Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just a few pics

I've been out roaming the countryside with my Tablet trying to get some good pictures of veggie fields down here in Georgia. And, I have to say it has been extremely hard to get good pictures...because it is so darn sunny!

The picture above is of a road that I thought was beautiful. I mentioned last time about the red soil down here. The color in paints is actually called "Georgia Clay". So, this was the first picture on my way down the road.

This is the second field I saw...notice the color of the soil in the fields is a dead looking gray sandy color. True. It is sandy. And, they do spray it with all kinds of chemicals to keep the weeds out, so the part about dead might be true also. This field contains tomatoes. Six rows then a space for the truck, then six...for acres and acres and acres. The tomatoes have stakes every two or three feet. The rows are hilled up, then have a black plastic cover, the stakes and tomatoes are put into the plastic. This field might be ready to harvest in another couple of weeks as the green tomatoes are getting big. 
When they harvest ('they' meaning the field hands, mostly migrants who move from field to field during the season...some stay with one company for about 5 months) will walk down the rows picking the fruit. A wagon will ride down the large rows with containers for the goods, sometimes with a tarp over the top to keep everything shaded. Altho I've seen stuff out in the sun also.

I tried to get some pics of other crops. There are squash, cabbage, and peppers. The peppers are staked like the tomatoes, altho closer. There are acres of tobacco that are about thigh high right now. I saw one farmer out in his field spraying the tobacco, using a large John Deere tractor. (Not sure what he was spraying with.) The peanuts and cotton are coming up, most small still.

It is really hard to get a picture of the acres and acres of produce. When I see a field of 50 acres of squash, I wish it would show up on the camera like I see it. But, the scope of it just doesn't show. It is amazing to me to think of our little farm with a couple thousand plants, and then see these fields with...I can't even come up with the number of plants they might have. And, much of this is done with larger equipment now. So, I went to the graveyard...small farm equipment graveyard, for a look.

But, even tho there are small farm graveyards full of small veggie equipment...there is also hope!! I picked up a Georgia Farm Bureau brochure for all the farmers markets. It was soooo great to see that their Farm Bureau supports their small farmers. HINT! And, there are lots of little farms selling eggs and produce alongside the roads. 
We can also go up to the produce buyer place in town, which has a "farmers market" all the time. Some of the large veggie farms around here bring their produce to be packaged at places like this and then some gets sold locally (altho much goes to big stores like Walmart).

It is a whole different way of farming than what we are trying to do. We grow so much less, on so much less land, with such small equipment, with only a couple of people, and with the struggle of keeping our markets. (Thanks a ton to all of you who are keeping us afloat this year!) I can't say we compete well with all this...there isn't much of a competition to be had when they sell for pennies. We will never feed the world, they won't either. But, hopefully we will be able to have our land healthy enough for the next few hundred years. Will they? 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Georgia grown

Well, it is the time of year for me to go to my family in Georgia. And, while here this year I thought I would try to get some pictures of some of the vegetable production down here. Kind of a compare and contrast of central Illinois vegetable production.

To start off with is beautiful here! The sky is blue, the clouds puffy white, and the tall pines wish wish. The privets are blooming and the smell is so heady and intoxicating...well it is enough to make a person lightheaded even. The fish crows don't caw caw like up north, they conk conk. And, to this southern kid...the white peaches are always sweeter down here. (Yes, Marty, I will try to bring some home!)

Then there is the clay color or tan sand. It isn't black and loamy like the farmland in central Illinois. All the country road cars have a coating of red on them. You can always tell someone who lives down a country road.

Sometimes I wonder how they can grow anything down here in soil that looks so dry and dusty. But, they do...beautiful veggies and lots of them. Rows and rows and acres and acres of cabbage, tomatoes, and squash. The farmers markets are already full of good food and the people are putting up their blankets, tents, and fold up tables along the roadsides...watermelon, peaches...yum.

I also like to look at the farm implements. There are a couple of good junk yards or sale places for them. Little stuff that we can't find in Illinois. Tiny two row planters and transplanters, cultivators, tiny tractors, etc. Everything a small produce farmer in Illinois dreams of, mumbling about in their sleep...drool dripping onto the pillow..."mmm, planters...mmm, tiny twactors".

As I travel I hope to have time to get some good pictures to show you. So, check back!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Different year...every year

It's cold and rainy out today...again. I find it interesting how each year is so different. Last year at this time we had harvested our green garlic a month and a half ago. This year it is still struggling to grow and get green. Last year we had been selling tons of mustard and other greens from the hoophouse, and this year it has been too wet to get the hoophouses tilled (the water is seeping under them and percolating up). Last year we had our potatoes (all 1500 or so pounds) planted the first of April. This year...still waiting for the ground to dry so we can plant them. And last year our spring wheat was hardly germinating due to the dry weather...this year it is filling in nicely. Makes for a different and more difficult year financially too when there is less to harvest early in the spring.

So, with it so wet and cold, we have been working on getting other projects done. I was able to get all our blackberry plants tied up and they look terrific (last year not so great). We have mowed every week now for a month and our wild harvests look much better than last year. We took apart the picket garden fence and now it is too wet to repair and paint it so it sits against the buildings until it dries out some.

Marty grew some terrific looking bok choi and brussel sprouts in the basement. So, the other day we were able to get them all in the field area...three rows of each. They looked beautiful and there was moisture in the ground still to help them along. He went out yesterday and the deer had ate all of them except for eleven. Last year the deer didn't touch them...a different year, every year.

We also have lots of tractor and equipment problems this year. Our large tractor is broke so we are going to scrap it and get some money for it. Thought we would use the money for another tractor. But then our 5' tiller broke and can't be repaired. So, today the guys are loading up scrap metal, old equipment, the big tractor, and taking it all to the junk yard to see if they can get some money to buy a new tiller. The tiller we need all the time, the big tractor only a couple times a year. So...a different year for equipment too.

Pictures...well, there isn't much that I have right now. I didn't want to take my tablet out in the rain and then have been lax on the nicer days at remembering. But, this is my little garden of ginger. It's an experiment. I put the ginseng (bought at the grocery store and somewhat greenish) in a bag with moist soil for about a month. When it began to sprout I planted the pieces in this dish and they are coming along nicely. Then after a week or so I put them in bigger pots and out in the greenhouse to get more light (since there isn't more heat). We'll have to do a good job at keeping them moist.

I'm off to Georgia to visit my family and best friend next weekend. Looking forward to seeing what is growing down there. Now that I have this nice tablet, I will try to get some pictures and show you the difference between growing veggies in Illinois and growing them in Georgia. Look forward to some pictures later!