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April Valley Oak Newsletter

Posted by David Grau on


Climate change is not going to stop us from gardening, but there are some steps you can take to make your garden successful in spite of weather extremes.First of all, go ahead and plant your annuals at about the same time as usual. A more erratic climate means that late frosts and early frosts
could happen, but we always had to gamble a little on that. You can play
it safer by growing your own starts, and growing more than you need.
That way you get to decide when to plant, and if you lose some plants to
a late frost, you can replant without the expense of buying more plants.
These days the prices for tomato plants are not low. And you can choose varieties from a catalog instead of taking what the nursery or box store has left. Also, sometimes one of the mega-growers of transplants distributes

plants that are infected with a disease you don't want. Your chances are better buying your own seed, and it is best to stick with a seed company who does top notch growing and monitoring of the seed plants. Johnny's Seeds is one company, and I am sure there are several others with organic seed lines.

After your plants are in the ground, you can improve their odds by

having irrigation set up, and using it as needed. You want rapid growth
on most vegetables, and so water as needed, not waiting for them to
wilt. And once hot weather arrives and your plants are established,
mulch can provide protection from scorching afternoons. It also saves
However, I prefer not to mulch until the ground is warmed up and
the plants are large enough to outgrow slug and snail damage.
Afternoon shade can benefit some plants, for instance many peppers don't do well in scorching afternoon sun. You can plant a row of tall
tomatoes, or pole beans on the west side of your pepper row.
Also, keep in mind that to assure a steady supply of a crop like
tomatoes, you can plant about every 3 weeks until perhaps the end of
June. So that means starting seeds in January and planting more seeds
until some time in May. Fall tomatoes are great to have in the garden.
So, keep up the enthusiasm. Gardening is here to stay.

David Grau
Valley Oak Tool Company


Book Review:
The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook by Richard Wiswall

Anyone seriously considering becoming an organic farmer should read this book. And if you have been at it a year or two, and want to put your farm business on a solid foundation, this is for you too.

Richard Wiswall learned the hard way, and because he is a very organized person, you can learn a whole lot and a whole lot quicker if you apply the system he lays out in his business handbook for organic farmers. To sum up his approach, he says "Contrary to what most people believe, a good living can be made on an organic farm, and what is required is farming smarter, not harder."

My years of farming could have been a lot more profitable and a lot less stressful if this book had existed in 1979, when I started farming. Please take advantage of the incredible benefits that can be yours if you really want to farm. We need millions of new young farmers to grow the healthy organic food so many of now are seeking. Farming is hard work, and really quite complicated. And particularly if you don't have a background in running a small business, you will find this book sensible, down to earth, and above all, practical.

David Grau
Owner & Operator
Valley Oak Tool Co.

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