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Farm Experiments [Agriculture
Posted on July 2, 2013 @ 07:27:00 PM by Paul Meagher

I haven't blogged much this week because I've been busy trying to get caught up with work on a second farmstead property we own. We have a couple of rental units on the farm that needed to be cleaned up for the upcoming tourist season. I also needed to deal with some land I plowed earlier in the spring - I rototilled it up and it is starting to look more like a field and less like a nuclear fallout site. We've had lots of rain over the last couple of weeks so I didn't get a chance to put in our gardens so I'm working on that these days. Got my tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, corn, yellow beans, bell peppers in the ground yesterday and will plant out some more today. I also planted some Harrington Malting Barley that I am trying to build up a seed supply for. I started with 4 seed packets last year and hope to get a burlap bag or more of seed this year. I am going this route because it was next to impossible to get good malting barley seed in this part of the world perhaps because the humidity is considered too high to grow it - can cause fusarium blight which is not good. We have good wind on the ridgetop farm so I'm thinking this might be less of an issue. Also, we grow alot of feed barley so I don't see why it should be so difficult to grow malting barley. If my seed supply does well maybe I'll start selling malting barley seed that is adapted to this climate.

I blogged earlier about my experiment with growing potatoes in the hay rows I made last fall for planting into for the spring. I planted 800lbs of potatoes so this was a fairly large experiment. It has been interesting so far. I didn't get the early season jump that I thought I would get from planting in the hay. I thought the decomposing hay might create heat and the hay would act as a nice insulating blanket over the potatoes to give them a head start. What happened is that the insulating blanket of hay made it harder to heat up the ground and potatoes just didn't grow until the temperatures picked up in the middle part of June. Neverthess, they did eventually start to take off and I'm expecting to know the final results by the middle of July when I will start removing hay and seeing how many potatoes I have per plant.

I planted 6 different varieties of potatoes so there will be varietal difference (different maturity dates). This was supposed to be a no-work form of gardening so I haven't done work to maintain the potatoes rows except drive a lawn tractor next to the windrows a couple of times to blow in some additional hay. This does not add much new hay but it does keep the potatoe field looking a bit more like a potatoe patch and less like a hayfield. The hay is coming on strong and has grown through the hay mulch but the potato is also a tough plant and my feeling at the point is that they will co-exist with the potato plant possibly becoming a bit more dominant as it grows more. No evidence of any colorado potatoe beetle or other pests or deficiencies. Hopefully my next update on this experiment will be a photo of some nice small round red potatoes (I'll likely start harvesting my Norland early season reds first).

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