So much has been happening on the farm, I'm tempted to abbreviate everything to a photo and a quick description, but what's the fun in that? So bear with me as I explain the incredible past 2 weeks and the transformation we've made on the farm.
On Saturday, 2 weekends ago, Paula, my BFF (best farm friend) came by and asked if she could bring a friend of hers, Karol to visit the garden. As it turns out, Karol is a Master Gardener and we had such a fun time talking gardening and I got to show her the berry patch. If you remember from my last enote, I have been having a problem with Japanese beetles, but Karol agreed that I had gotten the better of them and the plants seem to have outgrown the damage caused by those colorful insects. It was great to share my progress with someone who knows a lot about gardening. Paula brought pizza and we enjoyed a lunch in the garden- what a treat!
I don't know how I got it, but something quintessential to a farm house, to me, is the SMACK of a screen door. Maybe the Walton's had one- I know I never did- but when I think of a farm, I hear the SMACK of the screen door closing as it hits the doorstop and it's a very homey sound to me. I had the screen door in the wood shed for a few months and Sunday I was (finally!) motivated to install it. I was worried because I hadn't used a router for a few years and the hinges had to be recessed, but trust me, it's like riding a bike! With careful measurements, everything worked out fine and with the addition of a super-strong spring, the door gives me the SMACK that I've wanted to hear for so long.
From the inside, fresh air and natural light change the whole environment for the better. I'm waiting to paint it until the humidity stabilizes the fit as I already know it will have to be planed a bit.
(Doesn't everyone have a table saw in their foyer? LOL)
Just for fun, and to improve the finished product of some signs I have planned, I bought a vinyl cutter- Silhouette Portrait from Amazon for about $107.00. It's been so much fun. I've had to experiment, so everything is not coming out a winner, but I do love that it adds another something to my many tools. Essentially, you hook it up to the computer and like a printer, you push a button and it cuts out sticky vinyl which can be added to scrap wood to make cute signs. That's an over-simplification, of course. The letters for my chalk-board were made on it.
I've been chalk writing the vegetables as I harvest them and added eggplant and cucumbers this week- fun! Black board paint was applied to a piece of plywood, framed in recycled barn wood taken from the house and the chain was left over from the grow-light project Rick made.
This is a very generous garden!
This past weekend, Rick came to help me set up Phase III. This is my garden project for next year, my third year, but starting the no-till garden beds needed to be done this year. I'm sure I don't need to mention that I am obsessed with gardening. And because of that, I read so many articles on the internet about how to do it, and how to do it better. In my head, they all seem to mash up so I'm winging it here with several internet suggestions on how to cultivate in a rocky weed-covered-and-mowed-to-resemble-grass field. The goal is 1) to farm a large enough space- but not too large- to grow products which will be available during berry picking time, 2) to incorporate as much "on hand" materials as I can, and 3) use as many permaculture practices as I can (no tilling, organic materials). This is what I've come up with.
I selected the area- I'm going between the raspberry patch and the new vegetable gardens- to save on fencing costs and to create a cohesive farming area. Three huge evergreen trees to the back left of the house had to come out.
Billy from Black Oak tree service said he would do it "soon" so I was very surprised when I got to the farm just two weeks later, that the trees were down. I had asked for the chips to be left for mulching and he agreed, but the pile was larger than I expected!
I also asked Billy to leave me part of the trunks for a little project I have in mind.
I've seen photos of "Fairy Houses" or "Spirit Houses" which supposedly house the spirit of the tree forever, if you believe in that sort of thing (I would put a little heart imogie here if I knew how to do it!). This is a photo from the internet, but gives me an idea of a fun winter project for my own stumps!
Rick and I started by making 2 x 4" (4' x 12") frames and set them where I wanted my planting beds.
We covered them with 6M plastic, stapled just the corners and flipped them upside down. This method allows us to go around the old tree stumps which would have made rototilling impossible.
The idea is that the plastic cover will kill the vegetation. I am told it takes 5-6 weeks for the vegetation to die and the heat under the plastic will also kill weed seeds. Probably in late October, I'll cut the plastic from frames and next spring cover with 2 sheets of newspaper and fill the frames with a compost and top soil blend- just 3"- and plant seeds into that. Supposedly, the seed roots will break up the compacted earth, worms will move into the new soil and by the end of the first growing season, the soil in the beds should be perfect for planting transplants, seeds, or perennials. We'll see! LOL
Rick is a great partner and before he left on Sunday, we had laid landscape fabric in the walking rows and covered it with chips from the downed trees. It looks awesome AND it smelled like Christmas!
We only got half the total area mulched and I'm still trying to figure out fencing to keep the deer out, gates for easy access in and out to the garden, but I love the way the new planting connects to the vegetable garden.
Another weekend and the project should be finished for this year. I'll have space for all sorts of good things which can be sold with the berries. I have a hankering for home grown pop corn, lots of flowers to dry or sell fresh, ornamental gourds, maybe small pumpkins and some vegies- beets, mixed lettuces, fall squash and the like. I'm really looking forward to next year to see if I can keep up with it all.
Lots of raspberries are forming and for the next few weeks I'll be getting the pick-your-own set up. Since my attention span is about 2 hours, it's good for me to have a lot of projects going at the same time!
I hope you're having a fun summer, with many projects that keep you happy! Love- Sandy
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