Small Farm Starting up! Help! What to do first!

Asked February 28, 2018, 7:49 PM EST

Hi! We are about to start farming/leasing 5 acres of an 30 acre established berry farm in Boring. We grew a few things last year but it was part time. So we sort of have a plan, have seeds started but we are are feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start. Our cukes last year were yellow and ill-formed, thinking potassium def. We know we need to take Soil Samples but we would really like help analyzing them and advice on amending the soil. We want to start the Organic Cert process but seems overwhelming to stick to our first year so we will keep records but are not going to stress out over it. Possibly GAP cert this year. We will use Organic farming practices and are moving into no-till but had to till this first time...and possibly in the future to incorporate amendments. We did cover crop but it was seeded late and didn't get good germ/cover. We would like advice on picking a lab and analyzing the lab work for soil testing. And then how to amend. We are growing mixed vegetables, greens, heading lettuce, pickling cukes, tomatoes, etc. and starting to establish medicinal herbs. We have good presence at two farmers markets because we took over for the berry farm owners but would love advice on more marketing techniques and income streams! Do you make visits out to the farm? Do I contact a particular Extension Agent for Clackamas Small Farms? Is it ok to take soil samples now (late winter, Willamette Valley) when soil is very wet? We will have more questions! Thanks!

Clackamas County Oregon small farm issues

1 Response

Hi,

Congratulations on the farm. I understand how overwhelming it can be.

This publication lists soil testing labs that service farmers in Oregon
https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em8677_0.pdf

This publication describes techniques for taking a soil sample
http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/42799/ec628.pdf

I would talk with the organic certifier you plan to use next year to make sure you're keeping the proper records to help ease certification next year.

This new publication on Nutrient Management for Sustainable Vegetable Cropping Systems in Western Oregon is a fantastic resource. https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em9165_0.pdf

Please email me (heidi.noordijk@oregonstate.edu) and I will connect you with an Extension agent to help you interpret your soil test.

It's important to take soil samples the same time each year and to use the same lab for testing. You can take a sample this time of year, I'd wait until we have a few dry days in a row.

Thanks