Starting My Winter Planting of Cold Frame Crop’s and Cuttings

IMG_2781Have started planting my winter greens spinach, kale, beet tops and some new ones too.. I am also going to start doing cuttings from my sweet potatoes, black berry bushes, Raspberry bushes, and try some fruit tree cuttings too. Maybe a few flowers this year also. I did some strawberries  through last winter and they did well and will try them again this winter. I am adding light and heat to them this year too… Haven’t ever done any extended light or added heat before..Two section cold frame. Can add heat and light to tall frame I think it will be a great year for this. Will try to keep pictures and growth posted with time.   This is my first raised bed that I have covered for winter greens, I still have 3 more to do later this fall. It is a lot of work to clean up and remove old plastic and strips along with all the weeds and other obstacles  before being ready to do the recover and planting. Will add new rabbit poo and maybe other organic matter for mulch to the soil before planting. The bed that I have planted and replanted is not covered yet and will add a couple of pictures as soon as possible. The kale is doing good and the spinach and beet’s are far behind but should show up in pics. If interested please follow and comment as needed to help or encourage too. Thanks Calvin Allen

Start of A New Year and Growing Season

IMG_0915It’s getting that time of  year and spring fever is on it’s way. Checked out our cold frames and we have some good looking spinach and kale. Also have some  lettuce and other items up out of the ground. Will have to start working the ground but will not start tilling for now and am going to try to go without tilling this year, just break the ground with a hoe or fork.The extreme cold is  really had a effect on the growth. We have eaten some spinach though and could have some kale and lettuce and other items. I am going to start my first tomatoes this Thursday or Friday and will plant a few other seeds too.  Looking forward to a great year and hope to have a lot of  stuff to sell at the local farmers market.

Worked in the garden most of the day on March 15th, was warm about 60 degrees. I tilled a place for my potatoes and will plant on the 17th. We just plant a few potatoes each year, and I am planting Yukon Gold. This is one of my favorite varieties. This will also be about all of the tilling I do this year, I am trying to do a no till year for most of the garden and see if I like the results. I planted so red sweet onion bulbs and some white sweet onion plants for fall harvest also, and will plant more in a couple of weeks. My  Rhubarb is starting to grow and looking very good too. I have added about 3 inches of rabbit manure mixture to one of my asparagus beds also. Cleaned up and repaired some of the raised beds and will quit for the day. Next weekend will start more projects in the garden. Planted two rows of potatoes, Yukon Gold and Idaho baking potatoes, I have always been told that the 17th is the best day to plant. I did 2 rows yesterday, and also planted last year on the same day and had a great small crop last year and hope to do so this year too.

Will try to post a few pictures over the next few weeks. I will have 2 off grid or supplement energy systems up and going this week and next week.  Will try to post some pics by weeks end.  Have a great week and 2014 too.

Calvin Allen with Ground Wind Turbine

Garden Preparation for Spring Planting

Burn Off watch.

This is one of my typical control burn off fires. As you can see it is rather small for good fire control.

As soon as possible in the spring I start working on my garden preparations. Usually, I start by raking up and pulling the residue from last year’s plant and weed remains. After I clear out all I can—I burn the rest to avoid weeds and vines clogging up the tiller tines. I almost always do two burns to get the wetter residue, which won’t dry until it gets air exposure. After burning, the real work begins! Once the burn process is over I start the cultivating process.

The areas I’m planting root crops in I usually turn over with a good cultivating fork. This is not an easy job, but it will greatly help the root crop production. A good plow will also work well, but in a confined area like mine, I can’t use a plow. Once the dirt is turned over, I run my small cultivator through it to mix up the soil blend, then rake it down and begin planting.

Cultivator Fork

These forks are good to turn over ground to about 8 inches, if the dirt is workable. I have added a lot of organic mulch for several years and the ground works well.

In the larger plots, I use a rear-tine tiller that I bought over 10 years ago and it is still working fine. Any kind of tiller you want to use will work. The rear-tine is best to work in the dirt and rocks, but it is much heavier to maneuver especial at the ends of the rows.

Calvin Allen with Ground Wind Turbine

Garden Preparation for Spring Tilling and Planting

Propane tank with flame torch

This is a small propane tank that I have used for several years to do most of my controlled burning in the garden area. Propane leaves no burn residue to harm the plants or environment, and is easy to buy and store. The small bottle is a little harder to acquire but can be found in some propane shops. The cost for the small size is much higher than the 20 pound cylinder that we use for our BBQ Grill. The flame torch can be bought at most farm and home supply centers.  The cost of the torch is somewhere around $30.00.

Burn tank and 2 wheeler

Burn tank and 2 wheeler

The big 20 pound or bigger cylinders are cheaper to buy and to fill. When using these tanks a good 2 wheel dolly makes the job much easier. When using the dolly to transport the tank, be sure to use a tie strap to keep the tank from falling out or off the dolly. I use the big tank of propane to burn around the lake and other burn projects throughout the year. It can also be used to start your brush piles and other burn projects.  Be sure to secure the tank when in use, so as to not allow it to fall into the burning materials.

Calvin Allen with Ground Wind Turbine

Cold Frame Planting

We have had strawberries and broccoli transplanted since late fall but have added lots of cuttings for spring transplanting. We have also planted spinach for spring  greens in this space.  Have added another section as well and planted lettuce, spinach, beets, and peas to add to our green’s for salads. We also cook a lot of the greens. We are going to continue to add and experiment with lots of other greens and some other plants for raised beds and cold frames.  I am going to add light and heat to the tall cold frame. We are going to market the frames in several different sizes and styles. The one I have pictured below is about $900.00 set up and ready to plant or I will also plant. This is set up on a level accessible area, and does not include mileage charges. If this is something that interest you please contact me, I may be able to help you design something that will work for you and provide some of the materials and design for DIY projects.  Thank You for viewing my site and  hope you enjoyed what you read and viewed.

Calvin Allen with Ground Wind Turbine

Gardening Ahead

The last 2 weeks have made a big change in the garden area. The garden is mostly tilled and has been providing some harvest.  The spinach is doing very well and Sunday I was able to give some to a lady in our church that really loves it. I will post some pics of the progress soon. The Asparagus is also doing well, We had our first bunch Saturday the 9th of April and had a very large bunch today. We brush it with olive oil and then sprinkle garlic salt on it and wrap it in aluminum foil and grill it for about 15 minutes.  I have planted 2 rows of corn and hope it will not be lost to frost.

We usually don’t  have late frost here because we are at a good elevation for this area. The elevation is also a plus for the wind turbine. I am going to set one in top of a tree that I have topped and see how it works. It will be about 30 feet up. I also have a tower to put one on but want to try the tree first. I am planning on the tree living so I won’t have to remove or replace the structure any time soon.  I will also upload some pics of the install. The fruit trees are just about done blooming and the cherry trees bloomed very heavy too.  We have seen a lot of honey bees in the trees this year and that is a good sign, since we haven’t seen too many for several years.. Maybe I can find the honey tree and rob some of the honey this fall. I spent some time in the woods Friday and again Sunday and found about 30 black morels.  We had them for lunch today and for me this is a real treat.. Hope to find more soon and will continue to look and post if I find any more.

Calvin Allen with Ground Wind Turbine

Time for Spring Gardening

I am an avid gardener, and we have started to make our yearly changes and clean up. We have about nine raised beds; three of them are full of asparagus and two have strawberries in them. They are there from year to year. I have a new additive to the raised beds this year, I started some rhubarb last year and it came back. I planted five plants and we have five plants up and growing very well. I have not had much luck or been blessed with a good crop of rhubarb in all my years of gardening, but have tried to grow it several times and lost all of it every time I  have raised it in the past. Maybe this will be the success story that I have been waiting for.

I ate my first piece of asparagus on March 20, 2011 and have a few more stalks coming up, so will have more to eat before end of week. We love the stuff and we sometimes eat it immediately or freeze it, and we will also try to can some of it this year. We have two of the raised beds covered with a plastic cover that lifts up and have had spinach in one of them all winter and have added to it in February. The crop is doing very well.  I have also started some broccoli and romaine lettuce  in the other covered bed and it will be ready to transplant soon. I have some pictures of it on face book and will try to post some here too. I am going to start some green houses this fall and use some of the excess heat for heating my home and maybe some water. I will also use some of my dump load to heat as needed some of the raised beds and green house. I will keep a log and some pictures up on the site as I build it and keep you informed as to the progress and the system I use to do the heat and energy transfer for the green house and raised beds.