Elliott Family Farm

  (Grapeland, Texas)
Small Fresh Market Food Producer
[ Member listing ]

What a difference a year makes!

What a difference a year makes! Moisture has returned to these parts and our pea crop is doing ok. We hope to harvest between May 19 and May 23 for the first crop of the summer. If moisture stays with us we will replant and harvest again 60 or so days later.

There are a few 1015 onions that got a late start and hopefully they will come on and make as well. This is probably the last year we will attempt root crops. We need to simplify our operation and intend to sell the carrot harvester. It is a 1964 Scott Viner in good working order. We are asking $5000 for it if anyone is interested.

Our focus will be strictly on peas and beans. Hope to see you on harvest day. Check our Facebook page for updates. Elliott Family Farm on FB

 
 

Dry Dry Year

2011 has been a very dry year. It has been very challenging to attempt farming. The word is that produce crops are failing all over East Texas or have already failed. The only bright spot on Elliott Family Farms has been sweet potatoes. We planted them in out of desperation, really.

All our southern pea varieties failed, and it is really bad when it is too dry for peas. Sweet potatoes require less water than peas, a fact that I was not totally aware of when a friend suggested that I plant them. It was late. Generally they are planted in June these days. My grandfather, however, planted them as late as July and August before, Texas being a hot dry place anyway.

I was able to locate Beauregard Sweet Potato slips at Mathews Ridgeway farms in Wynn, Arkansas. It was late in the year and they maintained their beds another week until I could get there and pick them up. We bought 24,000 slips of which we planted 6000 and a neighbor planted 18,000. The neighbor did not provide sufficient water so all his plants failed.  We had an 80% survival rate and were able to peg the runners up and down the row to cover the smaller skips.

We used organic materials to control pests and a liquid organic fertilizer to boost growth. The slips were planted on various row widths from 40” to 60”. We like the 40” row best with plant spacing at 12” to account for some death loss. We used disc hillers to make the beds initially throwing up a 16” bed then running the rotary tiller over the top to further condition the bed and knock it down to 12”. 

The crop is doing well and will hopefully pull us through this year.  We need rain desperately. We will be harvesting the sweet potatoes in November around the 15th.  If we do not get rain, winter cover crops fava beans and English peas will be delayed or not planted. We are seeding sweet onions for sets in October for January transplanting. If we get no rain, we will sell the plants.

Pray for rain.

We are reselling used mechanical harvesting equipment and have several machines available. Brands include Oxbo/Pixall, Byron and Chisholm Ryder. We also have continuous shellers, reefers trailers, and grading equipment for beans and peas available.

 
 

March Update

English peas podded early. Too much heat. We are switching to an old heirloom Wando next season. On the other hand turnips are doing nicely. Most folks in tis part of the world prefer the greens rather than the turnips so we will be harvesting both.  The plan is to follow both crops with southern peas in April.  Top Pick Pinkeye and Top Pick Cream the first cycle. Later on we will plant Top Pick Pinkeye and Zipper Cream. We also intend to plant Vardeman Sweet Potatoes for the summer.

We have some Brandywine Red tomatos that will be ready for transplanting in a couple of weeks, some nice yellow squash, and a few very hot Hanebero Peppers.

Wish I had better news on the green peas. That is farming.

 
 

Baby Turnips, Turnips and English Peas

I have been posting some baby turnip recipes on the Facebook page, Elliott Family Farm, and a few on the Dallas Farmers Market page.  We have a good crop started and barring any bad weather, it should develop nicely.

Baby turnips are sometimes thought to be a specific variety of turnip, and some are used more often than others. In reality, they are simply immature turnips. I do not yet use a precision seeder; I use a JD 71 Flex planter circa 1980’s. Bottom line, I over seeded. Once that is done one must thin the crop by hoeing or by pulling the extra plants up by hand.  These baby turnips have a use and some people really like them. They tend to be sweeter and tenderer than mature turnips and may be used in salads and cooking, hence, the recipes.

We need more friends on Facebook and we need word to get around.  We love the Dallas Farmer’s Market but we love selling the produce straight of the farm even more!  Baby Turnips in March, Turnips and English Peas in April. We will have plenty!

 
 

Tropical moisture brings new life to Indian Summer!

 Good rainfall the last couple of days and on our well drained East Texas hills, this will bring the last session of purple hull peas to fruition. Those of you who did not get any, or need more, there will be some for the fall. We decided not to plant green beans, rather to let the peas come back volunteer, and come back they have. Other than a couple of small seed plots, there will be peas available.

We are nurturing a new variety of cream pea that we expect to have in quantity late next year. We are very excited about this pea, since it is a bush type of a locally popular pea. We hope to have seed available in a couple of seasons. 

We are proceeding with planting our white mustard green manure cover crop for the fall, and we will be doing soil tests every so often to appraise its effect. We still plan to plant English peas to over winter, and perhaps some fava beans. Most likely we will mix some fall turnips and some rutabagas in there as well.

In the garden, we are going to experiment with row covers in order to get a better start on tomatoes and peppers.  We do not grow these crops in huge quantities, so it is a good test case. The container garden from last year did not meet our expectations. I firmly believe in the soil, not hydroponics, greenhouse plants etc.

Diversification plans proceed as fertility and soil structure improve. Since we are looking at root crops, and how best to scale that project up, we are interested in a one row root crop harvester. Various grading equipment may be needed. Along that line, we are looking for a Pixall Vibratory Sorting Table and an even feeder to augment our bean and pea business.

That is all the news for now. Feel free to contact us. Purple hull peas only thru October.   

 
 

End of the Summer Southern Pea Seaon

The summer pea season was fast and furious. We picked sold and shellled a record amount of peas right on the farm. On farm response was so good, we didn't take anything to the Dallas Farmer's Market. Folks were buyng peas straight off the back of the picker.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that is especially true with a crop season. We are thankful for all the folks who came out to the farm. We are grateful for your support.

The hot summer sun has returned and the rain is gone for now. It is doubtful the peas will recover for another picking. On that note we proceed into the fall. We still have not decided whether or not to do a green bean crop. There is still time to decide. We are going to grow a fall seed crop of a new variety of pea. It is an improved old time favorite. As far as we know, we are the only ones to have this cultivar in East Texas. We aquired a sample from USDA and we are working on a larger quantity from other seedsmen. We need enough saved to support a fresh market enterprise.  

More good things to come.

 
 

Pea Day Accellerated

Hot summertime Texas weather and good moisture have combined to give us peas a coulple of days early. The harvest started yesterday and will continue until tomorrow. Plan to come see us no later than tomorrow, and preferably today. We have sold lots of peas so far and we have plenty more in the feild.

We appreciate all of you who have come out and supported the farm. We will continue to offer the best possible naturally grown produce we can grow. I wold linger abit butn I must get back to work. Again, thanks to all!

Sam Elliott

 
 

The Rain Came Down and the Crops Came Up

The rain came down and the crops came up. God is good. We are going to have a bumper crop of southern peas. These pinkeye purple hulls are wonderful. We think they are far better than BVR or Quick Pick and certainly yield better. Harvest date should be July 28 or 29.

This year’s crop is absolutely outstanding. Better yet, it was done organically. We are not yet certified organic, but we made major strides this year. Our plan is based around cover crops and organic fertilizers based on sea kelp and bone meal. As we move forward we will continue to monitor our soil fertility and base our crop rotation on the needs of the soil. Our goal is the best soil health possible, producing healthy plants that resist predation from disease and bugs.

The results of our effort are a beautiful healthy crop. Please visit our farm photo album linked below. Anyone who thinks organic is puny and weak needs to see this.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=16420&id=1743234498&l=0a60197064

We are not a CSA, we are a truck farm that sells locally to individuals and businesses. We like to attend the Dallas Farmers Market with our produce as well. We hope to be there the last weekend of July with fresh shelled product. We look forward to seeing all our friends there. Please make note of our Facebook page as well, become friends with us, and pass it along to your friends.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Grapeland-TX/Elliott-Family-Farm/170264762437?v=wall&__a=12&ajaxpipe=1

 

 

 

 

 
 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are passed!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are passed! Whew!

Our cover crop continues to grow nicely. We may add a little organic P and K in a couple of weeks, but other than that, all can we do now, is wait. We hope to plant green beans in early March. We may split the crop and plant green beans, pinto beans, Kentucky Wonder beans and spring carrots and a little sweet corn. These will be followed closely with purple hull peas.

Next winter we are going to experiment with fava beans if we have a suitable market for them. If anyone out there is interested in fava beans, let me know, I’d like to have you on our address list. We do want to extend our growing season into the winter, because summer is really hot and dry and we can raise a few things in our version of fall / winter.

Hopefully next Thanksgiving we can offer fresh sweet potatoes and green beans to complement the Thanksgiving meal. We are attempting to expand production on the farm and our biodiversity. Watch the web site for new pics.

 
 
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