Friday, March 18, 2011

March Farming

Activities are accelerating here at the farm as March passes the halfway point. In the greenhouse we have seeded a host of crops: onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, Asian greens, kohlrabi, lettuce, tomatoes, celeriac, kale, herbs and flowers. Our volunteers and interns, Shelly, Marlene and Lucas have been a great help.

Marlene seeding w/Momma kitty

Broccoli showing its true leaves

No more greenhouse for the onions. They are hardening off outside awaiting planting in about a week.

Lettuce, kale and leeks filling the cold frame

Cleaning the tools in prep of the season

Lucas taking a soil sample.

Recycle and Reuse at the Farm
Frugality is nothing new to this Missouri homestead. In our remodeling of the house and in other activities at the farm we often find scrap materials that were used in construction 4o or 50 years ago.

To live up to the waste not attitude of our forebearers, and satisfy our desire to keep plastic out of the trash, we have designed our own version of the "ground staple". By cutting waste irrigation tubing in half, and punching two holes in it, we are able to make a ground staple that better holds down our row cover. It appears to be working well, and has the potential to save us a lot of time when putting out the row cover, as our alternative is to bury the edges (a tiresome and time consuming process.)

To top that, we are using them this year to tack down large sheets of waste greenhouse plastic on our cherry tomato beds to help warm the soil before planting in April. More on that in the future.

FSF ground staple

Warming the beds

Electric Tractor Update
At the end of last year our electric tractor was not acting as powerful as in the past. After some testing, it became apparent that 3 years of farming was all our batteries could take.

As we were hoping for 4 to 5 years we were a bit disappointed. Luckily our search for new batteries took us no farther than next door in Lawson, to Magnum Industrial Batteries. The folks there were helpful in providing us with an alternative design for our battery pack.

Instead of the six 8-volt batteries of our original system they suggested eight 6-volt batteries to achieve our required 48-volts. The 8 battery system cost the same as the 6 and has over twice the amp/hour rating, meaning we will have more overall life.
We installed the batteries on Tuesday and went to work cultivating on Thursday. The tractor performed like a charm, with enough power to draw the cultivators and disks through almost an acre of beds.

New battery pack

Cultivating in prep for planting

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