Tag Archives: growing

Organic! Hummmmmm!


Another Disappointment and Another Opportunity!

I just learned something I never know before. Did you know that Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables are sprayed or dipped in chlorine to disinfect them?  I don’t buy or eat conventionally grown food, if and when I can help it.  I always buy organic seed to grow, for some of the same reasons. I believe organic is better for the environment and also for us, but in the case of seeds, they are hardier. Most plant seeds are grown in spoiled rotten conditions. They are babied to produce the highest number of seeds from each plant that is possible. Organically raised plants are not babied, they are grown in harsher, real world conditions. They are selected to survive the conditions they will encounter as organically grown plants, you know, exposed to pests, fungi, dense planting to reduce weeds, realistic amounts of water. Real world conditions.

But  what is the journey that brings these organic, nutrient dense, powerhouses to the stores. It is a story full of romance and sadness. I have become disillusioned with organics and the more I know the more unhappy I am to pay the premium prices. Let me start my rant by saying that they are better for the environment since they are grown without all the “cides”: pesticide, herbicide, fungicide that lead to genocide. That is a good thing. Also, let’s not forget the organics are not allowed to be GMO’s. For me, that is huge. I have never consented to being a lab rat.

But my disillusion has been born from other issues surrounding organics. I have never liked that organics have chased the money and followed the conventional market in lock step with imported, out of season foods. For all that might be saved without the “cides”, is negated by the fossil-fuels needs to grow and harvest on a mega scale, truck, ship and train the food all over the plant. And if the food is out of season, no worries, it’s summer someplace all the time.

And today, when I discovered that Certified Organic fruit and vegetables are disinfected with chlorine or another approved chemical, I feel I am nearing the end of a tortured relationship. I am not going to throw the Certified Organic chlorinated lettuce out with the e.Coli, but this has really forced me to gear-up my game. Next summer I am going to start growing our food with a passion and energy I have not exerted.


The Journey Continues: Where do We go from here


New Barbados Blackbelly lamb: A good omen.

Well, it is true! We have officially downsized all the animals here at Windkist Ranch. We are blessed to have found good homes for everything we gave away. Now what? Well, I have been taking an Organic Vegetable Production course from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It is my understanding that they are considering a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainable Farming, fully online. When I was searching for a course that would give me the farming skills needed to produce a large amount of winter feed for our animals, this was the only US course I found online. I was hesitant, having spent the past year and a wad of money on two locally offered Permaculture classes and I the fact that I didn’t learn as much as I had hoped for, given the price. But I took a chance and I can’t say enough about the quality of work and assignments; the professional, experienced instructors; and the amount of details and depth of material covered. It is a 3-credit college course, after all.

Now, instead of stumbling along once again, this course has shortened the learning curve and given us some valuable knowledge to move forward with. the Spring of 2014, we are going to plant a cover crop on about 5 acres, using a no-till approach. We are looking for simple farming implements that we can pull with our 1947 Ford 8N tractor or possible a mule. The no-till system will be perfect for our windy conditions and the brittle, fragile environment of our Rocky Mountain tundra. Assuming the cover crop grow, we will plant turnips, mammoth beets and barley in the Spring of 2015 and put in a few more acres of cover crop. We have a 1/4 acre kitchen garden, which I have had varied success with over the years. But between the Permaculture and the UMass course that garden should be provide a cornucopia of food from now on. I’m already eyeing more Ball jars, never a bad problem to have, is it?

Root vegetables and grains that can be dry-farmed will meet all of our animals winter needs. The roots, along with their tops, will provide nutrients and variety to our sheep, pigs, dairy cows and ducks. The barley can be ground or sprouted and fed to all of these animals too. And mixing them in the cold, harsh winter will provide our animals so much more than meeting their feed needs, it will provide them with variety and comfort. 

To get this process going we took soils samples and water samples to a lab in Alamosa. In a few days we will have the results that we can then use to make seed selection that most closely matches our conditions. To be truly sustainable, we must grow seeds that will survive in our soil conditions with the minimal amount of amendments. Formulating a plan was a big step and new we are off and running.