14 October 2011

Market Gardening


Any farmer who lives near a large town that will furnish him a market, can make market gardening very profitable, if his land is suitable for the raising of vegetables. To be fit for this purpose it must be dry, warm soil, with an exposure to the east or south, and sheltered either naturally or artificially on the north. It must also be rich, and if not naturally so, made so by the free application of manure. It may be said that it is difficult to find a limit beyond which it is not profitable to apply manure, and the net profits of the operation will depend largely upon liberality in this respect.

It must be understood that vegetable culture for profit necessarily involves a large outlay, if we reckon the cost of labor, the seed, the cultivation and marketing. But it must also be considered that most of the items of expense will be very nearly the same for a small as for a very heavy crop. A certain amount of production, of course, must go to pay the cost, and the profit does not come in till we get beyond this point; but when it is reached, the income assumes the form of profit, unless the cost of manure may be considered as to some extent a permanent investment.

The conditions of success, therefore, must include, besides those named, location, soil, manure, and a certain fitness for the business. It must be the right man in the right place, a live, wide-awake, earnest man, who is able to expend about three hundred dollars a year on every acre he attempts to handle. Such a man will readily see that it pays better, as a rule, to feed the multitude than it does to feed the few; that is, that the production of a few of the coarser vegetables, like cabbages, beets, turnips, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes, &c., that are consumed in immense quantities by the hard manual laborers of the community, pays better than the production of a few rarer plants that require special skill to grow, out of their natural season, to please the palates of those whose appetites are epicurean.

If the location of the land is not virtually all that could be wished, very much can be done by way of shelter by a high board fence on the north, or by belts of evergreens, which practically modify the climate and furnish protection. Another important improvement is through drainage. If the soil is already light and deep, and with a sufficient incline to carry off the underground moisture, this expense, perhaps, can be avoided; but if it is a little stiff, or at all inclining to clay, this operation is essential. Of course deep ploughing, or trenching, will be regarded as a matter of necessity also, as it is one of the prime elements of success in the more extensive operations of the farm.

An intimate knowledge of the practical details of the whole range of market gardening and marketing may also be regarded as requisite to success, and if a man is intending to engage in market gardening for profit, it is better, on the whole, to serve an apprenticeship to some one who is already thoroughly posted, than to get this knowledge by long experiment, which will involve more or less loss of time and failure. It is slow work feeling one’s way along in such a pursuit as market gardening, where the competition is so great.

[Thomas’s Farmer's Almanac]


For market gardeners in the northern latitudes, I have a unique crop suggestion for you...... grow sweet potatoes

The growing of sweet potatoes in New England was mentioned in a previous Agrarian Nation excerpt from 1830 (See #17). 

It so happens that sweet potatoes are on my mind because I grew them for the first time this year in my garden here in Central New York state, and I dug them up a few days ago. I couldn't be more pleased with the results....

A portion of my 2011 Sweet potato harvest.

I harvested four bread trays like that from a relatively short row in my garden. The potatoes are huge and beautiful. I will have more to say about growing and curing sweet potatoes in my upcoming October installment of The Deliberate Agrarian blogazine.


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Anonymous said...

Herrick - We made these sweet potato rolls last year with some of our harvest. Highly recommended.


John L.

Autumn said...

I just found this via Goat Song. I have thought about trying sweet potatoes this coming spring. About how many pounds do you think you harvested?

Herrick Kimball said...

That recipe looks great. For those who would like a hot link to the web page, here it is:
Sweet Potato Rolls"

I'm glad you found your way here. I have not weighed my sweet potato harvest yet. The tubers are currently being "kiln cured" in a makeshift curing shed (more like a hut) in my backyard. Curing is critically important to bring out the sweetness and prolong storage time, or so I have read. I will post a link here to my blogazine article at The Deliberate Agrarian when I publish it later this month. Many more details and pictures will be provided there.