2 acre farm: September 2009

2 acre farm

The experiences, trials, and lives on a small farm in rural Illinois.

Friday, September 25, 2009


irst the aphids now worms. Oh the woes of natural gardening. I have been receiving rain on a daily basis for the past week and haven't got a chance to spray so the imported cabbage worms I have been battling have made some headway. Today mother nature finally brought some clear skies and sun shine so I got a chance to fire back with some tobacco tea spray. I also employed some good old finger smashing on ones I could spot. Imported cabbage worms are the cute little white moths that flutter about your yard. I have pictures of them below. They are are different than cabbage loopers which are a brown moth and the caterpillars have some subtle differences but all this is beside the point because either one will trash your cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower if not attended to. After spraying the little culprits I wrote an eHow article on how to make the spray here: http://www.ehow.com/how_5459005_make-mix-tobacco-nicotine-spray.html

Another option would be organic dipel dust but I didn't have any to use.

Tobacco tea or nicotine spray is a great contact killing spray because it only lasts for a few hours, which makes it have less chance of killing beneficial insects. I usually alternate it with garlic oil spray which I will have to do a how to on next time I use. Enjoy my enemy's pictures.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aphid Attack

My Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce has been attacked by aphids. This is my own fault for (I hate to admit it) several reasons. First I neglected earlier when the plants were at the proper stage to fully thin the lettuce. I also noticed about a week ago that my lettuce had quite a few ants. Now you might be thinking that ants isn't such a problem besides ants don't eat lettuce. Well if you thought that you would be correct ants do not eat lettuce. Ants eat a sweet nectar-like secretion from aphids and ferociously protect the aphids from their natural predators like, lady bugs. I know this and yet I still ignored the obvious clue that aphids were moving in on my lettuce. Anyhow it isn't that big of a problem since lettuce is not easily bothered by pests and aphids are easily whipped out with tobacco tea spray.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thinning and Transplanting Kale

It rained most of the day yesterday and was quite cool. It made for a good chilli cooking day. Needless to say I didn't go outside much.

The afternoon brought clearer skies though and the rain finally subsided so I decided to get something done. I didn't mention yet that I planted a very late crop of kale and spinach in the second week of September. I usually wouldn't do this but I saw the seed at a store and thought how both spinach and kale are very cold hardy so maybe I would get a harvest from them. In fact Kale can withstand temperatures in the mid 20's before freezing out.

Anyhow yesterday after the rain I went to get my boots muddy and thin the kale. Thinning after a rain is my favorite time because the seedlings pull up with a maximum amount of roots and can be transplanted to fill gaps in my rows. I wrote a eHow article on this here: http://www.ehow.com/how_5431099_thin-transplant-seedlings-vegetable-garden.html

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More on the Why

In my first post I didn't get too much into my purpose because I have a lot to say so here it is. It is my intention to be more self sufficient. I would like to be able to produce over fifty percent of the food my family consumes while still having enough to sell and make a living off of.

Growing the food is not an issues for me because I am very adapt at growing. My biggest hurdle is going to be marketing and selling which is probably the most important part of all of this. The sale of my products is obviously critical to my families well-being; where will the other fifty percent of food come from, the house payment, taxes, etc. It is also important to me because I believe that growing and selling produce locally can have positive effects on the local economy by keeping money in the area instead of allowing it to go into the hands of corporations. It also takes money away from the mega growers in the U.S. and elsewhere that have turned our food system into this mess of over processed hormone infested junk.

Another critical reason for this way of life is what it can do for my family. Growing and then eating the food you grow is a great confidence builder for kids (I know from first hand experience). Carring for a garden, fruit trees, or anything else is also a great way to spend good quality time together.

My final reason is the lowered impact on the earth. By producing a majority of my own food it greatly reduces my carbon footprint. I also create a situation where I can give others the same opportunity because by buying local a person can reduce there carbon foot print as well. My food is produced using organic type methods although I am not certified organically grown because the USDA has made that certification way to difficult and expensive to aquire. I do plan to become Certified Naturally Grown which is an equal but less expensive certification. You can read more on that here: http://www.naturallygrown.org/

So that would be my main purpose. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009


You are always told throughout school that you should write down your goals. This seems like a perfect opportunity to take that advice so here are mine:

-create a second black berry patch to harvest at a different time during the season
-create a strawberry patch
-start an orchard
-expand the size of the garden
-build a solar greenhouse (more on this later)
-find more avenues for selling / market
-rebuild the pond (there is a small dried up pond on the property)
-test 'natural' pest control options
-obtain a small tractor
-plant asparagus
-plant rhubarb

I'm sure there is a lot more but this seems like a healthy list for now.

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Me, My Crops, My Purpose

My name is Nathan Payne. I am a lifelong gardener, a ceramic artist, and a multitude of other things. I got my start gardening as a child growing gardens, fruit trees, and strawberries with my family which we always canned or froze for ourselves. I have always worked to keep these traditions alive for me and my family. Now I have reached a point in my life where I have decided to take my passion and way of life to a new level. I am starting this blog as a way to document and share my experience of transitioning from a gardener to a farmer.

The property that my farm is on (as the blog title implies) is roughly two acres. Approximately half an acre is wooded, one third of an acre is my yard, the remaining property is open to development. The woods contains about forty percent silver maple and box wood trees which I plan to tap this winter to make maple syrup.

In the second week of August I planted a fall crop of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, leaf lettuce, peas, beans, and carrots. I also planted a black berry patch that I will not be able to harvest for two seasons. For now the rest remains in grass.

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