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Ag Trivia

How the Garden Grows


Harvest that H2O

Cost-conscious gardeners are looking to use less water, and experts say that the best way to conserve is cost-free "water harvesting." "Contour the ground so that water that falls on the roofs of nearby buildings gets directed to plants instead of running off the property", says Scott Millard, owner of Ironwood Press, a Tucson, Arizona-based publisher of gardening books. To that we would add: Think rain barrels, soaker hoses, watering in the evenings.

A New Grange Enterprise


Growing businesses

A grassroots culinary effort is underway at a Grange in Dartmouth,Massachusetts. There, growers use commercial ovens and cookware to prepare their produce to sell. "A Farmer could sell tomatoes for $1 a pound, but turning them into a $5 jar of salsa is what today's Farmers need to sustain their farms." -- Grange Kitchen Manager Becky Turner.

On the Farm


Future Farmers

Over 95% of young farmers and ranchers surveyed hope that their children will follow in their footsteps. "Producers are optimistic about the future of agriculture; otherwise, they wouldn't see a place for their children in farming or ranching." --Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation.

What is it?


Hint: It's 5 feet tall, made of brass, and the label says "Seedbury Quality".

Answer: It's a Grain Sampler.

Detail of Seed Sampler used in 1950's

There are two brass cylinders, one inside the other, and they have matching obround openings. The inner cylinder has partitions between the openings. Holding onto the outer cylinder and turning the maple knob will open or close the openings.

Plunging it into a load of grain with the openings closed, then opening and subsequently closing it again will obtain eleven discreet samples of grain over a four and one-half foot depth, which can then be tested for moisture content, weed seeds, chaff and dirt.

Modern technology has given us moisture testers capable of probing a load or bin of grain and testing for moisture content in situ. These samplers were used universally at grain elevators and grist mills in the 1950's and 1960's. --From the webmaster's collection of Ag memorabilia.



A Nation of Neighbors

More farmers are using online "Farm Forums" to compare notes. The two hottest topics: machinery, and crop prices. Fifty-one percent of US Farms now have Internet access, according to the US Department of Agriculture. "The information age has finally arrived in the countryside." -- Mack Strickland, Professor of Agriculture, Purdue University.

Plant by the Moon


From The Old Farmers Almanac:

The best time to plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground is during the light of the Moon; that is, from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.

Flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear fruit below ground should be planted during the dark of the Moon; that is, from the day after the Moon is full to the day before it is new again.

Gardening Tip #3


Put Plants Close Together

"Intercropping" means growing two or more crops together to save space. Plants should be placed close enough so that their leaves will touch, shading the ground between them when they are mature. This will keep weeds down and conserve moisture, minimizing the need to mulch and weed. As the plants begin to crowd out their neighbors, harvest the early maturing ones, leaving room for the others to develope. For example, pair lettuce with longer-season veggies like broccoli, peppers, or tomatoes. -- The Old Farmers Almanac

Container Gardening


Deep Thinking

Adequate Soil Depth is important for developing a strong, healthy root system in a container. Keep these depths in mind:

6 inches lettuce, spinach, beans, and round beets.

8 inches carrots, peas, and peppers

10 inches eggplant, squash, cucumbers

12 inches tomatoes

Gardening Tip #4


Plant Companions, not Competitors

Some intercropping partners thrive if their roots occupy a different depth of the soil. Pairing shallow-rooted vegetables such as bush beans, with deeply rooted beets makes good use of space without creating root competition. Similarly, heavy feeders such as cabbage or cucumbers with light-feeding carrots or beans reduces competition for soil nutrients. The best intercropping partners are companion plants that make different demands while complimenting each other. -- The Old Farmers Almanac

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