It has been a busy couple of months. As much as I wanted to update our website, school, work, and family life have not left much time for this little project. However, during this time work on the homestead has continued. The most significant project is chronicled here.
I had built a decorative, four-tiered garden from bricks and had two harvests. It looked good, and we had decent yields from the plants. There were potatoes in half the top section the first year. As it happens, I did not harvest all the potatoes so we had a second harvest, including some nice large potatoes.
However, this design is not efficient for yield or maintaining the soil. For instance, water started making drainage passage ways between the bricks and soil. So, I began to take down this decorative garden, to make way for standard rows of crops.
As I was tearing apart the bricks the chickens would follow me and eat the insects that were living under the bricks. This became valuable as I tore down the back wall, and found cockroaches living in the gaps of the cinder blocks. The chickens efficiently and organically cleaned up the colonies.
With the new layout of the garden, not only will the plants have the benefits of being protected from the elements and changes in the weather. The garden has gained significant area to allow for more plants, compared to the fancy structure I was using in this same space.
I referenced the website "The Door Garden"
by David LaFerney for instructions on building a hoop greenhouse. The following pictures show my progress. It took me a total of about 12 hours, spread over 4 days. The main structure was competed in two days following a short vacation for my birthday. I really enjoy working on projects like this as a vacation!
The door frame was almost entirely made from recycled wood from other projects around the house.
The structure is not completely level and plum, however it is sound.
The cover was installed in under two hours, one afternoon before going to accounting class.
After finishing the doors, I covered the beds in composed chicken manure, and a layer of leaves I saved from the tree in the front yard that fell during fall. In the center of the greenhouse, I placed a wine barrel, and planted the two passion fruit that have grown from seeds I brought back from Hawaii. I am not sure if they will make it. The first couple of nights have been colder than they like, an they have lost most of their leaves. I hope they make it, their flowers are gorgeous, and if they fruit, I would not complain :)
Now to get some seeds started...