garden june 2018

One-tenth acre each of buckwheat, Country Gentleman corn, and Waltham butternut squash.  This was a few weeks ago, before the weather turned dry (it was already hot).  Buckwheat is part of our fertility management system; today there are eighty hens penned on that patch, tramping down the plants, manuring, harvesting seed.  We’ll come behind in a couple of weeks with a thick sowing of oats or wheat — winter pasture for chickens in tractors, grown-in-place mulch for potatoes — the first crop in our five-stage rotation:  potatoes, corn, winter squash, mangel-wurzels, then back to buckwheat (or variations on that theme).

6 thoughts on “

  1. Is the reason for so many layers on the buckwheat patch for a quick turnaround to the oats/wheat?

    Are the oats/wheat for winter forage, cold hardy biomass for fall and spring, or will you let it go to seed and harvest?

    Have ya’ll ever used sunflowers in your rotations? I have been thinking about that replacing the potatoes.

    Love your book. Thank you.

    1. You got it. We use chickens in the gardens a lot, partly to process whatever is growing there, partly to add fertility. With the buckwheat, I want another crop on that patch pretty quick, so I need the birds to mash down the buckwheat (and quite a few perennial weeds that got ahead of the buckwheat), manure it, and then move on. The small grains are winter cover, winter chicken pasture, spring biomass, and summer mulch, if all goes as I’d like it to. And, yes, eighty is a lot of birds for a farm the size of ours, but we’re raising a replacement flock this year; only thirty of those birds are presently laying.
      Sunflowers? They could fit nicely somewhere in our rotation, but nothing could replace potatoes; we need at least 1000# a year just for farm use.
      We’re glad you like the book!

      1. Are you feeding potatoes to the pigs and chickens? I’ve seen in places that they need to be cooked prior.

  2. Most years we don’t have enough potatoes to feed very many to the livestock (we’ll be dealing with fertility issues on this land for the next few decades).
    Cull potatoes, sometimes. The animals will eat them raw, but your information is correct: potatoes are about twice as nutrient-accessible when cooked. And while I have cooked swill for my pigs sometimes, I don’t yet have energy to cook dinner for my dinner.

    1. Thank you for the information and time. We do not eat nearly that volume of potatoes so they would be relegated to a row or two in the kitchen garden. Any other suggestions that meet the requirements of cover, fertility, and fodder?

  3. Our soil tends to be too clayey to benefit from pig impact; otherwise I would grow roots — mangels, turnips, rutabagas, and so on — and then let the pigs self-harvest. Turnips are supposed to be good ruminant forage — short impact (just grazing tops) lets you regraze multiple times — and we would consider folding sheep on brassicas for cover/fertility/forage. Other things — say, sorghum sudan, or corn planted close as for silage — add a lot of biomass, and are good pig pasture.

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