Fruit & Vegetable Production

Ask anyone you know.  They will tell you that growing your own fruits and vegetables is healthy and smart.  Food safety is increasingly important to families as awareness grows.   As fuel prices soar so does the cost of feeding our families. There has never been a better time for getting back to basics and that includes growing our own fruits and vegetables.  Besides, growing fruits and vegetables is fun!



 

NWIAA offers education and hands on training at its community gardens each year for those interested in learning how to grow healthy fruits and vegetables. Sustainable agriculture training includes garden planning, proper soil preparation, planting, and garden maintenance.  NWIAA offers learning and growing opportunities to youth of all ages, handicapped individuals, seniors and other disadvantaged groups or individuals. NWIAA also offers selling space at its Farmer’s Markets for local farmers and backyard producers.  NWIAA’s goal is that no one should go hungry.  By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can live well even on a small food budget.



NWIAA recognizes new opportunities and agribusiness trends for beginning farmers in sustainable agriculture as the number of farmers decline due to retirement and attrition. 

 

What is your favorite vegetable?



For spring and summer crops the list seems endless; leaf lettuce, onions, peas, corn, beans, cucumbers, okra, squash, tomatoes, and the endless varieties of peppers.

 

For fall crops, consider planting root crops such as beets and carrots.  For leafcrops, cauliflower and cabbage are tasty choices.  And don’t forget the garlic and onions.

Please contact us for more information so that you, your family, and your community can benefit from NWIAA healthy and tasty opportunities.  



NWIAA steps up to the plate... and provides step-by-step Risk Management Education Technical Training in the paragraphs below:

Bell Pepppers

 

1.  Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips: I will be planting green and red bell pepper seeds in Miracle Grow Seed Starter Mix using cell packs 48 plants to each tray.
2.  Health contribution from growing this crop:  Bell peppers are packed with several nutrients and are a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid. Bell peppers also contain a large amount of phytochemicals that have exceptional antioxidant activity.
3.  Geographic Area Market Assessment:  I will sell my peppers at local farmers’ markets.  I will also sell at NWIAA Community Farmers’ Market and local grocery stores and restaurants.
4.  Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management:  I will be using an overhead misting system in my hoop house.  This will provide the proper amount of gentle moisture on the seedlings.  I am using ¼ " irrigation tubing with mist emitters and an adjustablet timer.
5. Disease and insect control: I plan to inspect seedlings twice each day; once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Regular inspection will minimize insect or disease problems.  I plan to remove insects by hand.  If I experience any disease or insect problem I will consult with NWIAA’s International Agronomy team of Washington, D.C. or local OSU Extension.
6. Expert/extension and Fruit Specialist Service Assistance: NWIAA core team and/or Agronomy team, Grady County and Oklahoma County OSU Extension Specialist and is available for consultation.
7. Marketing assistance: National Women in Ag. Association will help me market my bell peppers. I also plan to sell at local farmers markets, NWIAA Community Farmers’ Market and local grocery stores.
8. Recommended start up amount: I recommend spending $375.00; $83.00 for irrigation; $92.00 for seeds; $200.00 for plant
cell packs, trays and seed starter planting mix.
9. Yield (WIAA… explain yielding): I will plant 2 varieties of sweet bell peppers, 500 each for a total of 1,000 plants.  Revolution is a green variety; and Alliance is a red bell pepper.  Both varieties provide good yield.  I anticipate each plant of both varieties to produce 10 peppers each for a total of 10,000 peppers.
10. How much money you can make from the crop: I anticipate that I will sell my bell peppers for fifty cents each for a total of $5,000.00 for my crop (in a 3 month time frame).
11. Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc...:  I selected sweet bell peppers as these are most desirable at farmers markets.  It is important to select varieties that will grow well for your area.

Cantaloupe

 

1.  Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips:  I will be using cell pony packs and trays with seed mix, like Miracle Grow.  Seed mix is better than potting soil for seeds.  I am purchasing certified cantaloupe seeds.
2. Health contribution from growing this crop:  Cantaloupe is very healthy and is a good source of beta-carotene an important nutrient for healthy vision.  Cantaloupe also has vitamins A and C.
3.  Geographic Area Market Assessment:  I will sell at the NWIAA Community Farmers Market and Farmers Markets in Ada, Wewoka and Holdenville.
4.  Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management:  I will sell at the NWIAA Community Farmers Market and Farmers Markets in Ada, Wewoka and Holdenville.
5.  Disease and insect control:  If I experience any insect or disease problems I will consult with Dr. Eric Stafne on the best solution for my problem.  Regular inspection will alert me to any problems.
6.  Expert/extension  and  Fruit  Specialist  Service  Assistance:  It is good to know that I can contact NWIAA’s Small Fruit Specialist, Dr. Eric Stafne or Mr. Travis Hanks, Seminole County’s OSU Extension Specialist if I need additional help or have questions.
7.  Marketing assistance:  Since this is my first year selling, I will enlist the help of National Women in Ag. Association to help market my cantaloupes.  I will also sell at Farmers Markets in my area.  I would also like to sell the NWIAA’s  community Farmers Market and road side stands.
8.  Recommended start up amount:  So far I have spent about $325.00 for planting supplies, seeds, hoses and watering wand.
9.  Yield (WIAA… explain yielding):  I am growing 2 varieties of popular cantaloupes, Gold Star and Superstar, selected for their great taste and disease resistance.  I will remove blossoms and allow 4 to 5 blossoms remain on the vine to ensure quality, good size fruit.   I will be growing 200 Gold Star plants and 200 Superstar cantaloupe plants for a total of 400.   I can expect to take 1,600 to 2,000 cantaloupes to market this growing season.

10.  How much money you can make from the crop:  Farmers Market price for cantaloupes are $2.00 each in this area.  This would amount to between $3,200.00 and $4,000.00 for this amount of cantaloupes.
11.  Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc:  You must have plenty of water and space to grow watermelons.  You may need to have protection fence as local critters love watermelon too.

Blueberries

1. Proper Soil Testing:  Blueberries are very particular in their soil requirements. Blueberries require a soil pH that is much lower than most other specialty fruit crops. Most blueberry varieties require a pH of 4.5 - 5.5 in order to produce blueberries.  It is best to prepare the soil one year in advance of planting to ensure proper drainage and soil. Plants will benefit from the addition of shredded pine bark or peat moss in the planting holes.
2. Health contribution from growing this crop:  Blueberries contain  phytonutrients that may help protect your short-term memory by keeping your brain working efficiently. Blueberries may help destroy the free radicals that can lead to brain related disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.  The blue color of blueberries comes from antioxidants, or compounds that promote health. Antioxidants work to rid your body of free radicals and contain a notable amount of vitamin C.  Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.
3. Geographic Area Market Assessment: Blueberries are a perfect "Pick-Your-Own" crop.  People will drive long distances to pick blueberries during blueberry season.  Blueberries can also be marketed at local farmers markets.
4. Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management: As always, irrigation water should be regularly tested.  Generally, drip or trickle irrigation at the soil level is the recommended form of irrigation.  Growers should ensure they have an adequate and dependable water supply. Blueberries have shallow root systems and require proper moisture levels during the growing season. 
5. Disease and insect control: In general, blueberries are naturally insect resistant.   . Most losses are due to root rot, or to stem and twig canker diseases.  With good crop management, most blueberry diseases can be avoided.  Plants should be inspected regularly for pests and disease.

6. Expert/extension and Fruit Specialist Service Assistance:  Both NWIAA core team and/or Agronomy team and the Seminole County OSU Extension Specialist are available for consultation.

7. Marketing assistance:  I will enlist the support of National Women In Ag. Association executive team as well as local advertising and signage.

8. Recommended start up amount: Blueberry startup costs can be significant.  Initial plant size will influence costs as will soil preparation and irrigation materials.  A one acre project of 1,000 plants would cost not less than $10,000.00.  However, a smaller project of 250 plants could be started for around $3,000.00.  It is important to note that no income from sale of fruit will occur until 2 to 3 years after planting.

If you prefer to do a small family project, plant 2 plants for each family member.  Start up costs for plants only would be about $100.00 for a family of 4.

9.  Yield (WIAA… explain yielding):  Different varieties produce berries at different times.  Having more varieties will extend the growing season and increase fruit production. It is best to plant 2 to 3 varieties of blueberries for cross pollination purposes that will increase the yield.  Mature plants can produce anywhere from 5 pounds to 10 pounds of berries in a season.

10. How much money you can make from the crop: As previously mentioned, marketable fruit will begin 2 to 3 years after initial planting.  Mature bushes can produce from 5 to 10 pounds or more per  plant.  A once acre farm of 1,000 plants could conceivably generate $25,000.00 gross income per season or more.

11. Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc...: Be sure you do your homework.  Plant blueberry varieties suitable for your growing area. Consider plant spacing.  As previously stated, blueberries are particular about the pH of their soil.  Make sure the soil is properly prepared well in advance of planting.  Blueberries hate weeds.  Keep weeds under control.

 

 

Blackberries



1.    Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips:  In other words, what kind of potting soil and planters or pots are you using (pony packs, peat pots, basic planter)?  Right now we have the peat pots and are using miracle grow potting soil.
2.  Health contribution from growing this crop:  What is the health benefit of your crop (tomatoes, carrots, okra whatever it is) vitamin C? calcium? Mostly vitamin C.
3.   Geographic Area Market Assessment:  Who will you sell your product to?  In what area?  Farmer’s Market?  I will sell at the Farmers Market in Ada and also in Wewoka and Holdenville.
4.  Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management:  How will you water your hoop house crop(s). Will you use sprinkler misting system?  Hand water?  Will you have watering system on a timer?  Right now I have a lot of moisture in my hoop house, but later I will water with a hose and hand water and also pond water that has previously been tested and is suitable for irrigation.
5.  Disease and insect control: How will you do this? Daily, every other day, weekly inspections?  Hand pick to remove  insects?   Realize  that  regular  inspections  helps  you stay  on top  of these  potential problem.   If you discover a problem, how will you deal with it? Organic method using Murphy Oil Soap mixture or other home remedy for pests?  Will you consult with your Extension Specialist or other experienced garder?  If I run into a pest or disease problem I will seek out and ask our specialist Dr. Eric Stafne what is the best way to get rid of my pest or disease problem.
6.  Dr. Eric Stafne is NWIAA’s Small fruit specialist, Mr. Travis Hanks is our Seminole County’s OSU Extension Specialist.
7.   Marketing assistance: Who will help you market your produce if needed?  How will you market your produce?  Will you use a direct market approach to individual markets, farmers markets, restaurants or roadside stand/truck? Internet website? Local newspaper/radio, road signs.  I hope to learn about this procedure and how I can market my product.  As of right now I will sell at Farmers Market and roadside truck stands. I will direct market to local restaurants.
8. Recommended start up amount:  How much do you anticipate it will cost to get things growing including planting medium (soil), planters and/or pots, hoses, sprinklers etc.  As of right now we have spent about $500.00 of our own money on seeds and peat pots.
9. Yield (NWIAA… explain yielding): How many pounds of vegetables do you anticipate that you will grow from your seedlings in 2010? This is your first year so this would be your best estimate.  You may want to consider planting in stages.  For example, week 1 plant 100 tomato seeds, week 2 plant 100 tomato seeds, week 3 plant another 100 tomato seeds. We are going to plant 1000 strawberry seeds and about 50 cantaloupe seeds.  I anticipate Strawberries at 1 pound per plant equaling 1,000 pounds. I anticipate 5 cantaloupes per 50 plant equals 250 cantaloupes.
10.  How much money you can make from the crop: Once you get your yield in question #9 above, figure out how much per pound you will charge and multiply it by the figure you have in question 9.  For example, if you anticipate that you will grow 1,000 tomato plants in 2010 and that each plant will produce 12 pounds of tomatoes, (12,000 pounds).  You will charge $1.00 per pound for your tomatoes. $1.00 x 12,000.00 = $12,000.00.  So, your anticipated income from your tomatoes would be $12,000.00.  I will sell my strawberries for $3.50 per pound and anticipate strawberry revenue of $3,500.00.  Cantaloupes are $2.00 each and I anticipate gross sales of cantaloupes at $500.00. Total income expected $4,000.00.
11. Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc...: Please share anything that you have experienced or know of that would be helpful for other beginning hoop house growers to know.

Okra

 

1.  Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips:  I will be planting 1,000 Clemson Spineless okra seeds to be transplanted in my Plasticulture garden.  The seeds will be planted in 3.5 inch Kord brand pots ($132.50) and set in tray ($47.00).  I will use eight 16 quart bags of Ultimate Seeding Mix ($102.00).  One half pound of bulk Okra seeds ($5.50).
2.  Health contribution from growing this crop:  Okra is a good source of vitamin C and A  also B complex vitamins, iron and calcium. It is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber, and is fat-free.
3.  Geographic Area Market Assessment:  I will sell at the  NWIAA  Community Farmers Market and Farmers Markets in Ada, Wewoka and Holdenville.
4. Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management: My water has been tested and is suitable for irrigation.  I will be using a mist irrigation system on a timer (about $150.00) to keep seeds and seedlings moist.
5. Disease and insect control: Regular detailed inspection of seedlings will reveal any pest or disease problems early on.  In the event I encounter either of these problems, I will consult with my OSU Specialist, Mr. Travis Hanks to learn how bestto deal with the problem.
6. Expert/extension and Fruit Specialist Service Assistance:  It is good to know that I can contact NWIAA’s Small Fruit Specialist,  Dr. Eric Stafne or Mr. Travis Hanks,  Seminole County’s OSU Extension Specialist if I need additional help or have questions.
7.  Marketing  assistance:  Okra is a very popular and highly sought after vegetable in my area.  I plan to direct sell at local farmer’s market, NWIAA’s Community Farmer’s Market and offer U pick opportunities.
8.  Recommended start up amount:  Total start up costs are about $437.00 and does not include shipping for materials.
9.  Yield (WIAA… explain yielding): I conservatively estimate 3 pounds of Okra per plant resulting in 3,000 pounds of Okra $2.00 per pound for gross sales of $6,000.00 for 2010.
10.  How much money you can make from the crop:  Farmers Market price for cantaloupes are $2.00 each in this area.  This would amount to between $3,200.00 and $4,000.00 for this amount of cantaloupes.
11. Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc: Okra is a tropical plant and requires warm soil of at least 70 degrees.

Peaches

 

  • Pull a soil sample and amend prior to planting if required. Peaches should be grown in soil with a pH of 6.5.
  • Choose varieties that will do well in your area and purchase trees from reliable source.   Bare root trees should be planted when dormant (December through February).  Container grown plant can be planted in spring or fall.
  • Most peaches are self pollinating.  Others require another variety for cross pollination.  If you are unsure, ask your  grower.
  • Select the planting site.  Peaches grow best in a sunny open area with good drainage.
  • Dig the hole two and a half times larger than the root ball.  Set the plant at the same height as was grown at the nursery.  Back fill hole, working soil around the roots, tamping the soil as you fill the hole. 
  • Make sure tree is straight. Soak thoroughly.   Prune if necessary.

Tomatoes

 

1.  Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips:  I am using Jiffy trays with peat plugs to start the seeds.  I have garden soil tested and it is perfect for planting tomatoes with no amending required.
2. Health contribution from growing this crop: Tomatoes provide large amounts of vitamin C,  providing 40 percent of the daily value. They also contain 15 percent of the daily value of vitamin A and 8% of potassium.  The red pigment in tomatoes is called lycopene. Lycopene appears to act as an antioxidant,  neutralizing free radicals that can damage cells in the body.  Tomatoes are very healthy!
3.  Geographic Area Market Assessment:  I will sell at the Farmers Market in Ada, Wewoka and Holdenville Oklahoma.  I will also participate in NWIAA’s Youth Agriculture Education Youth Projects;  and its rural school projects;  and I will sell at NWIAA Community Farmers’ Markets.
4.  Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management: I will irrigate with a watering wand that allows for a fine spray so as not to injure delicate plants. My water has been tested and is good for irrigation purposes.
5. Disease and insect control: Tomatoes are somewhat prone to insects and diseases.  Regular inspection and taking action at the first sign of any problems is good strategy.  It is important that tomatoes never touch the ground.  Staking and tomato cages help with this and also support the plant as it gets heavy with tomatoes.
6. Expert/extension and Fruit Specialist Service Assistance:  Food and Earth Systems is NWIAA’s Agronomy team and Mr. Che Axum is the lead agronomist; Dr. Eric Stafne is NWIAA’s Small fruit specialist and Mr. Travis Hanks is Seminole County’s OSU Extension Specialist.  They are available to assist with any disease or pest problem.  I can always send or take a sample of my problem for their analysis.
7.  Marketing assistance:  I will enlist the support of National Women In Ag. Association executive team, also I will market my tomatoes locally on Tradio in the local newspaper and with church flyers.  I will also sell at NWIAA’s Community Farmers’ Market in Oklahoma City, OK.
8.  Recommended start up amount:  I have spent about $400.00 on Jiffy seed planting supplies, water hoses and watering wand and seeds.
9.  Yield (WIAA… explain yielding):  Tomatoes can yield as much as 16 pounds per plant.  Presently I have 450 plants planned for spring planting.  I anticipate there will be some loses and hope for about 90 percent success rate.  400 plants yielding 16 pounds per plant will result in 6,400 pounds of tomatoes.  By growing plants vertically as professional growers do, yields can actually be increased!
10.  How much money you can make from the crop:  I plan to sell my farm fresh tomatoes for $1.00 per pound which is less than my local grocery store for a total of $6,400.00 this season.
11. Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc...:  I would like to point out that tomatoes can be a bit challenging to grow.  But with proper care and attention to detail this should not be a problem Remember to plan your support system before the plants get too big.

Squash


1.  Proper Soil testing; or Hoop house planting soil tips:  You can plant squash anytime after the danger of frost has passed; from early spring until midsummer. Some gardeners have two main plantings - one for early summer harvest and another for late summer and fall harvest.
A.  Potting Soil should be rich, organic matter with Ph of 5-8 or 6-8.  I will use basic planters.  Sow two or three seeds 24 to 36 inches apart for single-plant production, or four or five seeds in hills 48 inches apart.  Cover one inch deep.   When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall,  thin to one vigorous plant or no more than two or three plants per hill.
B. Because summer squash develop very rapidly after pollination, they are often picked when they are too large and over mature.  They should be harvested when small and tender for best quality.  Most elongated varieties are picked when they are 2 inches or small and tender for best quality.  Most elongated varieties are picked when they are 2 inches or less in diameteand 6 to 8 inches long.  Patty Pan types are harvested when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter.  Slightly larger fruit may be salvaged by hollowing out and using them for stuffing.  These larger fruits may also be grated for baking in breads and other items. Do not allow summer squash to become large, hard and seedy because they sap strength from the plant that could better be used to produce more young fruit. Pick oversized squash with developed seeds and hard skin and throw them away. Go over the plants every 1 or 2 days. Squash grow rapidly; especially in hot weather and are usually ready to pick within 4 to 8 days after flowering.
Cut the squash from the vine using a sharp knife or pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant. Summer squash vines are very prolific, the more harvest the greater the yield. The most important characteristic to remember is that summer squash is best when immature, young and tender.

C. In this section, summer squash varieties will be limited to zucchini, yellow squash (crooked and straight), pattypan which is also call scalloped and scallopini. Because summer squash is immature, the skin is very thin and susceptible to damage. Handle with care. The average family only needs to plant one or two of each variety. Over planting usually leads to hoards of huge inedible fruit and/or scouring the neighborhood for people to take the surplus.

D. To store summer squash, harvest small squash and place, unwashed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Wash the squash just before preparation. As with most vegetables, water droplets promote decay during storage. The storage life of summer squash is brief, so use within two to three days.
2. Health contribution from growing this crop: Because summer squash is immature, they are considerably lower in nutritional value than their winter counterparts. Generally, there is little variation in nutritional value between varieties. The peel is where many of the nutrients hide, so never peel summer squash. Nutrition Facts (1 cup sliced, raw zucchini) Calories 16

  • Protein 1.31 grams
  • Carbohydrates 3.27 grams
  • Dietary Fiber 1.36 grams
  • Calcium 16.95
  • Potassium 280.24
  • Vitamin A 384 IU
  • Folate 24.93 mcg

3.  Geographic Area Market Assessment:  I will give seedlings to NWIAA to transplant to their community gardens and onsite Farmers’ Market Gardens. Also I will sell my squash at local grocery stores; markets; NWIAA’s Farmers’ Markets in the urban underserved areas of Oklahoma City; and I will also donate to the underserved.

4.  Water system, water testing, irrigation and water management:  My water system will be plastic pipe irrigation.
5.  Disease and insect control:  I will do an inspect inspection at least twice a week. I will use a Garlic barrier (Garlic oil) for protection. This helps keep insects & animals away; and it also very safe; all natural and environmental friendly.
6. Expert/extension and Fruit Specialist Service Assistance: I will consult NWIAA’s International Agronomist located in Washington, D.C., Food and Earth Systems International, Mr. Che Axum; and of course I will utilize my local resources, NWIAA’s partners of OSU Dr, Eric Stafne ( Fruit Specialist)
7. Marketing assistance: I will rely on NWIAA Executive Marketing team; its Farmers Market, websites, and local radio advertisement.
8.  Recommended start up amount:  So far I have spent about $325.00 for planting supplies, seeds, hoses and watering wand.
9.  Yield (WIAA… explain yielding):  My start up cost is approximately $50.00 in seeds; which will yield approximately 500 lbs which during market season I can make approximately $750.00,by selling my squash for $1.50 per lb.
10.  Anything else you think that will be helpful, etc:  I will also share HEALTHY yummy squash recipes… they are forth coming through NWIAA’s Agriculture Outreach Educational Projects. Stay tuned…

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