There are many new things to be learned in farming from year to year - some of them from trial and error.
My mantra going into this year has been “put the work in now in order to save later”. It’s sometimes easy to forget in the early spring, when there are no weeds and plenty of water that by summer weeds and lack of consistent water can lead to quickly overgrown vegetables beds and loss of yields.
Our no-till approach has meant putting down lots of paper and mulch in the pathways to help control weeds, having lots of extra straw, mulch, grass clippings on hand to suppress weeds, and running a no-drip water system – which again helps control weeds by only watering where we have planted. We have the no-drip system on a timer as well, which is one less thing to worry about.
In the green house we have a 250 gallon rain barrel to reuse rain water and aslow drip systems for our tomato bed. Below are some photos of some of this infrastructure.
mulched pathways, raised beds with irrigation lines
greenhouse rain barrel and drip system
lots of new starts in the greenhouse
April 3 2014
Our nano farm has begun. Starts are the green house, early greens and radish sowed in our newly turned beds. This is the first season of the NEK farm. There is much to do and things are in full swing with nowhere near enough hours in the day to accomplish them all, so it is a matter of prioritizing and not stressing. For sure we need to get our deer fencing up as well as our new hens on pasture – well more like lawn until they do away with it, as well as run irrigation, plow some other fields, plant our onions, build a new hen coop …….
We’ve tapped our trees and are boiling down the sap - 40 gallons of maple water = 1 gallon of syrup – so it takes a while unless you have an evaporator – which we don’t.
This week we’re taking a break and bring the maple water straight to NEK for an inspiring taste of spring. Maple sap (or maple water) has just a blush of sweetness, it’s similar to coconut water but lighter and soft in the mouth. The water is naturally filtered by the tree and is full of vitamins.
Generally the egg production from chickens (layers) corresponds with the amount of daylight – one reason factory farms are artificially lit 23 hours a day.
In years past our hen have laid eggs right through the winter; slowing down at times but at least still producing. This winter with the consistently cold temperatures has been rough.
Not only is keeping their water from freezing a chore but the few eggs they do lay end up frozen – and often cracked within a few hours.
The construction part of the greenhouse is complete and now we’ve moved inside. The beds are all planted with Russian Kale, Nero Kale, Chard, Spinach, Miner Lettuce and more.
It’s all about the sun, when it’s out the temperature rises into the 90′s quickly and then plunges back into the 30 or 40′s at night. We’re working to try to stablize with temp more in the day but I can foresee the need for some serious ventilation this summer.
In the meantime we’ve added a 55 gallon barral from our friends at Hawthorne Valley Farm for a rain barrel, which collects water from the roof for watering. There is a duel purpose in that it provides free water for the plants but also increases the thermal mass. The water warms during the day and then gives off heat during the night, which in turns lowers temperature fluctuations.
We’ve also added several 35 gallon barrels for additional thermal mass, which wil help us grow greens right throught the coldest months.
We completed the construction of the greenhouse. We’ve begun planting late season spinach, kale and chard.
Outside temp yesterday was 55, inside was 100 (without any heater being used)
Having debated a lot about the most cost effective way to build a hoop house, we settled instead for a 20 x 12 shed greenhouse, built off the back of the barn with polycarbonate sheets, which will provide a more permanent roof. Most of the other wood was re-purposed from around the farm. The sides will be a combination of old windows and 6 mil plastic with roll-up sides. All in all the cost will be under $600 and will serve as our starter house in the spring and later in the summer as our hot house for tomatoes and peppers.
Currently we have a few hundred kale, chard and spinach in cold frames reading to transplant in the green house.
A favorite old oak tree in the hudson valley reliable fruits several beautiful Hen of The Woods.
This summer we moved. Leaving behind our sweet home and fertile gardens and fruit trees for a spot not far down the road with more land and the possibility of farming and raising animals.
Our long term plans are to offer a Northeast Kingdom CSA, our 12 month plan is to provide our restaurant and guests with lots fruit and vegetables that we grow ourselves in the Hudson Valley.
It has been decades since our new land has been farmed, much of the land has reverted to lawn and grass. We are now in the process or turning the soil, adding manure from local organic farms and planting cover crops of vetch and peas.
How quickly it becomes imperative that we have some sort of mechanical equipment to assist in all of this, but that will have to wait. For now the work is done slowly and by hand but happily…..