Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fertilizer Friday - "Paul's Produce"

Went to look at a couple of greenhouses with  my friend and business partner Paul. Paul is growing produce and cut flowers for me that I can take to market. He also wants to build the business so he can supply a few restaurants in and around Fenton. We got a line on these greenhouses from a nice couple I met out at Armada. They only want what they would get in basically scrap for the structure. They are a couple of hoop frames with fans and a couple of furnaces available. Paul is currently debating the investment and trying to get some interest in the project from a few other people.

To the left is a picture of Paul walking the very late planted veg garden. The tomatoes have put on some nice growth and I confess I gave him some pretty poor starts. The garden is about 20 or 30 foot across and 75 feet long with  radishes, greens, tomatoes and a number of varieties of annuals and cut flowers. This is our first year trying this and Paul is hoping to make a go of it.

Everything will be grown organically, but this year we are both relying on a bit of 'Miracle-Gro' to prop up the nutrient needs of the crops. The soil is really nice up there and he's worked it so well that you can just plant by digging a bare hand into the soil. Deer and other varmints have been a problem. The deer come in in the early morning and evening and don't even thank us for providing them with the salad bar. Paul has installed a fence of cedar posts and fishing line to deter the deer, but someone like a rabbit or woodchuck has gotten in and nipped off the leaves of radishes and pumpkins.

Here's a pic of Paul holding a baby French Breakfast radish planted only a couple of weeks ago. The soil is so nice, well drained and fertile that the root crops are sizing up nicely.

Have planted some of the extra perennials from the nursery. Here are two varieties of yarrow that can be cut for fresh or dried flowers. I can also use these beds to propagate more nursery stock.

A long view of the garden. As you can see, lots of the crops are just babies, but I just invested in a book by Eliot Coleman on winter to overwinter crops and how to harvest thoughout the winter with minimal heat input. The months of late July and August are good for planting short-maturing crops for a fall, early winter garden that you can size up before the really cold weather hits.

The pumpkins are knee high and are starting to vine. They look beautiful until the critters nip at them.

One of the annual dried flower varieties I am trying, celosia Pampas Plume. Supposed to get quite big, we put it in so stressed out and late, but the plants have come on nicely.

Another variety of plant for dried flowers - Amaranth 'Hopi red dye' traditionally used for its red pigmentation. It looks great in the field and is really loving the conditions. These were tiny, about an inch tall when they went in a month or so ago.

Finally the statice is starting to come into flowering and show color. The blue and purple variety is showing more vigor but I like the tones of Pacific Sunset mix. I had to keep deadheading these as they went to flower in their cell trays.

So that's the update on Paul's veg gardens. I am really impressed by what the soil will support. I think we'll have a kick-butt garden next year. And, if he gets the greenhouses, we'll really be able to get the business going.

Meanwhile, Vicki's veg gardens are growing quite nicely too. The tomatoes are over four feet tall and have topped their stakes and a few of the plants have just decided to get too big and flop over. The herb garden is getting some use from Erin and Vicki as they cook their gourmet meals and we are just starting to get a few cherry tomatoes. I hope to get a few heirlooms off these plots to be able to take up to market to sell.

Did pretty well in Fenton Thursday evening. Paul brought fresh-picked blackberries and greens and I picked catnip and a few fresh black-eyed susans. I also brought some jams and dried herbs. Put up more jam this morning and I have dried a bunch of mango and strawberries. Trying to diversify the product mix...

Meanwhile work goes on in the nursery. Seeding right now and have some young kale, basil and cat grass just about ready to sell. The catnip and cilantro are coming on nicely as is the parsley and cumin. Seeded some more varieties of biennials on Wednesday and well keep on seeding throughout August and into September.

Am trying a new market today - going to the Romeo Farmer's Market in downtown Romeo, Michigan at the corner of 32 mile rd and Van Dyke. It starts at 9am and goes until 3. The market master is offering a fee-free August so I am hoping I can find another market on Saturdays. Have decided to stop going to the Oakland County Market as the booth fee is so high and I can't justify working the whole day for just a few bucks after expenses. So if anyone in Oakland County wants to get a hold of me and stop by the nursery don't hesitate to call me at 248-622-6527.

That's the scoop for this week. Hoping August is starting to bring you fresh produce and beautiful flowers from your gardens.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a good summer at your place. Paul's vegetables look super.


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