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edibles

so, how did the micro farm do?

On 13, Oct 2012 | One Comment | In edibles | By All Year Garden

With the end of the season fast approaching, I wanted to make a few preliminary comments about the micro farm. Of course some veggies are still in progress and I won’t get to record them until the garden winds down completely for the year, but I have a pretty good idea of what their yield will be. I know we’ll have four eggplants, slightly bigger than they are now, a couple of zucchini, probably another pound or so of ripened tomatoes, a lot of green ones, a few peppers, both sweet and hot, and of course, the carrots, maybe five or six.

The tomatoes didn’t yield as much as last year, the new location didn’t get as much sun exposure, but they produced pretty reliably and quite early. The zucchini and eggplants performed beautifully, I didn’t expect to see so much fruit on them. So did the carrots, despite the not so advantageous location.

The radishes completely refused to form, I don’t know what they didn’t like, but they didn’t like something: the dirt density, the weather, the chemical composition of the soil, the amount of water, I got a lot of leaves, but nearly no roots.

There was a blessing of peppers, both sweet and hot, and I’m still waiting for a few more that are still on the plants. Definitely a good year for peppers.

I sowed peas just to try them, because one needs a mass planting to actually get a good yield, but I was surprised by the fact that every bloom turned into a pea pod. They are fast movers, too, so if you start a larger bunch very early in spring, by the time the end of April comes around, you get a small yield and can clear the space for later plantings. I sowed a few more in the fall, there may be some more peapods added to the yield table.

The beans were on strike, refusing to do anything at all, not in the least what I remember from my grandfather’s garden. I assume that is because I planted bush beans instead of climbers, but even the Scarlet Runners were pitiful. All I got was a spectacular spray of flowers in spring. I will try again next year, with the right kind of beans.

The cucumbers did ok, not too hot, not too cold. I got enough fresh kitchen herbs for daily cooking, but the basil really thrives in a sun baked location, where it did spectacularly well.

All things considered, the micro farm was an exciting and very rewarding experience, and tracking the actual yield helped a lot, both in terms of putting numbers on the quantities and observing the productive time for each crop. I plan to do this exercise every year from now on, and compare the tables to see the variations from growing season to growing season.

A few lessons learned this year will be applied during the next one, this is what I’ve got so far:
– no bush beans, totally not fit for the site and sun exposure.
– large slicing cucumbers are better for small vertical plantings, the yield per square foot is infinitely superior
– indeterminate cherry tomatoes, still the cat’s meow. Very productive, early and consistent yield throughout the summer. Maybe I’ll try a couple of large fruited ones next year, though.
– I don’t know if the tiny patch of dirt behind my house is just what nature ordered for peppers and eggplants, but just seeing them thrive so was a reward in itself.
– I think the peas were mostly decorative, they were very beautiful though. Maybe I’ll plant them for the flowers.
– very impressed with the carrots, I didn’t think they will amount to much, especially after the radish experience, maybe I got the wrong type of radishes, they didn’t make it in any medium I planted them in, or maybe it was a bad year for them, it happens. I should definitely try parsnips next year, if I can find the seeds.
– I got a few unconvincing green onions, but they were a lot more trouble than they were worth, and since nobody in the family has a deep seated passion for them I think I’ll skip. Garlic and chives, on the other hand…

And now, without further ado, the yield table. Please don’t get over excited, the quantities are in ounces. Please don’t get disappointed either, remember the micro farm is only 20 square feet.

Comments

  1. To describe our farm or growing practices as “organic”, we would need to be certified by the government. We had considering going that route, just so we could use the “organic” word. And it wouldn’t be too hard, since we already go above and beyond the organic practices. But we discovered that, for our farm, the certification fees would be about $1,700 each year and there would be lots of paperwork to fill out every day. To pay the expense of the fees and the time spent filling out all the paperwork, we would have to raise our prices, and that is something we didn’t want to do. Besides, there are flaws and loopholes in the government’s program that don’t really insure that the food is any better. So instead of organic, we call our produce “Naturally Grown”. Here, at Quarter Branch Farm, it means the same thing.