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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Troutdale, OR

    we have finished '16 farmers market season!!

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    I did say that I farm.

    It was a very rough start with my field looking more like a bog during the spring planting season. So we scrambled and pulled all sorts of tricks to fake our way through until our main cash crop came into production in July. Oui. I would have loved to have a professional photographer take pictures of my farm but it was just too embarrassing with rows after rows of failed crop.

    It was really interesting growing year, an understatement if ever. There was no strawberry season to speak of. One farmer not only lost the crop but ended up with whole field of dead strawberry plants. And one of my main cash crop is vine ripened heirloom tomatoes. Well, none really ripened. Other farmers had the same problem. We ended up sampling fried green tomatoes and green tomato salsa to salvage what we could. We still lost thousands of pounds of green tomatoes. They never ripened even after I did everything I know to force the tomato to ripen on the vine.

    Peppers were not much better. None of my ludicrously hot pepper made it. And milder peppers that were good enough to sell were on the small side. Our customers didn't seem to mind.

    What I didn't consider my cash crop turned out to save my face. KALE and CHARD. They did fine through out the season along with late season summer and winter squash.

    Well, the market manager, the person in charge of selecting vendors liked us, so, we think we are in for the next season. Talk about being stressed out for not having produce to sell.

    So tonight, I'm looking back to what all went wrong and how to avoid it next year. Starting to plan out our planting schedule for next year and make changes to what we plant. Something went over well while other things didn't sell all that well. Regular acorn squash didn't sell so we'll only plant maybe two or three. And replace it with some other winter squash. It's fun figuring out my planting schedule and what to plant

    Overall, I came out without looking too bad. Lot of other farmers had a very bad year too. Boo to climate disruption. Plants don't handle low 50's one day and high 90's or even in the hundred the following day for temp. We don't handle it too well and nor do the plants.

    Taking a deep breath now that '16 season is over.

    P.S. to the backyard gardener. Don't feel bad if your tomatoes didn't do well. Don't feel bad if your peppers didn't do well nor lettuce, radish. well just about everything. too bad I can't hibernate (just don't wake up on Ground Hog Day).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Glad your season is done, sounded very stressful!

    Same awful up and down weather in Illinois but a regular full (almost bumper) crop came out of it. Guess when the seeds are heavily engineered they perform as they're designed to do. Glad some people are still planting normal food though!

    Electra Townie 7D

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    I admire the risks that farmers take, smilingcat. Wishing you a 2017 of more veggies to market.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Concord, MA
    Sounds horribly stressful! Congrats on finishing.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura
    2017 Specialized Ariel Sport

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    WA State
    Freaky - this is the first year my tomatoes have done well at all, but I only plant extremely early ripening and all small/cherry varieties. Usually even then my plants are small and spindly and I don't get many tomatoes, but this year they did great. The one bad thing was a lot of them split and I'm not sure why. Someone down the street did full sized tomatoes and I don't think he got a single ripe one....

    What surprised me and fizzled for my little garden this year were the peas. Peas have always been something that has done well and I actually have enough space to have enough plants to be useful, but this time they didn't grow very tall and the yield was lackluster. I tried a few beans but they don't produce enough with just a few plants and suffered very badly from aphid attack.... My shiso did well though. I get way more than I can use so I need to find a new person who wants some... I used to take it down to the sushi bar on when we went weekly, but our favorite place was sold, so no more Yoshi to give it to

    I've been busy and not around the web as much lately - but my offer to photograph your farm (for free) still stands
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

    visit my flickr stream http://flic.kr/ps/MMu5N

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    northern Virginia
    I had kale once, fresh from my great Aunt Elsie's garden, when I was a child. And I hated it so much that I have never eaten again. But I am glad it helped get you through. It does seem very popular these days due to its health benefits.

    Not sure if I've mentioned this before -- there is an annual bike ride in southern Maryland to highlight local farms. It's called the Crop Hop. The ride takes place in a different county each year and the routes include stops at farms and vineyards. Depending on the primary activity of each farmer, you can talk to them about what they grow or visit with their horses and other animals or taste their wine or buy some of their dairy products, etc. A couple of years ago I talked with a farmer who told me that small farms in their area do well growing "cut flowers" -- flowers to sell to local florists for bouquets and floral arrangements. He also grew some niche herbs popular in regional cuisines. IIRC he mentioned growing some that are used in Jamaican recipes.

    As an average-speed cyclist who prefers to look around at the scenery while riding a comfortable pace, I enjoy looking at the the different farms that I pass. I think many around here grow soybeans, and I see a lot of corn. One farm that I love to pass has a lot of ducks and turkeys. Back in the day there was a lot of tobacco farming in this area; I think this year's Crop Hop included a stop at a former tobacco farm where they now raise alpacas.

    On a recent visit to Harpers Ferry, WV, we stopped in at various shops along the main street. Several of them sold locally-produced preserves and I bought a few jars -- blueberry and strawberry rhubarb preserves plus some apple butter. They were more expensive than what you'd get at the grocery store but I figured it was worth it to support the local farmers. The other day I tried some of the apple butter and it was so good, worth every penny.

    I hope things go more smoothly for you next year, Smiling Cat.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Smiling Cat - congratulations with surviving your first season! I can't imagine how stressful that must have been - especially the first time around. Your experiences this year should serve you well next year and may it go smoother in 2017.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    Congrats on finishing the season- sounds like you learned a lot in spite of the stress. I'm sure you would rather have learned it through more successes than failures though.

    I hope next year goes better!
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    Even though the season has "ended", I'm still busy. Finally have some time to respond to everyone and thank you for all your kind words.

    To NY biker: your kale may have been bitter with very strong green taste. Leaves picked may have been full size and very mature and in the heat of summer. We pick our kale when they are either baby sized (smaller than a palm of my hand) to something around 4 inches long. So even in the heat of summer, it doesn't have time to develop the really strong green taste, or the bitterness or the toughness. Ours tend to be mild and tender. If you have a chance give it a try with baby kale. They are easy to grow even in small pots.

    To Eden: yes when I said professional photographer I was thinking of you. And yes I would love to have you and your husband down at our farm. Bring a big cooler with you when you do come down. As for your tomatoes, cherry tomatoes are a better bet for ripening if your season is short or on a cool side. Beefsteak and larger one takes much longer to ripen so stay with cherry tomatoes. For a spectacular cherry tomatoes, check out Sunrise bumblebee or Pink bumblebee tomatoes. If you want, I will have some nursery stock for you.

    Our peas didn't do well at all either.

    If you have a shady area, try some loose leaf lettuce. They can be cut and allowed to grow back unlike iceberg style.

    And this time of the year, may even try spinach or miner's lettuce. Both are very cold hardy. And for the photo op. I hope to be in a better situation next "spring" Feb-May and even into the height of summer.

    hmmm I spied on some ripening ludicrously hot peppers: Fatalli, ghost and milder ones like thai hot, and cayenne. They are being transplanted into our refurbished/revamped greenhouse.

    Of all the years of growing, 2016 was one the worst and the HARDEST in terms of the weather vagaries. 2017 will be much better, I'm sure of it.



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