Elliott Family Farm

  (Grapeland, Texas)
Small Fresh Market Food Producer
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Almanac, Hocuspocus?

I picked up my 2010 Issue of Harris’s Farmer’s Almanac yesterday. 145 pages of what some people consider useless information. I like almanacs, though I am not completely moony eyed about astrology. As a matter of fact I discount it totally. However, planting by moon phases seems to have some advantage. Perhaps there is something beyond superstition.

My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on used the almanac and worked the farm by the moon. I tend to do it as well and seem to do better than when I don’t, though I have no scientific data to back that up.  

This is the time of year that I have nothing else to do on the farm other than prepare hot beds for transplants, especially since we are now using organic no-till. All that expensive land prep was done to incorporate residue in the fall and planted over with the often mentioned cover crop. There is planning to do and alternate plans if those we make don’t pan out.  In the future, I plan to have English peas growing over the winter with rye grass in the middles. 10” middles alternating peas and rye. The picker will deal with it nicely.

If there is one item the almanac is uncannily accurate about it is weather patterns. We sorely need moisture this year and we should get it this time around. The almanac expects the cold to stay around for a while so unless it is a frost tolerant crop, I expect not to plant early this year. The system plan using the cover crops won’t permit that anyway, because the winter peas and rye have to be in the early bloom stage when we roller crimp them.

We are anxiously awaiting the results from our soil samples. We have no idea what is going on with fertility out there. There are places where the rye is very green, indicating good amounts of nitrogen, and places where that is not the case. 

It is January. It is cold and gray. We welcome the moisture and await the coming spring.

The January quotation comes from the almanac. “A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.” –May Sarton


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