Saturday, January 30, 2016

Escapades Behind the Greenhouse

Adam is accomplishing things among the spring beds at a mighty pace. He finished the first bed and put a poly-tunnel over it.
The hoops are secured into the ground using re-bar stakes he dug up from the orchard. The PVC hoops just slide right onto them. The greenhouse is also secured to the ground with these re-bar stakes.
He double-dug another bed, mixing compost all the way to the bottom. He set it up for peas this spring.
Those big stakes used to be posts for the future chicken-house, which won't be for a while.
The metal latticing for the peas to climb was also in the orchard, rather mangled up and buried in vines. It's amazing what you find lying around an old farm.
These two cinder blocks indicate the height of these raised beds, when we decide to buy cinder blocks.
Adam shows you a sample of the soil/compost mix:
He's quite happy with how loose and rich the soil is now. He's worked so hard over the past week or so.
Inside the greenhouse Adam worked on potatoes. He'd bought organic ones to work with, as I said earlier.
He's read that it's better not to cut the potatoes up; that just exposes it to more potential disease. Instead of putting them into leaves or such, he'll let these eyes turn to green sprouts, and then he'll plant them whole in one of the raised beds he's making.
I looked over at Adam a minute ago. He was ordering something online. I asked him what. He said, "A pound of worms." That's one of the next things he'll be starting -- vermiculture. That's worm-farming. It's quite the thing these days. You put the worms in dirt/compost/manure/whatever. They eat it. They poop it out. The poop is called worm castings, and it's very good for soil. Adam is all into making excellent soil.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Good Soil

Between the greenhouse and the cornfield, Adam began digging new garden beds for spring plants.
Adam has loved to dig in dirt since he was a little boy.
Our soil isn't clay, but it is a very fine silt that doesn't allow much space for water or air for roots. Adam double dug the first long bed. These photos show the soil before being amended.
 So he took a big chunk from his large compost pile and mixed it into that bed. It was about 1/2 soil, 1/2 compost. The compost is fairly fresh, but it both lightens and enriches the dirt, and will break down more in the bed. Adam will add more to that bed, making it about 1/3 soil, 2/3 compost by the time he's done.
He continues to work on his compost regularly.
He'll add organic fertilizer to these beds too.
Now that first bed is lovely and he'll start on some more in that location. It gets good sun and is in the best-drained part of our property.
The reason we changed our plans a bit is because of events in nearby Oriental. We lived in Oriental for three years and love the town. It's a unique village, isolated on the far side of this county (which is itself isolated, jutting into the ocean on the far side of the state). It's a boating community.  The residents love to sail, but the town is a stop for hundreds of boaters, cruisers, and live-aboards throughout the year.
Recently, the town has lost all its grocery stores. The local mom-and-pop store, in Oriental for 44 years, was driven out of business by a new WalMart Express. Oriental is a pretty affluent place with boaters and New England transplant retirees, but a stone's throw into the surrounding county, people are poor, and they shopped at WalMart happily.
Then yesterday, the WalMart store closed. The giant corporation knifed us once, and then finished us off. We're left with a Dollar General store, which isn't adequate as a grocery.
Oriental folk are not to be squashed however, and they formed the OFI -- the Oriental Food Initiative. They want a grocery store. They do not want a WalMart! They want a store that offers quality local, healthy food. These are folks who would shop at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods if they had their preference. As it is, they drive 45 minutes one way to Harris Teeter because the  closer Piggly Wiggly and Food Lion just are not good enough! Yankees are opinionated :)
The OFI held a standing-room-only meeting on Wednesday for anyone interested in eating in Oriental. People fielded ideas, dreams, plans, opinions. Adam attended. He said those people will find a way to have a grocery store. But they want fresh food now, so as a local farmer, he is trying to meet that need ASAP. I imagine whatever we're able to grow, they will buy. 
Our first goal is to feed ourselves, but we do want to feed the community if we can. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Corn Field (and other developments)

While I've been busy in the greenhouse ...
White pearl onions in pots
Red pearl onions
garlic and turmeric

Lots of ginger
Last fall Adam bought organic ginger, turmeric, pearl onions, and potatoes at Harris Teeter. Organic produce isn't treated with inhibitors to keep these root crops from forming eyes readily. He's had them in a big box in the barn, cradled in lots of dry leaves, so they could accumulate some cold hours. Today I chopped them up and put them into a little soil.
first layer of potatoes in compost
Meanwhile, Adam was outside, tilling a new small plot for corn, squash, and beans. It's about 40' x 40'.
This field is behind the greenhouse, toward the east of the wheat field.
greenhouse, corn field, wheat field
Do you recall that I put in a shade flower bed? It has artemisia, sedum, and daffodil bulbs. Well I looked carefully, and see? The sedum is beginning to come up!
I'm so excited! I love sedum. Also the artemisia is holding its own against the winter weather.
The only thing in the winter shade that's done fabulously is my lambs' ear.
Today was overcast but pleasant into the afternoon, so it was a grand day to do farm work. Inside, I started a new weaving on the Red Robin loom.
This will be a table cloth. I've learned that the weft yarn dominates, so if I want the warp to stand out (in this case, the stripes), I need to make it quite distinctive, like this dark green and creamy white. The weft yarn is a light gray. I think I'm finally getting the hang of the color selection!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Finished Greenhouse!

A couple of days ago, Adam got the plastic on the greenhouse.

tape and staples
The doorway
The back window
Then yesterday he built a door and covered the back window.
 This plastic just rolls up or down, and is secured by a screw.
We wanted a quick, low-cost greenhouse, and we got it! It's quite comfortable inside.
Adam installed the shelving that came from the restaurant of a friend.
 They rest on PVC pipes on the front, and a wooden rail on the back.

Close-up of the PVC:
He used an upside-down 2-top restaurant table for a dirt table. It works very well. We can move it around too.
Adam picked up some starter cells for seedlings, some various sized compostible pots, and some seeds to plant.
 He thought of ordering from a seed catalog, but the shipping was pricey, and he found the same seeds at Lowe's.

Then he brought a few drink case boxes (left here by our Previous Owner). These are handy for carrying lots of little pots from one place to another.
And he bought three bulbs for elephant ear plants. I never knew they looked like this!
So our greenhouse is functioning now and looking quite good! I'm proud of Adam's work and so happy that we are already (in January) beginning our seedings.
 We planted: golden wax beans, cilantro, basil, dill, and parsley. Two other bean types we must soak first before planting. Our first goal is to feed ourselves. Our second goal is to sell plants and veggies to others.
In addition to the red boxes, Adam brought over this box, left in the barn by our Previous Owner, "Mr. M."
Pretty cool, huh?
It's a ammunition box. Mr. M. was French, but now I'm wondering if he was in the army there. Did he fight in the  French resistance? My imagination is churning! However ... that phrase is Spanish, not French. His wife was from Central America. Maybe she fought .... (Oh hush, MK.) And the wikipedia page tells me that "cartuchos de fogueo" are blank cartridges. So whatever was being shot at, it probably wasn't Nazis! I've been watching way too much Foyle's War lately.
Today on the farm it's warm enough not to need a coat or even a sweater. The bees are flying. It was quite nice to get my fingers in soil, even if it was just sterile potting mix.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More About That Greenhouse ...

Adam's nearly finished the greenhouse.
The structure is complete. He bought plastic sheeting and duct tape to cover it. Right now, however, the weather is too cold (high of 31 degrees today) and windy (brrr!) to put plastic on a hoop house. But ... soon.
We could've bought better plastic for more money. This plastic may last only the first year. But it was at hand, and the package has twice what we need for this hoop house, so Adam can make smaller hoop houses for this next year.
Our goal is to get some plants growing as soon as possible. We can recup our money (which is less than $100) in this greenhouse if we sell plants this spring. We'll grow our own plants for our own summer gardens and sell the excess.
Anywho, on Saturday I came home from the market to find that he'd moved the greenhouse to the back of the field (between the barley field and the back fence) and was beginning to assemble it.
The wood for the front and back came from the ceiling in Anna's little house, so it was free.
The greenhouses' location: from the corner of the fenced field where the house is, you look across through the pine copse to the back of the field. See it back there?
I took the dogs out a minute ago to let them romp. The wet furrows in the winter garden are icy now.
The mustard greens still look good. But this is exactly why we need a greenhouse ... not just for spring plants, but for next fall/winter. This winter garden (haha -- that's  a stretch!) has been a pain. Too wet, wet, wet. Next winter we will have better greens.
greens and ice