©2019 by Muirs Tea Room & Cafe

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Our Farmer

Cumbria Gardens has the following objectives:

  • Provide 20 local families and Muir’s Tea Room with a 12-month supply of fresh vegetables, cut flowers, fruits and berries. This includes a CSA service.

    • Minimum till, organic growing methods are used.

    • Hard polly-tunnels are used to extend the season through the winter months

    • Crop cover is used to create year round growing environments and protect crops from predatory insects.

  • Provide a friendly environment to native flora and fauna.

    • Floral planting are used to attract bees and other pollinators.

    • Shrubs and hedges have been planted to attract birds and beneficial insects as well as act as wind breaks.

    • A large brush pile provides an  important habitat element for many different kinds of wildlife. They provide cover from predators and places for nests, escape routes, and dens. Many insects are attracted to this pile of decomposing wood, which provides a bounty of food for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

    • Although fences are used to protect fruit and vegetables from the dear, they were designed to retain the deer paths through the lot. Deer as well as racoons, foxes, skunks, possums, stoats, bobcats, and even the occasional cayote make the lot part of their hunting and foraging ground. Not to mention many birds, amphibians, rodents and birds that make it their home.  

    • Nest boxes are provided for birds, bluebirds, tree swallows and sparrows use the boxes. I have even had a clutch of quail hatch out in one of the loop houses

 

Tour of our Farm

  • Tour step 1 Compost and explanation of Minimum till Farming

    • There is two methods of preparing compost:

      • Static – Using a bioreactor

      • Dynamic – (turning and watering)

    • Compost Ingredients

      • Garden waste

      • Plant based food waste

      • Animal manure

      • Wood chips or shredded cardboard

      • Water

      • Air

    • Using the static method, a structure (called a bioreactor) is required to hold the material and allow airflow through the material. The compost material should be no more that 12” from an airflow. All material should be wetted before loading, and a sprinkler system used to keep it damp. The material will heat up for a month or two then cool down, once it has cooled worms are introduced, and if possible, material from another bioreactor should be added to inoculate the reactor. Then it is left for another 6-8 months, after which you have a high-quality compost rich in minerals, and a wide range of biochemistry including long chain fungus. A solution of this material can be used to add to beds, or to give a boost to perennial berry, and orchard plants. Sifted material can be mixed with sand or sandy sub-soil to make potting soil.

    • For the dynamic method the same material is used. This is wetted put into a large pile, turned every month and kept damp.  The turning process introduces the air ingredient without which the compost would produce anaerobic bacteria which is toxic. This method is quicker and easier that using a bioreactor, but is great for creating bulk material for the material for the no-till beds.

  • No till or minimum till organic gardening methods are used.

    • Tilling the soil disrupts the biological activity, causes erosion, and reduces the carbon sequestration capability of the soil. Use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides can completely destroy the biology of the soil and eliminate carbon sequestration.

    • Organic gardening and the exposure of plants to natural predators, not only eliminates the exposure of workers and consumers to harmful chemicals, but increases the micronutrients in the plants, which in turn results in a far healthier product, providing the consumer with more resistance to cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

    • To start no till production a large amount of compost is tilled into the ground, but for subsequent plantings one crop is cut off another layer of compost added and the new crop planted.

    • Forking may be required to aerate the soul if it has become compressed.

    • The soil is kept soft by plant roots and biological activity of continual plantings, if no production crop is planted then a cover crop is planting.

    • Root crop beds may have be forked to accommodate the root depth required. 

 

  • Tour Step 2. Preparing Starts, and other poly tunnel products.

    • Some products are started in pots and later ether planted into the polly tunnels, under grow cloth or out in the open.

    • How to grow starts will be demonstrated.

    • Some products such as carrots, beets broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can be grown in the polly-tunnels during the winter.

    • Microgreens and salad greens are grown all year round in the polly tunnels where they are protected from the cold in the winter, wind and direct sunlight in the summer and insects all year round. Salad greens are also grown outside under grow cloth in the summer.

    • Cucumbers, melons, peppers and eggplants are also grow in the polly tunnels. They can also be grown outside some years, but I have found it is not worth it.

  • Tour Step 3 cut flowers and display garden plants.

    • All CSA customers get cut flowers with their produce box.

    • 90 percent of the trees, bushes and display plans on the property were grown from seeds or cuttings. A limited number of plants are also for sale.

    • How to grow cuttings will be demonstrated

  • Tour Step 4. The Tomato Patch.

    • Tomatoes are always popular so I grow a veriety of early hybrids, heirloom, and sauce tomatoes. I try to do a 3-year rotation of plants by plant family. It does not always work out but I at least make sure I do not put the same family in the same place two year in a row, but ensure a 3 years cycle for the tomatoes.

  • Tour step 5 The main patch.

    • This year all the other vegetables are here.

    • Carrots are always covered with crop cover cloth to keep carrot weevil out. 

    • Broccoli and cauliflower normally grow faster and larger under crop cover, because they are protected from direct sun, and wind and kept at a higher humidity. Delicate salad greens do better for the same reason, in addition they are protected from insects such as flee beetle.

  • Step 5 Orchard and soft fruit

    • The orchard is a work in progress the oldest trees are only 4 years old, the main crop is plums

I am trying to increase soft fruit production, but find it varies year to year

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