Organic Gardening News Archives - Amaral Farm

Seed farm sees huge increase in orders, but also new challenges

Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds has seen a huge rise in orders but selling-out of stock will create a supply challenge in the following years

PALMERSTON – A county seed farm is seeing a big rise in orders during the pandemic as people shift to at-home activities and hobbies.

Kim Delaney, owner of Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds in Palmerston, said orders eventually got up to 10 times the usual daily volume. They had to close over Easter weekend to make sure they didn’t oversell.

“The orders were pouring in so fast it was hard to keep track if we were going to be sold out of something,” Delaney said. “We opened on the Tuesday after Easter and in that one day we sold so much seed we had to shut down again.”

Delaney said they would leave for lunch and come back to nearly 300 emails in an hour with their constantly ringing. The farm has hired an additional worker to help handle orders while the rest of the staff can focus on getting next year’s seed crops planted in the fields.

This unexpected increase in orders has made the farm scrap their usual three-year rotation for growing.

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Growing asparagus is a rewarding — and tasty — pursuit

This time of the gardening season, many of us are enjoying harvesting fresh asparagus from the garden. Asparagus is a perennial crop (comes back year after year) and takes about 3 years to establish in a garden bed.

Asparagus is known to produce good yields for 12 to 15 years or more. Cornell recommended varieties for New York State include: Jersey Giant, Jersey Kin, Jersey Knight, Viking KB3, and Purple Passion. For a complete listing of recommended vegetable varieties can be found at Cornell Garden Based Learning website http://gardening.cals.cornell.edu/garden-guidance/foodgarden/

Asparagus crowns with the roots are planted in the spring. They grow best in full sun and well drained soil. Sandy soils with a mixture of organic matter added to garden bed is a plus. Organic matter (humus) can be obtained from well-rotted cow, horse, rabbit, or sheep manure, leaf mold and compost. The crowns should be planted in a bed first by digging a trench at lest 10 inches wide and six- to eight-inches deep. Crowns should be spaced 18 inches apart.

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Take the Hassle Out of Watering Container Gardens

Growing flowers and vegetables in containers will allow you to expand planting space, grow plants right outside your door and elevate them for easier access and maintenance.  Unlike growing in the ground, the smaller volume of soil in containers is exposed to heat and wind, so requires frequent, often daily, watering.

Don’t let this watering schedule discourage you from growing in pots. Enlist one or more of these strategies to eliminate the daily burden of watering while still maintaining beautiful and productive gardens.

Grow plants in large plastic, glazed or other less breathable material to extend the time between watering. The larger the pot and less breathable the container material, the longer the soil stays moist. Small pots made of breathable materials, like unglazed terra cotta, dry out more quickly.

No matter the size and type container used, monitor and adjust your watering schedule based on weather, number of plants in the pot and size of the plants.  The more plants used and the larger the plants grow the more water needed; so, frequency will increase over time.

Use self-watering pots to extend the time between watering. Fill the reservoir in these containers as needed. The water moves from the reservoir to the soil where it is needed. This extends the time between watering. As your new plantings grow, you will need to fill the reservoir more frequently.

Use a quality potting mix that holds moisture and is well draining to avoid waterlogged soils that can lead to root rot. Most potting mixes contain peat moss, compost or bark to hold moisture. Vermiculite, perlite or rice hulls are used to provide drainage.

Add a long-lasting sustainable, water saving product, wool pellets, to your potting mix. This organic product is made from belly wool and tags that cannot be used for clothing. The pellets promote healthier growth, increase soil aeration and reduce watering frequency by as much as 25%.

Mulch the soil surface in newly planted container gardens. This common garden practice is often overlooked when growing in containers.  Cover the soil surface with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material. This helps conserve moisture until plants grow and shade the soil.

Automate watering with one of the many commercial or DIY container irrigation systems. These are designed to provide water to each individual pot with the turn of the faucet. Attach the irrigation system to the faucet, attach a timer and watering becomes a breeze. Regularly check the system to make sure the lines that deliver water to the pot are intact and the watering frequency is adjusted throughout the growing season as needed.

Enlist one or more of these strategies to make container gardening a manageable growing system. Once you eliminate the inconvenience of daily watering you may just find yourself planting more container gardens each season.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series Melinda’s Garden Moment radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms’s magazine and was commissioned by Wild Valley Farms for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is www.MelindaMyers.com.

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