growing F O R M A R K E... news & ideas for local food producers

growing
ne ws & ide a s for lo c al fo od producers
FOR
Volume 21 / Number 2
February 2012
M A R K ET
How to choose
tomato varieties
By Andrew Mefferd
Selling grafted tomato plants / 9
The Holistic Orchard / 12
Calculating how much to plant / 17
New flowers for 2012 / 25
Tomatoes are the most profitable
crop on many market farms — if you
choose the right varieties. But with
thousands of varieties on the market
and hundreds of new ones introduced
every year, how do you know which
ones to grow?
As the owner of a small market
farm in Maine and the trial technician for tomatoes at Johnny’s Selected
Seeds research farm, I have a lot of
experience with growing tomatoes. I
want to share my perspective on how
to choose the best varieties for your
location and markets.
One of the best ways to figure out
what varieties to grow on your farm
is to look around at the farmers and
gardeners in your area and see what
they like. Asking what varieties they
are not growing and why will help
you learn from their mistakes and not
waste production space on something
that doesn’t work in your area. It’s always worthwhile to keep a little bit of
field space devoted to on-farm trialing of new varieties to see if they work
before going into production.
Most years at Johnny’s we trial
roughly 300 varieties of tomatoes in
the field, 50 in the hoophouse, and 10
to 15 different rootstocks for grafted
tomatoes. It is a daunting task to
evaluate 400 varieties every year and
figure out which ones make sense for
the catalog.
The most important criteria we
look at when evaluating tomatoes is
flavor. It may sound redundant to say
that we consider flavor with something edible, but if you’ve ever eaten
a grocery store tomato, you know that
much vegetable breeding is devoted
to qualities besides flavor. We also
look closely at yield, appearance, disease resistance, cracking, blemishes,
and all the other factors that affect
tomato selection. Being a company
that sells to market growers, one of
the most important things for direct
marketing tomatoes is good flavor
since your customer will associate the
flavor of your produce with you.
Before talking about individual
variety selection, let’s talk tomato
types. You probably already know
that tomatoes are categorized by two
broad plant habits: Indeterminates,
which grow nearly indefinitely, adding leaves, shoots, and flowers until
frost or something else kills them;
and determinates, which grow more
like a bush and have a predetermined
size.
One reason to grow indeterminates is flavor. Generally speaking,
indeterminate tomatoes have better
flavor than determinates. Indeterminate tomatoes have three or more
leaves between fruit clusters, whereas
determinates have two or fewer leaves
per fruit cluster. So indeterminates
have a higher ratio of leaf area to fruit.
If you think of foliage as solar panels
continued on page 4
Market Tomatoes from
Tasti-Lee F1
75 days. Tasti-Lee is a very productive,
high-quality fresh market beefsteak tomato
with exceptional flavor, high lycopene and a
long shelf life.
It has just the right balance of sugars and
acids to give it that “old time” tomato taste.
The interior is firm and meaty with intense
red color, making it an excellent sandwich
or salad tomato. Determinate plant habit.
Retail chain store sales require a marketing
agreement.
Mountain Magic F1
75 days. Campari-type for outdoor production with good uniformity, high sugar and
disease resistance. Highly crack-resistant;
uniformly red inside and out; long shelf life.
Resistant to Verticillium Wilt 1 and 2,
Fusarium Wilt 1 and 2. Resistant to late blight,
plus moderate resistance to early blight.
Flavor stands in comparisons with heirloom
varieties. Produces round to deep round 2 oz.
fruit on somewhat compact indeterminate
plants. Fruits have a long shelf life.
Plum Regal F1
75 days. Fresh market large plum tomato.
Good disease resistance to Verticillium Wilt,
Fusarium Wilt 1 and 2, TSWV and late blight,
with moderate early blight resistance as well.
Highly resistant to fruit crack and graywall.
Determinate plants with heavy cover for
vine-ripe or mature green harvest. Highyielding and good tasting Roma with extra
thick walls and deep crimson color. It is
widely adapted, with vigorous plant habit.
Your Farmers’ Markets Seed Source
Call: 800-622-7333 Fax: 864-227-5108
Visit: www.twilleyseed.com
2
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
LET TER FROM
Wild Onion Farm
LYNN BYCZYNSKI
Still trying to get it right
Well, we now know that eliminating the 3-hole punch
from GFM didn’t solve the problem of issues arriving
shredded. Several readers called to let me know their magazines were torn despite the lack of holes. And one person
even submitted evidence. I’ll spare you the gory details,
but suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty.
So this month we are trying the little sticky tabs to hold
this issue closed. Getting it tabbed adds a couple of days
to processing time, and since I’m always working right
against deadline anyway, I hate to slow down the mailer.
So I do want to know if this doesn’t work either. Please just
drop me an email if your issue still arrived torn. [email protected]
growingformarket.com
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Volume 21
Number 2,
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3
Choosing tomatoes
continued from page 1
for the sugar factory, indeterminates have a higher potential for solar panels and thus sugar and other flavor compounds.
The main reason to grow determinates is labor. Bush
tomatoes have a better ratio of labor to production; it requires less labor to grow the same quantity of determinate
tomatoes as indeterminate. Instead of the season-long
suckering, pruning, and trellising work to keep up with indeterminates, supporting determinates with a simple trellis saves a lot of labor. We still recommend suckering and
leaf removal on determinate plants up to the sucker below
the first fruit cluster, mainly to improve airflow around
the stem of the plant. After that, any more pruning on determinates will reduce yield and flavor by removing some
of the limited number of flowers and branches. Another
reason to grow determinates is for those who want a concentrated yield of tomatoes over a shorter period of time,
instead of the steady, season-long yield of indeterminates.
Some determinates have a single very concentrated set of
tomatoes, and others may have a second set to increase
and spread the yield over a slightly longer season.
Besides the variety’s natural flavor potential, a lot of
nurture goes into tomato flavor. An average-tasting determinate might taste better than an heirloom picked off
a plant that was defoliated by disease and about to die.
That’s why we tend to talk about flavor and yield potential— reaching any given variety’s potential is a function
of how it is grown.
Heirloom tomatoes
One of the most diverse areas of tomato varieties are
the heirlooms. Most of these are indeterminates, though
not all. If you spent enough time looking at seed catalogs,
you could probably find 100 varieties solely of big pink
heirlooms that compare to ‘Brandywine’. You could find
even more if you joined Seed Savers Exchange and looked
through their yearbook of varieties that are preserved by
members. Before getting into specific varieties, I must
note there are so many great heirlooms that many favorites
will be left out of our discussion. I apologize in advance.
A review of heirloom varieties in general is beyond the
scope of this article. I am just going to touch on a few that
I think have exceptional flavor and relatively good production for fresh market sales. I would be interested to hear
about your favorites if you want to send your suggestions
to me. I look for heirlooms with excellent flavor, vigorous
plants, and a manageable amount of blemishes so they
make it to market.
In many parts of the country, Brandywine is synonymous with good heirloom flavor. With growers, it
can also be infamous for unpredictable yields and blem-
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
ished fruit that is harder to sell at market. If you have a
market for a big pink heirloom, it might be worth trying
Rose or German Johnson (aka German Pink Johnson).
In my experience, these two tomatoes have more vigorous plants and higher yield of unblemished fruit without
compromising on flavor. As a market grower, I appreciate
the slightly smaller fruit size of these varieties compared
to Brandywine. Many of our customers at farmers markets don’t want to buy huge tomatoes that can be over $5
a fruit. In some parts of the Southeast, German Johnson
has the same reputation for flavor that Brandywine has in
the North. There are two strains of German Johnson; we
found the normal-leaved strain to be earlier and more vigorous than Brandywine, with excellent flavor and a melting, creamy texture.
For the “black” brown/red tomatoes with greenish
shoulders, I like Cherokee Purple and Black Krim, though
Krim seems to benefit from more heat than we have in the
northern tier of the country. In the yellow/orange category,
we have had good luck with Dr. Wyche’s Yellow, Valencia, Striped German and Gold Medal. The last two have
many similarities and one may perform better in a given
area than the other. The yellows and oranges are not my
personal favorite. I like a tomato with a lot of acidic flavor
to complement the sweetness. Yellow and orange tomatoes
in general tend to be less acidic than red/pink tomatoes.
But I know we have customers who prefer a milder tomato
so we grow a lot of them, too.
In the green category, Green Zebra and Cherokee
Green have done well for us but there are many others. I
find the green tomatoes to be less popular at market, because customers are not used to tomatoes of that color and
may have doubts about their ripeness. We still grow some
greens, because we wholesale mixed heirloom boxes, and
they look nice with the other colors.
For heirloom sauce tomatoes, Amish Paste is as good
as any of them, though there are several like Opalka that
are similar. Speckled Roman, though not old enough to be
an heirloom, is the stabilized cross of two other heirlooms
and will one day be an heirloom due to its good looks and
eating quality.
Most heirlooms do not have much disease resistance,
and may be difficult to grow in areas or years with high
disease pressure. One way to dramatically increase the
vigor and resistance to soilborne diseases of heirloom tomatoes is to graft them onto a variety bred specifically
for use as rootstock. We have seen excellent results with
both Maxifort and Colosus to boost the yield and health of
heirloom tomatoes. Both of them would be worth a try in
your production system. Grafting tomatoes is not a simple
process, but if you can learn it or buy in grafted plants, it
has the potential to significantly increase yields and disease resistance without compromising the quality of the
fruit. Whether in the field or the greenhouse, each leader
of a double-stemmed grafted plant may perform similarly
continued on the next page
Johnnyseeds.com
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
5
Choosing tomatoes
continued from page 5
to a single-stemmed ungrafted plant.
Greenhouse/hoophouse
At the other end of the spectrum
from the heirloom tomatoes with little
disease resistance are the greenhouse
tomatoes. We mainly list tomatoes in
the “Greenhouse” category at Johnny’s based on the variety’s ability to
resist the diseases that are more likely
to occur in a greenhouse. Diseases
like leaf mold that are rare in the field
are much more likely to occur in a
greenhouse or hoophouse, especially
where the lack of proper crop rotation
can cause a buildup of diseases. The
warm, humid conditions in a greenhouse are also great for molds and
bacterial diseases.
When we trial greenhouse tomatoes, we are looking for varieties that
will do well in an unheated or minimally heated plastic-covered tunnel.
This is in contrast to the high-tech,
closely climate and humidity con-
trolled facilities that many of these
tomatoes were developed for. More
adaptability is required to be able to
thrive in the wide range of temperatures, growing mediums, ventilation,
and pruning regimes that different
growers have. Many varieties besides
the greenhouse types are grown successfully in greenhouses, they are just
more susceptible to being taken down
by disease.
Rebelski is a new greenhouse beefsteak that really impressed us this
past year. It hits a sweet spot between
looks, flavor, and yield for protected
cropping. Many of the greenhouse tomatoes we see are so highly bred for
shelf life and disease resistance that
they sacrifice flavor. Rebelski tastes
as good as any greenhouse tomato
I’ve ever had. It also has good texture
when ripe, remaining firm without
being hard like some commercial tomatoes. The bright red, unusually
shiny appearance and lightly ribbed
top are attractive and make it stand
out at market. It might not be quite as
heavy yielding as Geronimo but it is
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6
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
very productive. On the other hand,
if you need very high production
of a smoother beefsteak with good
flavor, Geronimo might be worth a
try. If you don’t want to graft, Arbason has the most natural vigor of the
greenhouse tomatoes and is a good
candidate for ungrafted production,
though it has less disease resistance
than most greenhouse types.
We have been getting more requests for a cluster tomato, and we
think that Clermon is the best tomato
on the vine (TOV) that we have seen.
Many customers have gotten used
to seeing these types in the grocery
store, and it is an opportunity for a
local producer to provide a fresher,
riper product than what is generally
available. In cluster types, we look
for varieties that ripen their fruits all
at the same time. Otherwise, the first
fruit to ripen closest to the plant will
be mushy by the time the fruit at the
end of the cluster ripens. The other
thing we look for is fruits that do not
easily detach from the vine, because
if you want to sell a cluster of fruits
they can’t fall off. Clermon does these
things well in addition to looking nice
and having good flavor and yield.
Clermon and most truss varieties do
best pruned back to 4 or 5 fruits. If
pruned to 4 the individual fruits will
be slightly larger than with 5 on the
truss. More than 5 fruits may not ripen together, or the sixth fruit may be
undersized.
One of the best greenhouse cherry
tomatoes we have seen is Sakura. It
has a great combination of earliness,
attractiveness, and really good flavor.
In a blind taste test of greenhouse
cherry tomatoes among Johnny’s
staff, Sakura was the clear favorite.
The crack-resistant fruits hold well
after harvest.
I wouldn’t recommend growing
any of these greenhouse types in the
field. They tend not to be nearly as
good outside of protection. If greenhouse types are the thoroughbreds of
the tomato world, their racetrack is
the greenhouse. You wouldn’t plow
with a racehorse, and I would keep the
thoroughbreds out of the field. The
more labor you can put into them in
the greenhouse, the more you will get
out of them. The better you can keep
up on a regular schedule of pruning,
trellising, cluster pruning, and deleafing below the ripening cluster, the
better greenhouse tomatoes will do.
On the other hand, many growers have great results with field varieties in the greenhouse. Our season
is so short here in Maine, I have almost given up on growing indeterminates in the field. By the time they
are ripening in August, it is about to
start getting cool again, and we have
been plagued by late blight around
that time the last few years. So I have
moved most of my indeterminate
tomato production inside, which is
split 50/50 between heirlooms and
greenhouse types, all grafted. I know
many people have success with determinates in greenhouses to take
advantage of the reduced labor. In
warmer season areas, a spring crop
of determinates can be grown under
cover to get on the market early, and
then removed in the heat of the summer when the field tomatoes start to
produce.
many other varieties that may taste
better depending on region and season.
As far as determinate slicers go,
Polbig has unusually good flavor for a
very early tomato. Celebrity has long
been a popular main-season determinate. Defiant PHR is smaller than
Celebrity and has the added benefit of
resistance to late blight. Valley Girl,
Solar Set and Floralina can do well
in hot summer areas where regular
daytime temperatures in the 90s can
continued on the next page
Field production
As far as varieties for the field go,
selection must be by region in response to the diseases and pests that
are in each area of the country. Indeterminate slicers Early Girl, New
Girl, Big Beef and Jet Star have all
been popular for years, but there are
Maine Certified Seed Potatoes
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
7
Choosing tomatoes
continued from page 7
cause the blossoms to drop. Mountain Fresh Plus is one
of the most popular market varieties in the East and Midwest. BHN-1021 has good flavor and nematode and tomato spotted wilt (TSWV) resistance which may help growers in much of the South. A very leafy variety like Shady
Lady is popular in very sunny parts of the country where
sunburn of the fruits can be a problem.
For sauce tomatoes, we look at tomatoes with high
solids and little juice in addition to good flavor. Meaty,
less juicy tomatoes can be cooked into sauce much more
quickly. Sauce tomatoes are a great opportunity to grow a
determinate and save on labor, since good determinate tomatoes have enough flavor and sugars to make tasty sauce.
At least in my market, people don’t want sauce tomatoes
early in the season, and then they want a whole bunch at
once later in the season for canning and sauce. Monica,
Mariana, and Roma have all been popular for determinate
plum tomatoes. Plum Regal has the added benefit of late
blight resistance. For markets that demand a San Marzano
shape, Paisano is a high yielding bush type. If you want
to grow an indeterminate, San Marzano 168 is earlier and
a better yielder than most San Marzanos. In general, the
longer shaped tomatoes are less prone to many common
blemishes, but more susceptible to blossom end rot, so
keep calcium levels optimal and watering even if you are
growing these types.
In the Saladette category, we select meaty tomatoes that
would be great eaten fresh in salads or on sandwiches, for
fresh tomato sauce, and good processed. For the smaller
saladettes, Juliet has long been popular for its unusually
healthy plant and big yields of mini-romas with good flavor. Juliet is good enough to eat fresh, and the stem scar
is so small you may be able to process it without coring.
Mountain Magic is a “cocktail tomato,” the size of a very
big cherry, with really excellent flavor and the added benefit of late blight resistance. Granadero is a great indeterminate plum with nematode and TSWV resistance, and a
great example of a versatile tomato you could eat fresh if
you wanted a less juicy tomato, or make into sauce.
Growers in many areas have good luck with indeterminate cherry tomatoes BHN-624, Sun Cherry, Super Sweet
100, and Sweet Million. Sun Gold is one of the tangiest,
most fantastic tasting tomatoes ever but it splits readily,
so don’t over-irrigate, or pick it before a big rain! Sun Gold
is an opportunity for market farmers to provide a product
not available in the grocery store, since they are too delicate for shipping. Most determinate cherries are not great
tasting but BHN-968 is surprisingly good, and has nematode and TSWV resistance.
The good grape tomatoes are not simply oval-shaped
cherry tomatoes, but meatier, less juicy, more flavorful
versions of the little round tomato. Since customers may
8
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
not know this, a sign or sampling will help turn people on
to the grapes. Mixed pints of cherry or grape tomatoes are
appealing on the market stand.
Dry farmed tomatoes
One trend in tomato growing that is worth trying is
dry farming. This practice was developed in California in
response to over-irrigated, washed out tasting tomatoes.
Outdoor tomato crops are established either in the spring
with natural rains, or with irrigation. Since it doesn’t rain
during the summer in most parts of California, irrigation
is stopped when the plants set their first flower cluster. By
that time the plants are rooted enough to survive without
irrigation, but the lack of any extra water means the fruits
develop smaller than they normally would for the variety,
and the flavors are concentrated. Dry farmed Early Girl
has become a farmers market staple in California. New
Girl, Cherokee Purple, and Taxi also are used.
Growers in parts of the country that get rain during
the growing season are experimenting with dry-farming
by establishing crops in a hoophouse with big irrigations
to push the roots deep, and then turning off the irrigation
once the plants are well established (after setting the first
flower cluster) and letting them fend for themselves the
rest of the season. Grafting can help with this practice because the plant develops a bigger, more robust root system.
If you have never dry farmed before, keep the irrigation
functional, in case the hoophouse gets hot or dry enough
to kill the plants or give them blossom end rot. This is not
an established practice outside California yet, and it may
be a chance to bring something new to market. Dry-farming could probably work well with many other varieties.
You could experiment with it by turning off or reducing
the irrigation to just a row of tomatoes and seeing what
happens.
Besides working at Johnny’s research farm, Andrew Mefferd owns One Drop Farm with his wife, Ann. He can be
reached at [email protected]
Grafted tomato transplants:
a new economic opportunity
By Lynn Byczynski
Tomato grafting was late to arrive
in the United States, long after it became common practice elsewhere in
the world, and it is only now becoming popular among market farmers.
But most small growers don’t have
the time or facilities to graft their own
tomatoes, which involves splicing the
top of a desired variety onto a vigorous
rootstock variety when the plants are
just a few inches tall. So a new niche
has opened for greenhouse growers to
sell grafted plants to other growers.
“There’s not only a market for it,
there’s a great need for it, particularly because so many high tunnels
are going up and high tunnel production limits crop rotations,” said Mary
Roberts of Windcrest Farm in Monroe, North Carolina, who sells certified-organic grafted tomato transplants locally and by mail order.
Jack Manix of Walker Farm in
Dummerston, Vermont, does custom grafting for other local growers as
well as for his own farm. “We’ve been
very happy with the custom grafting
and I guess the customers appreciate
it also as we have several who have
been coming to us for years,” he said.
“Since we’re running heat from midJanuary on, we figured we might as
well fill up the house to help pay for
the heating. Vermont has a great network of farmers and once word gets
out that we’re crazy enough to run a
greenhouse through the dead of a Vermont winter, other growers come calling for orders. Right now we do about
1,750 for ourselves and 3,000 for others. I also like to do a few hundred on
spec as someone always has a power
failure and it’s nice to be able to get
them back on the growing schedule.”
Greenhouse and hoophouse tomato growers are becoming increasingly
convinced of the benefits of grafted
tomatoes. Research has shown that
grafted tomatoes resist soilborne
pathogens such as Verticillium and
Fusarium wilt, corky root rot, rootknot nematodes, bacterial wilt,
southern blight, and others. Growers whose tomatoes have suffered
from those problems are eager to try
grafted plants, and many hoophouse
and greenhouse growers use grafted plants as a preventative strategy
against the potential buildup up diseases when tomatoes are grown in the
same soil year after year.
Heirloom tomato growers are particularly interested in grafted plants
because many heirlooms have little
disease resistance. Some report greatly improved yield, even in the field,
from grafted plants.
“The first year we grew grafted
Cherokee Purple tomatoes was the
year everyone had late blight,” Mary
Roberts said. “We did not have that
Sales
issue at all. The tomatoes we planted
in May were still producing in November.”
Interest in grafted tomatoes has
even spread to backyard gardeners,
thanks to several seed companies including Burpee and Territorial offering mail-order grafted plants.
With so much attention on grafting, you might want to consider
whether it could be an opportunity
for you to make some early-season
cash by custom growing grafted
plants. Here are comments from the
two growers mentioned above about
the demands and problems of commercial grafting.
Jack Manix in Vermont
“We have 20 greenhouses, 10 for
flowers and 10 certified organic for
starts and in-ground growing but we
want to keep heated plastic at a minimum until March. Since we do five
shifts of grafting about two weeks
apart for ourselves to keep our farm
stand flush until the hoophouse and
field tomatoes come in, we’re pretty
much grafting every few days. I have
a great woman, Abby, who’s been
working for us for almost 20 years and
she has doctor-steady hands and can
side-graft about one per minute with
around a 98% success rate. We’ve recently started doing some top grafting also which is even faster.
continued on the next page
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
9
Plants at farmers markets
continued from page 11
“Generally growers around here want their greenhouses to start producing around mid-May at the earliest to
supply opening farm stands, markets and CSAs. Trying
to get ripe toms much earlier than that is difficult because
of the light situation in January and February. Since most
of the growers are picking up their orders in late February
or early March, it cleans out the greenhouse just in time
for our own field crop starts and the money that comes in
is nice to help with growing labor costs.
“There is, of course, some stress involved. Being responsible for an important crop for local farmers in the
dead of winter is a heavy obligation. We have a very good
alarm system and backup heaters just in case. One winter
the wind chill got down to –20 and –30 for three nights.
That’s when I learned that propane can turn to jelly at low
temps. I had to wake up every hour and check that the
emergency heater was not getting too hot or too cold. Next
summer I had a larger gas supply line put in so I could get
some sleep.
“We sure don’t want our customers to get plants with
problems so we’re religious zealots for Rootshield soakings,
at least three times during the growth stages. We also use
banker plants and trap plants with beneficial insect releases to keep the bad guys at bay. This all has to figure into
the price. Right now we are charging $4 to $5 depending
on whether or not the customer is supplying the rootstock
THE VALLEY OAK and scion seed. Prices seem to be going through the roof
lately with Geronimo tomato seed selling for around $129
for 250 seeds. That’s over 50 cents each and the Maxifort
rootstock is not much better. Luckily I panic bought and
have around 10,000 Buffalo seeds in the freezer from 5 or
6 years ago. Turns out it was a lot better investment than
the EToys stock that tanked for me a number of years ago.
“We also graft about another 600 for a fall crop that
carries us until our farm stand closes on Thanksgiving.
The fall toms only produce about half the weight but
they’re large and pretty. The spring-summer plants can
produce 15 to 20 lbs. per plant and with organic tomatoes
selling for $3.49 to $4.49 per pound through the season,
that can pay for a lot of grafting.”
Mary Roberts in North Carolina
“We are grafting tomatoes but we are limiting the
plants we have available this season because grafting is
very labor intensive at a time of the year that is, for us, the
most labor intensive time anyway. In addition, we have
had seasons (spring/fall) when we achieved a 98% success
rate and some seasons we have had a 2% success rate using the same methods. We will be offering grafted plants
from an inventory rather than custom growing as we have
in the past until we can be certain we can supply growers consistently. For growers planning on a large quantity
of grafted plants that they produce themselves or contract
from a commercial greenhouse, I recommend that you
have a back-up plan.
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
ample root balls pays back in improved crop yields.
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Resources
USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program has released a new fact sheet about the benefits and practice of grafting. It includes
an extensive list of resources. Tomato
Grafting for Disease Resistance and Increased Productivity, is available free,
online only, from http://low.sare.org/
Newsroom/Press-Releases/GraftingTomatoes-Brings-Better-Yields-Naturally
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a 20-minute video by the
University of Vermont Extension about grafting, featuring a Vermont grower who grafts for his own greenhouses
and for other tomato growers. You can watch it at http://
www.johnnyseeds.com/t-video_tomato_grafting.aspx
!"#$%&'()"#$%&'()"*+,&'()"'--((.*/"'01'2*-(3'//*4'((5'0(6"-7(87&'((9*"2"7(."74:'(;#<-,22$7(;*-/7"0
!"#$%&'($)*%+))$
!"#"$%&'(()*%+%,('-*
./'%01(%.'(*1%2"'3(0%&'/4('
G&7-:=74%()7&'$0*&7((!#&0(@7"0'$():#42"#'-((H&*-:(H*//'"(.7%(3'//*4((@2&0'$(?*"-&7$'((I*"D#D2"(?7"-&'C((@#7$/(5'0()'&'"C((@"'7/@"''$
Purple Mountain Organics
fail to heal. Again, larger plants will not have as much of
an issue, but again they can be rather expensive to produce.
“We are fully committed to ramping this up commercially, and if folks want to call us to get on a waiting list
for our grafted plants, I’m willing to do it. But I’m not going to guarantee we’ll have 500 grafted plants on a specific
date — that’s not fair to anyone.”
Mary can be reached at [email protected]
com.
374#$7/2(57#$=2>(87&'(?*",&'(@22-'A22/(BC,'"(5'0(5*+,&'(!7D'0(3'//*4'(E0*&#-(37+=-F*77"/'"-(!:#/'(5*--#7$(87&'((@&2--C(E,7<2/'
“One of the challenges of grafting tomatoes is matching the growth rate and stem diameter of the scion (top)
with the rootstock for best healing success. Note that in
some of the research they are using growth chambers
with daylight length controls. In the real-world farm environment, you will need to pay close attention to make
sure you are getting comparable growth rates between
the scion and rootstock. Because we are USDA Certified
Organic, we do not use PGRs (plant growth regulators)
in our greenhouse production. Matching stem diameters is easier with older plants but the amount of time
growing out two tomato plants for one grafted plant costs
more (then add the extra labor and real estate for a healing
chamber). Heirloom tomato plants grow differently than
hybrid rootstocks (we have even seen different shaped
tomato stems!). If you want to try your hand at grafting,
start with the tomato varieties that have been used successfully in research trials. We originally started grafting
128 cell sized plants to make it cost effective for our customers however the stem size in a 128-cell can be tricky
and the failure rate higher. We are now doing 50s and 72s.
“Regarding the SARE article (see Resources at end)
and other research papers on tomato grafting, an area of
difference has been with regards to the humidity level in
the healing chamber. We found that when we pushed the
humidity up to 80-90%, water droplets forming on the
leaves dislodged the scion from the rootstock and prevented healing. However, you can imagine what happens
when there is inadequate humidity. The scions wilt and
56/#/786"#%9'/:%;<:'/=(<()0%./'%>)$%%[email protected]%."'<('*
!()$%./'%AB'%.'((%9"0"#/7
!"#$%&'($)*%+))$
CDAD%?/E%FGHIJ%C18#/<"01J%AK%ILMLH
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
11
The Holistic Orchard: a patient teacher
Review by Lynn Byczynski
Occasionally a book comes along that bowls you
over with its depth and breadth and authenticity.
Michael Phillips new work The Holistic Orchard is
such a book. The author,
a longtime fruit grower,
shares a vast store of experience about growing
tree fruits and berries.
The excerpt beginning
on the next page is a good
example of his approach.
He explains in detail how
to choose and plant fruit
trees, and he also explains
the reasons behind his instructions. He is like a patient teacher who wants his
students to understand his topic on a deep level, so
he takes the time to be thorough and answer all questions.
Phillips describes his approach to fruit growing
not as organic or biological or natural; those are labels, he says, that are limiting. Instead, he thinks of
fruit in a holistic light, considering all the factors that are involved in growing healthy food: soil, planting site, fertility,
native pollinators, ecological pest and disease control, and so
much more.
The Holistic Orchard provides all the basic instruction required to grow fruit, and Phillips has an uncommon ability to
also explain the interrelationships that exist in the ecological
system of an orchard. He invites readers to listen to what the
trees teach, to observe carefully what is going on not just with
the fruit but with all the life in the orchard. He provides a
calendar of events for fruit growing — what tasks to do when
— that only an expert could provide.
The book also contains in-depth profiles of many fruits:
the pome fruits (apples, pears, Asian pears, quinces); the
stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums);
and berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants, and elderberries.)
The Holistic Orchard pushes the frontier of fruit growing into new territory, catching it up to other ecological crop
production knowledge. If you have ever felt intimidated by
fruit growing, this book will give you the confidence to move
ahead.
See page 15 for ordering information.
G&M Ag Supply
Company LLC
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Science-, farmer-, and certification-based
information on organic agriculture for
farmers and ag professionals
www.extension.org/organic_production
Potting Mix Resources
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www.extension.org/pages/20982
Root Media and Fertility Management
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
Free articles, videos, webinars, and
morenon topics like soils, weeds,
dairy, vegetables, certification,
cover crops, insects, seeds,
marketing, and dairy
Have a question?
www.extension.org/ask
and we’ll get back to you!
eOrganic is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and
Agriculture, eXtension, and the Oregon State University Department of
Horticulture
Take care when planting fruit
The following is an excerpt from The
Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips,
available now from Chelsea Green
Publishing.
look. Planting delays do happen, however, and in that case orders from the
nursery can be tucked away in moist
wood shavings or the like in a cool
place for a week or two. If it’s going to
be longer (you’re off to the Bahamas!)
bareroot plants should be heeled in
the garden until proper planting holes
can be dug. Trees planted after leaves
have started to grow will experience
transplant shock, in part because
feeder root growth has begun. This
can potentially stunt both the upper
tree and root development, so don’t
wait too long. Heavy pruning can
help, and reliable irrigation is better—but respecting tree dynamics is
the best strategy of all.
Growers in Zone 6 and south
should take advantage of fall planting. The root growth that takes
place in mild winters gets the young
The best time to plant a tree was
twenty years ago; the second-best time
is now. — Chinese proverb
Fruit trees and berries should be
planted as early in the spring as possible after the soil has dried out sufficiently. Soil preparation the year
before helps in getting nursery stock
planted that much earlier. Cold soil
temperatures will promote the development of calluses at the tips of any
torn roots. Normal spring rains will
then settle the soil around the roots
before leaf growth occurs. Catch this
timing right and your trees will slide
into full gear with nary a backward
:H0DQXIDFWXUHU
tree established and raring to go by
spring. Fully dormant trees can be
transplanted from mid-November
through December. Larger two-year
nursery trees suffer less transplant
shock when fall-planted and thus retain a head start on one-year whips.
Roots continue to grow even though
tops are dormant in regions where
soil temperatures remain above 40°F
(4°C). Damage to the roots is more
likely to occur in northern zones
from the frost-heaving of recently
disturbed soil. Mulching a new tree
after the ground freezes can alleviate
this concern . . . just be sure to wrap
tender young trunks to protect them
from voles.
Trees can be purchased directly
from nurseries as bareroot stock or
already potted up at a local garden
center. You might even be able to obtain trees of bearing age from a local
continued on the next page
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
13
Planting fruit
continued from page 13
orchardist (admittedly, a big- bucks
proposition suitable mainly for those
without patience). I recommend the
bareroot option hands down: Young
whips do not go through transplant
shock like more sizable trees that have
been waiting, rootbound, in bundled
soil for a year or more. People tempted by the bigger tree right there that
very day frequently end up making
a less-than-stellar variety choice,
transplanting a tree that’s in full leaf
(definitely not recommended), and
then compromising future growth for
years to come by not loosening up the
roots so they can reach out beyond
the matted disaster often found in
the pot. Repeat after me: I will plan
ahead and arrange for bareroot stock
to plant out at the right time.
Prior to planting, you should never
allow the roots of any plant to dry out.
Soaking the roots in a bucket of sea-
weed solution will help reduce transplant stress; do this the night before
planting and pledge not to leave roots
soaking for more than twenty-four
hours. A relatively calm, cloudy day
is preferable to a sunny, windy day
for planting. Be sure each tree and
fruiting shrub is individually labeled
to identify who’s who in the planting
plan. Brambles often come bundled in
tens for planting out in beds. Digging
holes ahead of time for a planting session can be more efficient than a “dig
then plant, dig then plant” routine.
A proper hole
The tree hole obviously needs to
be large enough to accommodate the
root system. However, digging a hole
significantly larger than that preps the
immediate soil zone for root outreach.
A 3-foot-diameter hole generally fits
the bill. I will trench out a channel for
an excessively long root rather than
curl it in toward the trunk. Loosening
the subsoil in the bottom of a 16- to
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20-inch-deep hole provides additional leeway in setting the height of the
graft union aboveground. A buried
graft union will eventually establish
its own roots, which override the desired dwarfing effect of clonal rootstock. I aim to keep the graft union
4 inches above the soil line, planting
only slightly deeper than the tree may
have grown in the nursery. Keep in
mind that the settling of looser soils
may bring the graft union down another inch or so. Trees on seedling
roots are the one exception: The graft
union can be buried if you wish to encourage self-rooting of the scion cultivar.
Do not mix massive amounts of
compost with the soil in the planting hole. The roots will soon extend
much farther into the surrounding
earth for long-term sustenance. A super-enriched planting hole gives roots
little reason to leave the home base.
I prefer to backfill the tree only with
the soil that came out of the hole, with
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
www.osborneseed.com
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the more friable topsoil placed against
the roots and the subsoil used to finish filling the hole. Tree nutrition in
the years ahead will come from above
in the form of orchard compost and
ramial wood chips to build that desirable fungal duff, where 90 percent of
the feeder roots will be found. Extension advice to load young fruit plantings up on nitrate fertilizers for the
first several years will work against
the fungal connection we seek for
long-term tree health.
Roughly serrating the sides of a
hole dug in heavy soil with a digging
fork helps fracture a too-smooth clay
finish. Growing roots need to readily
penetrate into the surrounding soil;
otherwise they may circle around the
glazed bowl that can inadvertently
result from clay particle adhesion
caused by digging the hole. Piling
good soil to one side of the planting
hole and less loamy subsoil to another
side as you dig allows you to systematically plant without compacting the
turned earth as you maneuver about.
Murray McMurray
Hatchery
I sprinkle a pound of rock phosphate
(for early root development) and the
same amount of Azomite (for trace
nutrients) onto these soil piles and
into the tree hole itself, stirring all together in the planting process.
Berries are more straightforward
(not having been grafted in the first
place), because the soil line evident
from nursery days marks the very
goal for planting day. Preparing the
bed during the previous year makes
planting a quick task, particularly for
brambles. Use a hoe to create a deepenough planting furrow, then line out
cane stock at the recommended spacing.
Trees and fruiting bushes planted in containers will require much
more frequent watering and feeding
with compost tea and herbal brews.
Porous-walled pots will lose moisture
rapidly compared with a thick- walled
tub or whiskey barrel. Drainage holes
are a must to prevent roots from sitting in standing water; a gravel layer
at the very bottom is strongly sug-
gested to facilitate this drainage. Suggested soil mix for potting up: equal
parts compost, perlite, peat moss, and
decomposing forest leaf litter. Ramial
mulch atop this soil is the right biological touch. Containerized trees
eventually get severely rootbound but
can be a fun novelty while the plants
thrive. a
The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips is 8x10, sof tcover, 416 pages. $ 40 plus $5 shipping.
Available from Growing for Market ’s bookstore. To order:
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
9HJHWDEOHKHUEÁRZHUVHHGV
Calculating how much to grow
By Pam Dawling
Planning is a cyclical process, and tweaking the plan
for better results is an annual task. However, if you are
starting from scratch, or if things are going really wrong,
where should you start in planning your enterprise?
ATTRA’s Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide has
a set of questions to help clarify goals and develop a business plan, along with links to many other resources. An
assessment of your available land, your preferred crops,
your customers, your location and your financial situation
will be the base on which you build your plan. Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms links her success to decisions based on her seven core values: Fun (a high quality
of life); making a living; no or low debt; enjoying people;
enjoying machines; continually investing in capital assets
and using organic practices.
Many growers will want to start with the money. The
incoming money, that is. See Crop Planning for Organic
Vegetable Growers by Brisebois and Thériault, and ATTRA’s Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision
Making Framework and Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market. The Organic Farmer’s
Business Handbook by Richard Wiswall includes a
CD you can copy and use to create your own budgets,
timesheets, payroll calculator, and more, compatible with
Windows, Mac and Linux.
Set financial goals and then figure out how to achieve
them. Plan your income (gross sales), then your profits
(salary), then your expenses, which could be anywhere
from 25-75% of your gross sales. Clearly, keeping expenses down will boost your income, so long as you don’t
make the farm nonviable.
To set your gross sales goal, consider how much produce you can grow and what the financial value of that is.
If you are brand new, you will need to ask other farmers
for help, study prices at the farmers’ market and see what
other growers offer. The Roxbury Farm website is helpful on this. A full time farmer might work 2,000 hours in
a year, and average $18/hour gross if things go according
to plan. But a beginning farmer needs more slack while
learning, and might expect to earn considerably less
than the $36,000 of an experienced grower. Perhaps only
$5,000-$10,000, according to Anne Weil, quoted in Crop
Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers. Out of these
gross sales come all the business expenses. So subtract
your hoped-for earnings from the gross sales and look
at how much will be available for covering the expenses.
Consider if this is a reasonable amount, by listing all your
expected expenses and then adding in something for con-
Par t of the 3 .5 acre vegetable garden that suppies 100 people
at Twin Oaks Communit y, showing some of the permanent
raised beds and par t of the row crop area. Photo by Pam
Dawling.
tingency expenses (the unexpected but unavoidable).
SPIN-Farming (Small Plot Intensive vegetable growing) is geared to new growers using city plots and prepared
to pay for the fairly expensive manuals. The website has a
calculator to convert square feet into farm income using
their methods.
continued on the next page
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Your source for quality seed potatoes!
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
17
How much to grow?
continued from page 15
Which crops to grow
Some crops require more skill or are less dependable.
If your climate is marginal for okra, avoid relying on it for
a large part of your summer income. Gardening When it
Counts by Steve Solomon has a table of “Vegetables by
level of care needed.” On his list of highly demanding
crops: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac and bulb onions. Steve’s list also includes asparagus, Chinese cabbage,
early cabbage, cantaloupe, leeks, large fruited peppers and
spring turnips and spinach. Although that last set grows
well for me, I have challenges in my climate with rutabagas, drying beans and shelling peas.
Some crops offer high yields or high market value for
a small space. Do you have a lot of labor or a lot of land?
In terms of yield per unit area, the best include carrots,
summer squash, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and
tomatoes. Peas, sweet corn, radishes and bush beans are
among the worst. But in terms of tonnage per hour worked
(“efficiency”) the best are sweet corn, potatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, summer squash, peas, peppers. The worst
include pole beans, radishes, onions, carrots, bush beans,
lettuce.
Neither high retail price nor high yield is the same as
most profitable. See Richard Wiswall’s Organic Farmer’s
Business Handbook for 25 sample crop enterprise budgets
which you can use to make a comparison of costs, sales
and profit from each vegetable. This is a book about number-crunching that’s accessible and inspiring. (One of the
author’s main goals is to help create less stressed-out farmers.) Beware preconceived notions on what is most profitable – get real numbers. His highest to lowest net profit per
bed are: greenhouse tomatoes, parsley, basil, kale, field tomatoes, cilantro, dill, peppers, carrots, parsnips, celeriac,
spinach, beets, lettuce, summer squash, bulb onions, cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, winter squash. Peas,
beans and sweet corn all ran at a loss. Remember – your
results may vary! One lessons from this list is the ability
of long season crops such as kale with an extended harvest
to provide high yields for the time put into soil preparation, planting and cultivation. Another lesson is that while
bunched herbs can bring a good profit, people will only
use a certain amount, and a diversity of crops is needed to
keep customers returning.
What the market wants
Contents of CSA shares are posted by many CSAs,
including Roxbury Farm. Sometimes you will want to
grow certain crops even if they are not the highest money-earners, because they enhance what you have to offer.
Perhaps they round out your market display or your CSA
boxes. Perhaps you’ll grow a crop because it is extra early,
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
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you can choose to grow just high value crops,
but if you are
Charts of possible
crop yields are available in the
doing a CSA, your customers may expect
to receive some Roxbury Farm’s Field
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some low-value their Greenhouse Schedule.
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crops.
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don’t
be
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to
say
no
to
growing
a
crop
such
tables
of
likely
yields
in
their
catalogs, although these are
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your farm. CSA has the advantage of money up-front and growers. The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable
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guaranteed customers, as well as avoiding the costs associ- Food Systems at the University of Santa Cruz has a lot of
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total bed length for VLPRORUHVGHUXPQRQSHUXPHW
a range of 36 crops in its Unit 4.5 CSA
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and in the right Crop Planning. Their
Appendix 9 includes the area requantities is a complex task, due to many
variables, not quirements translated
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into fractions of an acre. A further
all of which are in the control of the grower.
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information is Sharing the Harvest
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for
the
best
chance
of
success,
make
decisions
in
a
logiby Elizabeth Henderson
and Robyn Van En. A two-page
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cal
sequence.
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you’ve
decided
which
crops
you
want
table
includes
yield
per
100
row feet.
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much to plant:
How
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like to harvest,
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pends on the yield per plant and how long
the crop will roughly 10 lbs per week
for a full year.
stand in the field. Add a percentage (perhaps
10%) to allow
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for culls.
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yield; quantity required
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meet the harvest of row needed to grow
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date goals.
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continued on the next page
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
19
How much to grow?
continued from page 17
(a blend of information I gleaned from the various sources
I’ve mentioned), runs for 26 weeks, and has shares sized
for 2.5 “standardized” people. For comparison I have included how much of those crops we grow at Twin Oaks
Community for 52 weeks for 100 specific people. My point
in including both is that every group is different, and no
one else’s table will reflect your group of customers exactly.
If all people were the same, the Twin Oaks list would
total about the same amounts (twice as many weeks, less
than half the number of people). You’ll see some of our
preferences come into play: we don’t grow arugula in any
quantity worth recording, and celery and mustard greens
are not very popular. Even though we freeze and pickle
green beans, corn, eggplant and okra, they’re not as good
as fresh crops, so we eat less than the fictional 250 people
have fresh. On the other hand, beets and garlic store well,
so we have more than Fiction Farm shareholders, as CSAs
often don’t supply for winter needs. Chinese cabbage,
mizuna and pak choy bolt too readily to be worthwhile at
Twin Oaks in the spring, and so we grow them only in the
fall, and most of that in a hoophouse, where yields outstrip
those grown outdoors. Kale, leeks and spinach overwinter
outdoors here, so we grow lots more than a CSA supplying only in the warmer half of the year. I have to wonder
how many of the hot peppers supplied by Fiction Farm
get used? We make lots of salsa for winter use, but only
plant 71’ (22m). Other differences are a matter of scale, and
will be relevant to growers supplying institutions. For example, it’s hard work to prepare scallions for a meal for a
hundred, whereas a hundred separate cooks might enjoy
adding them to the small meals they prepare. I notice that
we grow lots of paste tomatoes and fewer regular fresh eating ones. That might be because our quality standards can
be lower because our tomatoes don’t commute to market,
and we’re not so picky about looks!
Deciding sowing dates
Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En
Sustainable Vegetable Production from Start-up to Market,
Vern Grubinger
Publications available from ATTRA at www.attra.ncat.org:
ATTRA: Market Gardening: A Start Up Guide, Janet
Bachmann
Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision Making
Framework, Preston Sullivan
Other publications:
Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision
Making, Allan Savory and Jody Butterfield, Island Press
Roxbury Farm 100 Member CSA Plan. See Information for
Farmers at www.roxburyfarm.com/content/7211
Planning For Your CSA, Mark Cain, Dripping Springs
Garden, www.drippingspringsgarden.com/index.html or at
www.Slideshare.net (Search for Crop Planning)
Teaching Direct Marketing and Small Farm Viability, The
Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the
University of Santa Cruz.. Unit 4.5 CSA Crop Planning
63.249.122.224/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/4.5_CSA_
crop_plan.pdf
Pam Dawling is the garden manager at Twin Oaks Community in Virginia. The gardens provide nearly all the
fresh produce for the community’s 100 residents. Her book,
Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres, is scheduled for publication this fall
by New Society Publishing. She can be reached at [email protected]
twinoaks.org.
REWARD
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you’ll find a broad selection of vegetable and cut flower
varieties - including hundreds in untreated and organic
seed - that will make customers stop for a second look.
It might be hard to orchestrate your annual start-up so
that you have a generous bounty. It’s OK to tell your CSA
members that their boxes at the beginning of the season
boxes will be less full, and the summer ones will be more
bountiful. Johnny’s Seeds website has a Harvest Date Calculator which you can copy and use to calculate sowing
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Resources
These books are available from Growing for Market at www.
growingformarket.com or 800-307-8949.
Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers, Daniel Brisebois and Frédéric Thériault.
The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, Richard Wiswall
20
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
CARNIVAL
It’s a party on the outside and a
taste sensation on the inside!
A Grower Friendly Company
A038
355 Paul Rd. PO Box 24966, Rochester, NY 14624-0966
How much to grow for 100 CSA shares
Crop
Weeks of
harvest
# of plantings
Yield in lbs. per
100’
Copyright 2012 Pam Dawling
Annual goal per
share in lbs.
Annual goal
per 100 shares
in lbs.
Row length in
feet
Twin Oaks row
length for 100
Arugula
20
several
17
3.7
370
2176
0
Asparagus
8
1
35
3.5
350
1000
1400
Beans
10
up to 6
90
15.0
1500
1667
1100
Beets
19
2
100
16.3
1630
1630
2200
Broccoli
11
2
80
16.0
1600
2000
3900
Cabbage
11
2
190
20.0
2000
1053
1760
Cantaloupe
5
3
300
9.0
900
300
300
Carrots
18
9
100
66.0
6600
6600
7800
Celeriac
2
1
80
3.0
300
375
360
Celery
1
1
150
2.0
200
133
44
Chard
14
3
90
3.3
330
367
300
1
75
5.0
500
667
43
Chinese Cabbage
Collards
13
2
100
2.7
270
270
1080
Corn
6
up to 6
65
60.0
6000
9231
7200
Cucumbers
11
up to 5
260
15.0
1500
577
550
Edamame
6
2
20
1.0
100
500
540
Eggplant
6
1
140
10.0
1000
714
180
Garlic
3
45
3.0
300
667
4260
Garlic Scapes
3
1
1
0.3
30
3000
3180
Kale
16
2
100
7.0
700
700
3500
Kohlrabi
5
2
65
2.0
200
308
540
Leeks
4
1
100
5.0
500
500
1500
Lettuce
20
weekly
45
20.0
2000
4444
6000
Mizuna
20
2
60
3.4
340
567
48
Mustard greens
21
2
85
2.0
200
235
0
Okra
6
1
75
5.0
500
667
90
Onions
1
1
80
8.0
800
1000
1800
Pak Choy
14
1
75
5.0
500
667
43
Parsnips
1
1
75
3.0
300
400
120
Peas, cow
3
1
40
4.0
400
1000
300
Peas, snap
3
1
30
2.0
200
667
686
Peas, snow
3
1
30
2.0
200
667
180
Peppers. hot
10
1
75
1.5
150
200
71
Peppers., sweet
10
1
95
20.0
2000
2105
500
Potatoes
4
2
110
35.0
3500
3182
5800
Radishes
12
9
33
1.7
170
515
712
Rutabagas
4
1
120
4.0
400
333
0
Scallions
14
about 6
40
6.0
600
1500
206
spr+fall
40
10.0
1000
2500
3840
Spinach
Acorn Squash
5
1
120
7.0
700
583
0
Butternut Squash
4
1
250
20.0
2000
800
540
Summer Squash
13
up to 6
250
30.0
3000
1200
583
Sweet Potatoes
2
1
100
30.0
3000
3000
800
Tatsoi
18
2
20
3.0
300
1500
240
Tomatoes
9
3
300
40.0
4000
1333
450
Tomatoes, paste
4
1
250
10.0
1000
400
1040
Turnips
6
3
70
4.0
400
571
1263
Watermelon
4
1
700
35.0
3500
500
1080
580 lbs.
58040 lbs.
64971 row feet
68129 row feet
TOTALS
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
21
Developing tools for small farms
By Josh Volk
I’m always looking for clever tools
and tool modifications for the farm,
something that will cheaply and
quickly save time and frustration, improve production and product quality
and maybe even help the farm make
more money. I’ve visited farm shows,
including one claiming to be the largest in the world, that had little to offer a farm smaller than 200 acres. In
contrast, I see useful farm-built tools
whenever I visit successful small
farms. Farmers have to innovate because off-the-shelf products usually
aren’t adequate or affordable for our
needs.
In recent years, several new strategies for collaboration on tools have
been picking up steam. I want to
tell you about them in hopes it will
encourage more folks to share their
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY, hosted the Slow
Tools Summit in December 2011. Stone Barns is a non-prof it organization that operates an 80 -acre farm and of fers educational programs. Through a Growing Farmers
Initiative, children’s education programs, and diverse public awareness programs,
the organization’s mission is to improve the way America eats and farms. The farm
is open Wednesday through Sunday year-round. w w w.stonebarnscenter.org.
Organic Certification?
Now you can efficiently keep the detailed
records required to be a certified producer
of organic crops or livestock, all at the click
of a few buttons.
Click. Click.
You’re Done.
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agricultural data and generating reports
for certification inspection a snap— right
from your laptop, tablet or smart phone.
Visit www.cog-pro.com to find out more
about COG Pro’s low cost, easy-to-use
online notebook— try it out for free by
logging in as a guest!
COG Pro
Organic certification…
simplified.
w w w. c o g - p r o . c o m
22
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
ideas. Three resources you should know about are the Slow
Tools Summit, Farm Hack, and Open Source Ecology.
The first was instigated by Eliot Coleman of Four
Season Farm in Maine, who has developed several tools
that are widely used on market farms. It was supported
by Adam Lemieux, the “tool dude” at Johnny’s Selected
Seeds, who is also active in tool research and development.
The one-day meeting, hosted by the Stone Barns Center,
was dubbed the Slow Tools Summit, after the Slow Food
and, more recently, Slow Money movements. I felt fortunate to be invited to participate along with other farmers,
engineers, and tool industry professionals.
One of those present was Barry Griffin, an engineer
who has been connecting students from Harvard with Eliot Coleman. They have been working to develop, among
other things, a garden cart-mounted combine powered by
a cordless drill. His hope, as was the hope of many others
in the room, is to share information globally but to focus
on small-scale manufacturing of appropriate technologies
locally.
There were about 16 of us at the table identifying tools
we’d like to see, talking about projects we’re already working on, and sharing resources that already exist. Much of
the time was spent discussing development of an inexpensive, lightweight electric tractor. Ron Khosla, who developed an Allis Chalmers G electric tractor conversion, was
the farthest along in this project, but many in the room
had similar ideas and thoughts on particular design criteria.
One of the most exciting pieces there was presented
by Glenn Brendle from Green Meadow Farm in Pennsylvania. He has made modifications to Johnny’s Selected
Seeds’ salad greens harvester that will make it much easier
and faster to use. It will probably be available soon.
In the wake of the initial meeting there have been a
number of e-mails with even more resources and ideas, including a link to a company in Pennsylvania that is already
making an electric harvest platform called the Crop Care
Picking Assistant similar to what we discussed (www.
cropcareequipment.com/vegetable_equip/picking_assistant.php). This ability to stay closely connected with ideas
over long distances is something that is relatively new in
on-farm tool development and I hope to see more farms
taking advantage of the networking possibilities.
A project that is working on a very similar approach
is the Farm Hack project of the National Young Farmers Coalition. Farm Hack launched in late 2010 as a blog
(www.farmhack.net), with ambitions to be a central repository for farm-built tool resources, specifically ones that
had already been done by one farm and used successfully.
The other idea was to take advantage of the young farmer
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generation’s comfort with electronic media and social networking to get these ideas distributed and to spark more
discussion and innovation. Additionally, a lot of young
farmers are coming from non-farm backgrounds, but often have expertise in engineering, electronics, media, and
other skills.
Farm Hack hasn’t just taken the electronic route. In the
past year they have also organized on-the-ground events
at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, State University
of New York in Syracuse, and at the Lee Grange Hall in
New Hampshire. These events bring together farmers,
engineers and others for hands-on development. Farm
Hack events for this spring are currently being planned
in Rhode Island, Vermont, and California, and the volunteers who run the project are looking for more locations.
Farm Hack is developing a more complete web site, and
has just launched a web forum for discussion about tool
development. The next step is a Wiki that will be integrated with the forum to allow for long-term documentation
of farm-built tools, whether new, old, or in development.
A third project, Open Source Ecology, has its home
base on a farm in Missouri, where a team of engineers
and farmers seek to develop a comprehensive collection of
DIY industrial tools and machines. Their “Global Village
Construction Set” is a plan for a set of 50 build-it-yourself
machines ranging from a tractor, to a hydraulic punch,
to a haybine. Their prototypes are being documented on
their web site (www.opensourceecology.org) and the plans
for the machines will be freely available. Their work is
guided by a vision of a certain model of self-sustaining,
self-sufficient communities that may or may not relate to
a given farmer’s needs. But there is no doubt that many of
the machines that they are developing could be extremely
useful to the small farmer, and potentially could be built at
a fraction of the cost of commercial versions.
These are just a few examples of what I’m sure are
many efforts out there to share farm tool information and
to work collaboratively on designing tools for small farmers. One thing that is clear to me is that a lot of the expertise out there is actually still held in the conventional
farming circles, and that many of those folks are excellent
resources. Amish farm fabrication shops were mentioned
in particular as good resources. If you have more good examples I’d love to hear about them, or even better, share
them with the larger farming community through a project like Farm Hack.
Benjamin Shute of Hearty Roots Community Farm, one
of the founders of Farm Hack, contributed information for
this article.
Josh Volk lives and farms on the edge of Portland, Oregon. You can learn more about his work at www.joshvolk.
com.
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
GrowingMktFINAL.indd 1
12/1/11 11:47 AM
New cut flowers for 2012
By Erin Benzakein
Every year about this time I get bitten by the “I gotta
have it” bug. Stacks of plant and seed catalogs clutter every table and I spend hours, even days, dreaming of the
season to come. The sting of last summer has faded and
while the garden is fast asleep it’s easy to get carried away
making plans for the future. I knew this would happen! It
always does. I had hoped this year might be different and
that by placing my seed orders in November I might outsmart myself. Ha, fat chance! So here I am, scheming up
ways to squeeze in a few hundred more of this and maybe
a thousand of that into an already overflowing garden. Every square foot is already accounted for in my 2012 garden
plan but I can’t help myself, there are a few more things
I’ve just gotta have!
After sifting through towers of catalogs and endless
seed websites, I’ve finally boiled down the most promising
new varieties for the coming season.
Probably the most exciting news I’ve gotten this winter
regarding new cut flower varieties is that Gloeckner has
now become the exclusive broker for Kordes Freelander
Roses. Over the years as interest and demand has grown
for these wonderful outdoor cut rose varieties, growers have
often struggled to obtain adequate plant stock and cultural
information. Now that Kordes has enlisted Gloeckner to
oversee the ordering and dispersal of plants, hopefully the
headaches of the past will be a distant memory. Greenheart Roses in California will be custom propagating the
plant stock, which will be available year-round, shortening the order lead time to 8-12 weeks. Plants are available
in 4.5” pots and run $5.80 each. A minimum order of 54
plants is required, with just one per variety. This is great
news for all of the smaller growers out there who have pre-
viously struggled to make the minimums but have longed
for a chance to test these beauties.
In addition to all of these changes at Kordes there
have also been some very exciting new additions to the
Freelander Rose Collection. Joining the Antique and
Traditional Cut Flower Collections are three new multi
-flowered series. The first is a beautiful, ruffled, partially
streaked spray group called the Shakes. Second, the Orkans are an early blooming spray type with numerous buds
per stem. Lastly and quite possibly the most exciting of all
is the Pom Pon collection. With clusters of vibrant, highly
doubled blooms that resemble a fully flowered peony or
antique cabbage rose, this series looks like it was pulled
from a Dutch still life. I will be trialing multiple varieties
from each of these new groups and sharing the results here
later in the season.
I have been waiting years for ‘Green Ball’ dianthus,
shown on the next page and on page 1, to become available. After spotting it on my wholesaler’s truck a few seasons back and then watching designers hungrily scoop up
bunch after bunch, I knew we needed to grow it. While
not particularly flashy or beautiful, it is definitely different
and interesting. I’m quite certain that it will be a strong
seller as specialty filler. Plants are said to reach 28” in
height with a 3” wide green flower head held atop a strong,
healthy stem. Pinching to 3 sets of leaves roughly 2 weeks
after planting is recommended. Crop time from planting
continued on the next page
Kordes Freelander Roses are now available from Gloeckner
Seed Co., w w w.fredgloeckner.com. Above, ‘L atin Pompon” and
at right, ‘Antique Caramel’.
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
25
New flowers
continued from page 25
to first flower can be as short as 16 weeks. While this variety is listed as being hardy down to zone 4 on the order
form, the Ball rep I spoke with suggested growing it as an
annual to be on the safe side. Ball is the exclusive broker
on this variety, so plants must be ordered through them.
Available as a 102 sized plug, plants run about .77 each, 1
tray min. per variety with 4 trays total required per order.
It seems 2012 is the year of the Hypericum (hooray!)
with two new series available to growers. My local wholesalers all report that Hypericum is a good, steady seller
and it’s easy to see why. Each long, sturdy stem is loaded
with colorful berries that do not crush, shrivel or stain.
Regularly lasting well over two weeks, Hypericum has
molded before wilting in a bouquet. The berried stems are
great in mixed bouquets, wedding work, boutonnieres and
corsages.
Green Leaf Plants has just introduced a beautiful collection of Hypericum called the Hypearl Series. Reportedly hardy down to zone 6 and not requiring vernalization
to set fruit, this disease resistant group looks promising. There are four colors in the collection, all of which
have good stem length (25”-36”) and pretty little feminine names. Jacqueline’s berries begin yellowish orange
and mature into a deep red while Oliva’s start out yellow
‘Green Ball’ Dianthus. Photo cour tesy of Ball Seed.
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GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
as well but become salmon over time. Jessica’s are a soft cream
throughout the season while Renu’s start out cream but eventually darken, becoming a deep pink. All of the varieties are said
to love heat, flower in July and fruit abundantly by early August.
Pinching prior to July 1 is recommended to encourage branching
and flowering. Plants are quite affordably priced and can be had
as unrooted cuttings for just .18 or as plugs in either a 72 for .67
or a 128 for .47. These prices include the royalty. The minimum
order is just one tray and can be sourced through brokers such as
Ball, Gloeckner or Germania.
Ball has also released a new collection of Hypericum called the
Spirit Pearl Series. This group comes in four colors as well: green,
red, red-orange, and red-pink. Said to reach 28” in height and
bloom 26 weeks after planting, this collection looks very interesting as well. Suitable for unheated greenhouses and field production, plants should be pinched four weeks after transplanting for
maximum number of fruiting stems. Plants must be purchased
through Ball and are available as 102 plugs for 2.40 each. One tray
per variety is required with a minimum of four trays per order.
I spotted the ornamental oregano, Origanum ‘Amethyst Falls’
a few weeks back in the Bluebird Nurseries catalog and it took my
breath away. Similar to ‘Kent Beauty’ which produces showy hoplike flower cones but with a larger overall plant habit (15”x24”), I
believe this darling may just be a winner. I’ve grown Kent Beauty for a few seasons now and adore its unique flowers and spicy
scented foliage but always struggle to get enough height on it to
make a truly worthy cut. With some low netting and a sheltered
spot in the garden I think ‘Amethyst Falls’ may get tall enough to
wow our customers. Plants are said to flower for several months
beginning in late summer and be hardy down to zone 5. Plugs are
available through Blue Bird Nursery, with a flat of
32 costing $48.
I must admit when
I flipped through
the newest Gloeckner catalog, the Celosia Sunday Series
were the first things
to grab my attention.
With such vibrant
colors and beautiful
flower spikes I almost
squealed out loud!
Similar to the Bombay
series, Sunday Celosia
has a short, programmable crop time and
extremely high yield
of top-quality stems.
Plants are spaced 6 x
6” apart and like the Bombays are not pinched
but left to grow a single flower stalk. There are
6 incredibly beautiful colors to choose from including three in shades of peach/orange, a favorite with our customers. Seed is available from
both Gloeckner and Geo. Geo had the best price,
$49.90 per thousand seeds.
While we’re on the subject of Celosia, there are
half a dozen new varieties that have just been added to the Bombay collection. While all six are todie-for gorgeous, both Candy and Bordeaux have
stolen my heart! Rounding out the Bombay collection perfectly, these new additions are bound to
turn heads. Seed is available from Gloeckner, Ball
and Geo from $68-84. Be sure to price check for
the best deal.
Anyone who grows flowers knows how hard
it is to have self-control. During the cold winter
months when spring is still a fond vision off on the
horizon, it is easy to get carried away plotting and
planning for the year ahead. After a few seasons
of overzealous ordering and massive over-commitment, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson
by now but, sadly, this just isn’t the case. I bet
you the year I stop getting that wild-eyed, gottahave-it look while flipping through seed catalogs
in January is the year I finally retire. Next to hard
work and an optimistic spirit, I believe obsession
and passion are the keys to surviving the wild and
beautiful business of flower farming.
Erin Benzakein runs Floret, a small, organic
flower farm in Washington’s beautiful Skagit Valley. www.floretflowers.com
GROWING FOR M ARKET / FEBRUARY 2012
27
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