March has been a busy month for us already! Mother Nature has been playing head games with us, because some days it is nice and the next day we get a few inches of snow!
I feel so accomplished with the amount of work I got done in the south Hoop House in a single day. I sure was worn out, but the feeling of accomplishment gave me some self pride!
My daughter and I finished clearing out any weeds that had grown. We also leveled it off and filled in any holes and gaps between the baseboard and the soil.
My husband helped me measure off the walk paths and beds. I decided to do 18 inches between beds, and about 21 inches for the beds, as that is the width of my broad fork. I left a 4 foot space between each doorway and the beginning of the beds. The beds that butt up next to the baseboards are a little wider than the other beds, and span the entire length of the hoop house.
I then broadforked the entire length of each bed. Broadforking is a form of aeration to the soil, and also loosens the soil for the plant’s roots. It is also a great work out!
After all the beds were broadforked, I then carved out the walk paths between each bed. This is my attempt at directing any extra water out of the hoop house. It will also help keep the beds dry when and if we get a lot of rain fall and the water floods through the hoop house.
Above you can see the walk paths have been carved out and all the extra soil was put on top of the beds, making them permanent raised beds. I plan on doing the same thing with the north hoop house, making each hoop house exactly the same inside. This will help with crop rotations, I will be able to move weed barrier from one hoop house to the next.
I also started most of my heirloom tomatoes that will be planted in the field instead of the hoop houses. I am obsessed with different colored tomatoes and all the different flavors that heirlooms have to offer. My favorite tomatoes, however, are Cherokee Purples, Mortgage Lifters, and Brandywines. Cherokee Purples were brought to my attention by the Mother of one of my best friends, a lady who is my kindred spirit! I learned so much from her when I worked with her when she owned greenhouses. Her thumb is greener than mine! I blame her for my tomato obsession! I love Mortgage lifters because they get so big and produce beautiful tomatoes! The breeder of Mortgage Lifters named them for …well… paying off his mortgage! He sold the plants he started as well as bushels and bushels of tomatoes. Last year, I had a single tomato from a Mortgage Lifter plant fill and ENTIRE quart jar! It weight about 2.5 pounds! Their flavor is also superb! I also love Brandywines for their amazing flavor and the ability to produce some GIANT fruit! Brandywines come in a few colors, Pink and Red being the most popular. I also started my go-to tomatoes for sauce, San Marzano and Amish Paste. I use both types in my sauce recipes as well as my salsa (I mix half beefsteak and half paste for salsa).
I also LOVE growing the wacky tomatoes, mostly to see if they match their description. However, cool coloring and flavor depends on your soil, nutrients, weather, and over all care of the plant. I decided to try a few of the tomatoes above, as I love adding color to my garden.
We also received our order of laying chicks the week of March 5th. We ordered from McMurray and as always, we were not disappointed. They threw in a few extra chicks, which is always a nice courtesy. These gals will be added to our existing laying flock when they are big enough. We went with Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, Black Jersey Giants, Lakenvelders, Leghorns, Welsummer, and True Whiting Greens. The True Whiting Greens were bred to lay green eggs, so we will see! We will also be thinning out our current flock of layers… we have a few too many roosters and the older hens have stopped producing eggs.
We are also eagerly awaiting for Joanie (far left) to Kid. She is due sometime at the end of March, if she took. We have our fingers crossed for a safe delivery of healthy kids. We are super excited!
We picked up our two new does yesterday afternoon. I purchased them from a very close friend who raises amazing animals with the utmost care, respect and knowledge. These gals are Nigerian Dwarfs just like the rest of our herd, except Petey, he is a Nigerian Dwarf Nubian cross. They’re names are Belle and Bashful and they are so well behaved and so sweet!
I milk them at twelve hour intervals and get about a quart each time. The taste of their milk is SO similar to Cows milk! I feel incredibly blessed to be able to provide for my family by way of my homestead/farm. I also believe it is incredibly important for people to have a connection with their food– to know the farmer, the animal, etc. It is a sad reality to know that most of the general population literally has no clue where and how food is produced.