Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Time and the Livings Busy

So Much change in a month. I will have new pictures to put up soon. Thanks to Lush Life Nurseries this weekend for the open house. Tomato sandwiches, Crinums and a hundred or so of our combined favorite friends.

In the Ground:
Okra, White Acre Peas, Mixed assortment of Heirloom tomatoes, Lots of mixed peppers both sweet and hot, 2nd round of squash, Celosia, Buckwheat and Sorghum(covercrops)

Our tomatoes and peppers have been all No-Till and are looking pretty fair so far.
Winter cover crop (cereal rye and vetch)> mowed and mulched> poultry litter and Calphos additions> bermuda straw layer> 1 month of solarization with clear plastic> 5oz woven fabric mulch with drip line underneath> cut fabric, amend and plant through fabric.
So Far so good. We have some good green tomatoes already hanging on our cedar trellis. Anytime now...

We finally got some rain after about a 3 week drought in the garden so I got to hit the rain delay on the irrigation controller for the first time this season.

Irrigation is now officially being run off of the solar panels and battery bank. Cross your fingers that it doesn't malfunction in this crucial transplant and hot period. Again, so far so good.

More to come. It's amazing how quickly the summer can get by.

Favorite Fresh Food: Canary Melons from Walker Farms. If you've never had one, then you should. They made a melon eater out of me :) Water melons are also in full force!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homage to the Alliums

In addition to an excellent garlic harvest, here are a few things going on around the farm and homestead.


One better than a Caveman solar oven. Wheel barrow, Reflective heat wrap, and pane of glass being used to experimentally pasteurize coffee grounds for Oyster Mushroom Production. More to come on that later...

First summer squash picking. Tastes like Summer...

ELEPHANT GARLIC (spelled big because it IS big)

Shallots. These are my first attempt at growing and now curing shallots. Grilled some fresh last night with some Tink's Beef Goat Gouda topped burger patties and sauteed Costata Romanesco Zucchinni and Elephant Garlic, Shallots and Onions. And some Fingerlings Potatoes ala Walker Farms to boot. It is meals like this that make the gardening life worthwhile.

We will have freed up quite a bit of Real-Estate at NF when the potatoes come out of the ground next week. Now for a late Spring and Early summer jump on more tomatoes, squash peppers okra and white acre peas. YUMMM

Monday, May 24, 2010

Central Park Community Garden Grand Opening

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Central Park Community Garden Grand Opening this past Saturday Morning. Mother Nature Christened the park with a nice little shower during our ceremony and brought the sun out for the festivities and demonstrations. A fellow gardener brought her camera and caught some images and footage of the day.

From CPCG Grand Opening

Composting Demonstration Parts on and Two

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Favorite References

I thought I would post up some of my favorite reference sites that I visit for information:

For first and last frost dates, plus a myriad of other weather history information in GA.

GA Automated Environmental Weather Monitoring Network

Rodale's Pricing Page- How much will your produce fetch?

UGA pdf Publications One of my favorites from my Alma Mater. Scroll down to horticulture then to Vegetables for gardening information. Also, there is plenty of other information for browsing.

ATTRA- the mother of all information organic. Everything from Organic Asparagus Production to Chicken Tractoring.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fungus Among Us

Last week a friend and I knocked out some work that has been in the works for a few months now. We inoculated approximately 40 logs each with Shiitake mushroom spawn.
From Shiitake Logs

Here is part of the collection in the bed of my truck. I purchased 4 different strains from Field and Forest. Some warm weather and some wide range varieties to help spread the harvest throughout the year.

From Shiitake Logs

WW44 aka Warm Weather 44
From Shiitake Logs

Sawdust spawn using a palm style inoculation tool is the most economic long term method.
From Shiitake Logs

We used wax from our beehives to seal the inoculated holes.
From Shiitake Logs

From Shiitake Logs

Another specialty piece of equipment that helped with efficiency. This stops the drill bit at one inch depth. It is essential because each log has about 50 holes in it. Next time I think I will opt for the angle grinder drill bit conversion to speed up the process.

From Shiitake Logs

Now we wait. The hard part is done. The logs will rest for 3-6 months and then get repositioned to start the fruiting process. Right now they are stacked log cabin style and will get moved to "A-frame" stacks to allow for easier access to the fruits.

Next project is to use the spent coffee grounds from the New Moon Cafe
to grow some Oyster mushrooms off of.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Full Spring

We used and old rabbit coop to screen our new batch of potting soil for the greenhouse. This batch uses perlite, compost, coconut coir, worm castings, mycorrhizae, macro and micronutrients. We are getting away from peat moss and vermiculite for reasons of sustainability and asbestos respectively.

Will report on effectiveness of new mix as results show.

Closeup of new mix.
From 100430

Kate and I at our display for the Sacred Heart Garden Festival. This is right after my lecture on Organic Gardening in the CSRA.
From 100430

Action Shot of Compostoast dropping into the dodge.
From 100430

Monty, Kate, Mini Donkeys
From 100430

Saturday Market on Broad 2010 Kick-off. It's hard to believe that this is our third year at the market. Looks like it is going to be a good one too! We will be back tomorrow morning after missing last weekend for the festival. Kate will be at market 8-2 and I will be at the shop from 10-3. Come and see us! If I get a chance tomorrow morning, I am going to stop by the Pendelton King Plant swap which starts at 9 AM.
From 100430

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jethro Tull Rocks

Tull was an agricultural pioneer and the inventor of the seed drill, a major development in the agricultural revolution.

Jethro Tull was born in 1674 into a family of Berkshire gentry. He studied at Oxford University and Gray's Inn in preparation for a legal and political career, but ill health postponed these plans and, after his marriage in 1699, he began farming with his father.

At the time, seeds were distributed into furrows ('drilling') by hand. Tull had noticed that traditional heavy sowing densities were not very efficient, so he instructed his staff to drill at very precise, low densities. By 1701, his frustration with their lack of cooperation prompted him to invent a machine to do the work for him. He designed his drill with a rotating cylinder. Grooves were cut into the cylinder to allow seed to pass from the hopper above to a funnel below. They were then directed into a channel dug by a plough at the front of the machine, then immediately covered by a harrow attached to the rear. This limited the wastage of seeding and made the crop easier to weed.

Initially the machine was only a limited success. In 1709, he moved to Prosperous Farm in Hungerford, and two years later decided to travel around Europe to improve his health and study agricultural techniques there. Upon his return in 1714, he perfected both his system and machinery. He pulverised the earth between the rows, believing that this released nutrients would act as a substitute for manure. While apparently successful - he grew wheat in the same field for 13 successive years without manuring - it is more likely that he merely prevented weeds from overcrowding and competing with the seed.

Tull's other innovations included a plough with blades set in such a way that grass and roots were pulled up and left on the surface to dry.

Eventually, as agricultural improvement became fashionable, more interest began to be taken in Tull's ideas. In 1731, he published his book, 'The New Horse Hoeing Husbandry', detailing his system and its machinery. It caused great controversy at the time, and arguments continued for another century before his eventual vindication. While several other mechanical seed drills had also been invented, Tull's complete system was a major influence on the agricultural revolution and its impact can still be seen in today's methods and machinery.

Tull died on 21 February 1741.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Potatoes are finally coming up! The soil has warmed and here they come. Now it is time to keep them watered in all this new Spring/Summer like weather. The perennial rye is jumping as high as my cover crop it seems and is proving to be quite a booger to manage. It will take time before this soil is tamed. The Nutsedge and Bermuda are right around the corner. I say bring it on. Stirrup hoe: Check. Masses of Mulch: Check. Elbow Grease in full flow: Check.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aquaponics Experimentation

I have set up an Aquaponics system based on the concept of growing fish and using their by products to grow plants in a closed loop system.

I am using a 30 gallon plastic drum modified to hold fish in the bottom (12 comet type goldfish) and grow plants in the top (5 gallon appx).

From 100309 photos

So far so good. The fish have been in there for about a week and now I have the system cycling including a few houseplants that I had on hand. The guinea pigs are wormwood and patchouli at this point. I am going to get some other plants rooted out an installed soon.

From 100309 photos

The fish tank is aerated and has a pump that runs water up to the top reservoir. The "growbed" as I have seen it termed on youtube videos, contains red lava rock that has been washed extensively to remove particulate matter. I will use expanded clay balls in my future configurations for weight and cleanliness concerns.

From 100309 photos

Feed the fish> Fish Poop> Poop water is cycle up to rock growbed> plants uptake N rich water substrate> Clean water drains out and so on.

The magic of this set up is that it is self contained and not an over-elaborated Dr. Seuss contraption. There is only one pump and no valves other than a control valve on that water stream.

There is an automatic siphon that fills the bed up to a certain point and then the tube fills up with water and starts the siphon. The outflow is greater than inflow so there is a natural ebb and flow cycle that takes about 30 minutes to complete. (I am timing this as I type).

From 100309 photos

Siphon hose just before filling and draining. Look at the air line mark in the line. That crosses over the top a few seconds later and starts the drain.

From 100309 photos

Siphon started.

From 100309 photos

Low quality shot of siphon drain in action...

From 100309 photos

Water Level Dropping.

Plants are rooted out in coco coir and also just a nursery pot with some nursery media that is pretty much devoid of nutrients.

More to come...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A few Photos

One of our most ambitious shallots standing tall! This is my first experience growing this guys and they are looking promising so far. They were planted like garlic and now look like onion meets octopus emerging from the ground.

Purple Peruvian Potato Seeds. So purdy, So tasty!

Miniature Donkeys/ Fertilizer Factories in the background! For being so small, their "deposits" of organic matter are substantial!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sacred Heart Garden Festival

I am honored to be speaking at the Sacred Heart Garden Festival this year here in Augusta. My time to shine is Saturday April 24th at 11AM.

My topic is Organic Gardening in the CSRA (Central Savannah River Area)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Potatoes Are Planted

We have planted out about 2500 square feet of potatoes in our little sandy patch. Hopefully they will be happy in their new homes. About to go round up a half ton of mulch to cover the whole area and maintain the fertility that I have supplemented.

We planted Red Thumb, Purple Peruvian and Golden Peanut. All double certified (certified organic and certified disease free).

I used a variety of fertility methods to see which works best. Just for record and reference I will mention them here:
Pure Compost
Compost + rock phosphate and greensand
Compost + rock phosphate, greensand and biofish
Compost + rock phosphate, greensand, biofish(7-7-2), kelp and brix mix(18% potash)

I will supplement throughout the growing season with poultry litter, liquid fish, liquid kelp and brix mix solution as needed with watering.

Cross Your Fingerlings!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog O Rama

I am starting this mostly as a photo blog for the farm. It will also serve as a log to help remember what day the potatoes went in and so forth. Thanks for looking and please subscribe to keep up with photos and information as they come in!

I have imported all of the old posts from my former tenure at Blue Clay Farm in North Augusta, SC.


Brian Gandy

Nutsedge Farm: Beech Island, SC