Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Combating Things Untried

As a first gen farmer w/o anyone nearby to turn to, I have found that I sometimes hesitate to try new things around here because my nature is to err on the side of caution, or I spend so much time on the ol' learning curve, it feels faster to just keep on, keeping on.

I have some great mentors, but I hate to bug them every time I have a question, and I know you can look up just about anything on line - and I do my share of that as well.

As ladies, I think we sometimes may not tackle things we've not experience with, or things we haven't seen done, by other women.At least, that's what I've been told by some women.

I dove in this year to use some weed barrier on long term crops. Something I've not done in the past. I hesitated to use plastic or any kind of synthetic mulch, for biological reasons. I thought maybe I'd kill all of the soil microbes I've so painstakingly cultivated.

But even Certified Organic growers use plastic mulch. It needs to be removed after the season, and I add some native microbes back into the soil as I water using compost tea that is made in part from my soil in undisturbed parts of my farm, anyway, so I think my fears are unfounded.

Then there's the fact that I don't have a mulch layer. Well, I tackled that one, too. (I do have a more complete video of laying out regular mulch, (this first one is paper mulch).)

I'm talking about crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, garlic, and leeks, for instance. These plants don't make a lot of shade and the weeds can still thrive underneath them. Especially if you fight Bermuda grass like I do here at Eden's. If you've followed me long, you know this is a horse pasture turned farm. There's still a LOT of pasture surrounding the 2 acre fenced in garden area, so it will never go away.

So to do my part to help someone coming up behind me, and because everyone keeps saying we need more lady farmers posting things on line, I'm posting a few short videos of things I'm doing, some as I learn how to do them.

I hope you find them helpful - or, at the very least, entertaining for some of you veterans - who will probably blow up the comment field with "why don't you do it "THIS" way instead?" comments.

And that's fine, too, b/c hey, we all need to learn new things all of the time and I've not been at this since I was knee high to a grasshopper like some of you folks. And, I'm just not an engineer-minded kinda gal.

So offer those tips! Just be nice.

I learn from watching and doing, and notes help, too. Maybe I'm a little slow? It doesn't matter. I figure most things out - eventually! I even figured out how to tighten what was loose on my bucket controller the other day when it wasn't acting right. If farming on my own has done one thing for me, and it's done several, trust me, it's made me more daring and brave - and forced me out of the comfort zone many a time to try new things.

So here's the latest of several how to videos I've uploaded. This one demonstrates how to burn holes into the weed barrier using a torch - without burning the place down! I found (the hard way) that just cutting holes doesn't work well because the wind will tend to blow up under the plastic and when it comes down, it can, and often does, comes down on top of your little transplant. :(

I've burnt holes using a small plumbers torch - kept going out. So, I stepped up my game, got a big girl torch and I've not looked back since. Safety first - I have done it out in the field, but I am much less nervous doing this in the driveway - closer to a source of running water. And I'd not ever use it out in the field if it was very dry. Not without a fire extinguisher or a hose with running water nearby.

But I have used artificial mulch on my onion crop already, and even though I lost some due to the hole cutting, instead of burning, they are so much happier this year - and so is my BACK! It's worth the investment, a very small one, and if you're careful, you can do this, too. 

You may have seen some of the other videos on my You Tube channel already - or if not, now's your chance!

I'm not an expert, nor do I play one on TV. I'm just scratching out a living playin in the dirt and enjoying it more than anything I've done for a living in the past.


Farmer Marie
Eden's Organic Garden Center/Eden's Garden CSA Farm

214-348-EDEN (3336)
Home of Eden's Market Day
Real Food, Grown with Integrity
1st & 3rd Saturdays 9-noon
Director, Region 4

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life, which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
--Henry David Thoreau


  1. Looks good. I just have a question. I live in an apartment with a small patio that faces west. I'm supposed to avoid nightshades. What do you think I can grow in containerz that would produce enough to actually eat? I thought maybe a mesclun mix, some garlic, greens and a few herbs. I'd really like to try sweet potatoes, pintos or purple hull peas and squash but don't know if they can be grown in containers. Green onions should be no problem. I am 71 and can't get down to the ground many days. Don't know what I could do to help at your farm. I can and make sugarless jam with no artificial sweeteners. Maybe I could go to a farm and pick some peas this summer on one of my good days. Do you know anyone who grows them? Would like to join your CSA but 1). It's expensive for me and 2) With many food allergies and by myself I don't think that I can consume even a half share. Any suggestions? Pat at pshepworth44@gmail.com.

    1. Hi Pat,
      Well, 2 things, we DO offer a sliding scale/workshare for folks with a tight budget. Our normal membership works out to only $100/month, but that is a lot for some folks, and I get that. Ergo, the workshares.

      Now, for your food allergies, that could prove an issue as summer brings us 3 off the top of my head. So growing your own, may be most economical.

      In containers, look for dwarf sized things, yes, like lettuce mixes, (High Mowing Organic Seeds makes a "gourmet mix" we are trialing this year and so far like it.) Even stubby variety carrots can be grown in a pot. Squash will work - one per pot. Sweet potatoes in a larger pot, yes. (LMK If you need slips. I still have some left. They are 10/dozen, and each slip should produce many potatoes.)

      Pick your own peas is the best option, as it takes a LOT of space to grow enough to eat. lol

      And gurl, if you can make sugarless jam - that tastes great - we need to talk! ;) Come see us at a market day. 1st 3rd or 5th Saturdays!


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