Before I jump into the subject on hand let me ask you to keep my baby boy in your thoughts.
Benny was bitten by a dog on Sunday night. He has stitches on his face and head. He had a very hard night at the ER, and a hard couple of days, but he is doing much better now. His eye is no longer swollen shut and the redness is starting to fade. We just hope for him to recover fast and easy without complications or infections.
It’s very hard to go back to every-day life after something like that, but what else can you do?
Mapping The Farm…
After I declared that I am going to farm our land I wanted to go ahead and map the whole field out. My goal was and is to make sure we are not spending time, money or energy doing the same thing twice or moving things around later on.
I met with our cooperative extension agent out on the property and we walked the field together (about 3.5 acres). He gave me some important points to consider like making sure the green houses go on the west side of the property and positioned from North to South so they don’t shade any other plants. Also, beds of tall perennial plants like asparagus, for example, should also be on the west side of the field and vegetable beds should run North to South. All those points are important to make sure I don’t end up with half the field shaded by the other half.
I had to take a day or two to come up with a plan in my head. After I had some ideas of how I want things to look, I set down and used Google Drawings to map the field. Here is what I came up with….
This is a long term plan. I am not going to attempt to get all of this done by myself but I will work with this plan as my guide. Of course, it is just a plan and it can change at any time.
When drawing it I started with the green houses first. A big commercial green house is 30 feet wide by 96 feet long. I knew those will have to go on the West and running from North to South so I drew them in the upper right corner of the field leaving a distance of 35 feet from the property line (for future driveway) and 12 feet in between the houses so a tractor can drive between them. I would like my green houses to be mobile, this means that they are built on a rail system and can be pulled back and forth on the rail between two different sites. The benefits of mobile greenhouses are many; from soil health to pest control to season extension. If you are interested in learning more about mobile greenhouses check out Elliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook or videos of him on You Tube.
I needed to make sure I have enough room for them to move so I went back to the field to measure. I calculated them at 100 feet long just to be on the safe side. I was happy to find out they will fit. I now have an area of 72 feet wide (30 feet for the width of each green house plus 12 feet in between) by 200 feet long measured for the houses. Those are the two rectangles on the top right of the map, the dotted line is their second site.
I would love to have another green house for seed starting and a work station. On the map, it is the rectangle on the right next to the x marks.
Between the two large green houses and the driveway there are three little squares. Those will be my compost piles for the beginning until I have a tractor and can make compost on a large scale by harvesting a field and letting the harvest decompose. For now, I will build three compost squares by piling 16 bales of hay, 8 on the bottom and 8 on top, and layering hay, horse manure (I found a farm in the area that gives me all the manure I can dream of), and green plants. I am going to have to grow the green layer of the compost since my kitchen scraps won’t cut it. Since I have to plant green manure (a.k.a cover crops) to better my soil before planting veggies, I decided to sow much more of it and harvest some for the compost instead of till it under. I placed the compost piles close to the driveway so I don’t need to carry the horse manure or hay bales far.
The circle next to the compost and driveway will be a play area for kids.
The rectangle next to the driveway on the front of the map is a farm stand/work room. My ultimate goal is to be able to sale directly from the farm to cut my costs of transporting the crops. I would love this place to become a community hot spot, were people come to pick up their veggies year around and become part of the operation. Around this building (the dotted line) we will have to make more parking space.
I really wanted an orchard. The cooperative extension agent said there is no chance to grow fruit trees organically in our area. They must be sprayed or the orchard will become a restaurant for pests, and those guys don’t pay their bill or leave a nice tip. I am not convinced, but for now I settled on blueberries and blackberries. I have an area of 125 feet by 65 feet for them to the left of the driveway.
North of the berries and next to the seed starting green house I would like to have a tool shed and a herb garden.
The large area on the top left of the map is my outdoor vegetables beds. I decided to go with 30 inch wide beds. They will probably be 30 feet long running North to South. I am still not sure about the spaces between the beds.
Lastly I had a strip of land closest to the stream on the left (marked with xs). The stream is surrounded by woods, therefore this area is shaded part of the day. I wanted to take advantage of it even though it is shady so I decided to plan for something I want to do for a while now: grow mushrooms. Mushrooms don’t need full sun, you inoculate the logs they grow on with mushroom spores once and you have mushrooms for about five years. I am fascinated by this kind of crop and I hope this plan will work.
That is it! Can you see it turning from this:
It is going to be a lot of hard work but so far I am having just as much fun!
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