Father’s Day GIVEAWAY!

We know Father’s Day is a little ways off yet, but we wanted to make sure Dad gets accessorized in time for the holiday! This month we’re giving one lucky Dad:

 

Enter for yourself or a Dad you love below!

HOW TO ENTER It’s easy: just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account (if you don’t have Facebook, just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account). Then click any of the dropdown options (below) to enter for more chances to win!

Occasionally certain browsers don’t play nice with Rafflecopter – if you have any trouble entering the giveaway, please email webmaster@highmowingseeds.com

Contest starts Friday, May 13th, 2016 at 10am and ends Thursday, May 26th, 2016 at 11pm EST. Good luck & Happy Father’s Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Uncategorized | 98 Comments

Pest Management on the Small Farm


Katie & Edge with their son Waylon

Like all good medicine, our pest management is built on prevention. At Good Heart Farmstead, we don’t use any pesticide sprays, and instead focus our efforts on creating a balanced system, which includes building healthy soil to grow strong, hearty plants.

Here’s a round-up (organic, that is!) of our pest prevention techniques:

Decrease Pest Habitat

Mowed borders around crops. Many pests, including cucumber beetles (our worst pest at Good Heart), overwinter and find early food in the tall grasses of the pasture. Maintaining a mowed border along your vegetable fields can help keep pests out in the first place, and slow their jump into your crops.  At Good Heart, we seeded low-growing white clover in the border, which endures heavy foot and garden-cart traffic.


Row cover protects Mizuna, Arugula and Toyko Bekana from flea beetles at Good Heart Farmstead

Physical barriers like Remay or fine insect netting. Row cover is our best friend when it comes to protecting early spring greens from flea beetles. For the purposes of keeping pests out, it’s important to fully bury the edges the entire length of the bed, which we do by shoveling soil from the pathways onto the edges. While this may not be feasible on large farms, row-cover is a great resource for smaller farms and gardens.

When we find ourselves short on row cover, we use Surround, a type of kaolin clay that mixes with water to coat the leaves of cucurbits. Surround leaves a white film on the leaves of cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins, and serves to both irritate and repel cucumber beetles.

Crop rotation. Rotation is especially important in the spring, when overwintering pests may be hanging out in last year’s crop residue. On our farm, this has been particularly important in the brassica family, and rotation coupled with using row covers make it possible to get clean, marketable harvests of early mustard greens, pac choi, arugula and Asian greens.

Increase Habitat for Beneficials


Borders of pollinator-attractant plants like chives also attract beneficial predators

Plant borders of pollinator plants. Many beneficial insects, including lady beetles and braconid wasps, are attracted to the same habitat as important pollinators. Providing beneficial insects with habitat that is always there will encourage their presence and help keep pests in check. Many herbs, such as dill, fennel, and parsley, also attract beneficial insects. The key is to have a wide variety of perennials and herbs in bloom throughout the season in order to provide constant shelter and food. In addition, plantings of native woody trees and shrubs provide excellent year-round habitat for beneficials, while discouraging pests (which feed almost entirely on soft-stemmed annuals).

Focus on growing healthy plants rather than fighting pests. We’ve all seen how stressed plants are the first to get hit by pests, while vigorous, healthy plants are able to withstand pest pressure. Though this could be an entire article in itself, here are a few quick tips on growing healthy plants:


Healthy seedlings from the GHF greenhouse grow vigorously and are more tolerant of pests

  • Have your soil tested and amend it accordingly so your crops receive all the nutrients they need.
  • Plant out your strongest seedlings; a weak start can give you more problems and a lighter harvest.
  • Attend to stressed crops quickly; determine if they need irrigation, a foliar feed, or top-dressing, and proceed accordingly.
  • Use cover crops to feed the soil, increase organic matter, smother weeds and provide habitat for beneficial insects. This will give you a more fertile field to plant in, and reduce nutrient loss while you’re between crops.
  • Select appropriate varieties for your region, and keep notes. We always grow a number of varieties per crop, trying out new ones each year to determine the most vigorous varieties for our farm. Bringing together the best varieties with a healthy environment is a sure way to get abundant harvests.
Posted in Ask The Expert, Commercial Growing, Farmer Authors, Growing Tips, Plant Pests, Variety Highlights | 2 Comments

Crop Talk: A Season of Lettuce Production at High Ledge Farm


Paul Betz checking on lettuces at High Ledge Farm

No matter where you grow, our high quality lettuce varieties mean a consistent supply all season long. I really like that we offer all the classic market standards, as well as a number of specialty varieties that are exciting visually or offer a unique eating experience. Together they make up an interesting, complete collection that works well on my farm, and can help you succeed on yours.

This is how my lettuce season works at High Ledge Farm:

 


New Red Fire

Red Tide is one of my favorites for spring, a fast grower that holds well in the field and has good resistance to bottom rot. It has a taller habit, so produce departments can remove some bottom leaves and still have a nice big head. I do 4-5 successions of it, stopping around mid-June when I switch to more heat-tolerant varieties. New Red Fire is another workhorse red suitable for all slots. It’s consistent, packs out well, has real weight to it (great for wholesale), and it holds well post-harvest—a great variety overall.

Waldmann’s is a great commercial green that does well in most slots. When it starts to get really hot I switch to Bergam’s Green, which has some Summer Crisp bred into it for exceptional heat-tolerance, though it looks like a regular green leaf to customers.

 


Mirlo

Optima is my favorite butterhead for spring and summer planting. It has a really big frame, and the thicker (though still very tender) leaves are more rugged post-harvest than other varieties. You can cut it, dunk it 3 or 4 times, pack it and it still looks nice at market, which is rare for a butterhead. Mirlo also does well in the spring and summer, with more of a blond-green color and thinner, more delicate leaves.

For romaines we offer some key commercial varieties like Green Towers, which is very reliable and forgiving, and gets really large so you can trim it for hearts. I also really like Arroyo, a refined, newer romaine great for hearts that offers the complete downy mildew resistance package growers need (especially out west). For minis, the Rhazes and Spretnak are some of my favorites. They have similar growth rates and good weight, and look really nice together.

 


Magenta

I plant the Summer Crisps Magenta & Nevada on my farm every cycle—they do well in the cold, in the heat, and have good bottom rot resistance – very forgiving. Nevada is one of my favorite varieties in the world; the eating quality is amazing, and it’ll easily hold 7-10 days post-harvest without any loss in quality. It also has a “tell” where the top starts to close in, then peel back when it’s about to bolt; you can harvest at this stage and there’s no bitterness to it. It’s great if you have a hard time with successions and having lettuce every week, since it can fill the gaps between successions thanks to its impressive holding ability and shelf life.

 

 


Yankee Hardy Lettuce Blend

If you want to take the guesswork out of salad mixes, try our Gourmet, Yankee Hardy or DMR Blend (the latter two are great if you have high DM pressure). You can also get all the baby lettuce and mustard components from us to make your own custom mixes—we list the DM race resistances in the catalog, so you can design a mix with the resistance you need.

When fall rolls around I want to avoid diminishing returns, so I have a secret: I wait until my late greenhouse tomatoes are done, then dig up head lettuces from the field and transplant them in the greenhouse. I grow on about 700 heads with no added heat, and have a tender, beautiful crop right in time to crush Thanksgiving markets. It is extra work, but since I keep on my schedule of planting every 10-14 days all season, I can just go out to the field and select the right-sized heads for transplanting (and it brings a valuable crop back into production). Magenta, AnsarRhazes & Spretnak all do really well with this at 6 inch spacing.


From L to R: Pomegranate Crunch, Ansar, Breen, Spretnak & Rhazes

Lettuce is a profitable crop for me and allows me to establish a clientele that I see every week, which in turn drives sales to other crops. High Mowing’s selection of proven market standards and cutting-edge new varieties is sure to catch customers’ attention early in the season and keep them coming back for more!

To learn more check out our complete lettuce selection, or learn how to make a lettuce plan.

Posted in Articles by Farmer Paul Betz, Ask The Expert, Commercial Growing, Greenhouses, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 2 Comments

Mother’s Day GIVEAWAY!

We know Mother’s Day is a little ways off yet, but we wanted to make sure Mom gets her goodies in time for the holiday! This month we’re giving one lucky Mom our favorite garden accessories:

  • a Large Garden Hod for harvesting, washing, transporting & storing homegrown produce and 
  • our favorite quick-drying Garden Gloves, both from Gardener’s Supply Co!

The sturdy, long-lasting garden hod was originally designed by Maine clam diggers to hold and rinse their catch, and they’re perfect for harvesting and rinsing off vegetables too. Made in New England, the garden hod is constructed from pine and maple with a hand-rubbed oil finish and food-grade, vinyl-covered mesh. And it’s great for storing potatoes and winter squash through the winter!

Moms will also love our favorite garden gloves–they’re stretchy and thin, so you can plant seeds, pull small weeds and do other tasks that require dexterity without taking them off. The nitrile-coated palms and fingers are puncture-proof and provide great protection for your hands, while also being lightweight enough to dry quickly. Plus, they’re machine washable so you can say goodbye to funky gloves for good. Enter for yourself or a Mom you love below!

HOW TO ENTER It’s easy: just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account (if you don’t have Facebook, just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account). Then click any of the dropdown options (below) to enter for more chances to win!

Occasionally certain browsers don’t play nice with Rafflecopter – if you have any trouble entering the giveaway, please email webmaster@highmowingseeds.com

Contest starts Thursday, April 14th, 2016 at 3pm and ends Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at 11pm EST. Good luck & Happy Mother’s Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Uncategorized | 132 Comments

Growing with Kids: 6 Practical Ways to Engage Them on the Farm


Waylon (age 2) and Katie harvesting calendula flowers

This summer our son will turn 3, and over the past three years we’ve found many ways to engage him here at Good Heart Farmstead through our daily farm tasks. By doing so, we spend quality time with our son, avoid the expense of child care, and give him the opportunity to manage risks and experience farm life.

Here are some ways he participates that have worked well for us:

In the Greenhouse

Filling trays: Soil is fun to play with! Filling trays, whether they’re six-packs or 128s, can be a helpful way for kids to play with soil in the greenhouse. Depending on the child’s age and ability, the trays filled may be more for fun than for function, but this is a great hands-on activity you can do with your child, or have your child do while you are getting other work (like seeding) done nearby.


Waylon and his friend help with seeding

Seeding: Large-seeded crops (such as beets, squash, cucumbers, melons, corn, beans and peas) and pelleted seeds are easy for children to plant themselves. With supervision, our toddler can successfully place a specific number of pelleted seeds in each cell. Other crops easy for kids to seed include flowers such as calendula, sunflowers, and nasturtiums.

Hardening off: By gently brushing the seedlings with their hands, kids can help strengthen the plants by emulating the wind during the hardening off process. This helps the plants grow sturdier and can greatly reduce transplant shock. It’s a task our toddler loves to do; he calls it “giving love” to the plants.

 

In the Field

Transplanting: We always dip our transplants in a mix of water, kelp meal and humic acid, and our son likes to help make the mix and stir it. We lay out a 100 ft. measuring tape to help us quickly and accurately space the transplants, and older kids can help by placing each transplant at the correct spacing; younger kids can help by handing transplants to mom or dad.


Harvesting is a great task for kids to help with

Direct Seeding: Large-seeded crops like beets, squash, corn, beans, peas, garlic and potatoes are all great direct-seeded crops for kids to help plant. Laying down a tape measure ensures accurate spacing (and sneaks in a real-life math lesson in the field).

Harvest: Our toddler has shown us that easy crops for young children to harvest include peas, cherry tomatoes, beets, onions, carrots, and all sorts of flowers (when harvesting flowers with young children, don’t expect a long stem!) It can take some time for children to learn the right harvest size for each crop, which can turn into a lesson on the stages of plant growth. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest, though, as you can tell them the right color to harvest (no green ones!)

On days we have our son in the field with us, we assume that only one of us will be truly working, and anything that gets done beyond one person’s work is a benefit. Farming with a toddler is an exercise in balancing efficiency and playtime. Though efficiency is one of the most important things on a farm, playtime is also important in life, and kids will always help you find time for it.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Commercial Growing, Farm Ethics, Farmer Authors, Kids and Gardening | 4 Comments

Our Top 5 Flowers for Pollinators


Bees pollinating holy basil

If you’re like us, you’re worried about pollinators—we need them for production of about 35% of global crops by volume and over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, and many pollinator species are in decline or at risk of extinction. Four species of bumble bees native to America are in rapid decline; the rusty-patched bumble bee, for example, has disappeared from almost 90% of its historic range.

While controversy abounds about the root causes of the bee die-offs and disappearances, it’s becoming clear that human behavior, especially habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use are to blame. Regardless of the cause, it’s up to all of us to protect them, and the precious pollination services they provide, for generations to come. High Mowing is pleased to offer a variety of flowers that provide much-needed food for bees and butterflies, while making our own landscapes more beautiful, productive and ecologically diverse. By planting all 5 of these flowers, you’ll be providing food for all 11 types of native bees, plus honey bees!

1. Beeline Pollinator Mix

We specially formulated this mix just for native pollinators, and boy does it buzz when in bloom! Featuring purple-flowered Phacelia, sunflowers, cosmos, and a variety of herbs and other flowers, this mix provides a diverse mix of nectar and pollen sources over a long season.

Bee species supported: Bumble Bee, Digger Bee, Large Carpenter Bee, Small Carpenter Bee, Leafcutter Bee, Mason Bee, Sweat Bee, Plasterer Bee, Andrenid (Miner) Bee, Honey Bee

2. Sunflowers

Sunflowers are pollinator superheroes, for many reasons – they are tall and brightly colored for easy visibility from a distance; they produce abundant sources of both pollen and nectar; their broad, flat faces make it easy for butterflies and other large-winged insects to land on them (sort of like a helipad); and their lush foliage provides an excellent food source for butterfly caterpillars. There are, however, a few tips that can boost the benefits of planting sunflowers:

  • Plant in groups rather than scattering them all over; this way it is easier for pollinators to find them and gather food efficiently
  • Plant them in a place protected from wind; both the plants and pollinators enjoy a calm, protected area
  • Plant several different varieties to provide a continuous supply of flowers from late summer to fall; we recommend Evening Colors Blend, Velvet Queen, Mammoth, Soraya

Bee species supported: Bumble Bee, Digger Bee, Large Carpenter Bee, Small Carpenter Bee, Leafcutter Bee, Sweat Bee, Plasterer Bee, Andrenid (Miner) Bee, Honey Bee

3. Thyme

Diminutive and low-growing though it may be, thyme has wonderful properties for humans, as a culinary and medicinal herb, and for the bees that feed on it. There are lots of other advantages to planting thyme as well – it’s an easy, low-maintenance perennial, it’s drought-tolerant, it spreads over time (but not aggressively), and its white flowers and silvery foliage are attractive planted along rock walls, patios and herb gardens. It also provides important food for some of the picky eaters like Mason and Yellow-faced bees.

Bee species supported: Bumble Bee, Digger Bee, Mason Bee, Sweat Bee, Yellow-faced Bee

4. Catnip

Like all members of the mint or Lamiaceae family (which includes many bee favorites such as basil, lemon balm, oregano, sage and thyme) catnip is aromatic, flowers over a very long season, and is simply loaded with the characteristic red-orange pollen that bees love. It’s also a very hardy perennial, surviving the coldest of winters with ease, and has a more restrained growth habit than true mints for a lovely ornamental, medicinal, tea and insectary plant.

Bee species supported: Bumble Bee, Digger Bee, Mason Bee

5. Squash, Pumpkins & Gourds

In order to provide a meal for everyone, you’ll need to plant some cucurbits—squash, pumpkins, cucumbers or gourds. The small, abundant squash bees that pollinate virtually every single cucumber, zucchini or pumpkin (and are often found sleeping inside the large yellow flowers) depend exclusively on this family of plants for food, and as wild habitat is eliminated, wild sources also become more limited. And of course, planting cucurbits is also a great way to provide food for yourself as well.

Bee species supported: Large Carpenter Bee, Squash Bee

For more information, check out these great Ecoregional Planting Guides from the Pollinator Partnership.

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Farm Ethics, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 15 Comments

Profitable Potatoes: Tips from Organic Farmer Becky Maden

Becky Maden is a vegetable farmer currently living in Orwell, VT, where she and her husband operate Singing Cedars Farmstead. Previously, Becky spent 10 years working as the Assistant Farm Manager at Intervale Community Farm, a thriving 500-member CSA farm in Burlington, VT. In her time spent away from the farm, Becky loves to travel, write, bike, run, ski, and cook bounteous meals with glorious produce.
 


Peruvian potato field

I need to begin this article honestly: potatoes have been a crop I whine about growing, especially on a commercial scale. But with the right inputs and equipment, potatoes can be great to grow, as well as eat. Years ago, traveling in Peru, I walked through fields of colorful flowering potatoes, marveling at the healthy plants and lack of diseases, pests and weeds. Although I never learned the techniques the Peruvians use to grow such gorgeous plants, there are a few critical practices that can help us grow organic potatoes successfully in our own corner of the world.


A buckwheat cover crop

Soil Fertility

Potatoes require specific soil nutrients, more than most vegetables, and the yield benefits justify the extra money and effort to provide them. Planting a cover crop in advance of your spuds will help suppress weeds, improve soil organic matter, and, if you grow a legume, provide nitrogen for the potatoes. The New England Vegetable Management Guide suggests 120-180 pounds of nitrogen per acre of potatoes, with 2/3 of your total N applied at planting time and 1/3 applied as a side-dressing just before your first hilling. Make sure you also provide the recommended phosphorus and potassium for your potatoes—do a soil test or contact your local cooperative extension to determine how much additional P and K your soil needs.

Variety Selection


Elba is an exceptionally leafhopper-resistant variety

One of the key elements to growing organic potatoes successfully is selecting varieties appropriate to your soils, pest and disease pressures, and markets. High Mowing has a great comparison chart that allows you to compare varieties by maturity, yield, and disease resistance, among other qualities. Perhaps what I’ve become most attuned to over the years is the varying disease and pest resistance among potato varieties. For instance, Potato leaf hopper is a serious problem for many growers in the northeast, and knowing which varieties are the least affected by it can be critical (see this Cornell study). If late blight is a persistent problem in your area, select a resistant variety such as Yukon Gem.

Irrigation

Potatoes require special attention to soil moisture, as they’ll suffer with too much or too little. In cold, saturated soils, potatoes can rot just after they are planted, and in rainy years they suffer from diseases attracted to their wet foliage. However, since potatoes are relatively shallow-rooted, their irrigation needs cannot be neglected, especially on sandy soils. Tuber initiation and development is a critical time for water (around 30 days after planting). As the tuber bulks up, water management can dictate the size and ultimate yields of your potatoes, and can help prevent Scab, brown scarring caused by too little soil moisture.

Equipment

Although many growers utilize a whole range of specialized equipment for growing potatoes, there really are just a few key equipment acquisitions. Hillers are critical for any significant plot of potatoes. Mechanical hillers can also do double duty by burying weeds in hard-to-cultivate places.


Potato digger harvesting the crop

Hillers can be easily cobbled together at home, and can fit any scale machine, including horses or BCS walk-behinds. Your first hilling should occur when the plants are 6-8” high, then again one or two more times until the plants are 10-12” high. It’s important to exercise care when hilling, since you can accidentally damage tubers or prune the roots if you get too close to the plants.

Another critical piece of equipment with potatoes is a sprayer. Regardless of your scale, you need to be prepared to spray for Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB), Potato leafhopper, and perhaps late blight. Be sure to scout potatoes thoroughly and regularly. Sprayers come in all sizes, from hand pump to battery powered backpack sprayers to tractor-mounted sprayers. Clearance can quickly become an issue for tractors driving through potatoes, so either make sure you have high clearance, or plan your fields with drive rows.

Potato diggers pay for themselves quickly once you grow any volume of potatoes. Again, these are available for all scales and are relatively easy to find used.

Even though I started out as a spud naysayer, I’ve learned that taking pleasure in growing potatoes simply means appreciating the techniques and the careful attention the plants require. I doubt I’ll ever grow potatoes as artfully as the Peruvians do, but it’s an honor to try.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Commercial Growing, Farmer Authors, Growing Tips, Plant Diseases, Plant Pests | 3 Comments

Crop Talk: Growing Bountiful Kale at Good Heart Farmstead


Katie Spring and Edge Fuentes with their son Waylon, at Good Heart Farmstead

I love kale. I love it for its ability to thrive in many zones (including our Zone 4 location), and for the way it keeps on giving all season long. At Good Heart Farmstead, we grow kale from May through December, and I’m a firm believer that everyone should “eat more kale.” With a little planning, you can eat (or sell) fresh kale all season long.

Growing for Full Size Plants

One of our goals is to have kale available for the CSA from June through December, and we make this happen with two different seeding times and a staggered harvest schedule.

Start kale seeds in either 1” soil blocks or 72-cell trays. Kale takes 4 weeks to reach transplant size, and at Good Heart we seed our first round on April 1st for an early May planting.


An early spring CSA share from Good Heart

When it’s time to plant out, we set out the seedlings at two different spacings: the first section is planted in three rows at 12” for an early harvest of mid-size leaves, and the second is planted in two rows at 18” spacing for a later full-size harvest (our beds are 30”). The different spacings provide a staggered harvest schedule with leaves of varying sizes, from tender mid-size leaves to full size bunches over a longer harvest window.

We start another succession in early to mid August for a robust fall harvest. While many home gardeners will find that one planting with more generous spacing will give them kale plants that last into the fall, our more aggressive harvests ask a lot from the plants, and starting with a new succession for the fall ensures heavy harvests to meet our CSA needs.


Good Heart’s fall salad mixes feature baby kale

Direct Seeding for Baby Kale

Baby kale is an excellent addition to salad mixes. Let it grow just past baby size and it becomes a great addition to a braising mix. We’ve tried spring and fall seedings for baby kale, and have found that fall successions are more successful, with a longer harvest window and higher potential for multiple cuts thanks to the cool weather that kale prefers.

In a 30” bed, direct seed baby kale in 12 rows at 1 ½” seed spacing, then cover with remay to hold in moisture and keep out potential pests. Like lettuce mix, baby kale can produce multiple harvests, making this a viable crop for salad growers.

Our hands-down favorite variety for baby kale is Red Russian. Its tenderness combined with the red stem make it delicious and beautiful, worthy of eating on it’s own or in a mix.


Red Russian kale is a favorite at Good Heart

Dealing with Pests

Prevention is the best pest control, and prevention starts with healthy plants. Healthy plants are better able to withstand pest pressure because they grow faster and are better able to “bounce back” from damage.

Our healthy plant regimen:

  • Start seedlings in a controlled space with good airflow and consistent heat and moisture to help them start off strong. If you see any signs of yellowing or stress, a foliar feed with liquid kelp can give them a boost.
  • Make sure you harden off before transplanting.
  • When transplanting, we dip all our trays in a mixture of water, kelp, and liquid humates. The kelp reduces transplant shock and the humates encourage better absorption of soil minerals. The two together encourage greater vigor from the start.

Spring planting has the greater potential for pest pressure on our farm, specifically from flea beetles. While we’ve seen flea beetle damage on the young tender leaves of transplants, the waxier full-size leaves seem to be less appetizing to the pests. To minimize pest damage of transplants, we cover them with remay supported by wire hoops for the first 2-3 weeks in the field.


Katie and Edge use row cover to keep pests off their spring kale

Spring

At Good Heart, our spring varieties are Red Russian and Westlander. We’ve found a demand from our CSA members for both the tender Red Russian and the thicker, curly-leaved Westlander, and at 50 DTM for each variety, their speed allows us to get harvests out quickly.

Summer

Red Russian and Westlander are both carried into the summer in our fields. Olympic Red (55 DTM) rounds out the summer harvest, and performs better on hot harvest days as its thicker leaves hold up better post-harvest compared to Red Russian.


Olympic Red kale offers exceptional frost tolerance for fall crops

Fall

While all kale loves the fall season, our favorite varieties are Olympic Red and Lacinato (60 days), both of which hold out long into the fall and early winter. CSA members look forward to the meatier leaves of Lacinato, perfect for hearty fall meals.

This year we’re excited to add in Nash’s Green, which reaches maturity 10 days faster than Ripbor F1 and is well-suited to fall and winter growing.

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Commercial Growing, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights, Winter Growing | 5 Comments

Potato GrowBag GIVEAWAY!

You loved the Potato GrowBags from last month’s giveaway so much, we decided to give away more—so this month THREE lucky winners will each receive:

(Two winners will receive the standard-size potato GrowBag, and one winner will receive a Jumbo GrowBag).

GrowBags make it easy for beginners to grow potatoes for the first time, they’re perfect for patios and small spaces, and they make harvest a breeze – just dump the bag and collect a bountiful harvest of potatoes!

HOW TO ENTER
It’s easy: just click “Log In” below if you have a Facebook account (if you don’t have Facebook, just click “Use Your Email” to create a Rafflecopter account). Then click any of the dropdown options (below) to enter for more chances to win!

Occasionally certain browsers don’t play nice with Rafflecopter – if you have any trouble entering the giveaway, please email webmaster@highmowingseeds.com

Contest starts Wednesday, March 9th at 3pm and ends Wednesday, March 23rd at 11pm EST. Good luck & happy planting!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Contests | 358 Comments

Crop Talk: Success with Brassicas at Sandiwood Farm


Sara Schlosser, Farmer & Commercial Grower Sales Rep

Here at Sandiwood Farm we’re tapping our maple trees and finishing our plans for the growing season ahead. This means reflecting on last season and what we, and our customers, loved most. Brassicas are an important crop for us, and I’ve learned a lot over my 27 years of growing them on our farm in Northern Vermont. Here are some highlights that may help with your own planning:

CABBAGE

I plant Kaboko F1 & Bilko F1 Napa cabbages really early in our high tunnel. They love the extra warmth and protection, producing beautiful full-size heads for spring markets.

Farao F1 is my favorite for a fresh market green cabbage. Even in our short season, I am able to get multiple successions, and with the way it holds in the early summer heat, it does well for both spring and fall plantings.

For 2016 I’m excited to try the open pollinated Golden Acre cabbage, which can be tightly planted and produces early, uniform heads in a more manageable size (that’s great for smaller families).


Sara harvesting Caraflex cabbages at Sandiwood

Caraflex F1 is one of my absolute favorites. They pack boxes so well, they make a heart shape when you open them, they’re great grilled, raw or cooked, and they’re very uniform so I can charge one price for all of them. People always stop and back up to ask about “the cones” at market. Processors and chefs love its big brother Murdoc F1 because of its larger size, and it also stores well.

Last season I tried Integro F1 for an early planting (even though it’s a late red cabbage) and I was really impressed. It’s a dependable variety that allowed me to offer a quality red cabbage early in the season.

For savoy, I’m a big fan of Famosa F1. With adequate spacing and fertility they can get huge, and with durable outer leaves, it’s a great cabbage to sell wholesale.

I grow Impala F1 for storage. It sits high on the plant for easy harvest and disease prevention, it’s rock hard and it holds well in the field for harvest through the fall.

I’ve fallen in love with Deadon F1. Bred for harvesting well into the winter, this variety gets sweeter and even more stunning after the first snow. We harvest it for winter markets without using cooler space, and it’s a real showstopper.


Sara harvesting Belstar F1 broccoli at Sandiwood

BROCCOLI

I had huge success with early Batavia F1 broccoli last year, and it’s now my choice for early crops. I used row cover to get steady rapid growth, and got beautiful plants with huge crowns that I sold by weight in June, with a two week window to harvest from one seeding.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Belstar F1, and I do a couple successions of it. It’s super nice in late summer and fall and holds really well in the field. It has quickly become a market standard, with uniform growth and dependability throughout late summer and fall.

I also grow some DeCicco because people love its tender, delicious florets and stems, which I sell bunched like broccoli raab. You can plant densely, and it’s great for plant sales. It’s even a gourmet delicacy when it’s starting to flower, as it stays tender and delicious without getting spicy.

KALE

I tried all our kales last year to see the differences. The Meadowlark is SO beautiful and graceful with its long leaves and tight curl, and people loved it. It does take a few more leaves to make a bunch, but the plants are tall and have more leaves, so you don’t need to plant more.


A staff member harvests kale at Sandiwood Farm

The other green curly type I really love is Westlander – it’s the most similar to the hybrid market standards with its uniform habit and large leaves.

Our Red Russian and White Russian grow so fast, and they’re tender and beautiful. It’s really nice to have a diverse mix of kale for your CSA, market display or even your wholesale accounts – I was selling to a lot of chefs last year and they LOVED the mixed boxes of kale and having the palette of colors and textures to work with.

Our Siberian (back in stock this year!) rocks in terms of size, tenderness and extremely fast growth.

The Lacinato is so beautiful and hardy, it’s super popular and it has lots of fun names. It takes a few more leaves to make a full size bunch, but it produces a lot throughout the season and well into the winter.


Sara and Bob Schlosser’s farm stand at the Stowe Farmers Market

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

I love Nautic F1 and have had great results keeping them covered, with plants three feet tall in June, and really early sprouts. They work well in pints—people like the trophy of the whole stalk, but that’s a lot of sprouts for just $5. You can get a lot more money if you sell them picked, and it’s a huge space saver. I usually bring just a few stalks to decorate the stand and show people how they grow.

TURNIPS

I love the early Hakurei-type turnips like Tokyo Market. Last year I did them in succession really early in the high tunnel and was able to get beautiful early bunches. They’re so sweet and versatile raw or cooked—everyone says they never knew they liked turnips until they tried these.

All of these professional-grade varieties offer real benefits to our farm, with both reliable performance for the grower and great quality for a variety of direct and wholesale customers. I hope you can benefit from our experience at Sandiwood, and as always, feel free to contact Sales if we can help with your planning.

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Ask The Expert, Commercial Growing, Farmer Authors, Growing Tips, Variety Highlights | 8 Comments