Cucumbers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes and more new this week.

Looking for in-season produce picked morning of and delivered to your home or business in South County Roanoke or Roanoke city?

Here’s what we’re picking at Halcyon Acres the week of July 18, 2016

Vegetables & Fruits

  • Turnips (& turnip greens)
  • Kale
  • Beets (& beet greens)
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes (blue)
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Beans (green)
  • Onions
  • Fresh garlic (with tops)
  • Wheat grass
  • cucumbers
  • green peppers
  • tomatoes
  • spaghetti squash

Fresh Herbs

  • Dill
  • Parsley (curly & flat leaf)
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro

Coming within the next two weeks:

  • Acorn squash
  • Potatoes (Yukon gold & red)
  • Egg plant
  • Flowers

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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Soaker hoses help keep gardens healthy

If you live in a climate where drought is an issue (and who in the US didn’t this year) and have a relatively small space you’re trying to keep healthy, it pays to invest in some soaker hoses. If you buy the right ones and care for them properly, they will last for many years.

soaker hoses can help herbs too
Soaker hoses can help herbs thrive too

After sampling an alternative to sprinklers, you’ll never go back. Here’s why soaker hoses are so much better than sprinklers:

  • Water is not wasted. You can direct what you need and when you need it to the plants you’re trying to keep healthy.
  • Soaker hoses provide a much more effective method that encourages deep and healthy root growth
  • Using watering systems that hydrate the ground without whipping through the air helps you to avoid many of the disease problems associated with water on leaves at the wrong time of day.
  • Targeting where water can help reduce weeds in areas where you do not.

We’re working with about an acre of planted vegetables and herbs at Halcyon Acres®, so for this size garden, soaker hoses make sense. What didn’t was dragging hoses daily around to new areas (chock it up to another lesson learned the hard way), so we invested in a system that allowed us to lay the lines along the roots of plants in sections so it was merely a matter of connecting the source hose to the area needing water.

You’ll need to experiment with what lengths make the most sense (it depends a bit on how far you’re pumping the water, your line size, your water source and the soaker hoses you choose), but we’ve found 150 feet of soaker hose per section to be the most effective distance.

After tossing a lot of choices that broke, leaked or didn’t work for other reasons, we’ve found the flat (these are reinforced with a plastic support), cloth covered to be the best. They’re generally sold in 75-foot lengths for about $15 each in the US. We haven’t had one of these break on us yet (they do occasionally get small leaks, but nothing like the round hoses that become gushers without notice). All of the others recently purchased have been in less than a season. So, in terms of money spent, you don’t save anything going with a cheaper solution.

Five tips on using flat soaker hoses:

  1. Make sure each soaker hose has a cap on one end when you buy them. These are sometimes removed (by customers, I guess) and without it, you can only use the product attached to another.
  2. Buy the style with a swivel on each end (these are usually green) so that you can easily attach the hose to others without twisting.
  3. When you unwrap and uncoil the hose do so from the outside of the roll (otherwise they get twisted and kink).
  4. When attaching to another soaker hose or the water supply, turn the swivel with each twist as you connect. This will avoid twists in the hose that are more difficult to straighten after fully attached.
  5. Roll the hoses up onto a wheel (there are hose reels designed for this that are relatively inexpensive) at the end of the season. These hoses do not winter well tied with string or looped over a hook. Make sure they’re flat as you wrap them around the spool.

Soaker hoses can make a huge difference between a successful year of gardening and a disappointing one.

Have you found a product that works really well for you? Please share in the comments below. Also, if you liked this article and would be kind enough to use the share bar (to the left of this article), I’d sure appreciate the Tweet, Like or Linked In post. Thanks!

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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Welcome to our natural approach

Thanks for stopping in to check out the revamped Halcyon Acres® website. As you can see, while the horses are still part of this business (we’ll jump in from time to time with stories, news and updates), we’re putting a much stronger focus on produce. Feel free to poke around (the site is still under construction, so you’ll probably notice changes each day) and let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see covered – or illustrated.

Quick tip for organic growing

organic produce from Halcyon AcresHerbs can create beautiful additions to your landscape (most have delicate and attractive flowers) that also provide tasty options for enhancing a meal. Most are perennial and require little maintenance. All tend to transplant well, so you can start them in one area and then position them where you want around your yard or house after they’ve matured to a hearty state.

If you’re starting seeds outside (now is not the time for this – wait until spring), keep them weeded early as most young shoots don’t compete well with other plants. Good selections for zones 5-6 include sage, oregano, lavender (this one’s iffy outdoors if the winter gets cold but can be transferred to a container and brought inside), thyme and dill (not a perennial but it’s good at reseeding itself).

If you’re new to herb starts, it can be hard to figure out what these plants look like coming out of the ground. There aren’t too many sites that provide visual depicting young plants. So, we’ll be adding pictures to help you identify your seedlings periodically. Check back as we’re still working on this section. If there’s something in particular you seek, let us know and we’ll try to capture and post the image.

Chemical-free produce for fall

It’s fall in Upstate New York. While the leaves are changing and the tomatoes and summer squashes are suffering a bit from the rain that finally came (almost daily after a summer drought), most of the plants are doing great.

Watermelon, cantaloupe, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, eggplant and sweet potatoes are now ready for harvest. We’re finally getting some head lettuce (silvia, freckles and standard romaine) after an early spring and summer that was too hot for these items. The loose leaf continues to be a favorite as we’ve been planting almost weekly and harvesting baby lettuce for clients.

It’s been a great year for herbs. Fresh sage, oregano, parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and lavender are still plentiful. Speaking of herbs, check out this handy slide show 10 Healthy Herbs and How to Use Them, for some fun tips and surprising features of these healing food items.

This past week’s focus has turned to rolling up feeder hoses, taking down pea fences and flag markers, harvesting cut flowers, digging up some of the perennial flower and herb plants for clients to enjoy in their gardens next year and beginning to prep the soil for spring planting.

If you’re in the Greater Rochester area (Eastern suburbs, Canandaigua, Farmington or Victor) and would like to enjoy fall produce (we still have large quantities of hard to find and/or expensive food items such as Swiss chard, kale, turnips, herbs and a lot of other items requested as special plants by clients) we can deliver to your home or office, or you’re welcome to schedule a trip to the farm with family (appointment required) to select your package mix and witness the harvest. Call (585) 554-4612 for more information.

If fresh herbs are what you seek, these ship well. We can assemble a very generous package custom selected for your tastes. US orders only.

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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