Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Presenting: Learning to Intensive Garden for Market ~~ Reality Blogging

We have been gardening for awhile. Mostly our garden has been for our own needs and we found that we often produced an abundance more than we could use. In the last couple years or more we got the idea that we might actually be able to earn a little money off our garden if we bent our efforts to that end. Last year we started to make it happen. Our biggest investment has been our greenhouse.

We built a REAL greenhouse.

We ordered a custom made kit from a place in Aurora, Oregon. It's only 40'x16'. When it was ordered we were so excited that it was so HUGE as compared to our little handmade 12'x20', but we have since discovered how small that really is! However, we are farming a teeny-tiny plot of land and those limitations are real. We, in fact, took down part of the barn in order to build this. Previous, when we built our mini greenhouse we took a part of that same barn down. All that is left is the old tack room and that's coming down now because it is too close to the greenhouse and caused us problems during the snowy season. We are converting half the chicken barn to a storage shed to accommodate our tools.

We are an average family. Sort of.  I am a stay-at-home mom. We have grown up girls - some living at home,  and younger kids, and Steve works 4 or 5  12 hour shifts at the hospital each week. I plant. I harvest. One of the girls, Brianna, does a lot of the digging and envisioning. We are totally dependent on Steve for his one or two days off work to provide our man-power.

I invite you to follow our journey to make this 1/20th of an acre micro-marketgarden happen! We are learning to Grow Better not Bigger.  Welcome to our mini world.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Seed Ordering

We are ordering seeds. Let me know if there is a variety you want me to plant!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Day of 2014!

It's time to update the garden journal.  It's time to get serious about ordering seeds, too..

There's a few inches of snow out there, but every season moves towards the next so I must be prepared.

Here are some notes from last year's seed choices;

1. Tomato Chef's Choice  - was a hit orange tomato!
2. Need to grow more Park's Whoppers. They were big sellers as plants.
3. Remember that celebrity is a determinate...
4. I need to take more thought on Determinate/ Indeterminates. Determinates are less work, but Indeterminates have a greater overall yield and better flavor. More harvest control with Determinates. Lots to think about, like Determinate paste might be a good idea... and greenhouse determinates for early crop.
5. The Purple Russians were REALLY BAD NEWS.  They split and rot before they are ever ripe. BUT i have learned that they worked in cooler climates.
6. People bought Golden Fresh Salsa plants like crazy. They were pretty and firm and dry. No flavor.
7. Sunsugars are amazing!
8. Sweet aperitif were too small
9. The Artisan Series was FABULOUS!  YES! YES!
10. People wanted Early Girl.
11. Just learned about dry farming tomatoes... New thought.

A great article from Andrew Mefferd from Johnny's Select Seed to read is located here: http://www.growingformarket.com/articles/How-to-choose-tomato-varieties

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tomato Plants for SALE

Here is a list of the 2014 offerings from the FORDS. 


Take note that life at our house is crazier than ever!! I do everything wrong with these plants and God blesses anyway! Because I did not have what it took to cart these plants morning and evening back and forth from the greenhouse to house they have had to endure up to 110 degrees in the greenhouse during the day and down to 35 degrees at night because we have no heat source other than the sun. AND yet, these are the healthiest, strongest little plants you ever did see.

When I sell the fruit it must live up to a certain standard. No cracks, or mushiness, no weird shapes, and no deep crinkles, and they must be able to sit on the shelf and not rot immediately. So there's a battle between hybrids and heirlooms. Just in case you are confused, hybrid is not GMO.  I've grown heirlooms and hybrid side by side... There is less waste, larger crops and consistent flavor with the hybrids I've grown. The flavor point that people like to bring up did not bear true in my garden. And of course, flavor is everything! 

There are a few varieties that are new to me. I have to test something new every year BUT many are standby's I can count on year after year.

So, that 's the story. Now on to the varieties. 

All Indeterminate unless otherwise noted


Beefmaster 80 days, giant red 2 pounders. Delicious. A FEW LEFT
Burpees Big Boy - 78 days, large, crack free, superb flavor, meaty red fruit of 1 pound a piece.
Chef's Choice NEW! 2014 AAS WINNER a tangarine colored beefsteak type. crack resistant.
Park's Whopper 65 days red, juicy, no green shoulders, smooth & a slice covers your whole toast! - SOLD OUT! Need to plant double next year.
Beefy Boy 70 days bred for maximum taste. More meat and less gel. 12- 16 oz fruit.
Tough Boy 75 days clusters of 6-7, 1 pound fruit. pink and no cracks.
Big Beef 73 days. beefsteak type that is prolific 9-12 oz meaty fruit.
Super Beefsteak 80 days, 1 pound fruit. Big yield.
Super Boy - some people like these for salsa. They are more firm like a roma.


Celebrity   SOLD OUT! 70 days DETERMINATE!! 8 oz fruit that resists cracking. Producer!!
Jet Star 70 days low acid, perfectly round fruit. Every tomato is perfect.
Steak Sandwich SOLD OUT! 70 days pinkish, a perfect slicer.

(compari style tomatoes are not typically sweet, FULL flavored and tasty, but not sweet.)

Mountain Magic SOLD OUT! 72 -75 days  2 oz fruit. long shelf life, amazing flavor.  very round
Super Sioux 70 day semi-indeterminate. Fruits well in dry hot conditions. round acidic.
Sub-Artic Plenty 55-65 days!!! sets hundreds of 1 to 2 inch fruit. tart, real flavor DETERMINATE


Vive Italia 72 days  DETERMINATE 3 oz fruit. high yield blocky pear shape.
Purple Russian 80 days Meaty, plum-shaped 6 oz fruit 3 -4 inches long. purple-black
Golden Fresh Salsa 63 days meaty-flavorful roma flesh dense 3 -5 oz fruit GOLDEN salad and salsa tomato. SOLD OUT DETERMINATE
Plum Regal 80 days high yield 3-4 oz fruit for sauces. DETERMINATE
Umberto Red Pear SOLD OUT! 80 days an old heirloom one plant can produce 250 meaty 2oz fruit for sauces and fresh eating.

Cherry and Grape Styles

Sweet Aperitif 80 days THE SWEETEST cherry. 1/2 oz round red fruit.
SunSugar 62 days golden SUGARY SWEET cherry. crack resistant 1/2 oz fruit.
Artisan Series: Bumble Bee cherry in pink and purple  and TIGER julienne in blush, green, and pink. Stripes. All mixed. I can't tell you one color from another because the seed was mixed! Beautiful, desirable fruit!!
Merlot 59 days crunchy, sweet red grape 1/2 oz fruit for salads, cooking and pizza toppers. A FEW LEFT!

All plants are $2.50 each. All proceeds will help Christina go to Youth For Jesus this Summer in Michigan. She will be learning to Speak and preach and share her faith along with a group of young people who are excited to go out there and work for Jesus.

My email address is safords@hotmail.com. My supplies are limited. I believe I have 420 plants today. If you rather talk on the phone, email me first. Thanks

I won't actually be planting my tomato patch until the middle of May, so I don't expect many locals to be planting too much sooner than that. But if you plan to buy I can save some for you. Some varieties disappear fast. These will be repotted in the next week or so to 6 inch containers. I pot them deep to encourage root growth.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December Salad

It's 20 degrees outside which is 20 degrees warmer than it was about a week ago. We couldn't pick anything when it was that cold. Everything was frozen, but when the sun comes out and warms up the place the greens revive.

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8

The temps have not dropped much past freezing so the salad garden is doing very well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I am trying my hand at propagating plants that I would buy more of if money grew on trees. It's pretty much free. I did have to buy a couple bags of soil. I took 7 geraniums from the church window box that were clearly done for the season. I cut the root half off and most of the plant. I planted those 7 in new pots and I will return them in the spring. All the branches turned into starts for me. There are a LOT of starts!

Well, then a friend said she does the same for lavender. I looked it up and well.... now we have rosemary and sage in the works, too.

 That would be lunch in those pictures.
We had our first frost yesterday at 6 AM... then today at the same hour it FROZE hard.

Last week of October garden.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21

 I wish my phone took better pictures. 
It is what it is.... as they say, it could be worse.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mid October

Fall seedlings...

Had some help pulling up tomatoes and their stakes today. We haven't had a frost yet, but the tomatoes were pretty much done. There were hundreds of pounds of green ones left, as usual. Vanessa picked a few boxes. There's really no place to keep that many, so that's that. The weather is beautiful. Perfect for working in the gardens.
Stopped by the farmers market today and picked up some garlic to plant. The gal I bought them from doesn't usually plant until November, so we're good still.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

End of Market Season

The tomatoes are done. 
A man who traded me green tomatoes for peaches
has come and gone. He didn't clean out the patch much.
I guess he was surprised at just how many tomatoes there were still there.
So, I have called in the troops to glean.
If cared for properly people can glean the ones with a bit of pink and ripen them 
slowly over the next few months.