Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grass Clipping Mulch

We use grass clippings as mulch in our organic gardens. It helps to hold down weed pressure as well as provide cover for beneficial soil microbes. Before next season it will decay to provide additional nutrients. In the past we composted it in wire bins before we realized its weed suppressing power. Also during composting it loses a lot of heat to the environment. I feel like this heat energy and the nutrients are better utilized directly in the garden. I have no proof that one way is better than the other but the gardens grow well with this method.

Adding grass clippings to the garden. We collect them with the cyclone rake pictured in the background. Cantaloupe  is on the t-post trellis; also pictured are horseradish, catnip, peppers and okra.

Same shot as above from opposite angle. Pictured with the grass clipping mulch are cantaloupe on the trellis, okra in the adjacent row, catnip, horseradish, marigold, eggplant, and corn in the background.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Broody Hen Adopts Hatchery Chicks

This time of year we have several broody hens. Hens brood because mother nature tells them it's time to hatch the next generation. They usually lay a clutch of eggs, sit on them day and night, keeping them warm and protecting them from predators and other chickens. For 21 days these hens get a blank stare in their face and will squeal and peck at you when you try to remove their eggs.

This is all well and good, but we don't want a bunch of random eggs hatched out on the farm. We usually let all the breeds run together and cross bread chickens are unmarketable. So sometime in late February we start isolating the best chickens from each breed and putting them with their appropriate roo.  So by the time the hens begin to brood in March we can put a few eggs under each of the brooders.  It's an amazing thing to watch a mother hen take care of newly hatched chicks.

This particular hen did not hatch the eggs we put under her for one reason or another. We decided to see if she would adopt some day old chicks that we had just picked up from a local breeder.

Success! Mother bonded with chicks and, just as important, chicks bonded with mother. So next time we try this, we may give the mother a few more chicks.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tomato Staking

We spent the weekend staking the beefsteak tomatoes in Garden #1, weeding, building trellises, and other general garden stuff. Here's a pic of the tomato stakes we're using:

They consist of 1/2" electrical conduit cut down to 7' slid over the top of 3/8" x 48" rebar hammered about a foot into the ground. Both pieces cost less than $3 at Home Depot and can be reused. We poke a plastic picnic knife in the top and loop garden string off of it. This rig can easily hold 4 tomato runners.

These are the Tropic tomatoes growing in High Tunnel #2.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Getting Started

Testing Google Blogger. This has been a challenge to link up our pictures on Picasa with the new blog sight. I have had difficulty changing the privacy settings for the album to come up in the picture rotator.

The other challenge is to connect our domain name with this blog. Still working on that. The directions say to wait an hour for the DNS to update. We'll see.

At least I was able to make two links to our current Facebook pages.

It's been raining a lot for the past few days. We'll probably accumulate 6+ inches on the farm by the time it stops. The gardens are soggy. We also got some wind yesterday and many of the young transplants were knocked over. This weekend I'll be spending time staking things back up. I'll probably also spend some time building trellises for the green beans, cantaloupe and watermelon.