March 15, 22, and 29.
Shows & Presentations:
- Wed January 22 at 1 PM Wed. at the Pickens County library in Pickens at 124 north Calhoun Street
(for more info call 898 5747).
- Tuesday January 28 – a garden club presentation at the Watkins Community center in Honea Path
- Saturday February 1 -the Greenville Master Gardener Symposium
- Fri Sat Sun, February 7 - 9: the Anderson Home and Garden show
- Fri & Sat, February 28 & March 1: the Savannah Home and Garden show
- Fri Sat Sun, March 7-9: the Greenville Home and Garden Show.
2013 In Review:
Well, 2013 was a tough year. In the fall of 2012 we had an epidemic of leaf disease in the blueberries despite several applications of nutrient sprays so consequently our numbers of flower buds were down. With the help of the wind machine we made it through the April frost season with no further damage. So things were looking good. Then in May it was cool and rain was a little over average. June was also cool especially early and again we were about 2 inches above average with rain on 20 out of 30 days, which slowed the harvest and the picking. Adding insult to injury, July continued the wet weather pattern, with rain on 26 out of 31 days and 10 (!!) inches of above average rain. Then in August we had (MORE) rain on 23 days out of 31 days and about 2 inches above average. September was about average and October below average but by the end of November we were at 72.82 inches for the year and 20.68 inches above average. To put it in perspective our typical yearly average for rain runs around 58.42 inches, at least for the past 11 years. The last comparable rainfall was in 2004 when we had over 77 inches of rain, and while I have not seen the final for the year I believe we have a good shot at breaking the 2004 record. Our thanks to Dick Figlar, who is a local official weather observer, for sharing his records with us.
The bottom line is that it looks like gross sales were down approximately 42 %. For a pick-your-own operation rainy days are discouraging for customers and the lack of sunshine also depressed the harvest. The good news is that we operate pretty much “cash and carry” thus do not have debt to service. Although we will lose some, it is a foolish man that is standing in field of food, and is hungry. The good news is that I got really serious about controlling leaf disease in the blueberries this year, what with all the rain, and – at the moment_ it looks like we have great crop of flower buds for next year.
Invasive Species – the attack of the bugs:
On the bad news front, we observed Spotted Wing Drosophilae (SWD), Brown Marmorated Stink bug (BMSB) along with the Kudzu Stink Bug in 2013. We learned recently of two new invasive species the Fig Fly and the Red Banded Stink bug are on the way here. The former two have been real problems for other growers. So far we had escaped SWD and BMSB and last year was our first real observations despite taking organic preventive measures. So far the USDA and the universities have not been able to come up with an organic solution despite spending millions of dollars. We have globalization to thank for these problems. We would appreciate your thoughts about what we should do. Doing nothing could mean the end of what we do - no more farm or harvest.
This fall we planted Long Leaf pine in the east-west rows of Loblolly we started last year. While the loblolly grew extremely well this year we wanted to add the Long Leaf because they live longer. We are gambling that the Long Leaf will make it… we are in zone 8a which is borderline for the Long Leaf’s best growing conditions. There is also the risk that the big long needles of Long Leaf, if they become coated with ice, will weigh the branches to a point of breaking (damaging the plants below). The advantage of Long leaf is they can live for 500 years so the carbon they sequester stays sequestered. The loblolly will go a 100 years. The reason we are planting the pines is for passive frost protection, wind breaks for violent summer storms and to increase our depth of carbon sequestration. In another year or so we will start to remove the north and south growing branches so the trees will have minimal shade impact.
Speaking of Carbon Dioxide:
We are very excited about the work that is happening at the Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas that is being lead by Wes Jackson. They are developing perennial grains like wheat grass. It is called Kernza. It has a root system that can penetrate to 12 feet in the ground and, I believe, sequester more carbon than its annual cousin while providing grain. For me it is the nexus of food, water and energy. Carbon dioxide is central to all three components of the nexus. If you get the chance, read Wes Jackson’s books and/or visit their web site www.landinstitute.org. . We hope someday we can be a demonstration site.
By now you may have observed that we are clearing the land we bought. Still a long way to go before the job is done. The plan is to plant more persimmons, figs, olives, ornamental stems and we will start a Goji berry tree test planting this winter. Yes the olives are doing nicely after several years. Olive trees can live 1000 years…that is real carbon sequestration! We are also considering planting some hazel nuts. We have planted annual rye and tillage radish as cover crops this fall which will bring up the phosphorous level and PH in preparation for the future.
The Future of Food, Water and Energy:
Walker is available (and eager!) to give presentations on this topic. He is continually updating his presentation. Included, or separately, he is also passionate about the importance of developing a strong and self-sufficient community system- buying local gone wild if you will. If you would like a program just let him know 864 350 9345
Thank you for your support. We would not be here without you, and we love being here!
Walker for The Happy Berry
The Happy Berry, Inc.
Mailing Address Only: 120 Kelley Creek Road
Farm Address-No Mail Receptacle: 510 Gap Hill Road
Six Mile, SC 29682
Farm: (864) 350-9345