Posts Tagged ‘high tunnel’

Let me start by saying, I can’t wait for my baby to get here!! 🙂

The nursery is prepped, I’m big, partially immobile, and baby is kicking like a champ! We can’t wait to meet him!

Then I’ll say, I’m feeling stifled, and a tad frustrated today. Normally, I sail through this time of year cleaning seedling trays, organizing seeds, and generally being excited about the upcoming season. This year, I’m 8 months pregnant, and all that business requires energy that I just don’t have. *harumph* So I’m pouty.

I’m told it’s totally normal to feel like a big, ol’ lump during this time of pregnancy. What I wasn’t prepared for was the weird brain numbness you get. I just can’t remember anything! And then there’s the cold, and the snow, and the inability to get up off the couch without assistance. For a Type-A, usually-has-it-all-together, always-on-the-move type of gal, this whole business is a tough pill to swallow.

So, I laid in bed last night ruminating on all the things I need to do in preparation for the spring. There’s a ton, and I’m certain I won’t remember them all. But, for therapeutic reasons, I figured I would share some of them here, and perhaps my readers might have suggestions and tips on ways of reducing my workload prior to and just after Baby gets here. So here goes!

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1. Separate Rhubarb Crowns: I have beautiful rhubarb that’s been here, probably as long as the house has. Unfortunately, when we had our roof put on, the roofers didn’t seem to care about the crowns, and trampled them….seriously trampled them…I’m praying not to death. The soil needs re-worked because it’s now compacted, and the crowns are large and over-stuffed, so as soon as they start to come out of dormancy, I’d like to split the crowns, and rejuvenate the soil. *Fingers crossed there’s anything left of them*

2. Prepare chicken accessories for the high tunnel: I’ve been wracking my brain on the best way to accommodate all the new girls coming in a few months, that will be housed in one of our tunnels. It’s the perfect set up. They work the soil, kill the sod and bugs, and fertilize, while I recover. Come fall, we can move them to the other tunnel,  prep the soil, and plant cover crop. But, we need nesting boxes, waterers, roosts, etc., for them to be able to stay in there. As today is my day off, I’ve spent a significant time googling, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Nesting boxes:

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Feeders:

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Roosts:

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All portable, and temporary. Perfect for high tunnel chickens! Now, just to come up with a clever watering system.

3. Figure out how to water plants in the high-tunnel: We have enough drip tape for one high tunnel, but the nearest water source is 300 feet away. That’s a lot of garden hose to stretch across the yard. So, I’m trying to figure out a rain catchment/watering system that doesn’t involve water from the faucet. Keeping in mind that we also don’t have electric run either. I’m thinking rain barrel, drip tape, solar-powered pump. I don’t have it quite together yet, though. Anyone have ideas?!

4. Usual chores: And of course, I won’t be able to run the tiller, shovel, bend over, or just be useful overall, until about June. Way too late in the season to start bed prep, and get seedlings planted. So, we either miss out on A LOT of things I like to grow, or I find volunteers/inexpensive help to take over where I can’t once the weather breaks. (I think this is the most nerve-wracking part for me!)

5. General prep: Regardless of how tired I am, I need to get off my hind-end and get the pots/trays washed up, the grow lights set up, and my seeds organized. Because, although I don’t have enough brain power to remember exactly when I’m supposed to start everything, I know there are a few things (onions, leeks, celery, eggplant) that will need started sooner, rather than later.

123Last year’s onion sprouts dated 2/29/12 *sigh*

Well, I think those are the most recent farm-related things weighing on my mind. And now I feel better. 🙂 Thanks for humoring me.

*I’m open to suggestions for ways to reduce labor this coming growing season, so if you have any tips or tricks, please share!

**We’re also accepting volunteers!!

-Linde

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(They picked the one where I was laughing!! Darn it!)

We made page 5 of The Solon Times this week for our farm, and high tunnel presentation to the city. They passed the variances with flying colors! I’ll be ordering the tunnels any day now.

Thanks to Sue Reid for writing about us. You can read the article here.

So excited for next season already! Thanks to all of you who kept your fingers crossed for us!

-Linde

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Well, I didn’t sleep well, as expected. I flip-flop between extreme excitement that we’ve been selected by the USDA for high tunnel funding. It makes me feel like my dreams are becoming a reality to not just me, but the rest of the world too! Then, my feelings are dashed when I think about the city meeting. I have a sinking feeling that they’re going to say 2,100 sq feet is just too large. It is big, but what an impact it would have on our farm! I’m hoping that the worst outcome is that they say we can have it, it will just have to be smaller.

Anyway, back to the story. I didn’t sleep well. I’m not sure I even slept at all. So, what’s the best remedy for sleeplessness?

ZUCCHINI SALSA OF COURSE!

I was in zucchini OVERLOAD this week, so when I ran across this recipe, I figured I’d give it a try. I’ll be honest… It’s delicious! I call this version the “Hot Zucchini Salsa” because at the recommendation of Farmer Rich, I threw in a jar of jalapenos. (We don’t have any yet.) It’s a little hotter than I’d like it, but it is so good, the heat didn’t really slow me down when “sampling” half a jar. I have the full recipe for you on the “Recipes From the Farm” page. I encourage you to give it a try!

And to round out this crazy post, I just wanted to show you some other new things around the farm:

We got our first ripe tomato! And Farmer Rich promptly ate it.

Then I noticed we had a cantaloupe growing! I don’t even know how I missed it!

Looks like we actually had two, but something was obviously more observant than I.

And, just because they’re my favorites:

-Linde

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The United States Government thinks we’re cool!

I’m serious! We have just been selected as one of the recipients in Ohio to receive a grant, funded by the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, to build a 2,100 sq ft hoop house (or high tunnel)!! Woohoo! I just received the final contract today!

For those of you who aren’t hip to the farming lingo (don’t worry, until 12 months ago, I was in the dark…) a hoop house, a.k.a., high tunnel is a temporary structure made from PVC pipes, or metal, in a hoop shape, and covered in plastic. They come in all different sizes. High tunnels are not greenhouses. There’s no electrical, plumbing, cement, etc. It’s just a barrier, heated by the sun, protecting a particular area of the farm. Simply put, it’s a big piece of plastic protecting our plants from unwanted elements. Here’s an example:

Credit

So, what does this mean for us?

First, it means I am so excited that I won’t sleep tonight.

Second, it means we have to find an awesome (preferably local) company to buy a high tunnel, within our budget–and then construct it.

But most importantly, it means that we will harvest cold hardy vegetables like lettuces, spinach, carrots, kale, swiss chard, etc. etc. etc., well past the time we would have normally lost them to frost. AND they’ll most likely over-winter, so at the first sign of spring, they’ll start growing again! We’ll also be able to grow heat loving crops inside, when normally it would still be too cold in the unprotected environment. Isn’t that AWESOME?! No more dry spells of having to buy crappy grocery store veggies! WOOHOO!

But there’s a catch…

We live in the ‘burbs. Although, our city code specifically states we are zoned for agriculture and truck farming, we have thrown our city planners for a loop. When we inquired about a permit, things started to get a little hairy. Mostly because even though homesteading, local food, and urban farming is old hat to us, and likely you, dear reader, it’s still quite a new idea to most.

I was concerned at the tone of some of the communications we’ve had up until this point. It felt very much that instead of supporting us, the city was searching for reasons to shut us down, which didn’t make sense, since we are zoned for farming. But after a short conversation with a representative from the city today, it seems its not so much the farming part they’re worried about, it’s the commercial traffic our farm might bring into our residential area. I can respect that as a valid concern. Luckily for us, 99.9% of our business is conducted away from our home (i.e. deliveries, and farmer’s markets next year). Even the CSA is in the clear, because we plan to set up a pick-up site at some places like Whole Foods next season.

But, to actually put up a high tunnel, we are going to have to submit a variance request, and be required to face the planning commission on August 14th. I’m not sure what to expect. I know the planning director is discussing our situation with the Law director, which is of uncertain significance. We’ve already talked to the neighbors, who are supportive of our plans, so we aren’t worried about complaints.

I’m a little disheartened that even though we’re zoned for agriculture, we’re recognized by the state of Ohio as a farm, and we’ve gone through the rigorous process of completing the government application, attending meetings, and having a site visit by the federal government–only to face the prospect that our city council will shoot us down.

BUT! I am confident that the respectable folks of our city council and planning committee will see the value in what we are doing, and see the positive impact it will have on our family, neighborhood and city.

Who knows, maybe we’ll be providing their supper someday.

-Linde

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