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Hello from the rocky hills of Arkansas


 
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johno
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 11
Location: Arkansas Ozarks, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:00 pm    Post subject: Hello from the rocky hills of Arkansas Reply with quote

Hello fellow gardeners. My name is John, but those closest to me (which includes fellow gardeners) call me johno. My wife, two daughters, mother-in-law and I will be visiting Ireland in the spring. I joined this group to learn about Irish vegetable gardening before I arrive.

We have poor soil here in the Ozarks, generally speaking. My land requires much organic matter to be good for for growing vegetables. In terms of nutrients, it is also low in N and K. But after several years, I have one area in sufficient shape. Last spring we broke ground in the nearest field, but these new beds will need work.

I am for the cause of maintaining open-pollinated, or 'heirloom' varieties, but I also like to experiment in improvements and new varieties. I've been working on a strain of colorful sweet corn for a few years, started by farmer Alan Bishop of Indiana. I'm also experimenting with interbreeding brassicas including kale, collards and cabbage. I've been trying for a few years to cross tomato varieties, but the high humidity makes collecting pollen very difficult (or at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it Laughing ) I have been learning about potatoes from Tom Wagner, who has been breeding them for 50 years, and just recently introduced his blight resistant version of 'Lumper' to Ireland in person. I have very much to learn!

I can get long-winded, so to speak, so let me end here with a few pictures from Arkansas.

This is me, sitting on my brother-in-law's tractor the day he got it.


My yard early in the big ice storm of '09. Note the composting tumbler at the bottom.


My humble abode in the forest.


A bee harvesting pollen from a squash blossom.


Corn.


I'm getting carried away again...
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dinahdabble
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
Rank attained: Rowan Tree


Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Torr

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome! That all looks like great fun and lots of work! I doubt the climate up here would work quite so well with the corn. Sad I grow a lot of winter vegitables because I am near the sea and it keeps it warm, but the summers are quite cool, wet and breezy. Actualy, my best veg are grown in winter, which is handy if we get cut off from the nearest town by rain or very, very occationaly frost. Shocked The spinach, kale, winter cabbage, sprouts, Japaese onion, turnip, leek and beet are all doing very well so far this year, but the salads got gobbled up by slugs in the warm, wet weather. Could do with a nice tractor like the one in the picture. It was very honest of you to own up that it was your brother-in-law's - does he ever get to sit in it at all? Wink
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johno
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 11
Location: Arkansas Ozarks, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the welcome, dinahdabble.

We had a cool, wet summer here, and considered that a bad summer... but really it's not as bad as our normal heat and drought, just more likely to cause diseases. At least I didn't have to water often.

Winter gardening is something I'm trying to learn to balance out. What I have growing right now is mostly greens like the brassicas I mentioned and also spinach, chard and mustard. I'm also growing garlic, walking onions, a few leeks and shallots. I leave some potatoes in the ground through the winter for occasional use, too. There is a small patch of Yellow Cylindra beets that I'm leaving for seed. I grew broad beans successfully last spring for the first time, and just planted some yesterday to see how they do in the winter.

This winter I'm also getting a start learning to grow some grains like hulless oats. Unfortunately, the cows got loose a few days ago and reduced the oats to a few inches tall. I hope they regrow before a hard freeze kills them. It seems like Irish climate might be roughly similar to coastal Oregon or Washington weather, being tempered by the ocean. Sounds nice. We get a lot of extremes here in the heartland.

Haha - my b-i-l drives his tractor as often as possible!
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dinahdabble
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
Rank attained: Rowan Tree


Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Torr

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My potatoe growing has always taken place in my compost heaps, a practice I copied from my dad. I'm sure it all started accidently when peelings got put into the compost, but I don't know when it became established practice. Small sized potatoes get chucked from heap to heap, and are usualy developed sufficiently by the time the next batch of compost is properly finished. The actual green, growing bit takes place when the potatoes decide the time is right - regardless of the season. I leave any that begin to rot or look diseased in the mix, ignoring conventional wisdom about spreading disease, because they rot down so very quickly. The remaining potatoes drop out nice and clean and healthy. I think only those with a natural resistance survive and grow because they are all exposed to such a rotten environment.- I suppose a compost heap is a kind of 'hot bed' for such developments. Perhaps I've just been lucky?
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johno
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 11
Location: Arkansas Ozarks, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like an excellent idea!
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Sive
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 1731
Location: Co.Wexford

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi johno, your humble abode looks like it has been built in a little piece of heaven....even if you do get more extreme weather than we do in Ireland. Did the ice storm do much damage to your trees? It certainly looked incredibly beautiful in your photo.
Welcome to the site.
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johno
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 11
Location: Arkansas Ozarks, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a little piece of heaven. I wouldn't want to be elsewhere.

There was a lot of damage from the ice. Limbs were down everywhere, and overhead it was a tangled mess and still is in the woods. The overhead powerlines were damaged severely from the weight of the ice, and power was out across a wide area for weeks. We were lucky and only without power for two days. Sometimes the most beautiful things in nature are the most destructive.

Thanks for the welcome, Sive.
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