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On Our homestead

How is our Spring progressing?

Scott H.

How is our Spring progressing?

As I was looking over photos from last May, I saw that my winter wheat was forming a significant number of heads on 26-May-2017. Comparing that with the progress of this year's grains, it had me wondering if our Spring might really be "late".  I was looking for a quick answer, so I went to this Growing Degree Day tracker.  The Michigan State University site begins their data collection in late February; perhaps that start date was driven by the snow cover?  Growing Degree Days (GDD) is a measure commonly used to make predictions in the progress of plant and...


Beets--Our Next Challenge

Scott H.

Comments 2

Beets--Our Next Challenge

Fodder beets have a history as far back as the 1500's in Europe both as a animal food source, and in times of need, for people as well.  Washington State University has a very nice fact sheet on the history of fodder beets. There was a time when fthey were the choice crop for livestock farmers with small herds.  In the early 1900's yields were reported at 15 tons per acre!  But alas, labor saving devices in commercial agriculture lead corn to overcome this valuable root crop. We start eating fodder beats as thinnings as sauteed greens, adding the roots...


Cover cropping for soil health

Scott H.

Last summer, I grew spring wheat and barley in this plot.  The soil here has a fair amount of clay and little organic matter as it was created from left over fill used during the construction of our barn.  One crusty old farmer said I'd have to work hard to even grow weeds in it and it's taken a couple of years of adding compost to get it this far. After the spring grains were harvested in the fall, I sowed it in cereal rye to overwinter. Roots give the soil biology a place to live and the organic matter will be greatly appreciated....


Getting ahead of the weeds

Scott H.

Getting ahead of the weeds

It's now the time of the year when you can feel the weeds growing behind your back!  It rained about 0.4 inches a few days ago, so the spring grain in the sandy soil plot are reaching that perfect condition where disturbing the weed seedlings result in their quickly wilting to become tonight's snack for the earthworms. In the past, I've hand weeded the grains with a hoedag or diamond hoe which worked nicely but takes considerable time.  At the Guelph Organic Conference & Expo this winter I saw a variety of big scale equipment used by organic grain farmers.  Happily I came across Terrateck specializing in equipment...


Progress of the Spring Grains

Scott H.

It's been a bit of a wait to see for the first big batch of wheat and barley planted on March 30th survived the rain, snow, freezing rain, sleet and more snow.  The answer is in: It's the earliest I've planted and off to a great start (ahead of the weeds). Here is my Sardinian Barley 'seed plot': I have another ~400 sq ft for experimental malting in a plot planted later. My 2-row barley seed stock last year came from John Sherck who got them from a friend in Italy who obtained them from a shepherd friend on the...