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Jeff’s Schedule for October 22-27, 2018

As I write this, I’m up in the Virginia mountains at my parent’s place that I call Locust Ridge. Their first freeze (more than a frost) is predicted for tonight. Even the Southern Piedmont has a possibility of frost tonight (10/21/18). Update: As of 10 AM on 10/22, My sources tell me frost was very spotty in and around Charlotte, NC. Same here in the mountains of Virginia.

This week’s tip

For those of you who have taken my Successful Gardener classes, you know that our “first” frost usually occurs around Halloween. So if we do have frost in the Charlotte area on 10/22, does that mean we’ve been wrong about that date? Not at all. You see, the dates for both “first” and “last” frost are determined by average dates over several years. So a “first” frost of 10/22 is close enough to the average that gardeners should be on the alert for cold weather. Since we spend so much time outside in our gardens and landscapes, we should be aware that it’s cooling off anyway. Yes, it has been unusually warm this Fall, but until I see a definite change in weather patterns, I’m still going to look for frost in late October. And if you’ve spent any time out in the open, you should have noticed that while the Sun was still warm, the air temps are cooler than a few weeks ago. So what does all this mean?
First, any tender annual flowers, herbs, or vegetables might get burned or killed by the frost. You can sometimes cover your plants with old sheets or plant bed floating row covers to protect them. Covers will usually give you an extra 2-5 degrees of protection. That may be enough to get them through the night without damage. It’s worth noting that frost often appears just after sunrise, before the Sun has had a chance to warm things up. Don’t be in a hurry to uncover things in your rush to schools and offices.
Frost also brings an unofficial end to the “growing season”, that period between last and first frosts when most folks do the bulk of their vegetable and flower growing. I have to note here that in the Southern Piedmont, we can grow all kinds of great plants nearly all year long. We just have to be aware of the best conditions for each of them. Cooler temps and shorter days, along with regular cloudy conditions, do slow down the growth of many plants, even the hardiest ones. So it’s good to know the last and first frost dates in your area. I’ve already mentioned Halloween as our first frost date. Last frost in the Southern Piedmont is an equally scary date; April 15, otherwise known as “Tax Day”. Again, these dates are averages, so we may have frost events before or after these days.
Cooler weather also brings with it the opportunity to extend our seasons past those dates. I’ve already mentioned the covers you can use for some protection. There are others you can use, as well. I expect all of us have used plastic milk jugs or over-turned flower pots to protect plants overnight. I stopped using those after chasing after and/or collecting them after even a light breeze. You can build a cold frame from lumber or PVC and cover it in a clear (preferably UV resistant) plastic. You can use glass, or even recycled windows or doors. This economical structure offers more protection from the elements. There are lots of plans for these season extenders, and here is a selection of them.
“Tunnel growing” is becoming more popular, and there are low and high versions. Essentially unheated greenhouses, they offer even more protection. Used mostly on commercial farms and greenhouse ranges, I think they have use in a home garden, too. You can easily grow lettuce and greens in a tunnel for most of the winter. They have some extra challenges compared to a simple plant bed cover. They can easily overheat on a sunny day, so you’ll need some way to vent excess heat and humidity. Also, snow or ice can collapse a tunnel if the load gets too heavy. But fresh greens are worth it, I think.
Greenhouse growing is, of course, the ultimate in season extension. It’s also a subject much too detailed for this short review. Be on the lookout for greenhouse information in a future post. Just be aware that frost brings with it new and interesting opportunities to learn to be a successful gardener!

2018 classes

Classes are done for the year, but please keep an eye out for the 2019 Successful Gardener Series, coming soon!!!

How can I help you?

If you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for October 15-20, 2018

In case you’re looking for last week’s schedule/gardening tip, there isn’t one. I was under the weather most of the week, and had to cancel or miss most everything. But I’m back at it this week!

This week’s tip

This time of year is a really good time to plant lots of perennial plants, everything from trees to shrubs to flowers and vegetable plants. Planting in this cooler season gives your plants weeks of root growing before the warming temperatures bring on the riot of growth that is Spring. So cool-season planting is the start of your 2019 garden!
Let’s start that planting with onions and garlic! These plants are easy to grow, overwinter in our mild climate, and are powerhouses of nutrition and healing. There are several types and varieties to choose from, as well.
Garlic is a member of the Allium family, as are all onions. While there are several types of garlic, most of what is grown in the Southern Piedmont is called soft neck garlic. This phrase, “soft neck”, refers to the lack of a central flower scape coming from the bulb.
If you cook with garlic, you know it forms a bulb of several individual cloves. These cloves are separated for use in cooking, and you separate them for planting as well. Plant them unpeeled, root end down. Plant them about 1” deep, and about 6-8” apart. In a bed, you can plant in a 6” x 6” grid pattern. If you’re planting in rows, they should be at least 12” apart, but I usually make my rows 18”-24” to make it easier to cultivate and weed. Needing loamy, well-drained soils, raised beds or raised rows with lots of compost are a great place to plant garlic. Fall planted garlic gets a light mulch to protect it from the wide variations in temperature that we often experience in winter. Normally I use leaves, but wheat straw is OK, too. Before you ask, pine needles will work, but I personally don’t like using them (That’s another subject I’ll cover some other time.). Let them grow on through the winter, with harvest next Spring.
Elephant garlic, not a true garlic, is a different type, with a bigger, milder tasting clove. Plant it a little farther apart (9-10”) and stay with the 18-24” row spacing.
There are a few types of perennial/multiplier onions that are hardy old varieties that your parents and grandparents may have planted. Potato onions, walking onions, bunching onions, and shallots all multiply from a single set, or bulb. You’ll need to separate the individual onion bulbs in order to plant them. Like all the Alliums, they thrive in raised beds/rows with lots of compost. Plant the individual bulbs in mid-late Fall, spacing them 10-12” apart. If you are planting in long rows, give yourself plenty of room to weed and cultivate. Depending on the method of cultivation, I’d stick with 18-24” between rows. Bunching onions are grown from seed, and are great mild onions to use in salads and raw recipes. You can harvest some of these clumps of onions, eat some of the individual onions, and replant some, giving yourself a “perennial” source of onions.
Most of you will be more familiar with onion sets, or small onion plants that have been grown out and harvested for later planting. Usually available in red, white, or yellow varieties, they can be planted in both Fall and Spring. I’d recommend doing both to give yourself a longer harvest. Plant your sets in those compost-rich beds or rows on much tighter spacing, even 3-4” apart. As they grow, you can pull every other one and use it in your cooking. Run your rows 18-24” for ease of cultivation. I usually give these onions a bit of slow-release fertilizer as they are starting to grow again in the Spring. They seem to need a little more water during the growing season, too.
Plants and seeds are available for onions, too. I prefer to plant those in the Spring. They seem to do better if you avoid the cold temps. Growing and Spacing for most of them is the same as the other onions, but seeded onions can be planted closely, and the thinnings used in salads.
I mentioned early on that onions are very nutritious and healthy. While some amazing claims are made, there are some basic uses for onions for congestion relief. Some basic facts are onions are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, low in calories, and high in fiber. That pungent flavor works with lots of other foods, from veggies to red meats. They are used in all kinds of cultures, and can be adapted for almost any dish. For cooks on a budget, a little onion can go a long way.
Even if you don’t want to plant anything else this year, you can still get started on next spring’s plantings with some onions and garlic. Give some of them a try!

2018 classes are wrapped up

Classes are done for the year, but please keep an eye out for the 2019 Successful Gardener Series, coming soon!!!

How can I help you?

If you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with all kinds of landscapes, urban lot or country homestead, the silty, rocky soils of the mountains, the good red land of the Piedmont, or the sandy loam of the Sandhills. They each have their challenges and their beauty. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

I’m a certified small business educator as well. In these times of great opportunity, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!
Hope to see you some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for October 1-6, 2018

Well, Fall seems to be coming along slowly. Days are shorter, nights a bit cooler, leaf color changing, and some leaves already falling. And Fall is a great time to plant all kinds of things.

This Week’s Tip

Most of us tend to think of Spring as the best time to plant. For some things, that is true, but our hot (and often dry) Summers tend to put a lot of stress on Spring planted specimens. So why not plant all kinds of trees, shrubs, vines, and perennial flowers right now? When you plant in the fall, you give plants a 7 or 8 month head start on the hot, dry weather. Roots are growing during that time, even if other parts of the plant are dormant. This allows the plants to be well on their way to being established in the landscape before they have to face the stresses of Summer weather. So, now’s the time to plant!
Last week I posted a list of great plants to use to create an edible landscape; a yard/garden/orchard hybrid, if you will. Nearly every single one of them is a perennial plant of some sort, which means they continue to grow over the years. Some, in fact, live quite a long time. In fact, the oldest known cultivated muscadine grape vine was planted in the 1500’s on the Outer Banks Of NC!
My preferred method of tree planting is fairly simple. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball of your plant is thick, and twice as wide. For example, if you buy an apple tree in a “3 gallon” container, the root ball will be approximately 10” wide and 14” tall. So you’ll need to dig a hole 20” wide and 14” deep. Remove the plant from the container, and loosen the roots from the tight ball they grew in while in the container. This allows the plant’s roots to spread out faster. Fill the planting hole with 3-4” of native soil, and firm it a bit. This will raise the top of the root ball above the surrounding grade, and lessen the settling of the soil. In our clay soils, you want to plant most things a little high to prevent root and crown rots caused by rainwater puddling around tree trunks. Set the plant into the hole, and backfill with native soil. You might irrigate the soil and root ball when about half the planting hole is filled. Continue backfilling, and fill the planting hole up to the top of the rot ball. Make sure the root flare (the area of a tree trunk that widens into the root system) is visible just above the soil. You can water a bit more, then add your preferred organic mulch. This simple method should get your tree off to a fine start, and a long life. And remember, Fall is for planting!

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 104, September 27 – November 15, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me here for more information.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Monday, October 1, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’ll be working on my business, as opposed to in my business, but I’m in town if you need me. I’ll be speaking to the Matthews Rotary Club that day as well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’ll be at the farm helping prepare for the annual Farm dinner. That evening, I’ll be speaking to the Matthews HAWK (Habitat And Wildlife Keepers) chapter that evening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 Home Composting Class, 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Details are listed above.

Thursday, October 4, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, October 5, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’m available for home landscape consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, October 6, 2018 On the road
I’m doing regional farm consultations. Contact me if I can help you.

How Can I Help You?

Well, it’s official; Fall is here! This is a great time in the garden, enjoying your garden, planting new things, building new projects. In all this activity, remember to feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for September 24-29, 2018

I hope most of you have made it through the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. The last reports I’ve seen indicate floodwaters to our east are receding, rising, and repeating that cycle. That produces a whole new challenge with clean-up, mold issues, and rebuilding. Never having been through that, I can’t begin to imagine what’s confronting folks. I wrote about flooded gardens last week, which I’m sure is way down the list for some of you. But when you get to that, the info is here.

This Week’s Tip

There are lots of ways to include more food plants into our landscape. Many plants that provide food also give us shade, seasonal interest, flowers, and a lot more. Using food plants to provide those extra benefits is called edible landscaping. Here’s my list of “The Top 10 Plants For Edible Landscaping”, including some of the other benefits the plants provide.
1. Pecan trees – shade, food
2. Apple/pear trees – shade, flowers, food
3. Rabbit eye Blueberries – seasonal color, food
4. Muscadine grapes – shade, screening, fall color, food
5. Strawberries (perennial matted-row culture) – groundcover, food
6. Fig trees – structure, winter interest, food
7. Living Garden plants
a. Aromatic herbs – beneficials, foundation planting (some), seasonal interest, food
b. Daisy-flowered plants – beneficials, aroma, flowers, beds/borders
c. Umbrella-flowered plants – beneficials, aroma, flowers, beds/borders, food (some)
d. Nectar plants – beneficials, aroma, flowers, beds/borders
e. “Beetle banks” of ornamental grasses – beneficials, seasonal interest, beds/borders
8. Perennial vegetables
a. Asparagus
b. Perennial onions
9. Pole beans – food, seasonal screening, soil improvement, some color.
10. Clover/buckwheat/vetch & other covers – soil building, ground covers, flowers, seasonal interest

Honorable mention:
Blackberries – food, seasonal interest, screening, security
Malabar spinach – seasonal interest, color, screening, food
Persimmon trees – seasonal color, understory, food
Pomegranate trees – seasonal color, understory, food
Sunchokes – flowers, beds/borders, beneficials, seasonal screens, food

If you want to know more about these great plants, come join me for the next Successful Gardener class at Renfrow Farm. Details are below.

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 104, September 27 – November 15, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Details and registration are here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Monday, September 24, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’ll be working on my business, as opposed to in my business, but I’m in town if you need me.

Tuesday-Wednesday, September 25-26, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’ll be at either Renfrow Farm, or at Threefold Farm, my new urban ag venture.

Thursday, September 27, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, September 28 2018 Matthews, NC
I’m available for home landscape consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, September 29, 2018 On the road
I’m doing regional farm consultations. Contact me if I can help you.

How Can I Help You?

Well, it’s official; Fall is here! This is a great time in the garden, enjoying your garden, planting new things, building new projects. In all this activity, remember to feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for September 17-22, 2018

Like a lot of you, I’ve been kept inside by the rain from Florence. With so much flooding, let’s talk about what to do when your vegetable or herb garden gets flooded.

This Week’s Tip

Most of these tips are common sense, but in the aftermath of a weather emergency, we don’t always think clearly. I pulled many of these from Carolina Farm Stewardship’s Hurricane Florence Resources For Farmers webpage.
First, establish what kind of flooding you’re dealing with. Is it simply rainfall that hasn’t had time to be absorbed by the soil? Are you dealing with runoff from a neighboring property? Or has a nearby surface water source overflowed its banks onto your garden? While the runoff from adjoining properties can be contaminated, it’s the creek, pond, or even river that can carry some real danger. In a true flood, water may be contaminated by pesticides, gas, oil, or even sewage. Any of those make garden produce unsafe to eat.
Remember to protect yourself from that same contamination. Handling and even walking in the left-behind sediment can be a hazard. Don’t forget to use safety gear when you’re using power tools, too.
Don’t be in a hurry for the floodwaters to recede. Let the garden drain naturally. You stomping around in all that muck won’t help things at all. You don’t have to wait for the garden to be bone dry, but wait for a bit. The soil structure will thank you.
Establish a flood debris compost area. If your community is picking that up, great. If not, put all of that storm debris in a separate pile and get the compost pile as hot as you can. This will help deal with pathogens and contaminants. Then keep all the waste in the pile for a year or two. I’m erring on the side or caution here, but some chemicals re quite persistent. I wouldn’t use that compost on vegetable and herb crops, either. Again, I’m being very cautious, because every situation is different.
If there’s any debris to remove, do it as carefully as you can. Fallen trees and branches will have done enough without you adding more. And it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, be careful with the chainsaw!
Take up all of the loose debris and add that to the flood compost pile. Prune away any damaged plant parts, like broken vines or snapped stems. Remove all plants that are too damaged to survive, and put all that stuff on your flood compost pile. By the way, if you can chip this to a smaller size, that will help the microbes in the pile break the material down faster.
Rinse all of the plants left in the garden, especially on the underside of the leaves. This will remove or dilute remaining contaminants. And irrigate the garden to dilute any contaminants in the plant systems or in the soil.
I’d take all of the food that’s been in contact with the floodwaters and compost it. Don’t eat it, and under no circumstances should you give it to somebody else. If the plant can still grow on a bit, the new edible parts should be OK in a month or so. That’s a little arbitrary, I’ll admit, but better safe than sorry.
Add a bit of compost to the beds to add some new microbes to the soil. All that water will have drowned a lot of the good “critters” that live in the soil. An inch or two of a good quality compost should be enough.
Over time, your garden should become the same productive source of good, fresh food you had before. And if it floods again, it might be time for a new garden site. But that’s another story…

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 104, September 27 – November 15, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Details and registration are here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Monday-Wednesday, September 17-19, 2018
Storm clean-up

Thursday, September 20, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, September 21 2018 Matthews, NC
I’m available for home landscape consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, September 22, 2018 On the road
I’m doing regional consultations. Contact me if I can help you.

How Can I Help You?

Summer is great for spending time in the garden, not just working, but enjoying your garden. Feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for September 10-15, 2018

In doing leg work for my classes, I have discovered that composting seems to have lost some of its reputation among gardeners. Making and using good compost is a cornerstone of good gardening…and farming, for that matter. Here’s more on composting.

This Week’s Tip

Last week I wrote about some of the basics of composting. I want to add to that, and talk about how important compost is to good gardening. Remember, compost is decomposed organic matter, full of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that help plants grow. I have found that plants grown in soils that have compost added regularly are healthier than plants grown without compost.
Here are a few of the benefits of using compost in garden soils.
– Improved soil health & fertility
– Increased nutrient content of soils
– Higher yields of crops
– Richer, more diverse life in soils
– Soil are easier to work with
– Increased soil porosity & moisture retention
– Suppression of plant diseases & pests
– Reduced need for fertilizers & pesticides
– Healthy root systems
– Regenerates poor soils
– Prevention & management of soil erosion problems
– Reduced water demands of plants & trees
Read more at: https://composting.ces.ncsu.edu/home-composting/

In my years as a gardener and farmer, making and using compost were at the center or my soil building practices. As an educator and consultant, I have helped many people start composting or improve their compost production and use. Just this year, tomato plant tissue tests have shown clients that adding compost and growing cover crops can provide 100% of the nutrients needed for tomato production. Granted, this isn’t common, and the farmer that had these results is very aggressive in cover cropping and composting. But it is an example of what can be done. And it can be done by anybody, because most of the compost comes from fall leaf collection, and the cover crops are often field peas, clover, and grasses.
Compost your leaves, collect the leaves from your neighbors, maybe have a landscaper drop a truckload at your house if you have the space. Let those leaves compost, and add the compost to your garden soils as amendments or as mulch. Plant beans or peas in your garden, harvest the food, and compost the vines. It’s really simple!
Want to know more? Come to my compost class at Renfrow Farm or at Lomax Farm. Details are below.

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 103, July 26 – September 20, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me for more details.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Monday, September 10, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is a new location for The Successful Garden Series. In Piedmont NC, we can continue the planting and harvest of food through the Fall and onto the winter months. It surprises many people just how long our growing season is, especially when your help it along with row covers and tunnel growing. More details here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, September 11, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC
Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Monday, September 10, 2018 Fall Vegetable Gardening
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord NC
Details are above.

Tuesday, September 11 2018 Home Composting
Renfrow Farm, Matthews, NC
Details are above

Thursday, September 13, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Sustainable Ag 103 began July 26. Contact me for details.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, September 14 2018 Matthews, NC
I’m available for home landscape consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018 On the road
I’m doing regional consultations. Contact me if I can help you.

How Can I Help You?

Summer is great for spending time in the garden, not just working, but enjoying your garden. Feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for September 3-8, 2018

In my travels, I’ve noticed that fall color is starting to show in some of the trees. I first noticed this in some Sycamores in Greensboro, NC. Seems a little early to me, but possibly heat and irregular precipitation might be pushing things a bit.

This Week’s Tip

Since fall leaf color leads to lots of leaves falling from the trees, it’s time to set up your leaf composting area. I hope you’re composting already, but I’ve been told composting is “something that your Grandpa does”. I am a grandpa, and I do, of course, compost. I have to admit, though, I was a little taken aback when I heard this. Composting is such an integral part of organic gardening. With all of the interest in organics, I assumed composting was increasing through association. Since it is not, I’m teaching my class on making and using quality compost a couple of times this fall.
So what exactly IS compost? Simply put, it’s decomposed organic matter. Anything that is carbon-based will decompose, so anything carbon-based will make compost. This makes leaves a great source of compost. In time, leaf compost makes great soil when added to gardens and beds. So instead of blowing leaves to the curb to be picked up, why not compost them?
Composting leaves is very simple. Chop ‘em up and pile ‘em up. Let ‘em rot. It really is that simple. Anything we do only speeds up the process or makes it a little neater. That’s where bins come in. A compost bin confines the chopped, piled leaves and allows all the critters that do the work to be more efficient. Bins need not be fancy. Some wire and some posts are all you need. Chicken wire, hardware cloth, or field fence work fine as sides for bins. Pallets and stacked tree saplings work well, too, but should be wired together. I’ve seen concrete blocks stacked neatly to make a bin. Even metal or plastic drums work once the original contents are removed and the barrel cleaned out. They all work, because the bin materials aren’t central to the process.
You can, of course, buy a composter. There are all kinds out there, and they all produce compost. I will say that the volume of leaf material in the fall dictates a larger bin, and that usually means a D-I-Y bin. We’ll talk about bin construction in my Home Composting classes. Details are below.
More on leaf composting next week.

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 103, July 26 – September 20, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me for more details.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Monday, September 10, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is a new location for The Successful Garden Series. In Piedmont NC, we can continue the planting and harvest of food through the Fall and onto the winter months. It surprises many people just how long our growing season is, especially when your help it along with row covers and tunnel growing. More details here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, September 11, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC
Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Tuesday,September 4, 2018, Matthews, NC
I’ll be working on my business (as opposed to in my business) in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Sustainable Ag 103 began July 26. Contact me for details.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday, September 7, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’m available for home landscape consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, September 8, Matthews, NC
This time of year I may be at Renfrow Hardware, working at the Farm, or simply enjoying a coffee at Brakeman’s. Regardless of where I am, you can always stop by and find out more ways to enjoy your garden. Come see me!

How Can I Help You?

Summer is great for spending time in the garden, not just working, but enjoying your garden. Feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for August 27 – September 1, 2018

This week gives you another chance to learn more about growing a great fall garden. We’ve got lots of time to produce more good, fresh food. See the details below.

This Week’s Tip

It’s time to make some decisions. And those decisions determine what kinds of food your garden will produce in the short run or the long run. Will you leave the older plants in the garden or will you take them up and plant something new?
Usually these decisions are fairly obvious. Take the Successful Gardener display garden at Renfrow Farm. It’s time to plant some cool season crops, but I have it planted with all kinds of flowers and herbs, as well as vegetables. How do I make space for all the kale, lettuce, and collards that I love so much?
First, I’m going to remove any dead or diseased plants, like the cucumbers. They haven’t produced much, anyway. Poor pollination, I think, so out they go to the compost pile. Now, what about that ‘Better Bush’ tomato that has some fruit rot and early blight? Well, it IS still producing, so maybe that gets a little more time. Next are those plants that just haven’t produced much this year. That points right at the cantaloupes. I wrote about their troubles with pickleworm last week. I have gotten no cantaloupes at all, so they may head to the compost pile, too. Anything else? I’ll take a look at the sweet potatoes, but they need a little more time to mature. And I expect a big harvest from that bed. That would give me a lot of space, though. But they stay for now. Everything else looks pretty good.
But what about those plants that look good? Could there be a choice to remove them, too? Yes, but that gets a little complicated. Will you get lots more food from those plants? Will they produce more than any cool season crop you might plant? If the answer is “no”, then they need to be pulled, too.
So let’s review. Dead, diseased, and no production are all candidates for removal. Harvesting plants that wont produce much more can give you more room, too. And plants that have done their good work can make way for new plants for the fall.
There are two more opportunities to learn more of these fall gardening tips this year. One is this week at Renfrow Farm! The details are below.

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 103, July 26 – September 20, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me for more details.

Skillpop class: Fall Gardening Basics, August 29, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC.
With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can enjoy eating something from your garden 365 days of the year in Charlotte’s mild climate. Learn how to extend your gardening season into the fall and winter by growing veggies such as broccoli, kale, carrots, garlic, onions, and many more! Utilize these principles for early spring (February and March) gardening as well! Details here.

Fall Vegetable Gardening, Monday, September 10, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is a new location for The Successful Garden Series. In Piedmont NC, we can continue the planting and harvest of food through the Fall and onto the winter months. It surprises many people just how long our growing season is, especially when your help it along with row covers and tunnel growing. More details here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, September 11, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC
Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 Renfrow Farm, Matthews, NC
I’ll be working at the farm in the morning, and working on my business (as opposed to in my business) in the afternoon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 Matthews, NC
Skillpop class, Fall Gardening Basics. See the details above.

Thursday, August 30, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Sustainable Ag 103 began July 26. Contact me for details.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday & Saturday, August 31 – September 1, 2018 Floyd YogaJam
Check out the festival website here.

How Can I Help You?

Summer is great for spending time in the garden, not just working, but enjoying your garden. Feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for August 20-28, 2018

I’ll be in Patrick County, VA, the first part of the week, handling family business. Then I’m headed back to Matthews for more consultations, farm work, and research. For the weekend, I’m headed to Floyd, VA, to help set up my favorite festival of the year – Floyd YogaJam!!!

This Week’s Tip

Some of my favorite foods to grow are melons. This year, I only had room for ‘Burpee Hybrid’ cantaloupes. They looked great, bloomed like crazy, and have lots of fruit. BUT…when I went to harvest the melons, every single one of them had been damaged by some kind of borer, just enough to expose the inner flesh to rot. So far every one I found has been damaged. This is a new challenge for me as I have never encountered this problem in over 30 years as a horticulture professional. I’ve only seen the damage so far, so I don’t have much to work with. My suspicion is the damage is caused by the pickle worm, but I haven’t seen one yet, nor have I found any egg masses on the foliage. As I figure this out, I’ll provide you more information.
Here’s what to look for. Small holes bored into the bloom or the fruit. My experience has been that the damage is on the bottom, so it’s hard to see anything. The rest of the plant is undamaged, and in this case is very healthy, as I wrote earlier. The pickle worm is the larvae of a night flying moth, so that’s hard to see, too.
This kind of challenge is one of the things I like most about gardening and farming. Even after 30 years, I get to learn new things. So far from being frustrated, I am excited to learn something new!

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 103, July 26 – September 20, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me for more details.

Skillpop class: Fall Gardening Basics, August 15 (sold out) & August 29, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC.
With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can enjoy eating something from your garden 365 days of the year in Charlotte’s mild climate. Learn how to extend your gardening season into the fall and winter by growing veggies such as broccoli, kale, carrots, garlic, onions, and many more! Utilize these principles for early spring (February and March) gardening as well! Details here for the 8/29 class.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Monday, September 10, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is a new location for The Successful Garden Series. In Piedmont NC, we can continue the planting and harvest of food through the Fall and onto the winter months. It surprises many people just how long our growing season is, especially when your help it along with row covers and tunnel growing. More details here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, September 11, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC
Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll Be

Monday & Tuesday, August 20-21, 2018 Patrick County VA
I’m working on some private projects and conducting some family business.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 Matthews, NC
I’ll be at the farm, working in the Display Garden and the peanut project.

Thursday, August 23, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Sustainable Ag 103 began July 26. Contact me for details.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday & Saturday, August 24-25, 2018 Floyd YogaJam
I always help set up for YogaJam, and this year is no exception. Check out the festival website here.

How Can I Help You?

Summer is great for spending time in the garden, not just working, but enjoying your garden. Feed your body good food from the garden. Feed your mind new knowledge as you learn more about nature. Feed your soul just by watching things grow. All this while having a beautiful place to sit and enjoy coffee before breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening. Get the kids outside and away from “the screen”. Decompress after a hectic day on the job. The movement and exertion of gardening has long been considered a beneficial physical activity, and you get food or flowers as a result!

If you’re not getting those benefits from your garden, right now is the time to change that. I can help you evaluate your home landscape and find the right landscape for your family. In a one hour consultation, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and teach you some cool shortcuts that make gardening more fun and interesting. If you’re interested in enjoying your garden even more, contact me here.

Organic farming has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, even while other sectors of agriculture have slumped. I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

As a former Small Business Center Director in NC, I can tell you that these are times of great opportunity for small business owners. Many small businesses can be started for as little as $100! To take advantage of these opportunities, strategic planning is essential. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for August 13-18, 2018

For those of you using The Living Garden techniques that I teach, now might be a good time to cut back some of those flowering plants that attract so many beneficials.

This week’s tip

Flowers are part of sexual reproduction. They contain all of the parts, male, female, or both, that a plant needs to produce seeds. Seeds, of course, create new plants. Gardeners discovered long ago that removing the flowers encouraged more flowering on some plants. This characteristic allows some flowering plants to stay in bloom for a much longer season. Since so much of the The Living Garden depends on flowers for the food and shelter of the beneficial “critters” that make it work, it’s vital that flowers be present for as much of the growing season as possible.
As I mentioned, flowers are the plant’s way of reproducing sexually. So removing the flowers before they create seed creates a need in the flower to continue to reproduce. So the more flowers you cut off, the more new flowers are produced. It’s really simple. Just snip off the flower stem just above a leaf node or at a stem. Doing this will reduce the amount of dying tissue you will leave behind. Sometimes you can cut a plant back much harder, in order to allow for longer stems to be produced. All you really need to remove, though, are all the parts of the flower. This is enough to encourage more blooming.
Cutting off the spent flowers is called “deadheading”. It has nothing to do with The Grateful Dead, though. It’s just a shortened version of “dead flower heads”. But you could listen to some of the Dead’s tunes while you work!

Upcoming classes

Sustainable Ag 103, July 26 – September 20, 2018. 6-9PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This class is a part of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Agripreneur Academy. If you want to learn to cultivate an income through growing food, flowers, fiber, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and fermented beverages (unfermented ones, too), then come learn my “Cash Crop” method. Contact me for more details.

Skillpop class: Fall Gardening Basics, August 15 (sold out) & August 29, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC.
With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can enjoy eating something from your garden 365 days of the year in Charlotte’s mild climate. Learn how to extend your gardening season into the fall and winter by growing veggies such as broccoli, kale, carrots, garlic, onions, and many more! Utilize these principles for early spring (February and March) gardening as well! Details here for the 8/29 class.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Monday, September 10, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is a new location for The Successful Garden Series. In Piedmont NC, we can continue the planting and harvest of food through the Fall and onto the winter months. It surprises many people just how long our growing season is, especially when your help it along with row covers and tunnel growing. More details here.

Home Composting, Tuesday, September 11, 2018 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC
Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Home Composting, Tuesday, October 3, 2018 630-930PM
Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
This is our second class at our new location. Compost is a great addition to any garden. It solves so many garden problems simply by adding organic matter to the soil. It’s easy to make, doesn’t need a fancy bin, and keeps food scraps out of the landfill. We’ll look at a simple compost system that will let you create lots of great garden soil. Here are the details.

Edible Landscapes, Tuesday, October 9, 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles Street, Matthews, NC We tend to look at our food crops through a single purpose lens. How much food will this plant yield? But many of our fruits and vegetables look great in the garden! Come learn how to add these plants to our landscapes. We’ll feed our souls beautiful gardens while we feed our bodies good food. Details and registration here.

Where I’ll be

Monday, August 13, 2018
I’m in Matthews NC, working on my business, as opposed to in my business.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
I’ll be in Matthews, working on some private projects.

Wednesday, August 15 2018 Skillpop Class: Fall Gardening Basics 630-830PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles St, Mathews, NC
See the details above.

Thursday, August 16, 2018 Sustainable Ag 103 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Sustainable Ag 103 began July 26. Contact me for details.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.

Friday & Saturday August 17-18, 2018 Patrick County, VA
I’m in VA working on some private projects.

How can I help you?

Summer is here, and so are the challenges of heat, humidity, and who knows what with rainfall. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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