Sunday, June 24, 2012


Greetings from Eastern Oklahoma:

Summer has arrived with a vengeance. We have seen temperatures in the low 100's over the past two or three days, and there does not appear to be a break until at least mid-week. The long-term forecast indicates average temperatures in July estimated at 95 degrees, with an average rainfall of 3 inches. This may alter our watering plans for the test garden.

Saturday Donald and David planted cucumber, watermelon, and more corn. Most of the planting was in Section 3 with the exception of the watermelon. Many years ago we planted watermelon and cucumber in our backyard in Southern California. While we produced large watermelons, they had absolutely no taste, which we attributed to planting them too close to the cucumber. Taking this lesson to heart, we tilled a small patch off to the side of Section 2 and planted our watermelon separately.

Next week we hope to complete planting, with the final seeds being a different variety of watermelon (which will be planted in its own patch off to the side of Section 3), pumpkin, and beans.

We planted onion in Section 2 earlier this month, but have not had any emergence at all. The seed should have been planted by April, so we knew it may not germinate. It didn't, so we will be planting the beans over the onion (in Section 2). Section 3 will end up being primarily pumpkin and tomatoes (if they ever start growing).

We will most likely replant the corn in Section 1 as it is still not doing well. We plan on re-tilling the ground and will do a full-till rather than strip tilling. We have some sunflowers growing so we will try to preserve those. In addition, we will be planting more sunflowers.

As a recap, we have planted the following vegetables:

Section I (Northern Section)

  • Luscious Hybrid (the only Hybrid we have planted, but it is still Organic) Sweet Corn - four 30-foot rows planted north to south onMay 28th. Poor emergency so we will be replanting.
  • Mammoth Sunflower - Planted on both outer edges of the corn on May 28th. We have had good emergence on the western edge, but poor emergence on the eastern edge, and what did emerge is now gone (possibly from insects or animals). We will be replanting the eastern edge after the corn is replanted.

Section II

  • Black Beauty Zucchini Squash - eight hills planted on June 10th. Good emergence, good growth as of today.
  • Evergreen Bunching Onions - Two rows planted East to West on June 10th, planted two months too late. No emergence. Will be replaced with Kentucky Wonder (Pole) Beans.
  • Scallop White (Bush) Squash (also known as Patty Pan) - three hills planted on June 16th. Emergence has been good and we have good growth as of today.
  • Moon & Stars Watermelon - five hills planted June 23rd. This "watermelon patch" is off to the west side of Section 2.

Section III

  • Luscious Hybrid Sweet Corn - Planted four rows east to west on June 16th. Have emergence, better than Section one but growth is mediocre.
  • Sumter Cucumber - five hills planted June 23rd.
  • Luscious Hybrid Sweet Corn - four rows planted east to west on June 23rd.

Section IV (Southern Section)

  • Cherokee Purple Tomatoes (Heirloom) - Transplanted May 28th. No change since transplanting.
As you can see, we have a good variety, and most of the seed was planted within acceptable time ranges (though at the far end). Overall, we did better at getting seed down then we expected.

Currently we are watering every 7-days; however, depending on the weather, we may go to every 5-days.

Donald and David cleared more of the east fence line and hope to have the work done within the next two weeks. Donald is already working on the process for obtaining soil samples, and this process will begin once the fence line is complete and the main plots marked out. Once the soil sample reports are returned, planning for winter cover crops will start.

As Baker Heritage Farms hopes to have year-round production in the future, plans are already underway to determine the next steps. Depending on how the test garden does through the summer, a winter crop may be planted. Most viable winter crops for this area are root crops and crops that grow low to the ground. We will have to evaluate whether or not root crops are worthwhile based on the rock content of our soil. Animals are a concern with the low profile crops and we expect to learn more about animal risks with what is already planted.

We hope we have devised a way to keep dogs out of the chicken coop and will be working on getting the fence up and the hen house finished in the next couple of weeks.

Until next week,

Blessing to all from Baker Heritage Farms

Monday, June 18, 2012


Greetings and Salutations;

David and Donald took a break Sunday in honor of Father's Day.

To date, we have planted Mammoth Sunflowers, Luscious Hybrid Sweet Corn, and Black Beauty (Zucchini) Squash. While the seeds are not heirloom, they are all USDA Organic and come from Ferry-Morse (you can get them almost anywhere).

The corn is not doing so well. We have sprouts, but they are sporadic, though they should be up and about ankle high by now. As this is an "experimental" garden, we are reviewing what we have done wrong.

This year, the experimental garden is being planted in virgin soil. The only thing that has grown here in at least 11 years is hay (ok, bermuda grass and other assorted weeds). As we plan to be "all-natural" we are not using any fertilizer or other synthetic growing products, nor are we using any herbicides or pesticides.

We strip tilled, rather than fully tilled, and we used green mulch to cover the crops. Some of the issues we feel that may be inhibiting growth include:

  • Lack of proper ground preparation. As the ground is virgin, full tilling would probably have helped substantially;
  • The green mulch may have been too much.
  • We were watering every three-days. After some research, we learned that corn should only receive about an inch of water every 14-days.
  • We did not use precision planting techniques, in fact, we essentially laid the seed in and covered it.
To test some of our theory, we planted some more corn this Saturday in Section 2 where we had cross-tilled (full tillage). We did not use green mulch and will be watering about every 5-days. We also planted these rows east to west rather then north to south, though that should not be an issue.

We planted sunflowers on the two outside edges of the corn. We have good growth on the west  side but sporadic growth on the east side. That may be an insect of animal issue.

The squash that was planted last week is doing great. We have a good ratio of growth compared to seed and, provided the rabbits and opossums don't get to it, we may have a very good crop of Zucchini. The onions we planted last week are not even showing. We may have planted them too late.

This Saturday we planted Scallop White (Bush) Squash, more commonly known as Patty Pan squash. This is an item that is in high demand around here, so we are hoping for a little success at least.

Donald and David also worked on the east fence line again, at least until David got stung by a bee. He is allergic (just like Donald) and Donald forgot to take his pills with him, so he had to bring David up to the house, where he left him to recuperate. Donald went back down and finished the area they were working. Last weekend about 100 feet was cleared, about 50 more feet was cleared Saturday.

Donald spent Sunday going through and organizing his school notes. We need to start preparing for Winter cover crops, which means we have to complete clearing the east fence line, mark the plots, get soil samples, and get them sent in so we can determine what needs to be planted. We have not yet decided how we will plant, but most likely will set up our rotation for cover crops as well as for vegetables. We are being careful not to make any errors in what we do so that we can get good momentum going and do not have to leave any area fallow to make up for errors.

Over the next two weeks we need to get our watermelon, pumpkin, beans, and some more corn planted. Once we get all our seed down, we can concentrate on the pasture plots.

Until next week,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

The Lord said: "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Baker Heritage Farms - Being good tenants is what it is all about.

Sunday, June 10, 2012



It has been rather warm (getting up into the hundreds).

David and Donald cross-tilled Section 2 of the test plot and planted eight hills of zucchini squash and two rows of onions (scallions). Still have watermelon, pumpkin, and beans to plant. Ran out of time so they were unable to cut hay for green mulch over the newly planted seed. That will get done next weekend.

They also were able to start clearing the east fence line in the pasture. This will allow work to start on the main plots so that winter cover crops can be planted on schedule.

East Fence Line
There is a lot of brush on the east side of the pasture as it has not been maintained for many years. We hope to have the fence line done in the next couple of weeks so the plots can be laid out.

Brush Pile - 1 hour of work
Short message this week.

Wishing everyone a great week.

Baker Heritage Farms

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Welcome back.

Not much happened on the Farm this week. David transplanted some Cherokee Purple Tomatoes in Section 4 of the test plot that we purchased in early May. David usually works on various farm projects during the week and both David and Donald try to work on those projects better handled by two people on Friday evenings, Saturday, and Sundays; however, this week has been somewhat disjointed so no other work was done. We did get a little rain so have not had to water the garden this week.

There is a lot of work yet to do. We need to complete the henhouse, dig the trench to install the chicken wire, and secure it with rebar for the chickens. We also need to get the other vegetables planted, which we hope to complete next weekend. We will be gathering rock from the various rock piles around the front of the property to place along the fence line for the Turkey run, which (1) gets rid of the rock piles around our trees and (2) will secure the Turkey run from domestic animals. Another project is to mow the hay in the pasture, rake it into windrows (manually), and start a real mulching/composting operation so that we have mulch and compost for our winter cover crops.

During the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers class in May, Donald had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of preparing a raised planting bed. The demonstration showed how to (1) mow down the cover crop, (2) plow/till the ground to form raised beds, (3) transplant vegetables, and (4) use the cover crop that was mowed as green mulch. While it took less than 30 minutes to prepare a bed about 10 feet long, some very expensive equipment was used.

BCS Tractor
The BCS Tractor is a walk-behind tractor that has the same capabilities of a regular tractor, including a PTO (Power Take Off). Here, the instructor is using the BCS Tractor to till the strip while forming a raised bed. Instead of standard tines, he is using a rotary plow, which will actually till the soil and move it to one side to form the bed.

You can see the cover crop that was just mowed on the left side of the picture, the windrow was formed by manually raking the cover crop to the side. The cover crop was mowed with a sickle bar mower attachment mounted to the BCS Tractor, and was manually raked over the transplants after they were planted.

The BCS Tractor costs approximately $4,300 (model BCS 853) with a standard rototiller attachment. The 45" Sickle bar attachment is another $979.00. While it would make life much easier to have this piece of equipment, it would be hard to justify the cost.

And yes, you can also get a plow attachment for the BCS Tractor.
BCS Tractor Plowing
In last week's blog you saw some of the hand tools we use, and in previous blogs you saw some of the power equipment we have available. Our purpose here at Baker Heritage Farms is not only to grow all-natural crops in a natural environment, but to do so using as few power tools as possible, as power tools add substantially to the cost of operating a back-yard, or small acreage, farm.

We found that, with a little extra labor, we can prepare a raised bed with a regular tiller and hand tools just as well as we could with the BCS Tractor, though it takes longer and the work is much harder.

Donald also had the opportunity to see a number of different types of seed planters during the class.
Hand Seeders
Restored Automatic Hand Seeder
The had seeders were nothing fancy and can most likely be made from scrapes from around the house or farm. The walk-behind seeders (yes, they do have modern ones) would save back pain, but can run well over $100.00. The problem with any of the mechanical seeders is that there appears to be a high margin for error when planting, that could result in either wasted seed or wasted ground.

When planting larger areas, it is just as easy to drop the seed into a furrow and cover it with a rake (be careful of the wind, which can cause the seed to land outside the furrow).

Once again, here at Baker Heritage Farms, we will be planting by hand without the benefit of mechanical help.

If you are farming a very small area for profit, you will need to save as much money as possible if you want to make a profit. If you are farming a very small area to provide healthy food products for your own table, you will get more satisfaction from doing as much as possible by hand (the old-fashioned way).

If you are looking to farm on a larger scale, then the mechanical and power equipment may be an option, but remember, mechanical and power equipment needs to be maintained and sometimes the maintenance and repairs on this equipment can take valuable time away from your gardening chores.

Until next week;

Blessings to all from Baker Heritage Farms