Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This is an exciting time of year for us.

I've really come to enjoy this time of preparation.  Getting the soils ready, planning out the different harvests, what we are going to do or plant or start, the possibilities abound!   This year we have some really big projects on our plates.  Some are going to be easy, some a little tough.  You never know for sure how much everything is going to cost.  The money never lasts as long as you think it will.  The first thing on our agenda is:
1.  The soil in the existing beds has got to be built up!
   A.  We got the peat moss today.  It was $10.00 dollars a bag! 
Still, it was cheaper than a load of top soil.  Besides, our soil is just about perfect this year.  We had it tested last year.  We had done a great job of getting it up to par.  As a result, instead of buying a load of dirt, which is very expensive right now, we have decided to get peat moss and till it into our beds.  We got all the raised beds weeded today and two of them turned and tilled.

   B.  We have been doing a compost barrel for the last year.  We have a great "recipe" going on that has not stunk up the area one time. 
   C.  Getting the cold weather plants planted and springs plants started.  This year we broke down and bought a couple of four-level small green houses.  I'm thrilled for that because this year I won't loose our kitchen table for 2-3 months.   Pics
2.  Chicken coop, with a run, big enough to house 24 chickens, built.  
   A.  We are getting all the measurements down tomorrow and the materials this weekend.
   B.  We are buying the chicks in the  next couple of weeks.
   C.  Still have to research the best layers and fryers to buy for longevity in this area.
   D.  I have been pouring over plans for the coop for days now.  I think we have it narrowed down.  I love being married to a man who can build anything.  (big smiles)  I can't say enough about www.motherearthnews.com and  all of the affiliates they work with like Herb Companion  and Grit magazines.  They are a great for a venue for people who are trying to re-learn to provide for themselves.  I've been doing this for five years.  It is a lot of reading, however, it is so worth the time.   
There are many, many more that I would be happy to pass on.
3.  Closing in existing garden to hoop house.  
This is the plan we have decided to go with this year.
   A.  We were considering doing the new hoop house deal but several things came into play.
       1.  Money.  Why do  a new one when we could easily and cheaply make one out of garden area we have already?
       2.  We are really trying to work towards a year-round garden and we can't do it with out some shelter.
       3.  We can always build more beds for the seasonal gardening at a later date.
       4.  If we were to get in to aquaponics we would need the shelter as well. http://beforeitsnews.com/story/409/749/4_Best_Methods_for_Off-the-Grid_Food_Production.html.

It may seem a little extreme but is hitting it hard-core when it comes to things that we should be doing as Americans.  I believe that at least one person, per generation, in a family, should be supported while they learn how to grow food and livestock, and the room to do so, so that in the event that we loose the convenience of our super markets that the family will be able to survive. Here is a link to a site where a family of four raised 7,000 lbs. on 1.5 acres last year.  They even have livestock and the like!  
http://urbanhomestead.org/  They are an amazing and inspirational family.  

4.  Building additional beds.  
   A. That has been moved to the back burner.
5.  Look into aquaponics at gardengurus.com.
6.  Look into grey water.
   A.  I have a dishwasher and two sinks that are on the wall that runs along the garden.
7.  Get the rain gutter system up to par for watering the gardens.
   A. We just got the seamless guttering system.  I was AMAZED at the amount of water that came off of our roof on our first storm with the new system!!!
   B.  Now we need to buy rain barrels for all the spouts.
   C.  It is our goal to eventually install an in-ground tank to accumulate all the rain water. 
8.  Order the real tumbling composter.
    A.  Got the composter ordered today.  Should be here by Friday- Monday.  Got it with Dad's free shipping!  So excited!!!
9.  Expand garden areas.  More on that later as well.
10. Purchase the garden planner from Mother Earth.
   A.  What a blessing to the farmers that do not have generations of wisdom being handed  down generation to generation.
11. Check out Farmer-to-Consumer laws for Oklahoma.
12.  Flea Markets.
13.  Purchase pomegranate, peach, apple, plum trees to plant here.  
14. Purchase pecan and walnut trees.
15. Purchase all kinds of berries.
a. we started pomegranate, black berry, blue berry last year.  Hope they make it to this year.
16. Concentrate on perennials.
17. Learn to butcher chickens from Rex and Marie.
18. Build a green house.
   A.  A new hoop house is not happening this year.  Or at least not a new one.
19. Learn how to milk cows from Rex and Marie.
   A.  Will be doing that this spring.  I have decided that I will not get my own cattle for meat or dairy until I know how to do it and teach it to the ones that are following me.
(yes, they are some of the coolest and helpful people I have ever known!)
20.  Once the beds are tilled and ready then fertilize with horse manure to start with to get the plants grown and then fertilize with chicken manure to get all the plants to go to seed.  More to come on this later.
21.  Start the cold weather plants in the ground and pot-start the spring plants.
   A.  We got four racks of starts done today.  We will keep doing this daily until they are done.  
   B.  We have the mini-greenhouses up and ready.  It will be very nice not to loose our kitchen table for three months this year.  Mom has plenty of room for them by a sunny window at her place and besides, it will encourage us to work together and allow her to still be a part of the gardening process.  Sweet Sarah is so excited to be my assistant this year again and helped mom plant all the starts today.

      Well folks, it's been fun but it's been a long and productive day and I still have to pull some cheese.  I have an order for some basil mozzarella, ricotta and some of my brother's famous breads.  
Enjoy the days!