Question of the Week
Where can I find information about microgreens and about producing corn/sunflower/pea shoots for salads?
Answer: Listed below are several articles that define microgreens, including pea shoots. They suggest types of vegetables to use, and provide the basics for growing them either in sterile, soilless media or hydroponically.
Pea shoots can be grown in the greenhouse or in the field. Two market gardeners, one in Ohio and one in Kansas, shared notes on their techniques. Both grow in 1020 trays, a standard size for seedling flats. Both used the variety Dwarf Grey Sugar from Johnny's Selected Seed. Their instructions are compiled below.
• Fill the flats with an inch or more of potting soil or soilless mix.
• Moisten the mix.
• Soak the seed overnight.
• Use about ¾ pound of seed per flat.
• Toss the seeds on top of the mix and pat them out evenly.
• Cover the flat with a dome to keep the seeds moist until they sprout.
• Remove the dome after the peas sprout so they don't mold.
• Grow indoors under grow lights, outdoors under shade, or in hoophouses with natural light.
• Cut the shoots with scissors when they are three to five inches tall, about 10 days to two weeks after planting.
• Compost the root mass or use as mulch if you grew shoots in soilless mix. You might be able to get one or two additional cuttings if you use potting soil.
The Resources describe slight variations; additional vegetables, herbs, and flowers that can be grown; and markets.
Anon. 2004. Growing microgreens. Avant Gardener. May. p. 50.
Anon. 2004. Micro-mix production. Johnny's Selected Seeds. 1 p.
Anon. 2004. Florida Farmstead. 2 p.
Anon. 2004. Seed categories: Microgreens. Condor Seed Production, Inc. 3 p.
Byczynski, Lynn. 2004. Can you make money on microgreens? Growing for Market. January. p. 13.
Ferrary, Jeanette. 2002. The incredible shrinking salad. Via. March. 5 p.
Loth, Charuth. 2003. How to grow a quick crop of sprouts. Growing for Market. October. p. 12.
Miles, Caroll. 2000. Pea shoots. JSS Advantage. p. 3.
Answer: One thing you want to do soon is register a domain name. You can go to a site such as http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/domains/ to learn which names are still available and also to register a name.
Once you register your domain name, you own it. It goes into an international database and no one else can use it. You have to pay a fee to register a name, and the registration must be renewed periodically, or you run the risk of losing it. The charge at Yahoo! Small Business is about $5/year. Other sites where you can register a domain name include www.buildyoursite.com/, www.simplenet.com/, and www.godaddy.com/.
Once you own a domain name, you can also use it as your e-mail address, so that you have a permanent address that is associated with your farm. For example, your current address is [mynursery]. If you were to change Internet Service Providers, your e-mail address would also change. If you own the domain name mynursery.com, your permanent e-mail address could be firstname.lastname@example.org, and coworkers or other family members could be associated as well with addresses such as email@example.com.
Your next step is to choose a "hosting service" that makes your site available to the millions of people surfing the World Wide Web. The Web site host usually charges a monthly fee for this service. The companies listed above are among those offering this service.
Designing your Web site can be compared to designing a brochure or catalog for your business. You want it to be attractive, informative, and easy to read. You can hire or barter for someone to do this, or take a stab at building your own. Yahoo! Small Business also offers a manual to help you build your own Web site, as do other companies. They make it sound easy. GoDaddy, for example, offers WebSite Tonight®, implying you can create one in an evening.
Once the Web site is designed, it is ready to be uploaded to the hosting service.
We plan to have additional materials on Internet marketing available for distribution in the near future. In the meantime, I hope this helps you get started before you are inundated with other spring garden tasks.
Roos, Debbie. 2004. Website Development for Farms. Presentation at Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group annual conference. New Orleans, LA. www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/SSAWGwebworkshop.html
E-Commerce: Bringing Your Business into the 21 st Century
Topics include Web site development and hosting, marketing and customer service, processing and payment and legal considerations.
Answer: The Olde Tyme nut butter grinders from Pleasant Hill Grain Quality Kitchen Equipment are about the size you need (see Web link below), but you should also look at the manufacturers listed in Thomas Food & Beverage Market Place. The size of their grinders is not listed, but some of them may also be close to what you need.
Anon. 2004. Equipment & machinery: Food Processing: Nut Grinding, and address of companies. Thomas Food & Beverage Market Place, Volume 2. p. Index-87, 391, 481, 543, 683, 1159, and cover.
Anon. 2005. Milling fibrous materials & nuts, and Nut butter/Peanut butter making machines. Pleasant Hill Grain quality kitchen Equipment. 6 p. www.pleasanthillgrain.com/millable_materials.asp
Where can I find information about grasses and forbs to extend the grazing season in the western high-plains?
Answer: Listed below are some materials from Montana’s Extension Web site to help you evaluate various forages for use on your ranch. As you can see, there is a column on winter hardiness for the list of grasses and of legumes. Your local Extension or National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel can provide advice on the suitability of specific forages for your livestock and site. You can usually find Extension and NRCS offices listed in the phone book under the name of your county.
Ask your Extension or NRCS agent about how to stockpile grasses and which species are most appropriate for this management strategy. If you can take a paddock out of your rotation in the fall, fertilize it, and let it grow for a month or so, you can strip graze the standing forage well into the winter. Fescue is particularly well-adapted for this use.
In addition to the listed forage grasses, consider using cereal grains as winter forage. They have the disadvantage of being annuals that would have to be planted each year, but they provide high quality feed. They might also serve to provide earlier spring grazing than perennial grasses. Consult local experts for management information specific for your area.
You may also want to get a copy of the NRCS publication, Winter Grazing Successes in Montana that features 16 ranchers who share their techniques. To order this free publication, call Anita at 406-994-3414.
Smoliak, S. et al. Nd. Grasses: Comparative Characteristics of Forage Species in Montana. 2 p. http://animalrangeextension.montana.edu/Articles/Forage/Comparative/Comparative-char.htm
Smoliak, S. et al. N.d. Legumes: Comparative Characteristics of Forage Species in Montana. 1 p. http://animalrangeextension.montana.edu/Articles/Forage/Comparative/Comparative-char.htm
Answer: There is a Bt product that has been used in pastures and is labeled for forage crops. The product is called Xentari™; it should be available through regular channels and is on the OMRI approved list for use in organic production. The manufacturer recommends a 2-pound per acre rate for the larger worms, less if you catch them when they are smaller. Insecticidal soap is listed for caterpillars and several other insects. Insecticidal soap is cleared under the national rule section 205.601.e(6). See below for a source of Safer’s Insecticidal soap.
For longer-term management, our entomologist suggests erecting some bat houses on your farm. Bats feed on flying moths at night and should reduce the numbers of adult army worm moths arriving in your fields. We can provide more information on bat houses if you desire.
Safer’s line of insect and weed controls. Organic and Hydroponic Gardeners Emporium. See at www.greenfire.net/hot/P202.html.
XenTari Biobest Biological Systems. http://126.96.36.199/biobest/nl/producten/biopesticiden/Xentari.htm
XenTari Biological Insecticides. Valent BioSciences Corporation. www.valent.com/product.asp?industry=2&segment=VE&crop=Leafy+Vegetables&key=