Black Plastic on New Plot

Last fall we used fully extended teeth of a box blade to tear up a  75′ X 50′ plot to expand our current growing space. It’s spring now and we decided to proactively smother the weeds before they take control of the bed. The standard is to cover the ground with black plastic and let the sun beat down for a minimum of 3 weeks before you finally prep the beds for planting.

There are many options to cover and smother weeds but we decided to go cheap and get thick black plastic rolls from the local hardware store. It ended up being more trouble than benefit. First, the wind easily picked up the plastic. We had to dig around the property for logs and rocks to hold it down. The strips were narrow enough that we had to lay down multiple pieces which increased the winds capability of lifting the  plastic.

It was almost comical watching us trying to stretch and lay the rolls down in the wind, throwing whatever was around us on top of the plastic to keep it down. It became a routine every evening, straightening the plastic out again. Although we had some success it wasn’t as devastating to the weeds as we had hoped.

What did we learn from this? Spend the money and buy the agricultural tarps. They will be worth it!

Seeds Are Here!

After spending January planning the expansion of the beds, February was spent deciding what to plant. After we evaluated what grew the best and what sold the best last year we decided to focus on greens, carrots, beets, snap peas, beans, summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. We saved a section for personal use where we’ll plant a few items that don’t sell well but we can’t live without! We absolutely loved the celery and okra last year but nobody was interested in it.

March is here and I’m excited to say our seeds came in the mail! While we saved seeds the last 2 years we were unable to collect enough to cover what we will be growing this year. Some items, like carrots, didn’t go to seed. We will also be trying a couple new varieties to see if they do better than ones we’ve previously grown.

My next objective is to clean up some of my collected seeds from last year before planting including trying to separate more of the lettuce seed from the soft white propeller pieces that stubbornly stuck around. I also need to finish shelling peas and beans from their dried pods. Anyone for a shelling party?

Spring is coming up soon!



Chicken Run Collapse

Yesterday we had a blizzard and the snow was so wet it actually stuck on top of the 2X4 inch farm fence stretched over the top of chicken run. I wish I could have taken a picture of the 4 inches of snow on top of this roof, but we took care of it at 4:30 AM when there wasn’t enough light to get a photo.

The SCH40 conduit is currently being used support the roof, but wasn’t strong enough for the weight. It was like walking into an ice cave that luckily didn’t collapse on us. We carefully popped up the wire with snow shovels to release the snow but one section on the upslope bent and pulled apart. A couple pieces of wood are now added for additional support until a long term solution can be found. We need to keep a roof due to the hawks that regularily patrol our property.

Replacing the SCH40 conduit with metal is our first priority. Then we plan to create a porch on the upslope to the coop to give more protection from the weather and a dry area for the hens to stand outside during rain or snow.

This was our first winter with the chickens so we count ourselves lucky this was the worst thing that happened all season. We are coming up on spring so hopefully we won’t have another blizzard until we finish the upgrades.