So, with Manuel helping with Phase II which was removing the old fence posts and the wire deer fence, we quickly were ready to move to Phase III – removing sod, followed by a quick grade with Bob’s boxblade. You can see the results below; Bob actually outdid himself with the fence posts and wire. Next phase – fence posts!
Good fences make good neighbours; or is it good neighbours make good fences? In our case, we’re not trying to keep our neighbours out but rather our pets in – safe and secure while we’re at work. Our existing backyard fence was meant to be a temporary situation but as with many projects at the farm, priorities change with the demands of the day. Well, the time has come – a fence upgrade is in order.
Bob and I contracted Manuel to come down for some assistance the other night, mostly to help with measuring but also to offer some perspective. We had a good session and came up with the general plan of attack. First off, was the side gate by the woodshed. As you can see by the image of the front of our property, our plan is to create a second level of gating in order that we can open the front gate to parking.
Now onto Phase II – cleaning sod and setting posts! The slideshow below shows the first steps of the side gate.
Corn! Nothing better than some sweet fresh corn slathered with butter and pepper. Well my last attempt at a corn field didn’t work too well – we got a few dozen cobs but I think the land didn’t drain properly.
So, last week my faithful helpers Bob and Manuel joined me for Project Big Corn Field day and we put in a new corn field. Once I cleaned up the massive pile of firewood and scraped the sod off with the boxblade, I turned the dirt with the plow then we put up a mesh fence to keep the beasts out. Hopefully come late August we’ll have a massive corn boil! Yee-haw…
A little late but we got the garden planted today. The weather hasn’t been hot but it sure has been good growing for established plants; our grass and fruit trees are going wild. I think this could be a banner year for fruit. Our summer garden has quite a variety this year including zucchini, crookneck, spaghetti and kuri squash; rutabega; leeks and red and white onions; carrots including bolero and flyaway; beets, tomatoes, lettuce and rhubarb. In the orchard this year, we have four varieties of apples, two pears, three plums and a cherry. When it cools, we’ll plant some peas, broccoli and cauliflower. Our herb garden will have oregano, cilantro, garlic, parsley, chives and basil to name a few. It’s shaping up to be a great year in the garden and now that hydro has picked up the ol’ fridge and we’ve made a pet food storage unit of the ol’ freezer, we have a lot more room for preserves, canning and freezing. I just have to finish the article on root cellars now! Stay tuned to see what happens!
Over a recent weekend, Tim, Dad and I opened our version of Monster Garage as we worked on converting Tim’s old tent trailer into a utility trailer. Our first step was to strip down the old tent trailer structure, right down to the rusted metal frame. Next, we bolted the deck, made of 2x6s, to the frame. Despite my best efforts, I managed to screw up the initial bolting stage by using 3″ carriage bolts instead of 2″ – I didn’t have a socket set to tighten the nuts on a 3″ long bolt! After removing the old bolts, we replaced them with the 2″ version which worked great. In addition, we used self-drilling screws to attach the uprights to the frame. The mid-span screws went in like butter but the frame corners, perhaps due to extra thick plates of metal were like, er, iron. We had to use a metal bit to screw through these sections and went back to the bolts instead of the metal screws.
Once the deck and the vertical stanchions were in place, we added the rail, three courses, and tailgate. The finished result was solid and square but it wasn’t known how much we could actually load into it; only one way to find out – load it! We hooked Bob up and towed the trailer to the North 40 where we loaded it about half full of dry firewood which it held just fine. Bob towed the loaded trailer with no problem, over grass and ruts, all the way back to the woodshed. We’re probably going to need to make couple more trips to clear up the firewood cut thus far.
This Monster Garage production was a challenge but we ended up with a utility trailer that will serve our three families for years to come!
Holidays. A time to relax, unwind…work on another project! Well, with a heat-wave pending, I decided that I better get the garden ‘soaker’ system set up. First step was to dig out some trenches for the water pipe, black 75 PSI. Here’s a tip; don’t buy irrigation materials (hose, connectors, faucets etc) in the irrigation section of your hardware store – they’re twice as expensive as the components in the plumbing section. I checked into wholesale prices but didn’t have the volume to get deals. Anyway, I looked at a brass faucet manifold (one hose connection, expanding to 4 faucets) and it was $99. Crazy. Anyway, if you can’t buy it you can make it. The manifold I made, with two tap faucets and two ball joint faucets cost me about $25 and some time and I think it actually works quite well.
So after the trenches were dug and manifold complete, I laid out the water pipe, added some connectors then Josée helped me to lay out the soaker hose. We can now water the entire veggie garden (about 25×40 in the main garden, 15×40 in the corn and bean garden) with the flick of one ball joint tap lever. In addition, I calculated that if we use the soaker hose at night, we’ll reduce our water consumption for the veggie garden by about 70 percent versus conventional sprinkler watering. This fact along with the ease of watering made this project very satisfying from a few perspectives.
Next project – retaining walls!
I’ve had a few emails from blog subscribers in the US and UK regarding our garden so here is a bit of an update. Let me say that we are still in our infancy as gardening goes – we learning more by error than anything! We were late planting this spring, chiefly due to the fact that I hadn’t built my greenhouse (Fall 2010 here I come) so had no seedlings plus we had an inordinately wet spell. We decided not to plant until early June so while are a few weeks behind last year, our garden is actually in better shape. We’ve learned from the jungle last year to space things a little more accurately and I got the soil prepped into rows using the tiller so that helped.
We re-started our raspberries so our crop this year will most likely be a bit thinner than in the past but I think going forward they will be great. This year, we added melons and eggplants to the mix. While I think the melons will be fine as we are in a high sun area, I have my doubts about the eggplants. I’m going to try them in the greenhouse as well as some peppers and pineapple.
Our rutabega (small, sweeter cousin to the turnip) is doing very well and seems to like the deep soil we have here. Actually, I guess the same holds true for parsnips, carrots and other root veggies. When I tilled the garden, I determined we had an average soil depth of twenty inches. I guess it has just build up over the years but it’s great for us! Anyway, back to the veggies. We have zucchini, butternut squash, okra and cabbage, leeks, carrots, radish, chard, beets, scallions and two types of onions, pumpkins, rhubarb, soya beans, snap peas, green and yellow beans and corn (lots o’ corn). We’ll test some of this out and then add or subtract as necessary next spring.
I think our next challenge is to figure out some storage methods as our garden is producing massive amounts of food!! More updates to follow along with pics!