Cooler weather, red spider lilies and tinges of color in the trees - Autumn has arrived on the farm. Now comes the time to break down the garden and prepare everything for colder weather. As they say, "Winter is coming." Our most recent project has been digging up gladiolus corms to store them for winter.
When we dig up the the corms, we first cut off the foliage. Some people wait until the first frost has killed the foliage but time constraints, and a list of other projects that need to get done before winter, means we are digging them up a bit early.
The corms come out of the ground with baby corms, called cormels, attached. We separate these from the corm and sort them into a different pile. We will plant the cormels next year, but it may be a few years before they are large enough to produce a flower. Another thing that we have to separate from the corm, if it is still attached, is the old mother. The mother is a shriveled and flat corm that has dried up after the leaves were produced this past summer. One or more new corms were then produced during the growing season.
After we have separated the corms and cormels, we then take them to our green house and spread them out on screens to cure for a couple of weeks. This gives them a warm, dry area with good circulation. After they have cured we will then pack them into wood shavings and they will remain there until it is time to plant in the Spring!
It is time to germinate seeds here on Mary’s Creek Farm. The past week weeks we planted flowers. This weekend we focused on sweet pepper seeds. Next weekend we will begin placing tomato seeds in the germination trays. In the past, we had difficulties with the storage of potted plants before placing them in the earth. We have four large growing racks, but the little plants quickly need repotting in larger pots and soon the germination room is too crowded. This year we are constructing a greenhouse to store the plants until the danger of frost has passed.
Mary’s Creek Farm will continue to grow peppers and tomatoes this year. The sweet peppers were our biggest sellers last year. Therefore, we chose 29 varieties of the best tasting hybrid and heirloom sweet peppers available. These include both cooking and fresh eating types. Today, we began germination of the sweet pepper seeds and hope to see tiny plants emerging in a little over one week.
Next week we will begin germination of our favorite tomato varieties. Again, the selection was based on our best sellers and also the tomato varieties that performed best on our farm last year.
New to the soils of Mary’s Creek Farm will be long-stem flowers. We spect a year researching flower farming and are excited about our new adventure. We hope to have success in growing a wide variety of flowers for market.
We expanded our blueberry fields last summer and our existing bushes almost doubled in size this past year. Around the middle of June, we should have fresh blueberries at the farmer’s market. In addition, we establish a blackberry patch. We picked the best tasting of the University of Arkansas blackberry varieties. One row of berries is entirely “Navaho,” the sweetest of them all.
We look forward to seeing you at the farmers market this summer. We hope to provide you with lots of flowers and fresh produce, all grown without manufactured herbicides or insecticides.
Mary’s Creek Farm (MCF) had a colder than normal winter. Western Tennessee seldom sees single-digit temperature. Our low was negative 3 degrees Fahrenheit. We are now experiencing above average rainfalls.
MCF has a new family member, Cody, an American Paint Horse. We spent the winter months preparing a new home for Cody. He presently resides at a nearby boarding stable. We fenced in a horse pasture and started renovating the interior the MCF Barn and Stables. The horse stalls have new rubber mats, new wood wall finishes and door hardware. We are presently building exterior turnouts off the back of each stall. The interior and exterior lighting of the barn is being replaced with LED fixtures. We are renovating the horse wash rack and plan to have wash rack plumbing soon. The 6,000 square-foot indoor riding arena will receive some new LED lighting and a few other minor upgrades. As soon as the barn renovations are completed, and we find a companion horse for Cody, he will move into his new home.
This past weekend we started seed germination for our tomato and pepper transplants. We constructed one more seed germination rack complete with grow lights for our seed propagation room. A new batch of seed germination soil mix was made this weekend and includes equal parts of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. MCF ordered new seed germination trays for this year’s use. We will be trying a 50-cell tray that provides more space for our newly germinated plants. We are germinating some of the seeds from last year’s crop and introducing some exciting heirloom varieties we discovered this winter. Since this past weekend, we have planted for germination a total of 35 tomato varieties, 25 sweet pepper varieties and 20 hot pepper varieties. MCF plans to germinate more plants than we will need in our garden. These surplus plants will be available for sell to our local customers. In addition, we will have surplus seeds available for sale.
Our chickens were happy this winter in their renovated house. They had infrared heat and a long row of windows along one wall for natural light. The MCF chickens provided our family, friends and customers with lots of fresh eggs. Our birds have a huge fenced yard in which to play and the fencing has been successful at providing protection from predators. We are now ready to increase our egg sales and this past weekend we converted one of the unused horse stalls to a baby chick rearing room. Within the next two weeks we will be receiving new recruits for future egg production.
We are excited about growth here on the farm and hope to do a better job this year at marketing our products. We plan to continue selling directly from the farm and having pick-your-own days, but we would like to get out and market our goods at local farmers markets. And, in the future, we plan to offer extra horse stalls for rent.