Monday, November 17, 2008

Over four inches!

From 111708


Our Broccoli was happy to see the rain!

Cold weather on the way...

From 111708


Broccoli with cereal rye and vetch cover crop beyond.

From 111708


Close up of rye with vetch. Rye acts as a good biomass addition to the soil, while vetch (a legume) fixes atmospheric nitrogen via rhizobium spp. bacteria contained in root nodules. This makes for a great cover crop by growing fertilizer and preventing run-off in our cool season downpours.

From 111708


The barn is nearing completion.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rain Rain and More Rain

We just had some drought relief come on Thursday through Friday in the form of almost 5 inches of rain. Things were still looking fairly wet as of last night. We will see how things have dried out Monday morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Fall

Well we are now fully immersed in Fall. Blue Clays first fall is going great. We just pulled out the fall zucchini crop and hidden under the foliage is the inter plantings of fava beans, carrots and some early field lettuces. I uncovered a few friends hiding in some of the old compost and have spotted a 4 point buck twice out in the day time. We have also added a beehive to the gardens to help pollinate the crops and also provide some seasonal honey! The volunteer effort has made this first year and second season a success. Thanks to Kate, Melissa, Kevin and Amy for all the support!


Just found out that the snake is a eastern kingsnake and the toad is a southern toad. Both good animals to have around the farm. The kingsnake will eat mice and rats and the toads eat some of the little buggers that we don't want on the plants.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fall is Here

It has been a while since my last post. Fall is finally here with relief in temperatures for us all. We are transitioning to fall crops and getting ready for the winter greens (cabbage, collards, lettuce etc.). We are planting some of the overwintering covercrops of Rye and Vetch and about to till in the last of the summer covers. Peppers and eggplant are still producing and our fall brocolli is right around the corner with some late season dill, fennel and basil that will be making their way to our local resturaunts and shops. The barn foundation is to be poured soon will will make the farm experience much more efficient! Here are some images from recent changes around the farm with more to come soon.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Recent Photos

We have discovered many things after removing all the johnson grass from our water logged fields. Japanese eggplant, basil, tomatoes, beans zucchini and more! Come see us at market dowtown on saturday. It will be in the bank parking lot adjoining the 8th and Reynold's location due to a wedding.

Sunday, July 6, 2008



Blue Clay creates pesticide-free, chemical-free farm in North Augusta subdivision
Growing together
By Rob Pavey Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
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NORTH AUGUSTA --- Brian Gandy gets rid of weeds the old-fashioned way.
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Michael Snyder/Staff
These organically grown tomatoes are from Blue Clay Farm. The farm is free of chemical weed killers and pesticides, Mr. Gandy said.
Click photo for options
"We pull them," he said, strolling between tomato vines at one of the area's most unusual gardens.
As manager of Blue Clay Farm at the Hammond's Ferry community, Mr. Gandy's mission is to develop one of the region's first organic farms.
Chemical weed killers, he said, are strictly off limits -- as are the array of pesticides used on conventional farms.
"We do use bag fertilizer, but it would come from chickens -- or dairy products," he said. "It has to be something that's not chemical-based."
The farm is a part of Hammond's Ferry's mission to blend a clean environment with a sustainable lifestyle, said project manager Turner Simkins.
The farming experiment occupies about two acres of previously unused land beneath power lines.
"You could call it an amenity," Mr. Simkins said. "But it's much more than a tennis court."
The absence of chemical pesticides makes the garden more comfortable for toads and ladybugs, which in turn consume some of the less friendly bugs, such as aphids and white flies.
"We also have a lot of dragonflies and damselflies," Mr. Gandy said. "To us, they are the cavalry -- the good guys."
On the other end of the scale, one of the least welcome visitors is the tomato horn worm -- a thumb-sized monster of a caterpillar that can defoliate entire tomato plants in a single day.
They must be removed by hand -- a task that Mr. Gandy and his girlfriend, Kate Lee, undertake almost daily, along with other chores.
Along the outer borders are "trap crops," such as sweet basil, that lure bad bugs away from vegetable plants.
Rows of globe amaranth and other flowering annuals round out the equation by providing colorful blooms for cuttings, and for luring insects needed to pollinate the vegetables.
Part of the organic approach is to build soil quality through crop rotation, composting and the use of cover crops that later can be plowed back into the dirt as soil conditioner.
"You're basically growing your own fertilizer," he said.
The farm was designed to become a commercial venture that will supply local markets and restaurants with organically grown produce, Mr. Gandy said, noting that its customers already include local restaurants and visitors to Augusta's Saturday Market.
Though the concept of organic farming is a lesson in simplicity, the process of becoming certified through the National Organic Program to market organically grown produce is complex.
The criteria include inspections, detailed record keeping and other details, including a stipulation that at least three years have elapsed since any chemical pesticide or herbicide applications were made to the soil, Mr. Simkins said.
In the meantime, as Blue Clay Farm evolves and moves toward certification, it will also be enjoyed by residents, who can learn from its organic processes and enjoy the produce grown in their own back yard.
"People get a benefit, a peace of mind, knowing there are no synthetic pesticides in what they're eating," Mr. Simkins said.
"It's also something local. Knowing where your produce is coming from is almost as important as being organic."
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Blue Clay In the News

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/070208/met_464239.shtml



Friday, June 20, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slide Show Update



Here we have the latest from Blue Clay Farm. We have some squash, tomatoes, flowers and plenty of foliage coming in. Basil, beans, eggplant and okra are soon to follow.
In the slideshow are examples of some of the preventative and combative measures that we can use in organic farming. These are neem oil based products which can be very effective. The one on the left contains some salts that have more "knock down" power than just neem itself. Neem oil itself acts as a good deterrant due to its scent and oily nature.
Also included in the slides is a stitch job on our fence around the back field. We finally had some interlopers try and test the wall. At least one (possibly two) deer were able to invade our plastic fortress. They jumped over, just at our water service and near the gate. Whoever went first did not clear the fence and go caught up in the top half. Following their prints, it seems like they got inside and were rattled by the tangling experience. Something then spooked our split hooved friends to run directly across the raised beds and the whole field then straight through the adjacent side from entering. What does this mean? Hopefully they won't want to tangle with our fortitude again! We have repaired the wounds and added some human and animal scents around the border to help deter these galloping cubed steaks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Progress






These photos come courtesy of Justin Oguni who is in Vet Med at UGA. We have both of these on the farm. Damsel Flies and Dragon Flies are both beneficial insects to have around and good indicators of an areas general biological health.
-Thanks for the pics Justin. These guys are hard to get on film!





We received a load of compost from Humble Acre Organics and top dressed all of our tomatoes, cukes and squash. So far, the results look promising. The compost helps hold water that is delivered via drip tape near the base of the plant. At the same time it provides a multitude of beneficial substancess to the plant in a slow release organic form.


Due to the intense heat this week, we applied some sunscreen for our transplants. Again, kaolin, comes into play here at Blue Clay. The White substance on the plant pictured is micronized kaolin. It acts as a heat reflectant and provides some repellent action against certain pests such as leafhoppers. Protection from sunburn and insects. It is calles Surround WP and is available through most organic material suppliers.



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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Here we grow

It has been very busy since our last post. All of the tomatoes are finally in the ground. The first ones mentioned in the last post are responding very well to the river silt soil and organic mineral ammendments. We hope that everyone who has been able to coordinate some fresh veggies, has had the chance to enjoy them. We now have a most recent update with four different types of beans(some purple!), more fingerling potatoes(which are sorted for thumb size and for medium. So if there is any preference for one size or the other, please let us now in your orders). We have picked up another full case of honey from our friends over at Empire Tree on Gordon Hwy. It is available in 8, 12, 16 and 24oz sizes. Vidalia Onions are still bountiful. Ask your neighbors how good they are.
Blue Clay Farm now has a table at the Saturday market in Augusta. Last weekend was our inaugural market. It was exciting to meet such an eclectic group and find people who were interested in local and organic produce.
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We are very fortunate to have this opportunity and look forward to keeping it up and bringing our own produce as we harvest it.
Thanks for looking. Come see us on saturday!
http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/M22737

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Drip Irrigation 101

Blue Clay uses drip rather than overhead irrigation for several reasons.
-No water on the leaves reduces disease pressure
-It allows regulation of the amount of water to every plant
-Much higher effiency than overhead irrigation
-More water to the plants and less to neighboring weeds, means less work for backs down the road!


The first couple of rows were installed today on our drip system.









Monday, May 12, 2008

Irrigation

We started on the irrigation today after having the spigots (spickets) recently installed. The order, post-spigot, is filter (80 mesh), pressure regulator (15 psi for drip tape), splitter (for zone distribution), and then barb fittings to run to the 3/4" header off of. We are putting down tape, putting up fence, then putting plants in the ground!


Rotary Plow


This is the blade for the rotary plow. Notice the little teeth on the end. Georgia soil is notoriously tough. I talked to Earth Tools about these teeth wearing out. He said that you can flip them four times before they wear out completely. I told him that I had figured that out. He mentioned a man in WI that had used one set for a year. I went through one in 9 hours.
We are now beta testing some carbide tipped teeth from the manufacturer. More to come on that experiment...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 1st to 11th update


Still moving... The composter made the journey finally


Picked up transplants from Gaia Gardens!!!


Eggplant with a little flea beetle damage. No problem.


Tomatoes of all kinds. Brandywine, San Marzano, Striped German, Big Beef, Sungold, Matt's Wild Cherry, and more!!!


Peppers- Poblano, Pizza (jalepeno), Corno di Toro and California Orange and Red


Here I am, experimenting with some extremely raised beds. Look at the size of those!!!

That's All for now. Got to go get ready for a week of planting!!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Progress Update April 15th-30th

This will be presented in a stream of consciousness format, to effectively reiterate the scribbled contents of the little notepad that has been used for a daily journal. (pocket docket kept in the visor of my truck).

4-15
Gravel Spread in greenhouse
Lunch w/ Todd
Mission statement
Toured site w/ Monica and John

4-16
Tilled
Builder's Guild Mtg
Finished Field
Swapped out tiller for scrape blade to spread gravel around greenhouse

4-17
Cleaned barbed wire and bailing twine out of tiller tines
Staff Mtg
Called Ricky
Lunch w/ Bobby and Todd
Started compost

4-18
Office
Priced irrigation
Purchased tape and taps from Flora
Drove to Woodland Gardens in Athens to pick up some Fertrell 4-2-4 feed n gro fertilizer

4-21
Met w/ Todd
Moved worm bed to H.F.
Lunch with Kate

4-22
Earth Day
Checked on worms. (all good as I recall. Some ants moved in. Nothing a little Diatomaceous earth can't fix!)
Earth Tools order snafu
office work
P.O. for Grosouth
Meeting with members from Golden Harvest Food Bank

4-23
Purchases/Budgeting
Aiken Organics called back!

4-24
Greenhouse finished!
Lunch w/ Todd
Compost addition
Picked up fert from the Bistro
Called Aiken Organics

4-25
Talked to Turner about sound
Picked up supplies at Aiken Organics
Picked up compostables
Got audio equipment from Bell Auditorium (the same day as Blood, Sweat and Tears!)
Worked Sound for Andy Leftwich and Cody Gilbert (of Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder)

4-28
Johnny's Seed order placed
GroSouth contact Q and A
Honey extractor! (free honey extractor from a nice old man in Dearing)

4-29
Staff mtg (talked some about displays for gardens)
Assembled Trailer from Earthtools for the BCS
Helped Bobby and Will move stuff
First Go round with the rotarty plow

4-30
Soil amendments on fields 6 and 7
Ran rotary plow for many hours until surveyors spike was found, dug and thrown! No mas energy...

Photos


Here goes the beginnings of the Blue Clay greenhouse (obviously built up on some imported red clay, blue clays arch nemesis)


Now with shutters and fan mounted.
I told y'all this was going to be thorough!


Here is the BCS 852 in all its glory. And posing with the lovely 30 inch tiller attached to the PTO.


The chipper! Great for shredding our scraps for compost/mulch.


Greenhouse with plastic on and tables moved outside for the addition of gravel. If this experiences could be repeated, put in gravel before plastic and save your back some work. Scheduling was not available in this case.


Seriously, put the gravel in first, then the plastic!


The aforementioned rotary plow at work, only unlike the video, in some Southern soil. It will take a little while before the soil is built well enough to fluff right up. This is using it for primary soil preparation. In the future, this tool will and should only be used for bed making and ditch digging. This was done to help improve drainage and make it easier to create those wonderful raised beds. The depth of plow is around 16-18 inches which is crucial for soil loosening. In the future conservation tillage will be utilized to protect the soil structure that will be built by proper management.


This is the BCS with the rotary plow attached. The picture does not do justice. You can see the trail behind it though which looks like a little tasmanian devil just came through!


Earthway spreader. Essential for adding amendments and lime. ONLY FOR USE WITH OMRI LISTED OR NOP APPROVED MATERIALS. This is to stay within the guidelines for USDA certification which we are gearing up for. This involves a detailed record keeping regime and proper equipment etiquette(i.e. pressure washing machines and materials that have had any contact with conventional or synthetic materials) to stay within the rules.

That's it for now!

More to come soon...

Welcome to Blue Clay Farm

I figured that since the farm is being from the ground up that a log should be kept up and in a year or two could contain a lot of good information and would help out immensely in remembering every step of the way. There has been much going on in the forms of planning and procurement for this operation.

Blue Clay is the proud owner of a BCS 852 walk-behind tractor that was purchased recently from a local. Lucky for us, as we were able to obtain it for a reasonable price with a few major implements. These include a sickle bar mower, chipper, 30" tiller, mowing sulky and a 5500 watt generator. Those who are interested may visit http://www.earthtoolsbcs.com/ to find out all about these nifty machines. It is the weapon of choice for many organic soil wranglers. We have since purchased a single discharge rotary plow (video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de7vMFasJEU) which is an awesome tool for doing primary soil preparations and also for forming raised beds.
In preparation last year, the Hammond's Ferry Foundation purchased a Jaderloon 14 x 40 hoop house for the farm. The power is now hooked up and the thermostat is running properly. There is a 32" exhaust fan and a 20" HAF.
Anything I have forgotten will be brought up in day to day posts as they occur.

-Thanks for Visiting