This last week my dad came out a third time to help me out. We ran into some serious issues digging holes with the hand auger thanks to all that Wisconsin clay. Sunbelt Rentals to the rescue! We rented their 9" earth auger and attached it to the bobcat to get 4' down. The day was definitely not without its set backs, but we got all 33 holes dug, all 33 fence posts in, and all the joists attached. I don't think I've ever worked as hard physically for two weeks straight on something as this garden. My father and I collectively shoveled five tons of mulch, three tons of top soil, two tons of manure, and three tons of stone (seriously, not kidding, I did the math). Thanks to this 58'x48' garden and chicken coop I am truly ready for bikini season.
Are you getting ready to own your very first flock? Congrats! I know exactly how excited and nervous you feel imagining those fluffy little chicks living under your roof. As someone who did her fair share of chick rearing research prior my first six chicks, there are seven very important things I wish I had known. This post is here to bring light to some very important factors I think a lot of bloggers miss out on when they write about the first few weeks of chick rearing. Read on to prepare yourself and your home!
How to Build Raised Garden Beds
As you plan your first garden are you running into serious trouble with your soil? Does it hold water like an old sponge or hemorrhage moisture leaving your growing surface bone dry? Don't fear, raised beds are here!
I went through a gamut of options as I was trying to deal with my sandbox of a garden spot, literally. There was a 60' x 50' plot of sand where I wanted my garden. Why that spot? With a young forest covering about 60% of our property, I needed a spot with 8+ hours of sunlight and shelter from the wind. This was our only option that wasn't on the opposite end of our five acres. Having your vegetable garden close to your backdoor is imperative. The thought of trekking a wheelbarrow and garden tools all the way to the back of your property seems to me like the opposite of fun. Even if we did put the garden back there, the soil is nearly 70% clay, and the water sits for days before it drains. That is not the type of soil you want for your veggies, unless you want their roots to rot.
So back to raised beds. With raised beds, you have much more control over what type of soil you are planting with because you start from scratch. Let's talk how we built ours, what we used to make them, and what their shelf life will be.
Can you believe this gorgeous weather we are getting in April? Wisconsin is smiling ear to ear over these 70 degree days. My father came back into town to help me put the garden together. After much deliberation on how to deal with the massive amounts of sand we have exactly in the spot that gets the most light, raised beds became the answer. If I wanted to try my hand at some serious gardening this year, I had to fork out a little cash to get the supplies. To learn more about how we did it and how much it cost, click here.
Next on our to-do list was getting the fence posts in that surround the garden. My dad had his 3 foot auger handy, but it was no match for the the fist-sized rocks we encountered 10" down. The other issue we faced was the clay was so thick it would just stick to the blades of the auger. After four hours we had sunk only three fences posts. Defeated, we returned to working on the raised beds.
Enter the neighbor's S-150 bobcat! I've got my name on an auger attachment for this next week, so hopefully with my dad behind the bobcat the process will go smoothly.
One of my favorite aspects of permaculture is food forests. What is a food forest? Imagine walking through acres of beautiful apple trees, surrounded by fruiting mulberries, ripe tomatoes, creeping clusters of mint and wild strawberries, as you walk you can pick and eat whatever your heart desires. All the plants benefit each other in a closed loop system that draws pollinators, adds minerals to the soil, fertilizes itself naturally, and mulches itself naturally. Food forest gardening and farming is a low maintenance sustainable plant-based food production system, inspired wholly by the way woodland ecosystems work without human interference.
This last weekend my parents came into town and thank GOD! We got so much done. My dad works as the Trail Boss for the Burnett County Snowmobile Club, making him the most efficient guy I know when it comes to taking down trees.
There were about six nasty old half dead trees that lined the garage, all blocking much needed sunlight into the only south facing window we have on the house. My dad and I had them out, stumps and all, in one day. The yard looks so much more open now, plus we have plenty of logs now to build hugelkulturs in the back of the property. I also plan on using the thickest stumps as the sides of my raised garden beds.
To see all our pictures and learn more about the process, click here.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we turn the 80 acres we call home into a farm that serves its community and a homestead that nourishes us throughout the seasons.
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