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DIY Farm Gardening

Lasagna Garden

April 16, 2017

We’ve got a tiny greenhouse on the back deck with all kinds of peppers, squash and cucumber ready to be put in the ground. We have been planning a garden and decided that we should get started on it this weekend.

Carmella had read about a method known as Lasagna Gardening. This is a no-till method of gardening that is accomplished by layering materials on top of the ground to form a base to prevent weeds and or grass from growing up through the raised bed and also decompose and feed the garden.

This is the area that we decided on for the garden. It’s in the “front yard” next to the Apple Tree. The space that will eventually be fenced in is about 60′ x 90′. Once it is complete there will be several plots for gardening, a greenhouse, a small potting shed and a handful of raised beds.

To get started we picked up some topsoil and potting soil from Lowes. The plan is to order a truckload of soil, but this was a spur of the moment thing and we wanted to get going on it.

We already had some bales of hay that we had used to kind of insulate the chicken run and block the wind this winter so we were going to use that as one of the layers. We also had a bunch of cardboard boxes that we had used for moving so we were going to use that as the base.

We didn’t take any photos of the first bed on the left, we were still trying to figure out exactly what we were doing. We used a couple of 9ish foot 2×4’s that were salvaged from a nearby house that was being remodeled as an edge to keep things together.

On the right we’ve got the 2×4’s set up and have the cardboard put down on the bottom. Once the cardboard was down we gave it a good soaking with water.

 

 

 

The next step was to add the hay on top of the cardboard. It doesn’t need to be too much hay, just enough to cover up the cardboard, again adding water on top of the hay. The water serves a couple of purposes. The first is to get the decomposition process jump started. The second is that adding the water kind of holds things in place, especially on a windy day like today was.

On top of the hay we added a generous layer of top soil. This was nothing special, just some of the cheapest bags we could find at the store. We soaked the soil well with water to make sure that there was going to be plenty of moisture in the beds.

And here we have the final layer added on top. This was the potting soil that we picked up. We wanted to have a good nutrient rich area on the top to give the plants a fighting chance.

And here we have the finished (for now) product. We ended up with 2 “raised” beds approximately 20′ long and 30″ wide. The idea is that we’ll add more rows as we need them. We had to put up this temporary fencing so that the chickens didn’t get in there and destroy our fresh new beds.

June 18th, 2017 Update

Our tiny garden started to become unruly.  The grass on the edges started to become very tall.  The walking path in between the rows is not smothering out the grass as well as I expected.   Jason had to weed eat and hand pull weeds.   We added an old rug that I took out of the hallway to start smothering the second row.   I was pleasantly surprised at the growth of our vegetables once I could see them again.   Everything is actually growing,  without any insecticides.   There is some bug damage, but nothing that is keeping the plant from growing.    Jason made a pair of saw horses for another project and we are using them to hold the water tank now.   I bought a set of drip lines and we hooked them up to the water tank.  Now we only have to go out fill that tank up in the evening.  I can turn it on in the morning on my way to let the chickens out.  The nights we have more time, we just hand water.   Later down the road, we will have a potting shed out there to help catch water.

Bees Farm

Moving Day!

April 15, 2017

The bees have been doing well and have outgrown their original housing. Today they’ll be moving into their new place. Started out with 5 medium frames in a NUC box and then added another medium NUC body on top of that with 5 frames with base for them to build on.

There’s been a lot of activity and when I checked them out it looked like they were about to outgrow these accommodations, so it’s a good thing we had their full size hive bodies and shiny new frames with foundation for them to go to work on.

One thing that I’ve learned is that having everything prepared and all of the things that you need close by when working with bees is very important. I got the new hive bodies set up right next to the NUC boxes to make this as quick and efficient as possible.

Started by moving the 5 frames from the top NUC hive body into the 10 frame body, placing the frames toward the outside of the 10 frame body. Once that was done the frames from the bottom body of the NUC box were placed into the new body in the middle.

 

After all of the frames were transferred from the NUC box (10 in total), I added another 10 frame hive body with frames and foundation on top of that. I didn’t get a photo of that, but here’s a video of the bees afterward. They seem to be doing well.

Bees Farm Farm Life Featured

Keeper of Bees

April 6, 2017

I’m officially a graduate of the Caswell County Bee School.

I’ve always had an interest in bees and have entertained the idea of getting some bees someday, so when the opportunity came up to take a 10 week course in beekeeping I decided that it was now or never.

First of all, bees are pretty awesome. I learned a great ton in the course and came away with a greater appreciation for bees and those who keep bees. There is a ton of information out there and this class made me feel like like “Hey, I can do this!”.

At the end of the course we were given information about the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association and their Certified Beekeeper exam. I took advantage of this as well. This required joining the NCSBA (a $25/year membership) and completion of a written exam as well as a practical test. I took the written exam before our field day and passed that. All that’s left now is to get a little bit more experience and take the practical exam.

I’m looking forward to learning more and hopefully we’ll have enough bees to have some honey next year.

During the class the instructor told us about a local man named Dan who would have NUC’s available. I reached out immediately and got them ordered.
When I picked up my bees from Old Dan’s Bees I was super excited. We went through the hives that he had and picked out 2 NUC boxes worth of bees. That’s 5 frames and a queen for each NUC box. Got them home and got them all settled in.

 

Working with Dan was quite a learning experience. He’s only a few miles from the farm so I offered to help any time that he needed it. He has 5 sites that he has bee’s on and said that he’d love the help. Really looking forward to learning more about the honeybee.