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Monday, March 13, 2017

Fire Blossom Farm Has a Website Now!

Fire Blossom Farm Has a Website Now!

It took a bit and it's still a bit barebones, but it is up!  We took the time to add a bit more content such as: photo gallery, a Zone 5 Grow Calendar, About Us, and What's Growing updates.  So check it out.  See what's new and enjoy the simple setup.

Fire Blossom Farm's Blogspot will continue to be updated.  I hope you enjoy the new features on fireblossomfarm.com.  Thank you for your support.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Peppers, Large Yield Crop Focus

In the past peppers were not treasured, but then I discovered restaurants and people who could cook.  The way a pepper is cooked makes 100% of the difference between, “I hate this!” and “I love this.”  While Dan can discuss dishes from a-z and the styles of cooking for each pepper;

I can help you understand what peppers need to grow.  Whatever culinary triumph or disasters you have it won’t be the peppers fault. :)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Grow the Best Sunflowers, Crop Focus

Sunflowers are captivating flowers. They are the topic of multi-million dollar art, the desire of small children looking for a snack, and fun addition to a garden. Homesteaders and livestock owners love sunflowers seeds for feed; dehulled sunflower seeds are 41% protein.*

Sunflowers are novice plants. There are many things you can do to encourage growth and a successful crop. However, sunflowers will grow less than desirable circumstances.*


Before You Start
Choosing to grow sunflowers for seeds is understandable. Russian and Mammoth sunflowers are ideal genus for seed production. Please realize if you live in a short growing season area (like Wyoming) you will have to transplant or use a low tunnel to extend your growing season.  Also, sunflowers do not do well in swampy areas.

Growing for Flowers
There are 69 different varieties of sunflowers. Teddy Bear has a unique flower and only reach 2-3 feet tall. Henry Wilde Sunflowers are traditional, a good cut flower and perfect for short growing seasons. The best choice for you will come down to personal taste and zone. There are heat and cold tolerant varieties. Also, keep in mind some sunflowers genus need pollinators; like bees.

What Fire Blossom Farm Grows
Sunflower, Mammoth Gray Stripe*
Helianthus annuus
Annual
Zone: 3-9
Grow 9-12 ft tall. Flowers are 1’ across
Heirloom variety with no patent

How We Grow Sunflowers
Let me preface this by this is easier than you think.  And we do a lot of extra work to make sure our plants survive.  Fire Blossom farm has a huge 72 day growing season.  Our two plots are zone 4B and 5A.  We start seed and grow inside for 3 weeks.   4" round topsoil is used to make a newspaper plug.  Once the seed hull is used up, a small amount of fertilizer is added to the flowers waterings.  The next week the plants are hardened off.  Then we transplant 3-4 weeks before the last frost in a taller-low tunnel.

Start
Prepare bed, loosen soil 2’ down as sunflowers' roots tap deep.  Germination is 7-14 days, depending genus.  After danger of frost has passed. ½ inch deep, 6” apart, in 2’ rows. Soil temperature should be 55-60 degrees F. Thin to 18” apart after plants reach 3”-4”.* (Sunflowers have a lower germination rate.)

Requirements

Water
Sunflowers are high water demand. However, encourage root growth by not watering too often or sunflowers will grow too fast, ripping themselves out of the soil. Water extra only during warm weather to avoid wilting. Soil should stay moist. However, in colder weather, if the soil is too moist, and the sunflowers become susceptible to fungal infections.

Soil
Rotate sunflowers every 3-4 years.* Sunflowers need rich well-drained soil. Soil should have aged manure, compost, or granulated fertilizer worked 8” down. Sunflowers have a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.*
Protect from the wind. May need to stake this variety. Don’t let weeds choking sunflowers out.

Larger Yield
Yields on sunflowers per square foot, according to the Jeffersonian Institute, is approximately .04 pounds of seed per square foot.* San Angelo Texas, Agrilife Research and Extension Center’s estimates sunflower yields at .032 pounds per square foot. Purdue in Indiana, suggested that hybrids have increased seed production but their estimated average was even lower at .031 pound per square foot.*

Damage by birds will outstrip rust infection, moths, and drought. According to National Sunflower Association 15% of a crop can be lost to birds.* Tape paper bag or breathable fabric over seed head to protect from birds.

Weeds interfering with nutrients and early development can stunt a sunflower seed crop by 11%.* Use fabric with 6”-8” holes for each flower. This suppresses weeds and keeps water in.
When rotating sunflower crops, plant a cover crop such as peas.*  Do grow sunflowers at least 2’ apart.*

Harvest & Cure
It's 100 days to maturity for Mammoths.*  Flowers are ready to harvest 30-45 days after flower blossoms. Sunflowers are ready when the foliage connecting the flower, and stalk turns brown. Cut head of sunflower off the stalk, leave 1’ of stalk attached. Drag sunflower head over mesh screen to collect seeds. Keep seeds dry until ready for use.

Health Benefits
Sunflowers have the highest levels of phytosterols. Phytosterols lower cholesterol and increase heart health. The seeds are also an excellent source of fat and protein. They also lack the compounds that cause higher cases of allergic reaction. So if you are allergic to most nuts you may not be allergic to sunflowers. Facts provided by Topsoil Fair Education Department.*

Sources: sited with *

Monday, January 23, 2017

For Farmers - Free Ebooks and Live Event

stateofthesoil.com
State of the Soil will be holding a five-day virtual event.   Free ebooks are offered now and you can register for the event.

Starting January 23rd speakers ranging from micro-farmers to large scale cross state producers will be talking the talk on their respective field of knowledge.  Subjects for growing methods include; aquaponics, hydroponics, permaculture, vertical farming and more.  Topics that concern the business side of farming will also be addressed: networking, positioning in the market, crop selection, social media, real estate, and even taxes.  Other topics include creating a support system, dealing with the potential woes of farming and having a farm/life balance.  Speakers range from coast to coast in North America.  For a full list of speakers and topics and their speakers click here.  Not only will farmers be presenting, but representatives of farm product such as Johnny's Seeds, and Grower's Supply.   Access is free and content is available up to 24 hours after streaming.  There are buy-ins for more material and access.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Safely Dispose of Hydroponics Reservoir Water

Avoid This
The first step to responsibly taking care of your hydroponics water starts before you have wastewater.  I am expanding to a second location this spring.  The large concern became how to rid myself of the wastewater from my hydroponics-reservoir, as I do not have several acres of prairie grass to broadcast over.  After some passionate input, I thought that I might have to scrap the entire location.  Then fact checking.  Relief. This Article.