Oh how I hate chiggers! If you haven’t experienced them, they are nearly invisible bugs that live in grass and brush during the summer. Their bite, while not technically a bite, leaves a red itchy welt but you don’t know right away that you have […]
Once vilified as the epitome of bad fats, lard is making a comeback! Lard and other animal fats are showing up on natural food store shelves and coolers at premium prices. These are $9.99 for 11 ounces! There is still controversy surrounding the health risks/benefits of […]
Freezing drizzle has been falling since last night. A light snow and bitter cold are on the way so of course this is the very last opportunity to add another layer of plastic to the greenhouse if I want to save the plants inside. I have a 4×6 foot “lean to” greenhouse. The greenhouse has three sides and it is attached to the back wall of the house which creates the 4th wall. Someday I hope to write a whole series on managing a small greenhouse but for now, I’ll just share this story.
I like to do things ahead of time but this year, for various reasons I was operating on last minute deadlines. Our first frost was almost a month later than average so much of the garden closing didn’t get done until quite late, if at all. I have a lot of plants that I bring in to the house to overwinter and I wanted to try very hard not to bring in any insects with them. One year I had terrible aphids on my orange and lemon trees (still waiting for my first orange). So of course, the night before the first frost, I put those plants in the greenhouse, knowing it would buy some time before I had to bring them in the house.
This year I also have several new fig trees and had to decide if I’ll try to overwinter them in the greenhouse or a cold dark garage. The garage has no daylight and will be consistently cold, but won’t dip down as low as the green house temperatures.
The plants that need to be indoors for sure have made their way into the house by now and the fig trees are in the greenhouse so far but as our temperatures were predicted to fall below zero I worried about the temperatures in the greenhouse. While the snow would provide an insulating blanket our forecast also called for wind and the snow might not settle on the roof of the greenhouse in any measureable amount. So, I retrieved the plastic sheet from the garage marked “greenhouse” and recruited help from the taller member of the family to get that extra layer of plastic added to the outside of the greenhouse. The plastic is added only to the roof and front of the greenhouse with binder clips from the office supply store. Last time we also had to add a bungee cord across the top because of the winds.
We headed out the back door, taking baby steps on the icy deck and around to the greenhouse. Of course the bungee cord and binder clips which are used all over the garden during the season for such things as bird netting, shade cloth or row covers, are stored inside the greenhouse and the door was frozen shut from the freezing drizzle. A cup of hot water and a cloth to dry the track worked great to release the frozen door and I retrieved the clips and bungee cord as quickly as I could so as not to let too much cold air into the greenhouse.
We soon had the plastic up and cold hands (you can’t really manage binder clips with mittens on) and were back in the house warming up. That day we got less than 2 inches of snow and over night the temperature dropped to -4 degrees. The temperature in the greenhouse got down to 14. A few days from now (one week after that storm) we might have a day in the 60’s. Welcome to Kansas!
One of the coolest things about microgreens is that you can grow them year round. In the middle of winter when everything is brown and gray outside and you know most supermarket produce travels more miles than you did on your last vacation, something fresh, alive […]
What could be more fun than having a fresh, living, edible centerpiece for a holiday table? It’s even more fun if you grow your own with microgreens. To make this center piece, start with a 4 inch plastic plant saucer. They are available year round at most […]
It seems that no matter where you end a path or a step the lawn or area just beyond it become a trampled soggy mess during rainy periods. It also seems that over time we have replace all of our old concrete down spout diverters or splash guards with the accordion type tubes that direct the water further away from the foundation. That leaves us with several concrete down spout diverters to dispose of and at the same time we needed to find a solution for the muddy area at the bottom of the steps.
We originally thought we would have to buy some paving stones but realized that if we turned the down spout diverters upside down that the back side was just a flat concrete surface. Since the curved top was now the bottom, we started to dig out a bit of the dead, muddy grass and discovered that at one time there was a brick landing that had an inch or two of dirt and grass on top of it.
We rescued the bricks, added some sand and arranged the bricks with the flipped over concrete down spout diverters and whoala, a new landing. This would also be good for an area in the garden.
I loved being able to repurpose those concrete splash guards instead of hauling them to the dump! Have you found a way to reuse concrete splash guards?
This summer my husband and I started a new adventure by becoming a vendor at our local farmer’s market. This is a very large, well attended market with space for 72 vendors. Most Saturdays every space is filled with a few less vendors on Wednesdays. I’ve […]
In the interest of connecting consumers with farmers the Farm Bureau hosts bloggers on a farm tour once or twice a year. At our first stop we toured a greenhouse and pig barn. The greenhouse is a fairly new addition to the farm. One of the sons decided to join the family business and the greenhouse is his project. It is something obvious and at the same time something you don’t think of that when you add another family to the family business you must expand in some way. You can’t support another family on the same income, usually. Sometimes we forget that farming is a business.
The greenhouse was amazing, 1300 tomato plants, some grown in the ground and some in 5 gallon bags of coir. The tomatoes are fed water and fertilizer through an automated system.
Climate is controlled through an automated ventilation, shade system and a million BTU boiler that can run on multiple fuel sources including corn.
The start up cost for this greenhouse was significant. Farming is a business. Next we toured the hog barn. This was a rare privilege to be allowed to tour this facility and even be on the farm because of bio security. We were told before hand not to wear clothes or shoes that we might have worn at another hog farm. One of the other bloggers had a farm and had hogs, she did not visit the farm voluntarily or even shake our hands when we were introduced. It is evidently very easy to spread certain hog illnesses between farms.
My memory of my cousins hog farm in the ’70s was hogs in the mud, feed bin lids banging all the time and a pretty strong smell. This was so different! In this modern facility the pigs are housed in a climate controlled barn with fresh air constantly circulated. The floor of the barn is slated so manure drops down to the space below onto wood chips where it is aerated and dried by huge fans. All of the animal waste from this farm is used to amend the soil on this farm where additional crops are grown.
While I can’t say there was no odor, it really wasn’t bad. The pigs were clean. The rancher said that pigs will choose being cool over being clean and that is why they roll in the mud, to cool off. Since these are kept cool, no mud needed. I hate to use the word, happy, but it seems appropriate to describe their behavior. They were alert, active and interested in us.
It was especially interesting that the pigs would come through a one way gate to get water when ever they wanted and then return to the larger part of the barn through a sorting scale. As the pig comes across the scale the heavier pigs go to one side of the barn and the lighter pigs go to the other side. The sorting scale opens the appropriate door.
This technology allows for better regulation of feed (which is automated) and provides feedback on how well the pigs are gaining weight. These pigs do not receive antibiotics except in the case where they might be needed to treat a specific illness. This is another reason that bio security is so important. In the barn we toured there were two pigs isolated from the rest that seemed a little smaller, they had their own separate feed and water system.
The pigs do have Paylean made by Elanco added to their food toward the end to increase lean tissue mass. After reading this article I would prefer that my pork did not have this drug added to their feed or at the very least that there was a clearance time between the last dose and slaughter. Be sure to read beyond the headline, though because the article never supports that this drug is linked to cancer, only that this drug belongs to a classification of drugs, some of which are determined to be carcinogenic-bit of a leap there. Obviously this drug improves the bottom line for farmers AND affects the price at the grocery store. If you decide (after looking at both sides) that you don’t want this drug in your food you must support that choice with your buying power if at all possible. Cheap food and natural (I don’t like that loosy, goosy term but you know what I mean) food don’t usually come in the same package. Farming is a business.
You can read about last year’s tour of a dairy farm and others, here.
All opinions in this post are my own. I want to thank the Missouri Farm Bureau for this opportunity. I learned a lot from this tour.
Microgreens have a higher nutrient density compared with mature greens. To learn more about microgreens in general click here. That’s all well and good but how do you get all the green goodness into your diet? Adding microgreens to your diet is less about recipes and more […]