Thursday, July 9, 2015

A gentle reminder

The water was off this morning.  Not a pleasant way to start the day.  The town is fixing the fire hydrants along our road and had to turn off the water.  I'm sure people were notified, but we are the last house on the system and not really in the town, so we missed the notification.

Fortunately we had some water stored (a couple of gallons per person) so we could drink, brush teeth, and take care of some basic needs.  We also have a 50 gallon rain barrel that is full from the recient storms so we can get by for a few days.

For me it was a reminder of just how dependent we are on systems we have no control over, and how suddenly those systems can fail.  I'm not a big believer in massive amounts of storage for preparedness.  Except for short, sudden emergency you can store enough of anything to survive for long.  Adopting a way of living that is locally sustainable is more important.  That said, it is also VERY important to have some essentials stored to get you through emergency situations.  Water is one of those essentials, and you should have a few days worth for each person. 

How are you set for water in the short term, and in the long term?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday (mostly...)

Random shots from around the Roost this gray morning.  What do you recognize?







Friday, July 3, 2015

Lots of Tomatoes in a Small Space

 Our tomatoes are doing really well this year.  Thanks to the warm weather, the plentiful rain, and the great plants we got from the Garden Patch Nursery in Coshocton.  The trouble is, we want lots of tomatoes, but we don't have much space to devote to them.  So, our tomatoes are planted too close together, and starting to sprawl on each other.  They look good but soon they will develop problems because they are too close.  Solution?  Trellising.  Give the tomatoes the space they need by growing them vertically.  Here's what we are doingl
 We built a trellis based on an Eliot Colman design (I think it is in The New Organic Grower). The key to this is a strong board at the top to support the weight of the plants, and a tight wire at the bottom to tie the strings to.  Some people recommend that you tie to the plant at the base, but I find the weight of the plant tends to put a lot of stress on the roots and the stem.  I tie to a wire, and things don't get pulled out when the wind blows.
 The next step is to prune off the sucker growth.  These are the growth points that come out at a leaf juncture.  If you have enough space you could leave one and treat it as a seperate plant on a new line.  I prune them all.
 I've found that the early blossoms form on the main lead, and the suckers bloom later.  I'd rather put more energy into those early blooms, so the suckers have to go.
When the plant is pruned we tie it to the vertical line.  Once a week they need to be pruned and tied.  With an indeterminate plant we can have them grow over the top of the trellis and start down the other side.  Using this method for adding more space and combining it with good fertility, mulch, and consistent watering, I can space my tomatoes about 1 foot apart.  Lets me pack a lot of plants in a small area.

 This is what the first row looks like now.  Only two more to go.  

Other tips on trellising.  I like baler twine.  It ties well, and it lasts all summer but isn't a problem in the compost of burn pile (depending on your clean-up method and disease pressure).  Jute will not make it through the summer.  Another thing.  Only work tomatoes when they are warm and dry.  Early in the morning they are very brittle and will break where you needed them to bend.  When the plants are wet from rain or dew it is easy to pass disease from plant to plant.  Work when they are dry, and use clean shears (DON"T stick them in the dirt!!!)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Life gets in the way...

So, I posted a grand plan to write everyday, and failed in short order.

OOPS, forgot that I had a JOB and KIDS with needs, and a farm to run and a marriage to maintain, and friends, and... oh, and that we are at that 7.5 year point in our home when everything we fixed when we moved in BREAKS! 

That said, things have moved...slowly...forward.  So, here is an update.

The pottager is filled and doing well.  (Thanks Mark for help weeding!)

The other side of the pottager (which was supposed to be trees and perennial food plants has been reworked into an annual food garden because the trees failed to thrive in this spot.   Maybe later when we have built better soil.

The herb garden is rocking.  have basil, rosemary, several different thymes, sage, stevia, chives, dill, oregano, lemon balm, cilantro,lavender, and lemon balm.

Sunflower wall, pumpkins, and a border of marigolds are jumping up with all the warm rain.

We expanded the garden below the sunflowers.  It now has lots of trees, and perennial food plants like strawberries.

The animal barn has been converted into a picnic area.   Still working on tables, benches, lighting. and drainage....(this month of rain has taught us a lot about our land.)

The Hopkin Boys helped me move a few stones to finish the edge of the driveway.  Gravel is next.

The barn is still there, standing like the large pink elephant in the middle of the room.  At this point the planning of "Save the barn" part 2 is underway.  (if you are interested, follow our progress on this site, or if you want to help, send me a message ... roberts.ecofarm  at gmail  dot com.)

More to come soon.  

Enjoyed having the Hopkin clan use us as a base.  We got a lot out of it, hope you did too. 


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