Yes, it’s time to start working in the gardens again. This year we will have a double challenge. Not only will we be working on the garden we had last year, but there is a new site as well.
In December we inherited a property that has since eaten our lives over the last four months. The yard is one of the biggest challenges. Once we clear the rubbish, we will have to totally revitalize the soil. In many ways, it will be a perfect testing ground for some of our ISRU projects.
The front yard was xeriscaped once upon a time and we will be restoring that. The back yard will have a compost heat experiment as well as a couple of keyhole gardens.
Over the winter, we have worked with District O.N.E. and One Table, our local food to table group. It has been very interesting and I am looking forward to our further adventures.
We have been so pleased with how well our garden has done. We’ve given away more produce than we’ve been able to eat or process. It’s been great. The pumpkins we thought would not grow have taken over rows in the garden with their long vines. The butternut squash has not been a prolific, but we have 3-4 ripening. Zucchini have been fantastic, as have the crook neck (two varieties) and the delicata. The tomatoes have exploded and we have all sorts of them growing. The few we’ve had ripen have been heavenly.
We’ve been making plans to expand the garden and add new veggies. Next year we plan to plant Fewer zucchini, acorn squash, cucumbers and eggplants, kale, onions, garlic, corn, green beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, radishes, and the wild variety lettuces. The pics below are of the Bee garden we’ve put in between the compost and the fairy patio. I’ll be taking more pictures this week.
These pics show the growth in the garden and some of the veggies we harvested.
In Huerfano County, we have a group, District O.N.E. which is working to bring fresh local produce from Farm to Table. They’ve started gardens across the city of Walsenburg, and work with LiveWell Huerfano County. Huerfano RE-1 has leased District O.N.E. 2 acres behind the high school campus for farming. A group of Permaculture interested folk will be converging on the land on June 18th to till and plant.
In the mean time, there have been some great articles in the news on Farm to Table and urban ag. This article out of Omaha is great.
District O.N.E. and Livewell Huerfano County are also holding a farmers market every Saturday in Heritage park, from 9 to 2pm. We had our opening day last Saturday, and they figured that they earned more money in one day than they did at any point last year.
In between more rain that this county has had in over 40 years, we have planted the garden. We had an explosion of weeds as well. This weekend, we plan to finish weeding and plant the second round of spinach, carrots and radishes.
We added to the garden areas on the side of the house and added more tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and moved the mint tire. We used ceramic insulators as row markers and with the extra rocks, we built a fairy patio sitting area.
We have begun to garden at my mom’s house. She has a huge backyard, and has given us full rein to do as we please, as long as the front is kept neat. While this is a temporary solution, we are continuing with our gardening experiments. We plan to build a cattle fence greenhouse and begin experiments with hydroponics.
First off, we spruced up the front beds with plants from the other house.
Once we got the front started, we began on the side garden area. Most of the transplanted plants have bounced back.
Then we started on the back yard. We tilled up nearly 500 square feet of the garden and as soon as it stops raining for more than five minutes, we will be planting. I planted kale, a lettuce mix, two kinds of onions and tomatoes on the side. The back will have squash, green beans, pumpkins, radishes and carrots.
We’ve lost our home. Our agreement was terminated. We had to move as the new owner gave us two weeks. To say that we were in shock is an understatement, especially as we’d been told that the house and land was ours to use until we no longer wanted it.
So, we moved. Stuffed our life in storage. Dug up what we could of our gardens, and put all sorts of plans on hold. No more experiments, garden plans or anything else. Luckily we didn’t get notice a week or so later. If it had, we would have been deep in house construction and garden building.
We’ve moved in with my mom for a while until we can buy land. No more lease agreements. No more uncertainty about property. We are looking at a 40 acre piece of land. We are considering a GoFundMe campaign. I’ll post more details as things progress.
Part 1Here are some pictures of our new hybrid aquaponics rig going in. Right now some conventional potted plants are on the stand, but by tomorrow evening we will have the unit all but completed. It combines soil enrichment techniques, aquaponics, and vermicomposting in a small space and sports automatic controls. Plant, cull, feed and harvest will be the only tasks, and these are vastly simplified.
The first crop will be lettuce, radishes, and spinach with crops in parallel bins on the shelves above and below. bear in mind that the room these are in varies from 5-30C, just as a winter time greenhouse would. Other test objectives include:
1. Test the effectiveness of the LED full spectrum lights (7W draw!) as grow lights, comparing these to the sunlight coming in the south exposure window behind the rack.
2. Test the hybrid soil enrichment techniques, aquaponics, and vermicomposting system on a small scale before deploying a similar system in an enclosed greenhouse (scheduled spring 2015).
3. Build and program the control system which will allow nearly unattended operation. The system is intended to be transparent to the growing operation, only requiring the human touch on the plants.
4. Create a fully documented, scalable, and open design which may be replicated allowing apartment dwellers to grow a fairly substantial amount of food in a very small space with minimal expense and effort.
Yes, you read that right… this is to be a fully documented open hardware project! Stay tuned for updates both here on G+ as well as issyroo.org,
PS. Dear stoners… this project will be vastly disappointing to you. Even though I live in Colorado, I don’t grow or use pot. This is not to say these techniques won’t work for it, but I just don’t know and I won’t be finding out. I don’t have anything against Cannabis, but we do Federal and State contracting and subcontracting. I must test clean, and abide by federal laws. Besides… It’s just not my cup of tea… more for you! 🙂
Life has been busy. While the weather has been wild, we’ve gotten a lot done. Between unseasonably warm weather, snow and wind, we’ve managed to paint and trim the Wendy House and construct another raised bed. We’ve trimmed trees of deadwood and chopped, split and stacked a lot of firewood. We still have a lot to chop, as two truck loads were donated.
We’ve planned for new buildings as well. We hope to have at least one greenhouse by spring. We came across plans for a greenhouse made from deer fence and scrap wood. We will be making one or two of them. Plus, we plan to build a small barn/chicken coop. All of this of course is dependent on funding and time.
We did have a bit of fun. As the weather got colder, we moved all of the herbs inside. The front part of the Wendy House is full of herbs. This of course started a discussion. Aaron had been looking into hydroponics and aquaponics. He began looking at things online and discovered Dutch Buckets.
Next thing I know, we are off to Home Depot and Lowes. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but we learned some things, and will incorporate them in the spring. Below are a few pictures. I’ll be posting a full article after this one.
It’s Autumn. The landscape is drying up and the nights are growing colder. In fact, we’ve had a couple of days that were cool enough to merit a fire. Over the last few weeks, between meetings, Celtic Music festivals, family emergencies and the like, we’ve begun to change our routines to match the weather.
We were ‘gifted’ with a truck load of wood. It still occupies a large part of the back yard, but is slowly being cut down to size and stacked to dry. We picked up a bunch of pallets and have been using them as a base for firewood stacks, and garden tool storage. It’s amazing what you can do with pallets.
We’ve slowly been putting the gardens to rest as well. We still have lettuce, rhubarb, squash and herbs in the various beds. I’ve brought in all of the herb pots and distributed them around the house. Seed pods are drying and we will store those as well. We plan to improve various raised beds, build a few new ones and add a truckload of manure to the garden. Our soil is very poor, so making anything grow is a challenge.
Life has been rather busy. We’ve gone from an idea for a NaNoWriMo novel, to a discussion on “could we do this for real”, to Issyroo Farms LLC.
August 1st is Colorado Day, the ‘birthday’ of the state. To commemorate it’s birth, the state discounted all business licenses to $1. We had planned to organize as a business later in the month, but the opportunity was just too great to pass up. Aaron did the paperwork and by the end of the day, Issyroo Farms was an LLC with all the papers in a nice neat folder.
Today we did bank paperwork and city licensure. We are listed as Agricultural Research. I still have a logo to make, but we are now down to the easy paperwork. We’re celebrating too! It’s not every day that you start moving a dream into a reality.
Through some of our other work, we have gotten some leads on property that we might purchase and start to build out some of our larger “dreams” that simply will not fit or work on in a city. (not for a lack of trying!) This of course has meant reconsiderations on the use of space here. A second development has been my parents giving us permission to use their back yard as garden spaces as well. This means we can expand some of our work and the variety of fruits and vegetables grown.
At home, we are working on green house designs, raised beds and other experiments. We’ve had a plethora of rain, and things are greener that we’ve seen them in decades. Is this climate change? A long cycle? We don’t know. However, we are working to do what we call the start up experiments and baby steps that will eventually translate to other bigger experiments, like greenhouse domes and sealed environments.
When things settle down, we will be posting some of the lessons learned this year. Compost, and moisture have been heady topics of discussion between ourselves and our neighbours who have been working similar soil for ten years and are only just now getting good and consistent results.