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March Newsletter: Gardening Tips & Book Review of Lean Farm

Posted by David Grau on


Book Review: The Lean Farm

As the title indicates, this book is about how to run a successful farm. It isn’t about gardening. But if you do farm to make money, you really ought to take a look at this book.

     Ben Hartman explains how one of his CSA customers turned him on to the principles of lean manufacturing, which Ben and his crew redesigned for a small vegetable farm. Farming diverse vegetable crops is extremely complex. If you want to make a better living on a small organic farm, systems like are described in this book will make your life so much easier, and everyone who works on the farm will appreciate the improvements in work flow and productivity.    
     When I go back into farming, I will aim to master all the concepts described in this book. As a matter of fact, we are implementing lean concepts here at Valley Oak Tool. This book is well organized, has clear and useful color photos.

     Reading this book will be one of the best investments you make toward improving your farm operation.

Book review by David Grau
Owner & Operator 
Valley Oak Tool Co. 
Purchase Book

Gardening Tips for March 2018

     Now is the time to prepare your garden beds for the spring and summer growing seasons. Here in Chico, like much of California, you can actually garden year round. But let’s say you are either just getting started, or you have let last summer’s garden go to weeds, or better yet you planted a cover crop.
     Before you can work up your beds with a broadfork or a shovel, or a spading fork, you should chop off the tops of the weeds or cover crop and set the vegetation aside for composting. Depending on the situation, you can use a lawnmower, or cut the green matter with a sickle, or a hedge pruners. Then I would suggest using a wheel hoe on the weeds or crop and removing the plants into a pile for composting.
Now that you have bare soil, spread amendments as needed. Then dig the soil to loosen it, and do some incorporation of the amendments. Next week, we will discuss soil testing.    

Also, of course, if you haven’t already, you need to order seeds and if you are transplanting, buy some transplants.

     Sherri Scott of GRUB GROWN NURSERY offers quite a selection of starts at the Farmers’ Market here in Chico.
     It is too early to put tomatoes, squash and beans in the ground here, but it is a great time for planting
-lettuce plants
-spinach plants
-seeds of beets, chard, arugula and kale.  

     More to come, and of course email me at if you have gardening questions you would like answered.

-David Grau

Broadforks &
Wheel Hoes

Easily weed and cultivate your garden with the Valley Oak Wheel Hoe.

Use the broadfork to aerate and till your garden and you'll never use your rototiller again.

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