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The Jeavons Center Mini-Farm Report
by John Jeavons, Executive Director, Ecology Action

We've had another year of exceptional drought in California, but summer is over, and the first frosts are touching the mountains above Willits this week. Like farmers all over the northern hemisphere, The Jeavons Center team is getting ready for the cold and (hopefully!) rainy season in the GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini farm. If you’re looking for inspiration, or just want to know what we’re doing, here are some of the crops we have already planted, and will be planting through the winter into 2023, and why.

Already planted

Dahlias – This crop is still in from the main growing season and we considering taking the tubers out are as the rains begin, to protect them from rotting. This is an important research crop, since some of its varieties can produce many calories in the tuber, carbon for compost materials in the stalk, and income (and pleasure!) from the flowers. They are beautiful, and we will be replanting them in the spring!

Wheat - We prefer the Hard Red Spring variety of wheat to the Hard Red Winter type as it thrives at our site much better.

Currently planting

Barley – We enjoy this crop as it can produce a large number of calories in the form of edible grain, and a generous amount of compost-building carbon from the stalks in only 3 months, while wheat and other winter grains generally take 8 months to produce a similar yield of carbon and calories, meaning they tie up the growing beds for 6 extra months! So far we’re growing Gopal, Black Nile, Karan-16 Himalayan, and Mason Naked varieties. Starting in Mid-February of 2023, we are hoping to begin screening the effectiveness of 50 additional varieties of barley at TJC (where our soil, growing season, climate, and water limitations provide good challenges for determining which varieties are good producers). The seeds we’re using are provided by the KUSA Seed Society, which is expert in its selection of good grain and seed varieties – and not just barley! Check out the KUSA catalog at:

Fava Beans - Banner cold weather fava beans, interplanted with Woolly Pod vetch. We like the Banner variety as the plants are robust and can grow well down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Banner also produces more biomass than the Frederick, and Veroma fava bean varieties. Wooly Pod vetch has the capacity to fix up to 0.63 pounds of nitrogen per 100 sq ft compared with other temperate legumes that fix 0.21 lbs in the same area, so less seed is needed to accomplish building up and holding nitrogen in the soil with Woolly Pod. Banner seeds are difficult to locate, so some beds are devoted entirely to this mix, growing to seed so we have a supply for future seasons; but we also plant it around our perennials during the cool/cold/rainy season as well.

The advantage to interplanting legumes with other crops and then harvesting the legumes when they first go to flower (instead of waiting for them to go to seed) is that the nitrogen fixed in the root nodules can remain in the soil to grow whichever crop you choose to plant in the next season, rather than going into producing legume seed. This means that, instead of using valuable bed/ crop/months to grow a nitrogen-fixing crop to fix nitrogen in the soil for a third season after you grow a grain, seed or other nitrogen-intensive crop, you can grow the nitrogen, in many cases at the same time as the primary crop, and leave extra bed/crop/months–and nitrogen!— for the growing of calorie and carbon crops.

Planning to plant

10-Bed Unit Complete Balanced Diet Crops - in the main mid-May through mid-October growing season at TJC. Three different 10-Bed Unit diet designs will be grown at TJC by our Farmer/Teacher/Trainer team in 2023. The crops noted below are historically and climatically especially important for these designs:

Sweet potatoes growing in a mini-greenhouse at TJCSweet Potatoes – we are growing the rarer 3-month maturing heirloom varieties from Sand Hill Preservation Center available at: If you are interested in growing these as well, be sure to order very early, as supplies are usually limited. As with the other short-season varieties we’re planting, 3-month sweet potatoes provide more nutrition using fewer bed/crop/months than the standard 8-month varieties.

We grow sweet potatoes using miniature greenhouses (see plans in How to Grow More Vegetables) for the added heat needed in our northern temperate climate, and with the crop protected with gopher cages (for a description and pictures on how to make a simple, fairly long-lasting gopher cage for a GB growing bed, see

Sorghum growing tall at TJC with FTT Suraya David-Sadira for scale

Sorghum – We prefer the Dale variety. We find it performs better at our latitude.

Potatoes – 65-Day maturing Yukon Gold variety, which provide more nutrition in less time than 90- or 120-day maturing varieties, again leaving more bed/crop/months for growing additional crops. Selecting and trialing varieties that have the potential to grow good yields in a short time is an important part of creating a successful garden plan for growing a complete, balanced diet in a smaller area – the primary focus of our international 10-Bed Unit Project.

Oaxacan Green corn, image from

CornOaxacan Green variety does best for us given our relatively cool night climate. This 95-day maturing variety is “dent corn” used to make cornmeal, and has beautiful emerald green kernels.

Many Other Crops – carbon and calories aren’t enough! Additional crops provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids to create a full, varied, and nutritionally balanced diet, and each 10-Bed Unit will incorporate different crops according to the taste and preference of farmer-designer. This topic is explored in Ecology Action’s Booklet 31: Designing a GROW BIOINTENSIVE® Sustainable Mini-Farm, 2022 revision.

Looking ahead, Ecology Action will present our 4-Saturdays Introductory GROW BIOINTENSIVE Workshop online this spring on Feb. 25, March 4, 11, & 18, 2023. It's fun, interesting, and easy to participate in! See workshop.html for details and registration.I hope to see you there!

EA Online 4 Saturdays Workshop Poster

Let’s Come Together To:

Grow Hope

Grow Abundance

Grow Biointensive!

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