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heirloom vegetable transplants, fresh produce|
SalAmander Farms started with a few visits to the Des Moines Farmers' Market in the mid 90s, then I ran a CSA for eight years. Wanting my children to have summer memories that did not involve mulching or weeding, I gave up the CSA and began concentrating on seed saving. The garden's fertility comes from the chickens raised for our own use and horse manure from our family's horses.
In addition to feeding my family year-round, my garden focus remains heirloom vegetable production. I have 225 varieties listed this year in the Seed Savers Exchange, an organization based in Decorah that has had a great deal to do with the preservation of thousands of varieties of vegetables from around the world. I am fascinated by the flavors, the colors and the stories that come with the seeds.
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The garden is a minimum tillage operation with weed control primarily achieved through mulching. I also use green manures and lots of leaves & alfalfa hay, as well as compost produced from horse & chicken manure and whatever carbon source is handy.
I sometimes use Bt on cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, kale) if the cabbage worms are bad enough. My only really serious pests are the cucumber beetles and squash bugs, both of which attack vine crops (melons, squash, cucumbers). I tear out the old-crop vines and rotate crops; I use a pyrethrin spray that kills the bugs on contact; and in really bad years, I use Sevin to knock back the population if necessary to save the crop.