Gallery of garden pics from last year

The garden at Liberty Hill Farms in July

Some of our 9 foot tomato plants in July. We have months of growing to do. What are we going to do with these monsters?

The peppers are growing like weeds. 🙂 I won’t get rid of this kind of weed!

These tomatoes are the first full harvest we had. They were yummy….. No, I did not sell these guys. They were the first fruits of the harvest which equals high standing in vegetable world. Nobody would want to pay the price I would put on these babies! I love eating them and knowing there are no pesticides sprayed on them.

In the forefront is the heirloom organic corn we are growing. In the background is the totally awesome hoophouse getting built. It is going to make it so we can grow earlier and later in the season which equals more varieties of foods longer in the year. It is also a great insect repellent! (Bugs can’t freely get inside.)

This is a fuzzy shot of some more of the garden. We have 100 rows like the ones you see here. They are 18″ wide and 30 feet long. It has been a lot of work putting this garden together but the education alone has been worth it. 

So, there you go. Another month goes by and a ton of things happen at the farm. We are starting to have more produce on our table and money in our pockets from people supporting our efforts through ordering and enjoying our vegetables. July has been a good garden month.

Flood Watering with a Dishcloth


We are flooding our garden beds today so I thought I’d show you how it is done.
To start with we made beds that are level and have banks to keep the water where the roots are. The area that is being flooded in this video is about 12″ wide and 30′ long. That is the size of bed recommended by growfood.com and is the size we used for all 100 of our soil beds. It works very well.
In the video I show how I tie an old dishcloth onto the end of a hose to keep the direct flow of water from digging a hole in the soil. I have been watering this way for 2 years and I love it. Once we make the pvc watering system we will be abandoning this hose flooding, but until then there isn’t a better way.

Transplanting

This week we have done a ton of transplants. To do that, the first true leaves called cotyledons are taken off of the stem and the plant is buried in soil up to the next leaves. Not all plants can be done this way but peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers can. There are probably more, but those are the ones I know of for sure right now. I have heard of old-timers who do it with every transplant no matter what it is.
We have been using a soil less mix of 2 parts sawdust, 1 part sand, and 1/2 part pearlite. This makes a nice mix that drains well and yet doesn’t dry out quickly. This mix keeps disease and bugs at bay too. The plants seem to love it as long as we are making sure they are getting their Mittleider nutrients. Check them out HERE.
We also put a pre-plant mixture into the potting soil which consists of 20 cups gypsum, 1 cup epsom salts and 1/4 cup borax.  The plants do really well with these nutrients.
Now that I have posted this blog, I am off to the greenhouse to transplant more tomatoes and eggplant! Have a happy healthy day!
Elisa

Bucket Tomatoes

 In the greenhouse I have planted my tomatoes that I started from seed into buckets. It is so cool to see a thriving plant that used to be just a seed. I don’t think I will ever get used to the miracle of that!

I used a ratio of 2 sand: 2 sawdust: 1 pearlite. How we measured that was with a water pitcher. Two pitchers of sand, 2 of sawdust, and 1 of pearlite.

  • We mixed it in a wheelbarrow, then put it in the buckets until they were within 2 or 3 inches of the top rim.
  • Then I mixed some pre-plant mix into the top 6-8 inches described HERE.
  •  When that was done, I watered the bucket until water was coming out of the holes I drilled into the bottom of the buckets previously. (6-8 1/2″ holes).
  • I let the mixture sit over night to absorb moisture and then put the plants into the mix the next day. You probably don’t have to do that. It is just a habit for me.
  • To put the plants in, I pinched off the little leaves (cotyledons), the first leaves to sprout, and put the plant into the soil up to the first leaves. New roots will grow from the part of the stem that is in the ground making a much sturdier plant.
  • When the plants were in, I sprinkled about a Tablespoon of Urea(nitrogen) on the soil mixture and watered it in.The nitrogen will give them a good head start and protect from transplant shock.

 The plants have been in the buckets for a couple of weeks and are growing rapidly. I give them about a Tablespoon of weekly feed once a week and water it in. Daily I check to see if the soil within the top 1/2″ is dry. If it is, I water until it starts dripping from the bottom again. I have found that if I do that, it distributes the fertilizer good, leaches out extra fertilizer, gives good moisture content (obviously!), and keeps the soil fresh.

The greenhouse is going to have 80+ tomatoes in it this summer! I have never grown that many tomatoes at once and I have never grown in a greenhouse before. This could get interesting!

Happy Healthy,
Elisa

Posted by Picasa

Start a Garden with the Mittleider Method

 My brother called wanting to know the details of how I fertilize the garden using the Mittleider Method (You can watch a you tube video from the President of growfood.com about the Mittleider method is considered the best of organic) For those of you living in Fort Collins, I have bulk micronutrients and the weekly feed recipe that I can sell to you so you don’t have to wait for it in the mail. 3/12/2014 Update – I am now in Tooele, UT.

 HOW TO PREPARE A GARDEN BED USING THE MITTLEIDER METHOD

Before putting any soil in your 36″x8′ beds, sprinkle 1 1/2 cups gypsum on the ground. The 36″x8′ beds are what I have in the greenhouse and you can plant 4 rows in it. Outside I have 18″x30′ beds. Those would get 4 cups of the pre-plant mixture tilled in and 2 cups of weekly feed when the plants are up.
After putting in 1 part sand and 3 parts (or 1 part sand, 2 parts sawdust and 2 parts pearlite) sawdust into your beds until the beds are level with the tops of the boxes, sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the following pre-plant mixture.  20 cups gypsum(hardware store); 1 cup epsom salts(pharmacy); 1/4 cup Borax(laundry isle). Till or shovel it into the top 6 -8 inches of soil.


When the plants are up, start fertilizing once week with 3/4 c. of the weekly feed mixture. You can buy the micronutrients that will come with the recipe at growfood.com for about $14.

When you know your plants only have a couple more weeks until they are through producing, you can stop the weekly feed. If you plant something else in their place, start with the pre-plant mixture again. Do not put the pre-plant mixture in with seeds. They will not germinate correctly.

Farming Journal for April

We got quite a bit done this month despite the deep snow and delays in the garden because of cement work for the hoop house.
We tried to rehabilitate an injured calf and it didn’t work out as planned. Since then we have had 3 calves born at the farm, one of which did not survive. We are finding that we are very close with nature here and have had to deal with more death in a short period of time than we ever have in our lives put together. Together with the calf deaths have come deaths of the beautiful yellow breasted birds that arrived here at the farm with the spring weather. We have a ferral cat that has taken residence at the farm and she is quite the hunter. We keep finding these birds around the farm and in her den. It is sad. They are so beautiful. We may cage the cat and find a new home for her. I am worried about our chickens becoming prey to her hunting skills.

We have readied the beds on the terracing wall at the west side of the farm. I have even planted a few types of lettuces in there which will be followed this evening with spinach, radishes, tatsoi, and romaine. As an area is readied in the morning, I plant it in the evening so the seeds can stay moist all night and have a better chance at germination. The asparagus will be planted tonight also. 🙂   In the raised bed to the north of the greenhouse the garlic is sending green shoots up and the strawberries I planted from roots I got in the mail are leafing out. I love to see green. I planted mint in that bed along the wall in the shade.  The flowers we planted a month ago in the front bed are coming up now too.

We have spent hours out in the garden area disking the soil and following behind the tractor picking up rocks that surface and either putting them in the tractor bucket or on a wagon. The boys pulled one wagon behind their lawn mower. They had fun in the process. 🙂  I remember the hours spent and buckets full of  rocks I picked up as a child in my parents garden. My Dad had his first draft horse and put him to use with an antique plow to till up the garden. Us girls would ride the horse in a straight line while Dad walked behind the plow. It was a scene right out of the 1800’s. 🙂 Those are sweet memories to me now and I hope the memories the boys are making will be sweet to them one day. Right now they are working hard and playing hard and learning hard. It is a good life we live.

Along with a farm comes lots of open space and at this particular farm, the boys have an affinity for rebuilding and playing around on old mowers.  They have races once in a while and use them for their chores. They have learned lots about the basics of engine care and what to do when something stops working. I am pretty sure they know more about it than I do!

Farm life has entered every aspect of our lives. My children draw pictures of animals and chicken coops and adventures they have here. My 6 year old son drew some pictures of the calves. So cute.

Today my 15 year old is building a chute for a cow we are going to start milking. He is studying online about chutes and is drawing up a plan with dimensions. Then he will weld it up and do whatever he needs to do to make it work. He will have to use an auger to anchor it in the ground. I love the things my kids are learning. Along with their studies to be well rounded, they are learning life skills that will make them so capable in life.

There is so much learning going on around here that it is incredible. We are learning how to get along with each other as we work side by side. We are finding out what it really means to be close to nature and why it is important to take care of the earth. We are taking rest seriously. We are learning how to prioritize and make the most of what time we have.

The greenhouse is still in full production. I have finally pulled out some of the plants that I had put in there in November. The Swiss Chard in the picture is still producing so it is staying for a while longer. I am putting peppers in place of the lettuces, spinach and kale I have taken out. I am trying to fill every spare inch with something green. I even planted marigolds in the corners of each bed for the beauty and the bug repellant properties it has.

We are selling our veggies, and whole grain breads at Bath Nursery here in Fort Collins on Saturdays. It is fun to meet people in the community and to distribute food that will only compliment their health and not detract from it. It feels good to be contributing good things. The radishes I planted a month ago are being harvested now. I just love the miracle of putting a seed in the ground no bigger than the tip of a pencil and being able to pick a vegetable from that seed in a months time. So cool!

Each morning we have a meeting with all of the boys and us parents to decide how the day is going to go. We have to plan who is working on what, when breaks will be, when we get to study, and when quitting time will be. We have some things that stay the same from day to day but the morning meeting gives room for tweaking what didn’t work the best the day before, or sometimes new things come up that need addressed. The picture here is showing yesterdays meeting down at the chicken coops where we had all met for the morning. It is a busy life but good and rewarding. I love the things we are learning, even the tough things that have come along. We are all growing and are so much stronger(physically and mentally) than we were a year ago.

My Son Farmer Ben

This is my 15 year old son Ben. We got each of the kids sun hats for the hours we will be spending outside this summer. In this picture he is helping me level and terrace the raised bed in the garden where the lettuces will be grown in the part-shade this summer. The background is pretty barren right now but it will look like a lush paradise in a few months! 🙂