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Jeff’s Schedule for June 25-30, 2018

My Sustainable Agriculture class had a great visit to Rowland’s Row Farm in Gold Hill, NC. Joe and Dani are good people and great farmers, growing 40 different vegetables on their farm. Their daughter Ella is a good helper, too! We brought a little rain to the farm, but as dry as it’s been, nobody minded getting a little wet.

This week’s tip

When it’s this hot, plants need water more than ever. It’s really important to irrigate effectively. So how do you do that? As with so many questions, the answer begins with, “It depends”. In this case it depends on what type of irrigation equipment you’re using. Most of us use overhead irrigation, what we call “using sprinklers”. It’s an inexpensive way to water if you don’t count the cost of delivering the water. What I mean is, you can buy a sprinkler for as little as $5-$6. These days, you can’t buy a good meal for that. When you add the cost of the water, or the cost of pumping water (which includes the cost of the pump and the power to run it), then the price goes up. Add in the water lost through evaporation, and it’s not quite the bargain you thought. It still may be the most effective way to irrigate if you need a lot of water delivered fast. That’s the real advantage to overhead irrigation. You can put the water down faster than other methods of irrigation.
Most homeowners use oscillating sprinklers. Those use a tube with lots of holes to spray water over a large area. For this to be most effective, you need good water pressure. This allows it to be quite efficient. It covers a rectangular area and can be adjusted. The other type of sprinkler is called an impact sprinkler. This sprinkler is driven by the force, or “impact”, of the water. It can cover a big area if you have plenty of water pressure, and can be adjusted as well. Here and here are some good descriptions.
Generally, sprinklers are used to water heavily but infrequently. This method promotes deeper root growth. The rule of thumb is 1” of water per week. How do you measure that? By measuring it, of course! Use a rain gauge or one of those tuna cans. Set it out inside the area being watered. Water for 30 minutes. Then measure how much water is in the gauge or can. This gives you an idea how much water your sprinkler can deliver. Do you have ½”? Then you are on track to water twice weekly if it doesn’t rain. If you have more or less water in your gauge, then adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly.
By the way, hoses and sprinklers left out in the sun can deliver scalding hot water until fresh water cools the equipment. Be careful!
Next week, I’ll write about drip irrigation. A method that is extremely efficient once you understand how to use it.

Where I’ll be

Monday & Tuesday, June 25-26, 2018
I’ll be in Matthews, NC, working on the farm or at the house. With the hot weather, I get my farm work done early, and spend the afternoons working on my business as opposed to in my business. I’m available for consultations if you’re interested. Contact me here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 House In The Horseshoe State Historic Site, Carthage, NC
The “Shoe”, as we affectionately call this beautiful old home, was the site of a battle during the American Revolution and the home of a 19th Century Governor. Our next event is the re-enactment of the 1781 battle. Details and directions here.

Thursday, June 28, 2018 Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Registration is closed for this session, but Sustainable Ag 103 begins July 26. Details here.
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, June 29, 2018 I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018 9AM-12PM, 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 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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Jeff’s Schedule for June 18-23, 2018

Just FYI, we had a great class at the farm last week. Lots of new faces learning how to be successful gardeners in small spaces. Everybody that attended got to take home some walking onions, too. If you’d like to know what those are, come to the NEXT Successful Gardener class in June! Details here.

This week’s tip

Well, we’ve gone straight to hot Summer temperatures and ozone warnings. It’s time to protect yourself from all that heat and sun. There are ways you can enjoy your garden while the Sun’s at its zenith.
A hat is one of the best things you can do for yourself on a sunny day. Personally, I like a hat with a lot of ventilation, because my head is the thermostat of my body. Those of you that know me have seen me wear a bandana because I sweat a lot, so the hat has to fit over the bandana as well. For those of you with sensitive skin, you might want to wear a loose cotton shirt with long sleeves. Using sunscreen is an option for many. When I use sunscreen, I use a very high SPF rating. Getting to work in the garden early (before 8AM) and getting your chores done before it gets hot is another way to protect yourself. You can work later as well, but the heat of the day has been sticking around later and later, so be careful!
I think the best protection is a good water bottle so you can stay hydrated. I drink a lot of water during the day, plus a lot in the evening. It’s done more for me than anything else. And remember to take breaks in the shade, so you can cool off!
I’ll add one more thing. Melon is good for you, and it has a cooling and hydrating effect on the body. It’s a little early for any melons from the area’s home gardens, but a real treat is a melon picked early, still cool from the night, and putting it in the shade for a snack later. When I’m really hot, I don’t like anything really cold. I prefer the relative coolness of the shade to the artificial cold of a fridge.
Spend some time in the shade yourself, enjoying your garden. THAT’S what make you a successful Gardener, right?

Where I’ll be

Monday & Tuesday, June 18-19, 2018
I’m in Patrick County, VA, working on a personal project

Wednesday, June 20, Raleigh, NC
I’ll be in our State Capital representing the Board of Directors for the House in the Horseshoe Preservation Committee. The “Shoe”, as we affectionately call this beautiful old home, was the site of a battle during the American Revolution and the home of a 19th Century Governor. Our next event is the re-enactment of the 1781 battle. Details and directions here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018 Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Registration is closed for this session, but Sustainable Ag 103 begins July 26. Details here.
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, June 22, 2018 I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, June 23, 2018 9AM-12PM, 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 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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Jeff’s Schedule for June 11-16, 2018

It looks like we’ve dried out a bit after a lot of rain. So let’s look at what you can do to prepare your garden for the next rainy spell. For that matter, what I’m going to suggest will help with almost any kind of weather. To create a more resilient garden, a garden that can grow in almost any kind of weather, follow these suggestions.

This week’s tip

The first thing you can do to help your garden be more resilient to build your soil with compost, cover crops, and mulches. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you that follow my work. Good soil is the foundation of a successful garden. Compost, of course, is the decomposed remains of plants. It adds organic matter to soil, helping lighter soil hold water longer, lightens clay soils, and tends to moderate the effects of extreme weather. Of course, this doesn’t work for every situation. Floods are a little too extreme! A lengthy drought can also pose a challenge as well. But for the kind of weather we’ve been having in south-central Piedmont NC, soil that is regularly amended with compost can handle a wide variety of conditions. I usually add about 2” of compost on top of the garden surface, and then work it in. If you need to add more, add another 2”. There’s nothing scientific about the 2” figure; it’s just easy to mix that amount into the soil.
Cover crops let you grow your own compost and mulch right in place! Grasses and clovers are the most often used covers, but even common garden vegetables can be used to build soil. I’ve used snap beans, cowpeas, and even greens as covers. The process is really easy. Simply sow the crop on the area you want to improve, let it grow for a while, and then mow it and till it in. Wait for a couple weeks to allow for some decomposition. Then you can plant another crop right in the same space. We use multiple cover crops on new fields at the farm. They are used at Lomax Farm as well. I’ve used all kinds of cover crops over the years, and they build soil very well.
Organic mulches work well to add more organic matter to the soil. They also moderate temperature changes, slow down erosion, and hold extra moisture during drought. They have a reputation for holding down weeds, but my experience has been less than satisfactory in that regard, especially with pine needles. Another benefit of mulches is they provide habitat for beneficial insects like ground beetles. Chunky wood chip or bark mulches work best for beetle habitat.
Another thing that really helps make gardens more resilient is to plant in raised beds. This helps the soil warm faster in the Spring, dry out faster after a rain, and if you can avoid stomping around in the bed, keeps the soil very friable (uncompacted, light, airy, well-drained). Raised beds don’t have to be contained by lumber or brick or stone. They just need to be higher than the surrounding soil surface.
Deep digging is not something I normally recommend, but for heavy soils, it can help greatly with drainage and aeration. Deep digging is sometimes called double digging, or if you have a tractor, you can use a subsoiler. In either case, you’ll be loosening the soil up to 24” deep. That’s a LOT of digging! I did that once, and have never done it again. I’ve been able to do the same thing with deeply rooted covers like clover, though it does take weeks or months longer. I’ve also simply added more soil and compost to a raised bed for the same effect.
These tips should keep you busy til next week, when I’ll share with you some of the easy-to-build structures that can protect our gardens.

Where I’ll Be

Monday, June 11, 2018 Personal Project.
I’ll be in Patrick County, VA, and Matthews, NC.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 630-830 PM
Renfrow Farm, 409 W Charles St., Matthews
My next Successful Gardener class, “More Food From Less Space”, will be June 12, 630PM. We’ll meet at the Farm on Charles Street in Matthews, NC. Details are here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site Carthage, NC
I’m on the Board for this beautiful place located in a “horseshoe bend” of the Deep River. Site of a battle during the American Revolution, and later a home for one of NC’s earliest governors, it also parallels the development of agriculture in NC. We are creating a volunteer group we call the “Horseshoe Gardeners”. We’ll learn about historical horticulture, and how folks grew food in the 18th Century. I’ll be teaching classes and we’ll conduct some field trips as well. If you’re interested, here’s more information.

Thursday, June 14, 2018 Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Registration is closed for this session, but Sustainable Ag 103 begins July 26. Details here.
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, June 15, 2018 I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, June 16, 2018 9AM-12PM, 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?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. 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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Jeff’s Schedule for June 4-9, 2018

I expect everybody’s garden is as wet as mine is. We’ve had a LOT of rain these last few days! Dealing with wet weather is as much of a challenge as dry weather. FYI, my July class is “Summer Gardening Challenges”. We’ll talk about the garden experiences of Summer that challenge you most. The details are here. For now, here’s my approach to rainy weather in the garden.

This week’s Tip

Remember the Successful Gardener’s mantra. “Enjoy your garden.” In our busy, accomplishment-oriented, world, we can get all tangled up in getting things done. If we don’t get things done, we get anxious and stressed. So here’s the first tip – the garden should be the place you go to unwind, not get wound up! Wet weather (or dry weather, for that matter) is simply a part of gardening. You do what you can to create a good garden environment, deal with the weather you experience, harvest what you can, and improve the garden with what you learn.
Spend time in the garden while it’s raining. You’ll learn something. Where does run-off go? Does the excess rain puddle instead? How long does it take to drain away? Do I need to add a swale or a berm to drain or catch water? What does soil feel like when it’s waterlogged? You’ll develop an appreciation of rain. Get wet. Get muddy. Go barefoot and get completely soaked. You might be surprised at how much fun that is!
In practical terms, gardens need more observation in rainy weather. All the more reason to spend time out in the garden when it’s raining. Check your containers to make sure all the excess water has drained out. Support plants that are weighed down by wet foliage and fruit. Trellis (carefully!) any trailing or vining plants that might rot lying on wet soil. By the way, don’t handle wet plants if you can avoid it. Plant diseases can be transferred that way. Also, water is relatively heavy, and wet stems can break easily if handled roughly. Yes, it’s a bit of a balancing act; do I do this or not? You learn by doing, making mistakes, and doing something different next time.
Stay out of planted areas if you can. Wet soils can compact very easily in wet weather. But go and do what you need to do; just step carefully!
Weeds will grow like crazy in the rain, so keep an eye out for crabgrass, especially. Clay soils really stick together in wet conditions, so the younger the weed you pull, the less soil comes away with it.
Harvest your vegetables regularly. All the rain makes them develop quickly. And all this moisture can encourage rot. Again, step carefully, and avoid handling plant foliage when it’s wet. But do what you need to do.
These are some of the things you can do while it’s rainy. Next week, I’ll give you tips on what to after and before a rainy spell.

Where I’ll be this week.

Monday- Tuesday, June 4-5, 2018 Personal Projects
Patrick County VA

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site
Carthage, NC
I’m on the Board for this beautiful place located in a “horseshoe bend” of the Deep River. Site of a battle during the American Revolution, and later a home for one of NC’s earliest governors, it also parallels the development of agriculture in NC. We are creating a volunteer group we call the “Horseshoe Gardeners”. We’ll learn about historical horticulture, and how folks grew food in the 18th Century. I’ll be teaching classes and we’ll conduct some field trips as well. If you’re interested, here’s more information.

Thursday, June 7, 2018 Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Registration is closed for this session, but Sustainable Ag 103 begins July 26. Details here.
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, June 1, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, June 2, 2018 9AM-12PM, 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!

Remember, my next Successful Gardener class, “More Food From Less Space”, will be June 12, 630PM. We’ll meet at the Farm on Charles Street in Matthews, NC. Details are here.

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. 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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