Well its been a while, between the farm and my to little boys my mind has gone insane. Luckily enough I wrote a ton of blogging ideas down for the future. One of the main ones is filling y’all in on how the farming is going! In my personal opinion, compared to last year it is absolutely amazing. A few hiccups here and there, but we are all human. I mean around this time last year we had only lived here for a month so I was very behind, plus pregnant and new to larger scale farming. What I had learned over the past year though is that there are lessons learned everywhere and you can never ask to many questions.
Tilling: In 2017 we tilled only once in late march about a week before planting. Boy was that a mistake, especially since the tiller wasn’t set low enough to till all the roots up. They all just regrew and I couldn’t keep up with the weeding. I mean its 100 foot by 50 foot and 10 rows… Being 6 months pregnant in the heat, it’s not happening.
This year we tilled so far twice. The first time to just loosen the top soil, and just this past week we re-tilled and lowered the tiller deeper and even lined out the edges. Since we are getting a good amount of rain we are letting the soil settle and plan on transplanting the seedlings and direct seeding next month.
Here in about a week or two we are going to do our final till, unless I decided one more won’t hurt, and I will spread some Corn Meal over the soil. It acts like a weed birth control and breaks down in the soil and adds more nitrogen and helps produce more fruit. I’m excited to see how that goes, I will fill you guys in with some results. * Update 3/22/18 Thanks to one of our readers I was notified that this is not a good idea, my whole crop would have been ruined. This is a good preventive on the service to keep weeds from sprouting, along with any other seeds I plant as well. and it is Corn Gluten. See I am still learning every day.
Planting: Back in 2017 since we were so behind and waiting on our seeds to arrive we direct sowed (or planted the seed directly to the soil) and that did not go over well, especially the tomatoes. I had ONE plant sprout and didn’t produce anything before it got too hot. Not only that I just grabbed the seeds I wanted went outside one day and put them in the ground not paying any attention to when they needed to be planted.
This year I ordered my seeds in December and planned out where the rows and what would be in the rows, I makes it so much easier and less stressful. I got my tomatoes and peppers march first and most of them have sprouted and I am so happy and very optimistic. Today I started my cucumbers as well since they can be started early indoors and because last year they didn’t get much growth or produce much. I do blame the weeds on a lot of the problems. I’m looking over my row plans and writing down what I planted, when I planted and how many so I can see the results of sprouting for the future. I even planted a few extras for the seeds that don’t germinate. Here soon when I transplant I will also plant my seeds that are direct sow as well.
Seedling Care: Now this one I really don’t have much for last year expect for a few tomato plants I bought last year and forgot about in the greenhouse, oops. This year was more of a learning experience in itself because the only experience I had been from college and a lot of the care was done by the teachers and aids. Yes we had those odd experiment with soils and lights etc. but again, care wasn’t completely on us due to the fact of school schedules. If we did have to care for them it was a team effort and we had to rely on one another to water.
This year when I started I decided I was gonna make my own soil, I am very happy with it. I’ll share my recipe below. Well I planted my seeds, got me a watering bucket and checked them every day to make sure they didn’t dry out. Well after a week and a half I had nothing. I was so confused, I decided to be patient and hopefully something would come up. Well that weekend I had to leave town so I asked my grandmother to watch them for me since she has her own gardens. Well I come back and half of them had sprouted. Apparently she had a little trick, water them with warm water with a turkey baster. I isn’t as rough on the seeds and moving the soil as much, they each get the same amount of water, and the warm water helps with germination. Fun little tid bit to learn. Also don’t let the soil dry out, but DON’T water every day or it can mold the seeds, or cause root rot.
3 part compost
2 parts peat moss (or coco noir)
1/2 part vermiculite
1/2 part pearlite
Tree care: Well I know I have talked about my peach trees and some of their care before but last year was my first year EVER caring for a tree, or a fruiting tree for that fact. Last year I just let them do their thing and It was a disaster. I had tent caterpillars we had to burn off, and tree borers. I didn’t take off any extra blossoms or fruit from limbs to help the others grow better and boy was it a mess.
I decided this year I was gonna do my research. In one of my previous blogs I mentioned I talked to Texas A&M AgriLife for help and care advise. It sure paid off. I trimmed back the trees, and was very hesitant and took off A LOT of limbs. Sure enough those trees where happy and bloomed shortly after and are now putting on leaves. I even added nitrogen to the soil to help boost fruiting production. To deal with my bug problem was a different story, I want to keep my farm organic and use no pesticides. I did some more research and decided to go with a 1 part 100% neem oil and 1 part spinosad. I need to keep up with it but its all organic, kills on contact and keeps the bugs away. This year my trees are so very happy.
Over a year a transition from being very new and thinking I know what I am doing to, understanding I don’t know everything and help and advise is wise to listen to can help bunches. Now if I can only get my oldest to eat his veggies, hoping when I take him to harvest later this summer he will be more interested, but all in due time.