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Working with highly alkaline to sodic soil

This a personal diary of how we’re taken a nearly wasted piece of property and turned it into a productive Certified Organic produce operation.

We bought our home with 9.62 acres in August 2005. It took two years to clean the property of junk that was strewn about. Only after that were we able to think about gardening.

We played around planting what we thought would grow on what would become our main garden plot. First it was about 20 by 40, growing to nearly 40 by 50 and finally under two hoop houses each measuring 20 by 52 with a 2ft path between them.

In 2011, we decided to become serious about gardening, applying for an NRCS EQIP grant in the Certified Organic division for two hoop houses. While we didn’t get it in 2012, we did win the competitive grant in 2013.

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Posted in Certified Organic Garden, High Tunnel
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Hoop House: Details of the construction

I’ve been asked to share the details of our hoop house construction in a blog post, so here goes…

After many hours (really weeks) of research, we chose to do business with Grower’s Solution of Tennessee. They actually design, test, and construct their own hoop houses.  Their prices (even with shipping) were as competitive as anyone. They also guarantee their covers for four years, which was a major requirement for complying with our EQIP High Tunnel grant terms.

We ordered the framework for the two hoop houses together to save on the motor freight costs. We received 15 bundles and one box containing all the extras, like all the screws we needed (except for the ones to attach the base boards), the connectors, etc.

We personally felt there could have been more clarity and more diagrams in the instructions. We spent a lot of time reading and re-reading to be certain we were correct in our construction.

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Posted in Do it yourself time, High Tunnel
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Hoop house time, construction and improvements

With farmer’s market officially done, no more berries to sell, and most of the custom meat delivered, we’ve turned our attention to fulfilling the requirements of the EQIP grant we received this summer.

Phase one included clearing the current garden of all the produce, locating all the utility lines servicing our property, and relocating the chicken “nursery”. Add to that the ordering (and paying for) the two 20×52′ high tunnel frames.

Phase two began last week. We’ve nearly  completed installation of the two frames. What’s left has to wait until the weekend as we need to trench  about 300 feet for electric lines, and also about 40 feet of water lines. Once those two items are completed, we can then finish the frames and install the covers and inflation fans. Of course along with all that, we need to construct both the front and rear ends of the hoop houses and doors.

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Posted in Do it yourself time, High Tunnel
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Farm update… what’s getting planted, what’s growing

Mid-April, and beautiful weather makes it real tempting to plant faster than planned.  After all, the sooner we get things planted, the sooner they can grow, and the  faster we can have  a greater assortment of veggies for Farmers’ Market, right?

Not so fast, rookie.

It might be 80 degrees in the afternoon, but with blue skies, not a cloud in sigh… the temperature can easily drop below freezing by dawn of the next morning. All it takes is a storm moving east hundreds of miles away and let it’s little cold tail swing through the atmosphere… and boom, we’re below freezing.

At over 5000 feet elevation, the surface cools much faster. Add to the fact there is next to no concrete or blacktop, no large trees, or massive shrubs, and the air simply goes up, up, and up. The faster it leaves, the colder it gets.

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Posted in New Home in Beryl, Uncategorized
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We got a NRCS High Tunnel Grant

After two long years, we have finally signed a contract with the NRCS (National Conservation Resources Service), assisting with the purchase and installation of two hoop houses, covering a total of 2178 sq ft.

The NRCS is assisting with approximately 75% of the total costs (hoop houses, installation, drip irrigation system, soil improvement, winter crop cover, and the cost of Master Gardner course for one of us).

The purpose of this grant is to help us extend our growing season to three season. That means we will be able to direct sow in  late February to early March for lettuces and cole crops, as well as sow for long season crops like squash and pumpkins. Right now we don’t dare plant anything until after May 10, unless it’s seeds in the greenhouse, and we’ll start them on March 29. We’re susceptible to frost in any of the 12 months (yes,

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Posted in Certified Organic Garden, High Tunnel
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  • Goats helping photographer
    Hey, we'd love to help you take your pictures.
  • Coco's little calf born July 30, 2014
    Coco's little calf born July 30, 2014.
  • Cindy feeding Chaffhaye
  • working in the kitchen
    Bev recording milk weights, Shari stirring the Cajeta
  • The first two little doelings.
    The first two little doelings.
  • Mom with Thor
    Mom is cuddling our new buckling, Thor.
  • cargo trailer
    Our Farmer's Market cargo trailer.
  • Hand digging trench
    Shari pitches in and digs up broken water line.

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