Originally published in The MOF&G, September, 1999
Mesh Bags for Washing Greens
Electric washing machines, with their agitators and spin-dry cycles, were a great improvement for homemakers--and they can work wonders for farmers selling greens as well, especially when combined with mesh bags.
Woven polyester or nylon mesh bags can line harvest containers, then greens or other produce can be picked into the bags and the bags dunked into vats of water, then placed in washing machines set on the spin cycle. Alternatively, greens can be dumped loose into tans of water, where the water is agitated, then the greens are put into laundry baskets lined with mesh bags and the bags are set in washers where they go through a spin-dry cycle. Using nylon bags to hold greens cuts the amount of time hands spend in cold water, moves greens into cold water faster, saves time and reduces crushing that comes with repeated handling.
Mesh laundry bags are available in hardware and discount stores in the laundry supply sections and can be ordered from Cady Industries (PO Box 2087, Memphis TN 38101, 1-800-622-3695--32" x 27" McKnit bags with 1/8" mesh or custom-sewn bags) or The Nylon Net Co. (845 N. Maine St., Memphis TN 38107; 1-800-238-7529--22" x 22" bag with 1/4" mesh).
Source: Growing for Market, Dec. 1998.
Wait to Prune Raspberries
Raspberries should be pruned every year. The bulk of the pruning should be done during the late winter or early spring. Some growers remove the fruiting (two-year-old) canes shortly after harvest to encourage growth of the new canes, which will fruit next season. However, recent research has suggested that it is better to leave the old canes until late in the fall or winter, because they provide carbohydrates to the crown of the plant that will be used by the new canes. Follow these steps when pruning:
1. Prune out all of the canes that fruited the previous summer.
2. Prune out any first-year canes that emerge outside of the desired 1 1/2-foot row width or show signs of insect or disease injury.
3. Thin remaining canes in the row, leaving only those with the greatest height and basal diameter, until four to five canes per foot of row length remain.
4. Attach the remaining canes to the trellis wires and remove all prunings from the field to reduce disease and insect pressure.
Source: "Raspberry Pruning Review," by David Handley, Vegetable & Berry News, Univ. of Maine Cooperative Extension, Jan. 27, 1999.
Web Resource on Farm Animal Health
"Healthy Animals" is an online compilation of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) news and expert resources on the health and well-being of agricultural animals and fish. Its web site is: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/ha. Updated quarterly, the site provides links to recent ARS research involving cattle, chickens, turkeys, swine, sheep, goats, horses, catfish and other aquaculture fish, deer and other wildlife. The site also provides complete contact information for more than 25 ARS research groups studying farm animal health. An index lists ARS research locations covering about 70 animal health topics, such as Lyme disease, nutrition, parasites and vaccines.
Good Grounding Makes Good Electric Fences
When utilizing electric fencing, you cannot have too many ground rods. When an animal touches the fence, the electricity must travel through the animal into the soil, then through the soil to a ground rod. The current then travels from the ground rod to the fence charger, where the circuit is completed. Only then does the animal feel the shock. Therefore, the more ground rods, the more electricity gets back to the fence charger.
The best ground system consists of three galvanized ground rods, at least 6 feet deep and spaced 10 feet apart. For best results, install your ground rods where soil moisture is constant. Always use clamps to attach the ground wire to the ground rods.
Source: Weekly Market Bulletin, Univ. of N.H. Dept. of Ag., June 2, 1999; originally in Extension News.
A Snap Crop?
Snapdragons are a potential crop for Northeast growers, says N.H. Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor. As alternatives to roses, mums and carnations, where competition from Ecuador, Colombia, California and Europe has become brutal, snapdragon blooms may fill a niche here since they donít ship well, so buyers are hungry for nearby supplies.
Source: Weekly Market Bulletin, N.H. Dept. of Ag., May 12, 1999
Radio Spots for Farmersí Markets
Marcia Halligan of Viroqua, Wisconsin, reports in Growing for Market (July 1997) that Saturday morning radio spots that list items for sale at the local farmersí market have been the most important promotion for the group. The marketís most successful event is a childrenís market in October, in which children get free booth space to sell what theyíve grown or crafted. When a band plays at the market over Labor Day weekend, each vendor gives an item to the band and storyteller, and the band then camps and uses the food.