Time to intervene

wordwizApril 20, 2011

Here it is, the third week of April, and all I have to show for my planting efforts is about 500 sugar snap peas, several which I am sure have drowned in our record-setting rains. Worse, it is suppose to rain more, likely five out of the next seven days.

Thanks to my brother, I have a large roll of construction plastic, a white type that is reinforced with fiberglass. It's about 10', maybe 12' wide and tomorrow, it gets unrolled on my garden, at least part of it. A space large enough to transplant about 60 Early Wonder tomato plants (that are already 12" or higher) and a similar amount of Parris Island Cos lettuce seedlings.

As wet as it has been, I cannot and will not complain about the rain. Not after going nearly three months with nothing more than a sprinkle or two last year!

Mike

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tulsacityfarmer(6)

That is sad to hear.I wish the best for every one myself. I hope you have a great rest of the growing season.
I do know how you feel.We have been in a drought here in Oklahoma and have had wild firs to deal with. I lost a big section of my spring garden myself. We got "RAIN" 2" and the ground was so dry my geantly slopping garden became a river, washing away greens and lettuce!The rain fell in 1 hour and the ground could not aborb it that fast.It had never flooded before.
But that is gardening! Its just costlier to the market gardener I guess.
May God bless the rest of the season for you.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:05PM
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myfamilysfarm

I been able to get some garden in, but not near enough. Today, it hasn't rained YET. Storm should arrive within the next 2 hours. If it waits that long, then it will be tomorrow. One bucket has about 3" in it, it was empty before the terrible storms that we had night before last. At least the tornadoes missed us, again, there was 1 west of us and 1 east of us. A total of 5-7 within 50 miles of the farm.

I think if I put plastic down, the ground might just rot with all of the moisture that we've had lately.

Marla

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:26PM
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wordwiz

Marla,

Even if was farming full time, I doubt I would have any significant difference in how much I have planted. OK, if I had a garden that had been worked before and all I needed to do was till it once or twice, a bit more. But honestly, in the last month, I'm lucky to have more than about six hours a week when the ground is actually dry enough to work. Luckily, those six hours seem to come on a Thursday afternoon/evening which is usually my day off.

Given this late start, I'm going to try some stuff I don't have lots of experience in, such as planting toms 18" apart with 18" between rows, then interplanting Romaine lettuce between them. I really have nothing to lose. Plant the maters and lettuce and have them produce nothing or throw a couple hundred plants away. At the worst, I lose some time but will have some very fertilized ground. The soil is excellent so if I feed it well (Tomato Tone and Blood Meal, side dressed with Tomato Tone and Bone Meal), I could have a decent, early harvest from the 48 mater plants and however many heads of lettuce I can fit in.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 11:23PM
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myfamilysfarm

My first year I only planted 48 plants, 6 of 4 varieties, had plenty to harvest for market (so I thought). I underpriced, so sold out too fast. 18" is too close for my liking, but I haven't staked near enough. Good black soil is great, even planting around rocks.

As far as late start, sometimes late is good. After everyone's else toms are done, you should still have some. I try to have both early and late.

Not living on the ground that is planted is much harder to work, because you have to travel (even a few blocks) to go to work. My garden that we are working at this time is one further away from the house (about 300-400'). We are being able to work 1-2 hours at a time. The ground has been worked for several years, so we don't have to worry about breaking sod like you do.

Like you've said before, this year is a learning year.

Marla

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:52AM
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wordwiz

18" is closer than what I like, but I need lots of plants - at least I hope I do! At least, they will have room on the outside and they are determinants. Plus, being in my backyard, I can easily keep them mulched and watered.

Next week, I'm going scouting for more land. Like many urban areas in the country, there are a lot of homes for sale/rent. In my neighborhood, they tend to have decent-size backyards, most of them fenced in. Each year at this time, I do a Spotlight on Hartwell (my community in Cincinnati) and deliver a paper to each home. If I find some that are still for sale that have a good area, I'll see if I can rent the ground this summer. Not ideal, but if I can find a place for the chard, another for onions, a third for maters, etc., maybe I can accumulate 10,000 square feet.

I'm quite willing to reinvest almost all of my profits this year, both in equipment and soil to improve the ground. From some searches, I can get a decent tractor, pull behind tiller and moldboard plow for about 4 grand, so I'm allotting another grand for taxes and other things.

Add three grand for fill dirt/top soil which gives me a goal to shoot for. One big, and I mean very big key might be 1) if I have a huge amount of produce ready by August 10 and 2) if I can sell it. Over 10,000 people walking past me, several times, over a 5-day period. Zero competition. I know I can have tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, Romaine Lettuce, Basil and Chard ready. Maybe onions, hot/bell/banana peppers and a few strawberries.

My boss, at my first sales job was Ronald McDonald - but not the one that comes to mind. I was working for Puritan Chemical in Louisville and one mantra the company had was to plan your work, then work your plan!

I just need to stay focused on what I want to do and realize I won't get from here to there in one step. But your encouragement really helps!

Mike

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 5:30PM
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myfamilysfarm

My strawberries are done by mid-late June. By August, they're mowed off and fertilized. Don't forget Zucchini, they produce a good amount and don't take alot of space. I sell LOTS of them every market day (1-3 bushels).

Re-investing is a very good idea, I'm always looking for more equipment or a better way of doing things. Our horse manure supplier would love to have a couple of cantalope for all the manure that 6-10 horses can produce for a year.

We got 2-3 inches earlier this week, more rain today (1-3") and more severe weather and rain for tonight. Expecting rainfall over last week thru the end of next week looks like 6-10". Sure glad my ground slopes. Some of the lettuce/spinach was wash over by mud and more rain to come.

Marla

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:07PM
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wordwiz

Marla,

I've got everbearing strawberries, Triple Crown blackberries, raspberries and two dwarf cherry trees on order. I suspect the only ones that will produce anything this year MAY be the strawberries. But I refuse to get discouraged (but not frustrated!). As we have learned from decades of growing, we dance in the rain, bathe in the sun and weather storms. No use in sweating the petty things (or petting the sweaty things!)

Mike

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:51PM
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myfamilysfarm

We are also hoping by Sunday to be able to get into the gardens/fields without using hip-waders.

Our rain is slowing down, only 1" over the next 14 days, if the forecast is correct. And much warmer.

Marla

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:33PM
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wordwiz

The plastic seems to have helped. I removed the plastic from part of the garden this morning. A mostly sunny day, with lots of wind and the top of the ground is dry. Where it was not covered, it is still very damp. We have rain forecast for tonight - we are hoping for .2" so we can set the all-time record, but dry and sunny weather tomorrow and Saturday, with the highs then at about 75. I've got to pick up some Tomato-Tone and Blood meal between now and then because I want to get 75 tomato and Romaine lettuce plants in the ground before the rains return Sunday.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:54PM
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hillbilly_hydro

if the rains quit for a week or so i should be able to get to mine without having to put on scuba gear if i am lucky

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:25AM
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