Tag: compost

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.

Surprise In the Compost Bin

Reviewing last year’s information I planted my three weeks later than this year.  I also planted about 20 fewer cloves this year.  What do these differences mean?  I do not know.  I am glad to have the garlic in the ground and have it checked off my to-do list.  Today was cold, but sunny.  It was nice to be outside and working, even though I had to wear a winter hat.

Garlic cloves seperated
Garlic cloves separated

The first step to growing garlic is separating the gloves.  Then plant each clove about two inches deep and about five inches apart.

I needed to prepare the planting bed.

Over grown marigolds
Over grown marigolds and various other plants

I pulled the frost killed marigolds out.  They were really amazing marigolds, and I enjoyed them this year.  I pulled several failed plants that did not produce as well.  Most of those plants went into the compost bin.

Marigolds destined for the compost bin
Marigolds destined for the compost bin

The finished row looks good.  Later this week I will cover the garlic with two inches pine needles and straw .  The mulch will help keep a more constant temperature and protect the cloves from freeze and thaws.

Finished bed.
Finished bed.

My compost bin often has un-expected vines and plants growing in it.  I often let them grow out of curiosity.  When I was carrying marigold to the compost bins today I found a tomato vine with a one green tomato on it.

The last tomato
The last tomato

I brought it into the house, mostly for the novelty of it.  It is small and it is unlikely to ripen.

What has surprised you recently?

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


I Feel A Bit Sifted

It was a busy week at the Micro Farm.  I spent two afternoons clearing out the compost bins and sifting compost.  At times it felt like I would never see the bottom of the bins, but it was well worth the time and work.

The first compost bin almost empty.
The new sifter worked well.

After the two days I ended up with two trailers worth of compost. I was able to spread out a good two inches on each planting row.

The circle garden with compost on the planting rows and thinly spread over the cover crops
The square garden with compost laid on the planting row.

I have been composting for four years.  This is the third time I have used the compost on the garden.  This year’s compost production was the biggest yet, and the quality was really good.  My neighbor asked me where I got the topsoil, he was surprised, a little, that it was compost.

I also did a bit of planting this week as well.  I planted some greens and a couple heads of lettuce in one of the cold frames.  I also planted a row of beets and peas.  A quarter of a row of radishes and carrots.

The garlic is all coming up, there are about fifty garlic plants now.  I am excited to see them doing so well after the winter.

The alfalfa cover crop is also starting to come up.  Alfalfa is slow-growing so I was excited to see the tiny seedlings sprouting.

The most recent heirloom tomato starts all came up this past week.  I was nervous they may not germinate well but they have done well.  It looks like I will have more tomato plants and varieties this year than I have ever had before.

Last but not least, my friend Dylan and I transplanted several tomato plants that have out grown their four-packs.  It is exciting to see them doing well.

Now I need to get some sleep.  I hope spring is treating you well.

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




Projects: Done

With the change to Daylight Saving Time came a change in temperature.  Working outside was refreshing.  The ground has just started to thaw so walking around there is only a little amount of mud.  When I look out into the garden I often think and wonder about how my garlic is doing.  I took advantage of the weather today to see if I could learn anything about the garlic.

A garlic plant poking up through the ground.

Seeing this plant was exciting.  In December I was worried I had not protected the garlic with enough mulch.  After a mild winter I think I have been fortunate and will have a good garlic crop this year.

One of goals this year was to give one of my garden beds a year off and plant it with a cover crop.  I purchased a quarter of a pound of Johnny’s “Summer Alfalfa” to use for to allow my beds to rest.  Alfalfa is slow-growing, and I need to get as much as I can out of it.  So I lightly raked the bed.

The first bed to have a year off.

Then I cast the alfalfa seeds.  It was fun not to have to put seeds in the “right” place.

If you look closely you can see the alfalfa seeds.

The final project of the day was to build a compost sifter.  Late in the fall I found a used lawn tractor trailer.  I bought it mostly so I could sift my compost and haul it to where I needed it.  I used a couple of two by sixes I had lying around.  I cut them to thirty-six inches long, and used the remainder for the other sides.

Top left – the four boards cut. Top right – setting up the wire mesh. Bottom left – wire mesh stapled. Bottom right – project completed.

I used a standard wire mesh that I picked up at Home Depot.  It is wide enough to rest on the trailer.  I used two by sixes so I can fill it up and not spill over the sides.  I will also be getting help from my friend Dylan and it will help him not spill too much.

I missed writing last week. I traveled to visit my family for a quick weekend.  It was a pleasant surprise to visit with them and to see some old friends.

I hope you had a wonderful weather weekend.  Did you finish or start any projects this weekend?

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