transplanting for most all crops.  We use a tiller to prepare the soil, and then place the plants that are several inches tall into the loosened soil.  The transplant cells we use, are from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply we buy these in many different sizes.  But our most common size is the 200 cells.  We also like the 115 size for starting basil.  And use the 64 cell for many types of large plants including broccoli, pumpkins, squash, and tomatoes.
     These cells, are perfect to begin seeds in and to keep the roots air pruned and then when we are ready to transplant, we use a pencil to push up the plant from the bottoms.  The plants dislodge easily and are then planted in the cool of the evening.  We premark the rows to be planted and can do many in an evening.  If you are growing for your own family, use them in intervals, planting in small amounts every two weeks or so, depending on family size. 
    We also weed early with tools that make the job easier.  We use a large wheel hoe that is more difficult but gets a lot done at one time.
    Hand tools from the Red Pig really are very helpful.  These tools may cost more but make up for it with the quality of the work that you can accomplish
Using hand tools allows you to have more control and to have little helpers see an accomplishment as well.
    I am very convinced with our food supply being corrupted by greed and corporate take over, we all need to be growing our own food.  I have felt a need to help others to have knowledge in what makes it work easier.  Besides it being healthier to grow your own food, it is also very fulfilling and you are able to see God's hand in your life and His provision for your family :) 


Emily Needham said...

Great, Karen! What do you use to control the cucumber beetle? It's a big pest here.

MrsAshley said...

I love your site and am excited to hear about your soap!