Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Winter Growing Workshop at Tobacco Road Farm

Last Sunday, some of our sprout members had the wonderful opportunity to visit and be given an interactive tour of Tobacco Rd. Farm, which was sponsored by NOFA CT. It was an unbelievably beautiful and inspiring. We were not only given some seeds for our garden, but learned some incredible organic gardening techniques that we can apply to our garden. Below is a brief recap of some of the information we picked up:
  • use high quality compost with significant worm activity
  • when testing soil, one's best bet is to add nitrogen to the soil to improve its fertility
  • tilled beds with mulch filling are best for keeping a successful winter crop
  • when covering crops with plastic, use a double layer (if one layer is damaged, the other will protect it) and after it rains, recover and vent the ends
  • covering crops with a plastic tunnel can create an atmosphere that is 35 degrees warmer on a sunny day and about 5 degrees warmer in the evening
  • even when it snows, the plastic tunnel will survive the elements by becoming a quasi-igloo for the crops
  • chickens are wonderful for eating crop residue and providing nutrients for garden soil
  • bare soil is not good, it is best to cover it with mulch, greens, or cover crop
  • first cut hay has lots of grass seeds and cannot be used with slow growing crops (such as onions or leeks)
  • insects and disease are usually a product of the soil
  • lettuces are least productive over winter, it is best to seed in early December for a Spring Harvest along with beets and carrots
  • dandelion and garlic are great winter crops (low maintenance)
  • liquid nutrients include: raw milk, maple syrup, liquid kelp, and molasses
  • wasps aid in pest (caterpillar) control by feeding on flowering and killing caterpillars in the spring brassicas
  • to curb the flea beetle problem, over-wintered brassicas so they can become more resistant and save the seeds & don't seed when the plant should be flowering or the problem will be perpetuated
  • only seed broccoli or cabbage after the summer solstice
  • most importantly, keep crops in their natural system

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