Category Archives: gardening

Indiana Horticulture Congress

Recently I attended the 3 day Indiana Horticulture Congress put on by Purdue. It was a great experience with multiple sessions going on throughout the day, and a host of trade vendors to check out between educational sessions. I figured for anyone who missed out I would highlight some of my lessons learned, and vendors I spoke with. This in no way endorses the vendors, merely that I found some of it interesting. On the lessons  from the sessions it may be notes I took or points I found interesting not a summary of the presentation, or even the most relevant material the speaker wanted to convey. I was only able to attend one of the five sessions going on. There was a cider taste testing, and meals (had to pay separate but look great), and was for produce only.

Food Safety (Tuesday AM)

While I had intended to go to the Hemp series, it was postponed so I had to make another selection. Why not food safety? Glad I did vs walking the trade show.  A few years back Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, and it is now going into effect in 2017. This is the first I have heard of it. But we haven’t been growing produce for sale yet, but it is something to pay attention to.  Prior to this law food recalls related to foodborne illnesses were a reaction event. This new law puts more emphasis on prevention. There is a whole series of trainings supervisors or persons in charge must take to comply, in addition to giving the correct level of training to employees. not everyone needs the whole list. Something else I learned that 90ish (I didn’t write down the number) percent of foodborne illness is transmitted fecal to oral…meaning eating poop. Not necessarily human,  and pickers aren’t pooping on your food. But it all went back to sanitation, cleaning, washing hands, washing produce, utensils etc. There are a bunch of new laws that came out including water testing. The level is is based on income from produce on your farm on what you need to follow. Since we are small at the moment I didn’t pay attention to the breakdown, but under $25,000 in averaged rolling 3 year sales and you are exempt from the legal obligation. Meaning in any given three concurrent years your annual sales needs to be less than $25,000 of produce only and you are exempt. What stuck out to me is that you may be exempt from the law, but you are NOT exempt from liability in a lawsuit. If you do not implement some sort of food safety initiatives then you could be liable for illnesses or death.

Hemp (Tuesday PM)

I got to attend the hemp session in the afternoon. It was educational and rather than write a bunch on it they have done much for me on their website. Purdue Hemp gave the talk and Indiana Hemp Association was there as well. For 60 years hemp has not been grown in Indiana. Hemp is different than marijuana in that Hemp is <0.3 % THC (The psychoactive drug in marijuana), and marijuana is >0.3%. They are doing some genetic investigation if they can be considered two different plants. Hemp is not as easy to grow as I once thought. I was always told throw the seeds anywhere and it will grow. This is not the case as their data showed. Soil depth, temperature, daylight hours all important. The focus for Purdue is growing two types of hemp. One plant that grows short (3-4 ft tall) but produces abundant and easily harvested seeds, and a taller (7-9 ft tall) plant that puts its energy into fiber. They did say, speaking of fiber, there is NOT a demand for hemp rope made from the fiber. I was surprised to learn there is no studies going on for hemp’s role in animal feed. I was told this is due that hemp is not on an approved animal feed list from the federal government. We also got to learn about CBD oil which has been talked about for lots of neurological issues from parkinson’s to seizures to pain and depression given by a representative of RealHemp.  All cannabis (Hemp and marijuana) and now CBD oil has been classified as Schedule 1 Narcotic by the DEA, which means it has NO medicinal value. Yet here is a patent from the US that claims it HAS medicinal value US6630507BL. I will let you form your own opinions.

Organics (Wednesday AM)

Wow, this was one of the most eye opening. Unfortunately I didn’t write down where the small farms were from or I would have included links. The first part of the session was about using biochar in organic gardens as a soil amendment. None of the data, to me, seemed to prove that it did anything. But they are having ongoing studies. What I found more interesting is the intensity and variety of pests that affect growers. This has made us revisit our biosecurity program here at the farm. From listening to the speakers discuss, I have come to the conclusion (my own opinion) there are three types of growing produce. Each is as unique as it is different.

Home grower- Back yard plot, produce food for your family, and maybe sell the overage at a road stand, or to friends and family.

Market grower – 1-5 acres (may be more may be less) intensively growing produce for sale at regular farmers markets, CSA, Small restaurants, and/or small groceries. Variety of crops, rotated, and varied harvest times.

Commercial grower – 1 maybe 2 crops growing at a time, uses commercial machinery,  5+ acres, hired labor possibly, sells to wholesaler, grocery chains, restaurant chains, national brands

Being that the topic was organic pest management how  each of these growers deals with a particular pest problem is different. And pests impact them differently. Additionally what is available to them to treat problems is different. I learned thes market growers work hard, harder than i thought. To be fair there wasn’t any commercial growers in the panel, but there were a few in the audience who gave feedback and they work hard, but seems the market growers have to hustle more and wear a wide variety of hats in their operation. Another lesson I took away that moving from one level to the next is just not scaling up. You just don’t grow a bigger garden. It is a different ball of wax.  Think bowling, hockey, and formula 1 racing are all sports. Bowling is an individual sport and really only depend on yourself. Hockey has lots of things going on all the time, and constantly changing, and you must be adaptive. Racing is expensive to get into, is not like nascar, or drag racing. You get sponsorship as well to share in costs.  Sorry, best analogy I could come up with.

Trade Show (Wednesday PM)

I met the guys from 3 Caps who are partners for mushroom growers. You can learn more about them from their website. They ship you pre inoculated bricks for mushroom growing. You soak the brick, place it in the correct conditions, and in 7 days you have a mushroom harvest. Eat them all? Let the brick dry, soak again, and boom, more mushrooms! Then, when you eat all those (or sell them, this is a commercial type operation) you have mushroom compost ready for your garden as a freebie. These guys are local here in Spencer Indiana. They can assist you in developing the correct room for growing conditions at your site.

Ecocert – One of the speakers at the Organic session. Originally we were not going to go the route of organic certified on our farm. We felt it was an undue expense to prove we were doing things right, we have tours, and planned to know our customers. After talking to a certification manager, and inspector we have reconsidered this. When you can have face to face connections with your customers you are the face of your company. You are the one conveying your passion for organic, clean, quality. Once you move to a point due to growth you can no longer have that face to face connection, it is the certification and certifiers stamp of approval that says you did everythign you could to ensure your product is of the utmost quality. With my background in quality and validation, this resonated with me. The end customer wants to know that you have met the standards, you are doing all you can. Without it you are a barn with closed doors and nobody knows what is going on behind those closed doors. So certification makes sense when we reach that level of success. Would if turn away potential customers who don’t know us yet? Maybe, but we are not there yet. This doesn’t mean we can’t look up the standards and follow them so that is is a way of life once we are ready to get certified. Curious what some of the standards are? Jeff Evard gave me this link for Livestock.

Random trivia

Did you know what the difference between apple wine and hard apple cider is? Both have alcohol, both made from apples.  A) Apple wine has added sugar, hard apple cider has no added sugar.

NRCS – is a division of the USDA. NRCS stands for Natural Resource Conservation Service. I have spoken about NRCS before and have tried working with them on 2 different times locally and that left me turned off to the organization. I do know other NRCS agents in Indiana and seems my experience is isolated here. I spoke with them again, and happen to sit next to a mentor NRCS agent in one of the sessions to encouraged me to try again and not give up. NRCS offers technical assistance and financial assistance to property owners to make improvement, preserve, and conserve the natural resources on their property. This can be from erosion control, to fencing, to high tunnel purchase, to solar panels installed. There is a process and since I haven’t gone through it yet, I will wait and write that up some other time. But notice I didn’t say “farms”. There is no minimum property size for applying for help.

High Tunnels (Thursday AM)

High tunnels are essentially greenhouses that use plastic. There are a variety of sizes and shapes. You can build them yourself, buy them, or have them built for you. NRCS does reimburse up to 95% of costs associated with high tunnels if you meet the requirements. Which is why we may be looking into them. One requirement that stands out, you must grow in the ground in your high tunnel for the first 1-3 years depending on your contract with NRCS. Growing in a high tunnel does allow you to grow for longer season and if you supplement with heat year round. You can use it as a heated greenhouse to grow tomatoes in winter, or a cool house (minimal heat) and grow greens in the winter. And for winters here, gothic roofs vs dome roofs seem to do better here in Indiana. You do not have to grow anything over winter. You can use them for annuals, perennials, canes, and even trees. High tunnels do have some drawbacks such as pollination, moisture, moisture related disease, heat etc. From the session, it appears that anyone who has started using high tunnels have increased production in almost every instance. Pollination can be solved by purchasing bumblebees and releasing into the tunnels which is what many of the speakers did. Something I found interesting is that NRCS supports using the high tunnel with the intent of soil improvements. Yet in every instance speakers encountered soil health actually decreased inside the high tunnel. This would be expected if you harvest constantly and do not replenish nutrients equal to or above what you are removing.

Social Media Marketing (Thursday PM)

The last session of the day was using social media for marketing. While it was mainly geared to winerys, I was informative. Many of the audience was older and do not use social media for their business. The biggest social media platform was Facebook, then Twitter, then others. They put Pinterest in marketing which I had not thought of as a marketing tool, up until then. Pinterest market is 85 or more percent women. The presenter was advocating 20 or more hours a week on social media. This just isn’t feasible for many farm owners. But I also think that is complete overkill and her job was marketing and social media so unless you have money to pay someone, or a marketing firm it may be overkill. Some important notes were if you do use social media be responsive to customers, delayed response will lose customers. Also, if you are a business have a business account on Facebook, and separate personal from business use. They touched very little on the use of a website as social media.

Summary 

All in all, it was eye opening. I ended up having to pay $120 for the 3 day conference, $100 if I had done early registration like my wife told me to do. I feel it was worth the money I spent. I learned a lot, and learned how much I don’t know. I would have liked to attend other sessions but had to make a choice and the above sessions won. Would I recommend it to others., definitely. But more if you are already selling produce, or are on the edge of selling. If you are just a home producer and not really moving to regular sales, it is informing,  go if you have the money, but there are other conference that may be more appropriate for time off or if cost may be an issue.

End of season garage sale Aquatic Designs

Our friends at Aquitic Designs are having a end of season garage sale. If you missed the open house party here is another chance to get some deals. Summer fish food, plants, and fish are on sale now and then the clean our the garage of parts, lights, pumps, fittings etc is another opportunity to save for the DIY systems.

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Home remedies

Here are some remedies we have tried at home. Each recipe has been proven for different applications. Disclaimer we are not doctors or medical practitioners and you should consult your own doctor before using. We can only say we have used these recipes and have worked for us as a family.

 

Skin care – This recipe has been used for a variety of applications such as diaper rash, heat rash, minor burns, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, applied to kids lips who have a habit of licking or sucking top lips.  We used this for raw noses during cold season.

Ingredients

Petroleum jelly

Lavender essential oils

Warm jelly to liquid state about ½ cup jelly

Add lavender essential oil  about 20 drops mix well, place in small containers with tight lid (small Tupperware) and allow to cool. Apply mixture as needed. Do not use on deep wounds or severe burns.

 

Poison Ivy treatment  – Both my wife and I are susceptible to poison ivy. Once afflicted with the rash 1-2 treatments or 2-3 days should clear it right up.

In a pint jar add apple cider vinegar, Lavender oil, tea tree (20 drops each), Shake well, store tight jar away from light, apply with cotton ball or Q-tip 1-2 times a day.

Migraines

Equal parts by wt feverfew, lemon balm, peppermint herbs in pint jar (we filled the jar loosely)

Cover with 100 proof vodka, shake every day for 2 weeks, strain and place in jar away from light

¼ teaspoon in liquid every ½ hr until gone, not exceed 2 teaspoons in one setting, may be habit forming in that if used regularly for long enough, once you stop using it, you may develop a migraine.

More on Indy ReZone

Reposting for Sherri

The Indianapolis CIty Council has sent Indy Rezone to committee – specifically the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee. Their next meeting is Monday July 27 at 5:30 in room 260 of the City Council building.  This is where there will be discussion and debate. Here is where the rubber meets the road and where a large presence is needed. This will be a critical meeting. 
 
Monday night (July 13) the “Retail Workers Bill of Rights” had a large group at the City Council meeting.  They expected their Special Resolution for the Bill of Rights to pass, instead it was sent to committee – the same committee and day that will hear comments about Indy rezone.  They were not happy and will have an even larger group at the committee meeting. This is a critical turning point for them, and for Indy rezone. If there are not people there showing opposition to Indy Rezone, the absence of people will speak volumes. 
 
Right now what is needed is twofold: Come to the meeting if at all possible (even if you have to get there late) and contact the councilors on the committee via e-mail and telephone prior to the meeting, so that they know there is opposition/concern from more than just a handful of people. Here is the city webpage with the names of the committee members. Open each councilors page for their contact info: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/Council/Committees/Pages/metro.aspx  
 
We already know that Zach Adamson is not happy with this whole thing.  We are working on talking to all of the committee members and hope you will too.
 
One of the many issues: All there is, is  a draft for the livestock license – too many uncertainties that could be changed after this debacle is passed. 
 
There is so much wrong in Indy rezone, I could write a book (and that is without having read most of this 700+ page document!). There is a lot of confusing, unclear information in it. And in the words of someone working for Indy Rezone,who helped write it “It is Flawed”. (She said this several times at the Metropolitan Development Commision meeting.)
 
scroll down to bottom of page for the livestock license link
 
If you would like a searchable Word document you can access that here: https://copy.com/pAwC1I46qpOItu1F 
You may be surprised at what you find when searching for specific things. 
 
If you are like me, you have a real hard time figuring out how many more restrictions make us more sustainable. I realize there is no way to make everyone happy.  But why in the world would we pass something that we already know is so flawed?
 
Feel free to contact myself or my husband:
 

Animal care-husbandry & Permaculture

Recently it came to my attention that some people believe our animal care and farm practices are dirty and unkept. 1st before making assumptions you might want to get facts straight, learn what you are talking about before opening your mouth, and lastly ask us, we would be glad to tell you all about it.

We will educate the uneducated and ignorant. Grass should not be cut 1/4 inch above the dirt. It is very unhealthy, longer grass survives drought better, and longer grass will hold more water in both roots and green tissue. The ability to hold water has been important lately.

What one person views as weeds is actually medicinal plants we grow for FREE , do not require a prescription, doesn’t have nasty side effects. It is also food for our animals. This is why we do not spray any chemicals on our property.

We let grasses grow longer because it has more nutrients for animals, reducing our dependence on buying processed feed. Ask any rancher using grass fed techniques.

We clean our combined rabbitry and coop every 3 months. We use deep litter bedding inside to absorb and hold wastes. After 3 months it moves out to the compost pile where it is turned into soil for future gardens. Properly managed neither have an odor. I have the training and experience on both. Due to the excess rain and poor stormwater drainage in our area, some of this bedding became wet. we immediately changed and dried it out once we were able.

We house our rabbits and poultry together to harness heat in the winter, and the chickens reduce any worms or parasites, as well as till the litter naturally and help it all break down faster.

We even installed fans this summer to keep both rabbits and poultry cool, and help keep air moving in the coop.

All of our animals have names. When the chicken went past their prime for laying, they remained and are still productive, just not as many eggs a week. We did not butcher them. They still eat bugs, they still turn the compost, they still have a name, and they still process food waste from our kitchen. When old age finally takes them, we will look at replacing them.

For more on chickens read my post on In defense of the back yard flock

We used to give tours, and will do it again soon. We are still working on many things, since moving in March, and because of Avian flu we do not want additional traffic if we can help it. We had to start a great many plants and systems all over, so we would like to showcase more than just concepts, but actual practice.

To make sure our rabbits had access to water all winter long we made a rabbit watering system that does not freeze. Our rabbits (4) have  access to 275 gallons of water 24/7. This is our system from Indy but we rebuilt here in Wingate

We have had Animal control on our property (for a neighbors issue, not ours) and were commended on how well we took care of our animals. We have had a vegans, and staff of animal control and also tell us how well we take care of our animals.

What one person sees as “unsightly” another sees it as a 40% reduction in a grocery bill of all natural all organic food. Some people see it as beautiful and natural. Being ignorant and failing to educate yourself is ignorant in itself. Singling one person or a group of people out because you dislike something is called discrimination. Using position of power to go after that group is called harassment. Both of which can land someone in court. Since some people are ignorant of what I mentioned above I just thought they may also need some education on the latter as well.

Looking for local markets, stores, and restaurants

I manage several different sites and pages and am in the process of creating a local database of farmers markets, pick your own sites, restaurants who use local produce and meats, and related locations that either produce locally or retail locally produced items. I need your help. I could spend weeks searching online and still would never get as many listed if I were to enlist your help. Many of you have local spots you personally know of, support, run, or owned by you. Some have websites, some have facebook pages, and some have no online presence.

My goal is to have a calendar of all the markets in the area. Believe it or not there is a market running every day of the week, usually multiple. This hopefully will allow more people access to more local food if they know where they are and when they run.

Support local businesses to buy from local producers. I would ideally like to have several categories, restaurants, food retail, nursery and plant stock, and other retail (soaps, wool works, crafts, etc.)

What I need from you. If you could e-mail me wolfbeachfarms @ gmail.com (please remove the spaces). or use the contact us page and send me links, or names, or dates/times/locations of the above places. The links and calendars will be updated as I get the information. Here is the start for market pages and an interactive calendar.

Thanks in advance!

Rick

Seed, seedling and plant exchange-sale

A friend had an idea about how every year he always starts way more seeds than he needs. Just as a precaution to make sure all his vegetable beds are filled. Well, what to do with all the seeds that germinate that you won’t need? Not enough to sell at a farmers market, IF you can get in to sell. no time to sit at home waiting on people to show up to pick up or buy. Hate to throw a way, or compost. What to do?

A plant and seed exchange and sale.  This is the 1st of hopefully an annual event. Idally we would like to have spots set up on the North, South, East, West and Downtown sides of Indy and outlying areas too. If you want to host an event like this contact us.  I thought it would be nice to have one every weekend from mid April to end of May each weekend at a different part of  the area. If you don’t sell out in week one, move to spot two on the opposite side of town.

I will have a “booth” there and talk permaculture, maybe a few plants we have for sale. Stop by and say hi.

More information at the link here.

Here are the details.

Do you start more seeds than you need? Do you hate to just get rid of them? Don’t. Sell them, trade the, exchange them. Are you wanting to market unique plants and seeds but no place to sell them? Do you need to thin your plants, and hate to compost or trash them? Sell them. Do you have a side business selling plants, plant starts, or even seeds? Come out and sell your stock. It is not too late to start seeds for this event. Some people cannot start seeds, some don’t have the space, and some don’t have the materials. Whatever the reason, we are looking for vendors. Only plants, roots, seeds, etc. at this time. No animals or animal products (except maybe manure/compost). Worms, worm casting, and Black Soldier Fly approved for sale.

This is the 1st, but hopefully not the last, Seed, seedling, and plant sale-exchange.  We are meeting in the church parking lot, and there is additional parking at Perry Park (adjacent to the church), and across the street at Douglas MacArthur elementary school. 

Vendors or sellers will pay $20 for a parking lot size space, and if not muddy a lawn space behind the space. All money generated from space sales will go to Cub Scout Pack 120. There will be no power, Wi-Fi, or utilities available. There is a limit of 20 vendors. Contact Rick at wolfbeachfarms@gmail.com 317-997-5554 to get a spot (Paypal, CC, Cash, accepted for spot payment, all payments minus mandatory electronic transaction fees will go to the Pack).

Buyers are Free

Vendors or sellers may charge, collect, trade, exchange, as they see fit for their plants, seeds, trees etc. Some may be able to take Credit and debit cards with their smart devices, some may only take cash. So plan accordingly. 

Sale 10-2pm; setup 9-10am; take-down 2-3pm, so you can setup then go park the car and have more available space. Or, sell out of your trunk.

The Boy Scouts will also be selling food and drinks. Cash only please. 

If you RSVP your are RSVPing as a buyer. Use the email listed to secure your spot as a vendor.

Come on out, support the Scouts, and get your garden going. Buy local.  

The Church and the Pack are not affiliated with any vendor, and are not responsible for any transactions, accidents, or disputes that arise from the plant/seed sale. 

Bring new education to your church or organization and build community

I had a meeting yesterday with a good friend who is part of a church with an aging congregation and some have never gardened before. They have a large meeting room they barely ever use. We talked about having a class in the meeting room and have a class about organic gardening now that spring is around the corner to get people something to look forward to and start planning. The more I thought about it the more I thought this was a great idea so I have come up with a solution to both help not only church groups but other organizations as well. Both options are a way to get your organization more exposure, and possibly a way to generate additional income, and help get more people involved.

Option 1

Book 3 hrs of classes and get 1 hr FREE. This could be 1 hr free consulting for the church or other group on how to build a community garden on the property. It could be 1 hr of time given, raffled, or auctioned with the proceeds to benefit the church or other organization. It could be added with the classes for a total of 4 hrs of instruction. We have lots of great classes to choose from such as aquaponics, beginning gardening, container gardening, permaculture, practicing permaculture, back yard chicken, and more. For more detailed list check out the Classes page. This could be closed to only members of your organization, or open to the public. I can advertise to bring more people in to become familiar with your organization. We have a direct reach of about 6500, and then organic reach of significantly more through shares, likes and other social media sharing. We also have options to charge for each person attending if so desired. Need flyers to tell your organization about the event, we can do that too.

Option 2

Open up your facilities to classes. We will charge per person in attendance with either select number of free tickets for your organization based on size of space, classes being taught, and length of time on site, or a percentage of ticket sales to go to your event or organization. Lots of different options available to suit your needs.

Be Prepared Series

The Be Prepared Series is a group of classes to help organizations and groups come together as a community and in the event they need them, have skills to rely upon during an emergency. For more information on the Be Prepared Series click on the link.

 

We can schedule the classes, accept payments online, in person, or over the phone. We can produce flyers, or other promotional materials to announce your event. All materials are provided for you.

If you are interested in booking some classes or want to learn more please use the Contact Us page we would be happy to help.

New classes

Some great new classes are coming as spring approaches.

How to build a community through gardening Feb 28th

Details here $20 and lunch is included

Indiana Small Farm Conference March 5th-7th

Details here. $ to enter but varies depending on day(s) and age/situation (adult, student, under 12 etc)

Tree Grafting Workshop March 21

Brambleberry Farms is teaching how to graft. $90 for 4 hrs of instruction all materials provided, and you take home 4 custom grafted trees.

Register and details here only 5 spots left.

March 23 7-9pm

Free class on Aquaponics, Hydroponics, organic Gardening

Once confirmed, details will be here