Tag: compost bins

One project, two project, yeah!

The past two weeks have been a busy around the Micro Farm.  The first project was a new compost bin.  We have become the compost center for several households in our neighborhood.  The two bins we had did not give us enough space.  I also had several pieces of material that needed to be used.

The new compost bins.
The new compost bins.

There are now three bins instead of two, and all three bins are larger in size.  I also was able to sifted a load of compost in my lawn tractor trailer.  I am hopeful these new bins will help us make more compost.

The second project has been connecting our rain-barrels.  I was able to connect the first barrel using parts that I had on hand.

The first barrel connected to our garage
The first barrel connected to our garage

This barrel is completely full after about two storms.  It collects from about 18 feet of gutter and fills with a small rain shower.

Connecting the second barrel required new equipment.  I am still waiting on a few parts from the store to complete the full set up.

However, with a few pieces installed and a little rain fall I have been able to collect about ten gallons of water.  Only 10 feet of gutter is connected, and the rain fall since it was connected has been small.

The second barrel connected.
The second barrel connected.

I am not happy with how the downspout looks.  After the rest of the parts arrive I will make that change and a few other small changes.

I have also planted several cool weather crops.  The peas were planted but have not come up yet.  The radishes have come up though.  There are two varieties this year, an heirloom black radish and an heirloom red radish.

Small radish plants.  You might have to look close.
Small radish plants. You might have to look close.

I walk in the garden everyday and I am still amazed to see the garlic as tall as it is.

Two varieties of garlic.  Foreground is one variety; background another
Two varieties of garlic. Foreground is one variety; background another

I have a good crop of plants.  I planted four varieties of garlic in the fall.  Two of the four did not come up.  They did not look good when I planted them and was not surprised when they did not come up.

The other two are very strong.  It is difficult to see in the picture but each varieties’ greens have a different color and shape.  I am excited to taste each variety.

More projects are on the way.  The seedlings are growing in the basement.  It looks to be shaping up to be a nice spring.  Hopefully, it warms up a little.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.


Late Fall Revival

Three hours to the northwest everyone is buried in snow.  We only received about an inch, and that quickly melted away.   I took advantage of warm temperatures and no snow to clean up around the micro farm.  Contemplating this blog post I have struggled to come up with and answer to one key question.  Why has it been six months since I last blogged?  I do not have a good answer.  All I know is I found this past summer a difficult season.  Again, I do not know why.  I had plans to accomplish much more than I did.  The micro farm was left on its own too much.

Regardless, I am moving forward.  I am already anticipating next spring and summer.  This weekend I accomplished a good amount of work at the micro farm.  I pulled the remaining vegetables and cut down dead flower stalks.

The micro farm cleaned up, mostly, for winter
The micro farm cleaned up, mostly, for winter

I decided to leave the marigolds and other border flowers until spring.  Their roots will hold the soil and it will not wash away.

I was able to fill one of my compost bins with plants and stalks so I should have plenty of new compost this spring.

My full compost bin.
My full compost bin.

I was able to get a fairly good harvest today.  Lots of baby carrots, a few beets, a turnip or two, and one rutabaga.

Carrot, beet, and turnip harvest.
Carrot, beet, and turnip harvest.
The rutabaga harvest.
The rutabaga harvest.  It’s really big.  Sorry for not adding to understand the scale.

I was also able to start raspberry cane pruning.  I prune the yellow raspberries to the ground.

Yellow raspberry canes cut down
Yellow raspberry canes cut down

I also started pruning out old “wood” of the red raspberries, but I daylight was going away quickly.  The black raspberries are going to be a big effort to get them under control.  They are very aggressive growers and I have not been able to manage them to my preferences yet.  Maybe next year.

On Friday my friend Dylan and I loaded up three garbage cans of wood chips and brought them to the micro farm.  Our local electric utility offers free chips at one of their stations.  So we were the “crazy” people loading up wood chips in the middle of November.

Recently mulched path on the right.  Old mulch on the left.
Recently mulched path on the right. Old mulch on the left.

I think they look very nice, especially for the price.

The last significant task this weekend was adding pine needles to mulch garlic and other sensitive plants.

The pine needle harvest for this year
The pine needle harvest for this year

I purchased two cranberry plants from a friend this spring and they were give some protection; along with the garlic, blueberries, and strawberries.  I planted several types of garlic this past fall.  I am not sure what varieties will make it, but it will be fun to see in the spring.

A few more jobs before the winter sets in fully.  It will interesting to find out the type of winter we will have.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  I hope your day is filled with laughter, friendship, and delicious food.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Springing Forward

The Micro-Farm is really starting to take shape after winter.  I have removed 90 per cent of the old plants.  I have enjoyed taking a few minutes to enjoy the hard work that has gone into the micro-farm over the past four years.  While ever farm is a place of constant change there are goals I have hoped to achieve.  This spring I feel good about where the micro-farm is and where the next steps will take it.

I attempted to sift the compost piles a month ago.  After removing the first layers on both piles I ran into two compost ice cubes.  After stabbing both piles with a shovel I quickly realized I needed a few warm days before any sifting was going to take place.  Two weeks later I took the weekend and dedicated it to compost sifting.  I do not enjoy the sifting very much but the end product is great.  I filled almost two lawn tractor trailers.

I have also been doing some planting.  It may seem crazy, but there are some really crazy plants that do not mind the cold.  I planted over twenty-five pea plants, beets, a few leafy greens, onion seedlings, and turnips.   Many have sprouted and are, slowly, growing.  The garlic planted last fall has come up and is about six inches tall.  A couple of frosts have slowed the garlic down but it is still going strong.

The garlic a couple of weeks ago.
The garlic (37 plants)  a couple of    weeks ago.

We have a very tall pine tree near the garden beds.  In the fall it sheds a lot of needles.  Without a better plan last fall, I mounded the pine needles around a planter box.  I have been spreading the needles around and using them for mulch in my garden walkways and paths.

The other side of the growing beds
The growing beds when I was beginning to put down needles and before compost
Beds with new compost and needles in paths
Beds with new compost and needles in paths

I like the way they look, feel, and smell.  They also do a good job with keeping the weeds down.  Possibly most important the price: free, all around pretty good.

Last growing season the grass and weeds took over my pea bed.  I fought them for a while, but eventually they won.  I worked hard on last year’s pea bed, this year’s cucumber bed, to clean out the weeds and grass.

Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers
Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers

When I was in middle school NASA gave students tomato seeds that had spent time either on the Space Shuttle or on the space station.  I totally loved it. Seeds from space!  They even came in a Mylar seed packet.  I asked to keep information on how they progressed.  I have no idea what happened to those plants.  Most likely, they dried up or were choked out by weeds.  I have felt a little guilty for those plants.

Now I have a sense of redemption.  I am growing turnip seeds for Seed Savers Exchange’s M-Gen program.  I am asked to keep details and records on how they are doing.  So far I have been keeping everything up-to-date.  I planted twenty seeds a week ago.

The bed on the left has been planted.
The bed on the left has been planted.

This weekend I have seen a few seedling popping up.  Next Saturday I hope to plant another twenty seeds in the bed on the right.  I am really looking forward to this project.  You will see further reports as the season goes along.

You can see a lot has been happening.  I also should report that I lost my second thyme seedlings.  For the third try I moved them to the kitchen where they get southern sun and have a higher, and more consistent, temperature.  I have about five times more seedlings and they are growing well.  The third time is the charm.

I hope you are enjoying your spring clean up and planting.  Please share what you are doing it motivates me.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Growing Bed Expansion

My family generously puts up with my crazy Micro Farm ideas.  Last fall I planned to create a new set of growing beds.  Last fall I put three tarps over the areas I wanted the new beds.  To make this already ugly sight worse I raked a pile of leaves onto the tarps.

Mom and I in front of the new beds last November. Not very attractive, the tarp that is.

With the compost bins emptied and cleaned out I had a place to put the piles of leaves.  I was then able to start the creating the new beds.  Peeling back the tarp, the grass was  almost gone, and the ground was soft.

Peeling one tarp back. The new growing bed area is easy to identify.

I then measured off the area I wanted to use for the new growing areas.  Then I hoed up the soil.

The first new bed. With the another bed measured out.

Then I worked on a bed over a walking path.

A shorter bed.

There will be about six, five foot beds.  With some raking an additional hoeing the soil loosened up well.  I will not need to use a tiller, and everything should grow well.  I have been thinking about using the compost screener to sift out any large clumps.  It will depend on time.

Through out this next week I will finish the other beds.  After the beds are finished I will put wood chips over the walking areas.

Between blustery days I pitch-forked pine straw on the walking paths of the growing beds.  In the past I have purchased straw at a local nursery.  I think the pine straw will work well, and our pine produces a great deal.  The cost is much cheaper that buying straw.

Pine straw walking paths.

Walking on the pine straw is very pleasant and soft.  I also enjoy the pine smell as I move between the beds.

Today was a wonderful spring day to be in the garden.  It felt good to finally clean up the ugly tarps.  I am confident the new beds will look better than the tarps.

What are you doing to enjoy our sunny, spring days?  Are you adding something new to your garden this year?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.


Small Projects – Done!

My grand plans of planting peas and onion this weekend were thwarted.  With several nights of hard frosts forecast I held back.  I know these veggies can handle  a few frosts, but it seemed a bit too cold for me to put the seeds into the ground.  This week’s forecast is more promising so hopefully later in the week I can get some seeds into the ground.

I did take advantage of beautiful days to get some work done around the micro farm.  I emptied both compost bins and spread compost over the septic tank excavation area.

The compost bins empty, and drying out

There was a good-sized pile left over, so I let the bins dry out for two days.  Then I  pitch-forked the pile back into the bins.

Compost bins filled again and back to work

I typically clean out the bins in the Spring, and let everything breakdown for the year.  So next Spring I hope to put compost on the garden.

Last year I was frustrated by the spacing I left between some of my garden beds.  It was difficult to get the lawn mower between them and the over growth of vegetables made it difficult to weed-wack.  So I put down some black plastic and some brown mulch between several beds.  Hopefully, this will help keep the grass and weeds down and eliminate some mowing.  I also think it looks nice.  As I was weeding a few beds my knees appreciated the soft mulch so that is another benefit.

Me spreading mulch

I also installed my new pea trellis and moved my old pea trellis.  I practice crop rotation and am moving my peas to last year’s cucumber bed.  This year I hope to double my pea production.  I really enjoyed fresh peas last year, and hopefully I can grow enough to freeze some this year.

The new and old pea trellises in their home for this summer.

So I did not get much plant work done this week.  What I did get done was a lot of fun, and I am really happy with how it looks.  I also spent a few minutes enjoying that for the first time in two years I am not tearing up sod for the micro farm.  While I do not mind cutting sod to put in a new bed, I also am enjoying putting on the small touches you can not do when big projects take priority.

What are you doing this Spring, big projects or small?  What project do you wish you could be doing this Spring?  Have you put compost on your garden yet?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.