Our Market Garden

The Green Life Farm at the Hampton Farmer's Market

We began creating our market garden in the spring of 2010.  Since we have a lot of clay in our soil we decided to break the clay up by adding sand.  We’ve had 100 tons of sand delivered to our place and spread it by hand using  two gallons  buckets, wheelbarrows and shovels.…….Then we enriched the mix by adding about 10 tons of well composted, horse, manure moving it from the stables with a trailer behind our Toyota Corolla  and our four wheeler.  After all this soil building was done, we made raised beds to further help drainage.

Annapolis Royal Farmer's Market

Doing all that work gave us a late start in transplanting our crops out of our cold frames into the ground. We didn’t have a lot to sell in the beginning of the season but by the end of the summer we were flush with produce and did well at the farmers markets. Summer 2010’s best sellers at the farmer’s markets were kale, ground cherries and edible pod peas.  In keeper with our low impact, anti-plastic, philosophy, we went to the market without packaging for the produce other than a roll of butcher paper to make paper cones for customers to carry purchases away.  Most people brought their own bags to the market and didn’t care at all that what we were selling was not bagged.  We kept greens fresh by only putting a sample on the table and the rest it in buckets of water that we put in the shade.  Everything stayed fresh and crisp this way.

 

Working in the Fall Garden

We are dedicated to four seasons gardening and buying local.  We planted again in August and by the late October the garden was full of frost hardy produce for the root cellar and the fall table.  We are having great success with harvestable crops in the garden even in the middle of January with winter radishes, cabbages, spinach, miner’s lettuce and kale.  The winter radishes are the biggest surprise.  When cooked they lose their bite and taste pleasantly like turnips or squash.  Their green tops are very hardy too and I harvest them, under a cover of mulch and snow, along with the root to cook.  The cabbages and leeks are under a heavy, insulating layer of hay which I remove to harvest.  The kale has a layer of hay around their roots but their leaves can take

Harvesting cabbage under the snow

the bitterest temperatures and just get sweeter and sweeter tasting.  The spinach and miner’s lettuce are in cold frames and I will harvest them when everything else is gone.  In winter 2011-2012, we plan to go to the farmers markets in the winter and the spring with produce from the garden and the root cellar.

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4 Responses to Our Market Garden

  1. The Gardener says:

    Hubby and I are just setting up our market garden using biointensive gardening techniques. The only tools we have are a shovel, a wheel barrow, a spade, a hoe, a tape measure, a bucket and lots of sweat and elbow grease. This summer will be our first market experience. Any advice you can share will be greatly appreciated.

    • I do not have internet at the farm but there is free internet available and wireless service at the library, not far away, from where I am writing you. The internet is an incredible and helpful creation but I have chosen to spend my time in the real world creating and trying to affect change. I only go online twice a week for 2-3 hours so I am often not able to respond to comment quickly.
      My advice is of a general nature. Enjoy the process and remember that seeds want to grow. Do we have plants or do plants have us? This is an interesting thought to ponder while working (active meditation) in the garden

  2. Jen and Leon says:

    How did you figure out how much sand to put in? I keep reading that if you put in the wrong amount you’ll end with cement.

    • We didn’t work with a formula but by observation. We added the sand by hand and mixed the soil with a final tilling by tractor. As we were working with the soil, we added well rooted manure too, we tried to be mindful about what we doing. We tested the soil with the standard pick up a handful of soil and squeeze’em test. There is such a variety and different character of soils out there that I don’t think there can be one solution for all. I advise using your best farmer observation skills!

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