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By 5 Acres and A Dream
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Of Seeds and Sweet Potatoes

Friday, April 13, 2018 21:01
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Of sweet potatoes,  I was surprised to find this one the other day I got it from storage to make oven-baked sweet potato fries for dinner.

It was sprouting beautifully! Usually I stick a sweet potato in water to let it root and sprout, like this

This one went in right after I harvested it last fall. I always hope I’ll get a beautiful growth of vines for winter greenery, but I never do. I get very few sprouts until spring, when the weather warms up. I figure it’s probably because my house is too chilly all winter to encourage sweet potatoes to grow.

Of seeds I’ve been doing some late indoor planting. Not that it isn’t about time to sow directly into the ground, but usually indoor plantings are started about six weeks before the last projected frost date. These future tomato plants are late in that regard…

…but earlier than if I planned to sow them directly into the ground! We have a long enough growing season that I can do that, but we’re late on garden bed preparation too, so this is a start.

I didn’t order many seeds this year. These came from Sow True Seeds.

Some of them are new for me: anise hyssop and cardoon, others are new varieties: Southern Brown Sugar cowpeas are supposed to be a “best tasting” variety, and Shin Kuroda carrots are said to do well in clay soils. The sorghum is for livestock feed, although some day I’d like to try my hand at making sorghum syrup.

At the moment, most of my planting energy has been focused on our pastures. I’ve had such good success with my modified Fukuoka natural farming method that I use it to spot seed every time I clean out the barn. Pasture improvement is a specific homestead goal for 2018, and more specifically, to establish the most diverse year-round polyculture pasture I can manage. Sounds simple, but it’s been a slow process with a significant trial-and-error learning curve. One problem is limited local choice of seed. Around here tall fescue is sold as the cool season grass and Bermuda is the warm season choice. The only pasture mix I can find locally comes from Tractor Supply Co. in 40-pound bags to the tune of $150 each. So I started looking for other options.

One is deer and turkey food plot mixes in 50-pound bags for under $25 each. They are cheaper because they contain mostly annuals. The one I bought last fall contains: wheat, oats, rye grass, crimson clover, peas, and rape (canola).

In addition to that, I bought a 5-pound bag of “Herbal Ley” from New Country Organics. It contains a mix of legume and forb seeds: sainfoin, yellow clover, alfalfa, small burnet, forage rape, chicory, plantain, red clover, white clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and forage brassicas.

I also found the website of Seed World. What I like about this company is that I can purchase small quantities (as little as one pound) from a huge selection of pasture and wildlife food plot seeds. I can make my own blend; sericea (perennial) lespedeza, hairy vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, Bahai grass, chicory, orchard grass, etc.

To my pasture mix I add annual summer pasture seed from the feed store: sudan and millet, plus seeds I’ve saved myself: Austrian pea, oregano, yarrow, echinacea, vetch, and radish, turnip, old garden seeds, plus any native grass seed I can gather from non-pasture areas.

I mix all of these together

and head out with a bucketful of seed and a wheelbarrow full of barn muck. The annuals give inexpensive variety and will hopefully fill in until I can get enough perennial forage established. I don’t expect it all to come up, but I hope that something will do well no matter what kind of summer we have this year.

After I finish getting the goat barn cleaned out, it will be time to plant our summer garden.

Of Seeds and Sweet Potatoes © April 2018  


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