As I said in my last post I am spending alot of time on the web researching for next years more significant foray into organic market gardening. Currently I am focusing on 2 main aspects-biological pest control and building long term fertility cycles through cover cropping, rotations, and a more scientific approach to composting. A favored launch point this week has been the Permaculture Activist Magazine’s website, specifically today their Plant Lists.
One nursery really caught my eye and thus far has been a font of knowledge and optimism: Fedco Seeds out of Maine. I could describe them, but I will let them do it for themselves:
Welcome to Fedco Seeds, your source for cold-hardy selections especially adapted
to our demanding Northeast climate. Each year we observe hundreds of varieties,
selecting only the best for inclusion in our catalogs. Through our product lines
and cultural hints, we encourage sustainable growing methods. We offer a large
selection of certified organic cultivars and regional heirloom varieties. We buy
products from all over the world.
They have several distinct branches-seeds, fruits/nuts, tubers, and growers supply. The catalog for their trees reads like a primer on orcharding and is over 62 pages long (available online). Their tuber line is dubbed Moose Tubers and besides offering 47 varieties of organic potatoes, they have (be still my heart!) 3 varieties of Sunchokes! Each variety gets several paragraphs of text as well as an extremely helpful chart listing all the potato varieties together showing harvest time, tuber shape/size, average yield, and lots more. Pricing is very reasonable-I can get 100# of Purple Viking shipped for about $180. Considering that should be enough to grow 1000#+ of potatoes $.18 per harvested pound seems pretty reasonable.
In their Grower’s Supply section I came across two books, Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea: Feeding the Soil on the Organic Farm & Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies both are rocketing to the top of my reading list. Here is an entire book devoted to my dabblings in interplanting flowering plants for beneficial insect attraction-and one that is focused on soil management on a commercial scale. Priceless!
And, yes, I realize I am a dork.
We begin cutting the beds in a few weeks, and the adventure will begin with 800 sq ft of garlic.
By January I should have a firm starting plan on crop rotations, insect management, and soil strategies that I can present to the land owner, and then modify after consulting with my customers and the restaurant (where I am currently typing this with my daughter reading beside me) I will be selling to to dial in cultivars and sq footage.
This is a dream come true.