Friday, February 6, 2009

What's New At The Farm 2/04/09

Welcome to February! Now is the time to start thinking seriously about spring. Hopefully the coldest weather is behind us now and with the days getting longer and with more heat in the sun, we'll be more apt to get some planning done as to what we're going to plant this year. I know I'm ready to get out in the garden.

I'm busy here on the farm ordering supplies for the upcoming season. The bigger items have been ordered: the 512 potting mix for the greenhouses, organic fertilizer for the fields and we already have the IRT mulch on hand. What I have left to order is lots of greenhouse supplies, field stakes, row covers and liquid fish fertilizers for transplanting. Then there are things like tomato stakes, trellising supplies, planting flats, more fertilizers for the greenhouses and cover crop seed for the upcoming season.

I've got to call the furnace people to have the furnaces cleaned, the electrician to do some much needed updating and our crop advisor to help plan this year's crop growing schedule. Along with these few things, I've got to hire some new farm crew; three full timers and two part timers, I think. Unfortunately we didn't get all our field work done last fall so we'll have to pick up where we left off this spring.

We also have some maintenance and up-keeping jobs in the greenhouses. Let's see; we've got two doors to installed, two exhaust fans along with automated louvers, one greenhouse to extend, one to convert from a shadehouse to a insect proof poly tunnel and new plastic to put on two houses.

I'm doing some research now in finding a good, steady supply of compost. When I first started here and up until about ten or twelve years ago, we made our own. We got to the point where we made five or six hundred yards a year. Raw materials became increasingly harder to get as time moved on, costs increased on everything and much of the farming disappeared drying up local sources of raw materials.

We used to use poultry manure as our nitrogen source exclusively. There were several cage layer facilities close by we could get raw materials from but now there are none. The only remaining source is fifty miles away and, because we are organic, cannot use as they use fly control products. Sawdust is extremely expensive, so much so that some local farmers are grinding bales of mulch hay for bedding. Of course we used straw some but that too is expensive. Seems like everything is.

When we first started buying compost we paid seven dollars a yard delivered. Last year we paid thirty five plus a fuel surcharge. I don't foresee getting it that cheap this year. I think fifty or sixty is more like it for this year. When you buy three or four hundred yards a year this turns into a big expense. Last summer's compost was made when fuel prices were high so the composter must recoup their increased costs. More and more people are turning to compost as fertilizer prices have risen dramatically. We have a new field we're thinking about putting into production and it would take about nine hundred yards a year for several years to bring up the organic matter to where we want it. Something to think about for sure!

Until next week, Brian


Anonymous said...

What needs to be done to sawdust to make it garden ready compost?

Anonymous said...

We use sawdust as a carbon indgredient for making compost. It is used in conjuntion with animal manures, waste feed products and crop wastes to make garden rich compost. We also have used straw as straw doesn't tie up so much nitrogen as sawdust does.