Farming on a Shoestring Budget, Part 2!

The following is a post my husband posted at our Collingwood Farm blog. He did such a nice job, I wanted to share!

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Farmer Rich here!

From picking, to cleaning and refrigeration, time is one of the greatest enemies to the quality of your veggies.  While our poor little kitchen sink is fine for washing veggies, we are limited on the space available to properly dry the food before it can be put into the fridge.

If we only had a convenient space to prepare, wash and dry our vegetables in order to make the process quick and easy . . .

Good news! Farmer Linde and I finished up our new outdoor wash station:

By re-purposing an old piece of counter top, a (free) Craigslist utility tub and a piece of old hardware cloth, we now have a quick and convenient way to rinse and dry vegetables before storing or selling.  This simple design will reduce our water waste by allowing us to capture the rinse water in a 5-gallon bucket so it can go right back into the garden.  A quick scrub and this new farm feature will be ready to use!

Some quick tips for gardeners…

Hi all, I’ve been super busy lately getting all the early crops in. Considering I’m starting from scratch, it’s quite the undertaking. I love it though. It’s good exercise, I get to enjoy this beautiful weather, and it’s just good, honest work.

At any rate, I’ve discovered some helpful things along the way I wanted to share, because they’ve helped me save time and money. So, it could do the same for you!

1. Don’t ever buy garden markers again. Go to your local thrift store and buy mini blinds. I got 2 of them for 50 cents. The blinds are so thin, they cut easily, and they hold sharpie marker writing like a champ. Considering I get 4 garden markers from an individual blind, I won’t have to buy garden markers again for a loooong time. SCORE! I just saved myself quite a bit of dough!

2. I used black plastic mulch for my onions this year. Because I’m starting by tilling up grass, my onions struggle to compete.  In an effort to make planting through the plastic mulch more bearable, I drilled 1 inch holes in a piece of press board after measuring 6″x6″, like so:

 

 

 

 

Then, I laid this pattern across the plastic mulch, and using a blow torch, quickly hit each hole, melting the plastic underneath. The result:

 

I just went along, plunked the onions in each hole, and I was done! Awesome, right?! Shout out to Bay Branch Farm for the idea.

Be sure to visit me at Collingwood Farm to see what else I’ve been up to.

 

Slugs!

As you may know, I’ve been seriously ramping up the veggie growing around my place. My husband and I have started a small acreage farm, and have already received some payments from our first year CSA members. (“YEAHH!”, and “YIKES!!”)

I wanted to get a jump start on some of the cold hardy plants like brussel sprouts, cabbage, radishes, etc. And with this eerily nice weather we’ve been having (minus the frost last night that knocked out a couple brassicas), I’ve gotten a lot of them in my portable green house, and cold frames. But there’s one major problem. You guessed it, SLUGS!

 

Credit: Wikipedia

These slimy buggers have done a significant amount of damage to my crops in a very short period of time. They’ve lopped off the leaves of my broccoli and brussels sprouts, completely beheaded my kale, and left lovely ragged edged radishes in my cold frames. DRATS!!!

Because I want to keep things all-natural, I have to accept losing crops to nature is going to happen…..a lot. (It certainly doesn’t mean I have to like it!) So, here was my plan of attack.

1. Surround remaining affected plants with coffee grinds–it reportedly deters slugs.

2. Scatter hair around seedlings—also reportedly deters slugs. (Gross, I know, but I just happened to cut my husband’s hair on the same day I did this, so it worked out.)

3. Beer in shallow dishes reportedly attracts slugs, gets them drunk, and they drown.

Outcome:

Ehhhh to number 1 and 2. I can’t say they’ve been effective…but I suppose it doesn’t hurt. But number 3 is a definite winner.

The above picture is gross. However, I took this the first morning, and there were about 9 slugs in there (and some random beetle). Unfortunately, there is probably 9 million of these things in my yard. But, I’ll chalk this up to a score, and keep feeding those little lushes cheap beer, and hopefully enjoy bountiful harvests!!

Have you found anything affective against slugs??

 

 

USDA Plant Hardiness Zones Updated.

I’ve been taking some classes through our local extension office, and was surprised to find out that the USDA has updated the plant hardiness zones in recent weeks. It looks like global warming has taken most of us up about a half zone. I was in Zone 5b, but now I’m 6a. Not much of a different, but good to know. Because there are a lot of  gardeners out there, I wanted to help spread the word.

From the USDA website

 

Get the full info from their website here.