Friday, December 5, 2008
Hayden's Country Wisdom
The Organic Grower's Guide to Vegetable Production
Vol. 1: Getting Started
By Hayden Holbert, senior country correspondent.
Vegetable growers do much more than produce vegetables. They also manage money, people, and natural resources. In fact, the growing is often the easy part. It's the part of adding the existing wealth of the soil in an attempt to adress the systems that comprise a vegetable farm. Marketing, soil, cover crops, compost, and pest management are all things incorporated into a succesful farm.
With sufficient experience under your belt, the next thing to do is locate a piece of land suitable for vegetable production and marketing. A piece of land at least three acres is plenty, and a good water source is recommended. It is also important not to go into debt. The organics business is a business unknown to many wealthy undertakers and can be unpredictable.
Soil fertility is of primary importance to vegetable production. Deep, well drained loamy soild are the most productive and responsive in terms of weather management. Nonetheless, soils of lesser quality can be improved, but this will be a long term task. Soils with sandy texture that excessively drain water can be useful for early season production. It will thrive on regular inputs of organic matter and frequent irrigation. Heavy textured soils that contain a lot of clay and drain poorly can also be improved with frequent organic matter additions and subsoil tillage. It is best to have a soil in the middle of these, but in my opinion it is better to have a soil on the heavier side. Availability is critical to vegetable growing. High quality soil might be able to produce good vegetable yields for some years without irrigation, but in a dry spell they will suffer considerable yield reduction.