A sustainable farm seed plan

By Lynn Byczynski

Be self reliant and grow your own inputs. Reduce the purchase of fertilizers, animal feed and hay mulch by growing much of your own. You'll save money and improve the health of your livestock, soils, crops, and, ultimately, the food you sell and eat. Johnny's Farm Seeds can contribute to a sustainable plan by offering:

Pasture mixes of grasses and legumes provide an important source of food for livestock. Organic certification requires that ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats have access to green pasture during the growing season. Grazing also benefits non-ruminants, reducing the amount of other feed required as it improves health.

Hay and silage can be grown on the farm to provide feed for livestock during the winter. Forage turnips can provide feed for livestock even when covered with snow. Growing your own feed reduces the need to buy hay, an expense that can significantly reduce the profit potential of livestock.

Grains are essential to the diets of poultry and swine. Most cattle also are fed grains. Growing and mixing your own feed rations may be more cost-effective and even necessary for certified growers if local certified-organic feeds are not available. At home, grains can be milled for baking and Royal Hybrid 1121 produces delicious edible sunflower seeds and bird food.

Farmers without livestock face the perennial challenge of renewing soil fertility for vegetable crops. They depend on green manures; cover crops that provide nutrients, increase organic matter, and improve soil tilth. Johnny's carries over 20 varieties to fit your specific needs.

Hay meadows can be cut and baled to provide mulch for vegetable crops, thus reducing the need for petroleum-fueled tillage.

Insectary plantings help to increase pollination of vegetable and fruit crops while providing nectar and habitat for beneficial insects. Certain crops such as oilseed radish and mustards control nematodes while also increasing soil organic matter. Many growers include insectary plantings as part of their overall sustainable practices plan.

Lynn Byczynski is the editor of Growing for Market and the publisher of The Hoophouse Handbook.

Articles by Lynn Byczynski

About the author:

Lynn Byczynski was growing organic vegetables and cut flowers for market when she decided to create a magazine that would help market gardeners nationwide share experiences and information. Her first issue of Growing for Market appeared in January 1992 and it has been published continuously since then. GFM is renowned in the market gardening world for realistic articles that give growers practical, how-to information about growing and selling produce and flowers. Lynn is now partnering with Johnny's to provide similarly useful information for the johnnyseeds.com website and other publications. Lynn, her husband Dan Nagengast, and their two children have grown vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through a CSA, at farmers markets, to chefs, grocery stores, and florists. They currently grow cut flowers and hoophouse tomatoes on about 2 acres of their 20-acre farm near Lawrence, Kansas. Lynn is also the author of several books about market farming: The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers ; The Hoophouse Handbook ; Market Farming Success