Archive for Agriculture

Garden – plans for this year of 2013

Posted in Blogging, Food, Gardening, Home, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , , , on 2013/02/10 by rmolby
Chickens

Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

I am getting into backyard farming this year, out of necessity because my pay is not keeping up with inflation and the health care premiums are going up, leaving us short in our household budget.

So I am hoping to make up for it somewhat by growing at least 2-3% of my food this year, and hopefully 3-5% next year, after I expand the vegetable garden, and get the raised bed chicken tractor built.

I am designing the raised beds around 4 foot long planks cut from 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 by 8 foot or 16 foot boards, and using 3.5 inch long deck screws to screw the beds into 4×4 foot squares.

I arrange the beds so there is just a little less than 2 feet of space between them for walkways, and I use 12 inch square pavers to line the walkways. This way the beds sit on top of the pavers for leveling and less contact with the soil. I treat the wood of the raised beds with linseed oil and let it absorb and dry completely, then line the raised bed with one or two layers of corrugated cardboard  and fill them with compost/soil mixture.

When I build the wooden frames, I also attach a piece of 2×2 on the inside corners, but offset so they stick out the bottom about one inch. This way I can stack multiple beds for extra depth for veggies such as carrots, as well as stacking the chicken tractor on top of the beds as well.

As the chickens clean up the bed(s) they have access to, by churning the soil and eating every last seed, bug, and plant until there is nothing but soil, I move their tractor house to the next bed, and their run as well, and let them continue to clean the newly accessible bed(s).

The raised bed I move the tractor house from, now is well composted, has nitrogen and nutrient rich soil, that I will plant heavy feeders into the first season, and then alternate with low demand plants, followed by fallow or cover-crop, and then several other crops before I run the chicken tractor over it again.

I have part of this system in place, but I still need to built the 4×4 chicken tractor and 4×4 chicken run that will go on top of two beds, and a connector between the two so the chickens can get to the run.

I will also build a few beds that will be either 4×6 or 4×10 foot and pull the walkway pavers they would straddle, and have some bigger beds to work with for such plants as garlic and cabbages, etc, where I either need lots of plants or lots of room for a small number of large to huge plants that will require a lot of growing space.

I know, this sounds quite ambitious, but that is what I have been working towards for the last three years since I have moved into this house.

I will try to keep blogging about my garden endeavors as I find time to record my efforts. Hopefully I can get some pictures added as well to add tot he documentation of what I accomplish this year.

 

Riparian Buffer Zones

Posted in Computer Networking, Gardening, Health, Horticulture, Internet, Liberty, Nature with tags , , , , , , , on 2012/04/20 by rmolby
View of urban runoff discharging to coastal waters

View of urban runoff discharging to coastal waters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have noticed how when civilization encroaches on the riparian buffer zones, that the watershed always suffers in process, eventually to be reduced to storm water runoff channels and canals.

Being someone that can see the environmental impact of people on nature, I am always appalled by the results of civilization. Lately, I have noticed the effect a lot when looking at Google Maps or Google Earth.

Lately I have thought I should start a non-profit organisation that finds angel investors that are willing to invest into the non-profit, and use the funds to buy up Riparian Buffers Zones, and hire environmentally aware people to live on these lands and to manage them, gathering runoff from the city and filtering it, catching the nastiness like engine oil and tire dust and other gook, and then using the partially decontaminated water to grow fuel crops on small patches and parcels of the purchased land.

In some areas of cities, the runoff ditches would not lend themselves to living on them, but the easement strips along those runoff channels and ditches constantly require mowing and weed management, so they could be used to grow more fuel crops instead, so with some smart water channeling, the runoff water would grow crops, the crops would convert waste water and organic compounds in the water into fertilizer and irrigation, and the fuel crops in turn could be used to run part of the operation’s equipment and vehicles, either in the form of converting the biomass into ethanol to run in E85 vehicles, or turned into Syn-Gas to run electric generation plants which then power some of the operation’s infrastructure.

There are other positive side effects to doing this, one of which is turning areas that normally grow invasive or allergy causing weeds that use up precious fossil fuels (for weed control), into areas that produce a product for the amount of fossil fuels utilized to manage the areas, and if managed properly, these areas would not require toxic weed management techniques or supplies, and the land would slowly become less and less toxic as the biological action in the soil can begin to break down the toxic compounds already deposited on the land.

Then, if we use IP enabled remote sensors and a WiFi private LAN to manage and record the sensor data, we can monitor and manage the Riparian Buffer Zone(s) with minimal personnel, and concentrate on planting and harvesting fuel crops and improving the environment.

Anyway, I needed to record this phase of my though processes, hopefully I can pursue this further in future posts.

Chicken Coop & Raised Beds

Posted in Animal Husbandry, Gardening, Horticulture with tags , , , , , , on 2011/01/12 by rmolby
A permanent backyard chicken coop

Image via Wikipedia

Well, I used cereal box cardboard and newspaper to cover up all the major openings to my chicken coop, and that seems to keep the majority of the heat from the electric heater inside to at least keep the water dish from freezing.

I really need to get a portable chicken coop built that fits right on top of my raised bed frames. What this will allow me to do is to house my chicks in a much more wind and cold proof envelope, and the chickens will churn up and mix in their poop from the roost with the bedding material that is below in the raised bed frame.

I will have a trap door on all four sides of the coop so I can connect a chicken wire cage to any of the four sides of the coop to allow the chickens to also work a raised bed next to them that I have pulled out of production or is a brand new bed that needs to be weeded.

For the bedding material I will use a mixture of leaves, shredded newspaper and brown cardboard, as well as small sticks and branches on the very bottom.

I had this exact setup at my previous place, and it worked quite well. The resulting mix of chicken poop, paper, cardboard and some kitchen scraps all churned together by the chickens was a nice, fluffy, humus with a trace of topsoil and rough bits of wood chips. It had a nice earthy smell and was super rich and friable, perfect to side dress existing plants or plant heavy feeder plants right into it.

So, this will be my first project for the spring.

Raised Bed Gardening

Posted in Gardening, Horticulture with tags , , , , , , , on 2011/01/06 by rmolby
cordoning off square feet of our raised bed ga...

Image by the.sprouts via Flickr

This will be my second year at a new house with a new garden. Last year I didn’t have time to spend in the back yard for growing food crops. I hope this will change this year.

What I learning back at my old place is that no matter how bad your soil is, if you work with raised beds you can grow almost anything. In my case, I only moved  about 12 miles north, and the soil conditions are similar.

At the last place, I had heavy soil that had been good farm land and the clay was brown to black about 16 inches / 40 centimeters deep before I got into the really dense orange clay of our state.  At the new place, the orange stuff is only 3-4 inches deep except in a part of the back yard that used to be a vegetable garden, but that area had been rototilled and it’s not much better than the rest of the yard.

So, last year I put up three raised beds and I was able to rescue that much soil from the last place. I tried to grow some garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, dill and parsley, but almost all of it croaked from too much water, then too much heat. I did get some garlic and a few of the Stuttgarter Onion sets survived. I transplanted some of the garlic and the few survivor onions are still in the ground.

I put up another bed late in the fall, and ordered three garlic varieties but didn’t get them in the ground soon enough for it to take off, but these last few days, despite the really cold night time temps, the garlic is sprouting greens through the top of the mulch.

For the raised beds, I built them the way I had back at the old place, but I have been seeing some neat designs for cedar raised beds in some of the gardening magazines, and I think I will adopt their design idea of pegged corners, they require no screws for assembly, only a galvanized peg at each of the 4 corners and the ends of the board notched a certain way so they stack properly for pegging.

Anyway, tese were just some thoughts about my new gardening endeavors.

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