Natalya Lowther


Full Name
Natalya Lowther
Member for
11 months
Volunteer Background
I've been creating a small (12 acre) experimental diversified farm in the Kansas River valley near Lawrence, KS, for the past 20+ years. I quit irrigating anything (even when transplanting) about 18 years ago, and have been pushing the limits of waht plants can tolerate ever since. I save seeds from a variety of salad greens that I grow for market, and have been cultivating bird-sown black raspberries for many years now with some really good cultivars emerging.

I am working to develop a forage system for the sheep that features coppiced and pollarded mulberry trees. Mulberry leaves are much more nutritious than alfalfa for livestock, and it's very hardy and drought/heat tolerant. Deep roots reach groundwater here. Sheep love it.

I work a lot with promoting wild greens at Farmer's Market, and now have people demanding lambsquarter at $10/lb. in the spring.
Favorite Crops & Least Favorite Crops
Allergic to corn pollen (apparently).
Potatoes, salad greens, allium spp., tomatoes, beans/cowpeas are some of my favorites.
Black and red raspberries, low-maintenance wild-type growing systems.
Growing Experience
Growing food
Starting seeds
Growing perennials
Seed-saving
Other
Time Commitment
0-2 hours
Growing Location
Space Available
Small field (10,001 sq. ft. - 1 acre)
Soil Details
Silt loam (no clay; very fine sand in some strata/areas) with groundwater at 17'. Soil particle size wicks up water through capillary action if structure is not damaged. Drains excess water very well, then holds moisture a long time.

I don't till if I can help it. I use organic sheet mulches (esp. brome hay, leaves, wood chips) to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds.

A second growing area is 100 miles west, near Manhattan, KS. Very different...rocky, alkaline Flint Hills with little actual soil. Much drier.
Soil Type
Neighbors' Crops (within 1/4 mile)
Pretty much all vegetables and fruit, plus typical field crops and hay (probably no canola).
Neighbors' crops (within 1 mile)
Pretty much all vegetables and fruit, plus typical field crops and hay (probably no canola).
Details
Lots of conventional corn & soy in the area.
Other relevant information
It's pretty normal to get hit with herbicide vapors a couple times per growing season...not typically at killing doses, but enough to deform leaves and force rampant vegetative growth for a few weeks. The reality of today's world pretty much anywhere near human habitation or field crops, I'm afraid.

My bad sheep tend to have a romp through the garden at least once or twice a season. But, I think their presence is why we don't have a deer problem. Also they tend to prefer weeds to most crops when they have the choice.

Woodchucks, squirrels, and small rodents are problems.

Prone to extreme sudden temperature changes...as much as 50 degrees in a day with fronts moving through summer or winter. Can be very dry or very humid. Can be extremely windy.

Last couple years Japanese beetles have been horrid, esp. on certain species (grapes, lindens, apples, raspberries). I don't do any chemical insect control, and little other control besides just encouraging a natural ecosystem. It appears that defoliators like blister beetles tend to attack drought-stressed plants that then grow back when we get some rain...with a long season, this doesn't appear to be a serious problem.

We now have several invasive aliens in the area in addition to Jap. Beetles...spotted wing drosophilia, marmorated stink bug, emerald ash borer, etc.

Horrific squash bugs and squash vine borers. I usually don't even try. Also trouble with cucumber beetles/bacterial wilt.
Other
Non-irrigated systems. No-till vegetables. Hand tillage only. Organic mulches.