Blueberry Pruning and More Indoor Planting

Blueberry pruning is a less daunting task than pruning fruit trees, but still just as important.  Unfortunately, many of the 40plus bushes were looking a bit worse for wear and more than a few were dead.  Now that we know the pH is way too high (6.4), we are anxious to start a pH lowering regiment that is in-line with organic standards.  Back to the pruning. . . It is important to control the balance of fruiting on the bushes and we do this by pruning.  We want 50% of the plants energy going into berry production and 50% into leaf production, so that it can feed the root system and create buds for the next year.  Oregon State has a great 22 min. video about how to prune, which you can watch free online (you can also purchase the DVD). Watching it helped us feel more confident when we went to prune the bushes, which I suppose could also be a bad thing!

 

Today we also managed to start some Peppers, another round of Broccoli, and some Flowers/herbs.  There will be more planting to come and we are almost out of space again and that is after we made the addition to the seedling area.  Guess we are going to have to get more creative in the future.  That or bite the bullet and get a greenhouse!

Crop Planning

This can be a very confusing, tedious, and stressful task.  However, there are many resources we have drawn upon to get a handle on this.  One of the first and most valuable has been knowing how long a crop takes to mature, or date to harvest.  We can use this number to calculate when we should plant in order to get good timing on our harvest.  If we plant five crops on the same day that all have similar maturity dates then we will not have a good staggering of production.  There are three useful spreadsheets that we have been developing:

  1. Indoor and Outdoor Planting Chart.  This guides us as to when we should start seeds for transplants, and then we record actual planting dates.  Some crops like Broccoli we will do multiple indoor plantings.  Also included on this chart will be when we set the plants out to “harden off” and then plant in the field.
  2. Bed Rotation Chart.  We are not using this yet since we have not started planting in the field, but we will use it to decide where we plant a crop and make sure they are being properly rotated from year to year.
  3. Harvest Calendar.  This can be used backwards.  It is used to plan the harvest times, but also used to determine first plantings and succession plantings.  This is supper important when planning for a CSA, but not as critical for farmers market.  We hope to offer the produce as a CSA subscription next year so we are practicing first before we go public.

Some useful tools we like, in no particular order:

  • Online resources for farmers on the Johnny’s seeds website
  • Growing For Market (Magazine)
  • The New Sees Starter Handbook (Book)
  • Talking to successful growers

MOA Conference

Ken and I just returned from the Missouri Organic Association Conference in St. Louis, and what a great conference this is!  I look forward to it every year.  Unfortunately attendance was low, but peoples excitement and commitment to organics was unwavering.  Most all of the speakers did a great job.  I particularly enjoyed hearing Jeff Moyer from Rodale Institute speak about cover crops and no-till farming systems.  The work that he and Rodale do for moving organics to the next level is amazing.  The food was excellent and the company better.  Thanks for putting on a great conference MOA!