Best Laid Plans

For those of you who aren’t in the farming community or our Midwest area, you should know that this year has been one of the most bizarre in weather history.  And for those in our corner of the world and farming family, you are well aware of the ups and downs we’ve had.  I commend you for your perseverance!

Broom Corn Seed
This ornamental broom corn (or sorghum seed) is hope that this year’s garden won’t be a total failure!

First off – earlier this spring, I heard we were about four weeks behind in the growing season.  Secondly, we had what seemed like non-stop rain.  And not just nice sprinkles, but torrential downpours that flooded fields so much and so often that it resulted in a 65% plant rate.  Meaning – only 65% of crops were in the ground.

It used to be more depressing driving around and seeing the fields holding water, unplanted, and with a bountiful amount of weeds growing.  But, slowly but surely, farmers trudged through the fields, some pulled out old equipment to slog through mud, and others kept pulling equipment out of mud holes until the fields were planted.  Many farmers were planting well into June – even the first part of July.

And finally we started seeing a turn around – crops were growing!  Granted, we’re not driving around seeing every field bursting with corn and beans at unusual heights (used to be “knee high by the Fourth of July” but for many years now it’s been nearly “shoulder high” by the Fourth of July), but there are crops.  One lucky plot of sweet corn even had tassels, resulting in Colton complaining about our mole problem again and nearly crying at our pitiful sweet corn.

To put it bluntly – this year was a bust.

We planted too soon.  It was too wet and most of our seed never germinated.  How were we to know that this year would wreak havoc and all but destroy our plans?

I have broccoli that even after four months of growth has yet to produce florets.  I’m told that once the temps go back down it should produce, but only time (and experience) will tell.  We eat a fair amount of beans, and while last year it seemed like we had way too many, this year, planning out our meals and budget, I was hoping for at least as much; instead, most got flooded out and I barely have a quart in the freezer with the future not looking the greatest.  Thankfully, most of the Indian corn and potatoes seem to be doing rather well, a blessing considering the other failures.

The other ray of hope is a small broom corn (sorghum) patch.  For some reason I decided that ornamental broom corn seemed like a good idea to grow.  Then we recently had the push to expand it in hopes of really turning it into a cash crop.

Broom corn is another name for “sorghum”.  Unbeknownst to me until recently, there are several different “strains” of sorghum.  It’s a type of grain/grass; there are varieties specifically grown for forage for livestock, pressing stalks for syrup, seeds/grains for flour and even popcorn, and finally – ornamental and brooms.

Growing Broom Corn
This small patch of broom corn – or sorghum – is the start of our small farming operation. Hopefully we can grow from there!

Colton purchased this wonderful little garden planter (non-affiliate link) and I got the seed from a small company and we got to work – now to see how things go!

There is a whole litany of things this amazing plant can be used for, but our purpose this year (so far) is to produce a small crop to test the waters of growing, harvesting, and selling the ornamental broom corn.  Many use it in the fall for decorations – either just sprigs hung in decorative places or floral arrangements, all the way to full stalks like a corn shock.  This variety is also known for “de-seeding” the heads and using the remaining stems to bind together to form a broom.  We’re not to this stage yet, but how wonderful would it be if we were able to start bringing old-fashioned practices back to life in our area!?

For those in the farming world – our thoughts and prayers continue for a bountiful harvest and a successful year.

For our friends and family in the area – watch our Facebook page for our Broom Corn progress and sales!  Please help us spread the word so our small farm/homestead can be a success and help perpetuate some historic crops and practices!

What do YOU want to see?  More “specialty” crops?  Older crops that aren’t as well known?  Like seeing how those old antiques were used?  What do you see lacking in our community?  Tell us in the comments or Facebook page!

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