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He Grows Peanuts, Cotton, And Rice In North Dakota
Marvin Baker raises peanuts 40 miles south of the North Dakota-Canada border. He also raises rice, cotton and okra. While the crops don’t yield what they would in the South, they help keep the market gardener motivated as he plants and harvests dozens of other more traditional northern crops.
“When we started gardening in 2004, our goal was to add something interesting every year,” says Baker. “We added peanuts in 2005 and have grown them ever since. This last year we added okra and found a good market for it, thanks to the U.S. Air Force base north of Minot.”
Growing peanuts was a learning experience for Baker. He started out paying $50 for 20 seeds. Seeds and advice came from peanut growers in southwest Ontario. He rotates them with other garden crops, sometimes planting them into the previous year’s cover crops. Rows are planted on 50-in. centers, which matches his tiller width. Plants are spaced about 40 in. apart.
“We don’t have any disease or pests that bother them,” says Baker. “I get about a pound per foot of row. They are mushy when I dig them with a potato fork. I have to dry them within 4 days or they will mold.”
Baker spreads the fresh peanuts on screens. Fans placed underneath maintain airflow and blow away moisture.
Baker credits the Ontario growers and the Peanut Bureau of Canada for his success with peanuts. Similarly, he gives credit to the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society for helping him get his organic gardening business going.
“There is so much to learn, and networking with other people and getting to know what they have been doing is a great way to do it,” says Baker, who continues to seek out information from all available sources as he explores new crops.
“I’ve been raising Red Foliated cotton for 8 years,” says Baker. “I harvested my first boll in 2014. It yielded 16 seeds.”
Baker starts many of his market garden crops in a commercial greenhouse before transplanting to his field. Next year he plans to add sweet potatoes. He will also add a hoop house where he can plant cherry and peach trees.
Baker shares much of what he has learned in his book “Against the Grain.” The eBook is available from www.heritagesonspublishing.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, North Star Farms, P.O. Box 164, Carpio, N. Dak. 58725 (ph 701 720-2635; www.northstarorganic.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #1