links Community Nutrition Education Services
 
Community Nutrition Education Services Inc.
“Small Family Farm Project”
Installment #2

April - August 2013
Resources/Tools; Planting the Land; the Environment

Seasonality of fruits and vegetable influenced the decision of which produce to grow initially. We do envision being able to have a farm stand as well as donate produce to local food pantries. Now the small goal was to determine if we were able to actually grow produce. A very familiar state university agency always utilized while working in California is the State Cooperative Extension Service. The list of “Fruits and Vegetables Commonly Grown in Arkansas” was developed using various resources primarily from the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Services. The “Year Round Gardening Plant Chart ‘“developed by the Conway County Extension Service in Arkansas helped to determine recommended produce to be grown as well as general gardening activities on a monthly basis. Another important resource was the “Farmer’s Almanac” especially relevant to the frost dates (planting season) when the ground was not frozen. The ‘’no frost’’  dates of April 15 through October 30,2013 were used to determine our tasks over the next  6 months The home and gardening stores were very useful as the stock of plants  being sold were appropriate to the growing season. One of the local libraries has resources (books and magazines) on gardening specifically in Arkansas. The library also had an established community garden in production on site which displays seasonal produce.  CNESINC‘s “Diary of An Urban Gardener was an important resource including on-going conversations with that gardener.  

The decision was made to start the experiment by planting a small garden including tomatoes (plants), green beans (seeds), okra (plants), watermelon (seeds) and the replacement of pecan trees lost during earlier drought. To add beauty to the garden site, two (2) weeping willow trees (also replacements) and a variety of roses were also planted. The purchase of gardening equipment, tools and storage evolved over the months through trial and error. A photo shows the storage bin and its content of a garden tiller, rakes, saws, grass clippers, hoes and post whole diggers. Family members helped to use the tools on the prairie land. We prepared the soil for planting using organic fertilizers and cow manure according to directions on the products. We did eventually get around to having the soil test analyzed by the University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture. Although we did not have the information in advance of planting our few crops, the information received will be very useful in future planting on the property. The advice was noted as follows. “Due to excessive amounts of phosphorus, no litters, manure or fertilizer blends should be applied to this garden site. Only use the recommended amounts of lime, nitrogen and potash.” This will be useful as the 2014 season is undertaken.”

Garden Tools
Gardening Tools
The Prairie
The Prairie
Fenced Garden
Fenced Garden
Preparing for Planting
Preparing for Planting
First Plant-Tomatoes
First Plant-Tomatoes


The environment (the hot days especially during July-August) was quite the challenge. Having the well water resource became extremely important in keeping the new plants alive as each watering utilized 30 gallons . The effort was always to do all of the work before the sun really began to heat up by 10:00 A.M. coexisting in an environment of wild animals and insects also proved challenging. The plant protection efforts utilized were based on family member’s experiences, advice from members of the growing community and much on internet sites including government (gov.) and educational institutions (edu). The photos will show some of the “natural” techniques “utilized.  Alumni foil pans (‘shiny’ and noisy when wind blew) and plastic bags (‘movement in the wind’) on “new trees” were used in order to scare the deer away from eating the leaves. A fence wad placed around the garden area in order to prevent animals from entering it. Aluminum foil was placed around the base of plants so as to discourage insects from climbing and eating them it was noted that hundreds of grasshoppers were eating the leaves of the pecan trees.  The recommended solution via an internet site was to add dish soap to water and spray the trees. This worked and the grasshoppers moved away from the pecan trees. These efforts gave us a chance to recycle and reuse plastic containers( there is no electricity to power water through a hose) and bags for delivering water to plants and as objects to frighten the animals away from plants. We were not able to save the growing green beans as some insect or animal ate away at the bottom of the plant until it died. Only 1 of the 2 weeping willow trees survived. These were both delivered via truck from a neighboring State in July. The “heat” had started to burn the leaves of 1 of the trees upon delivery. Even though it seemed to survive after planting, it did eventually die. Hopefully, we will replant another tree next season.

Garden is growing
Garden is Growing
Okra plant
Okra Plant
Pecan Tree
Pecan Tree
Water in bloom
Watermelon in Bloom
Weeping willow
Weeping Willow

At the end of August 2013, it was still extremely hot (above 100 degrees) but we did have some results from our gardening efforts. It was quite a learning experience. There are photos of samples of grape tomatoes, okra, watermelon and 2 of the rosebushes. The peach tree that had survived the earlier drought did produce peaches and they were sweet and delicious.

Grape Tomatoes
Grape Tomatoes
Okra
Okra
Peach Tree
Peach Tree
Watermelon
Watermelon
Red Roses
Red Roses
White Roses
White Roses