Late Frost Last Night

So yesterday I looked at the weather forecast and realized that we were going to have an overnight freeze. I already have tomatoes, peppers, and basil in the ground and I realized that they would probably not survive. So I set off to try and protect my plants.

Peppers and Basil

Basil Under a Jar

Basil Under a Jar

My bell peppers, jalapenos, and my basil plants are all quite small still. So for those plants I simply covered them with a mason jar and pushed the mulch up against the sides of the jar. All of these plants survived the freeze.

 

 

Tomatoes

My tomatoes were too large to fit under a jar, so I had to try something else.20140415_154303

I have read that plastic will work as long as the leaves don’t come in contact with the plastic. So this is what i tried. Using my trusty Fiskars 14″ Hatchet, I cut some branches with forks on them. My reasoning it that I could drive these in next to the plants and then drape plastic bags over them, which the forks would keep away from the leaves.20140415_154349

Well as you can see, my plan wasn’t a success. It looks as if most or all of my tomato plants froze during the night. I guess that the 2 layers of thin grocery bag plastic was not enough protection.20140416_121558

An Interesting Note

My brother, who lives nearby, also had some tomatoes out already. He did nothing to protect his, and most of them are in the same state as mine. But there was one standout.

20140416_121138For some reason, this tomato survived seemingly unharmed. There is no difference in elevation, mulch, soil, variety, or source. It came from the same nursery and was planted at the same time as the others. The only possible difference that i can think of is that it might be genetic. There are varieties of cold-hardy tomatoes, and perhaps through mutation or cross-pollination this plant obtained some of those genes. I will certainly be saving some seed from this plant for future tests.

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Our New Trellis

It is finally warm enough for me to work in my garden! I have been waiting through the long cold winter for this moment. And it has arrived!

There are three main objectives for our large garden bed this year: to produce enough green beans to can, to produce enough tomatoes to can some tomato sauce and homemade ketchup, and to extend our salad green growing period as long as possible.

The Trellis

Today we built a trellis to help us accomplish these goals. This trellis will provide support for our beans and tomatoes, as well (hopefully) providing a bit of a microclimate for our salad greens. We used poles cut from the surrounding forest and some aluminum wire that I had lying around.

Left - Top View, Right - Front View

Left – Top View, Right – Front View

Using post hole diggers we buried the posts about 18″ in the ground. We then ran the aluminum wire tightly from pole to pole. Then to really tighten things up, we drove anchor stakes in at the ends and ran a piece of wire up from the stake to the top the the nearest pole. This made the whole setup much sturdier.

The whole trellis (its hard to see the wires)

The whole trellis (its hard to see the wires)

Wires attached to the posts

Wires attached to the posts

Anchor Stake

Anchor Stake

 The Microclimate

Potential Microclimate Area

Potential Microclimate Area

The garden bed is aligned north to south, with the angled part of the trellis being at the north. Our hope is that the shade from the trellis will provide a mottled shade to the north part of the bed, keeping it cooler. There is a grape trellis (show in the above photo) to the west that runs the entire length of the bed, so that should help as well. Hopefully this will allow our salad green planted there to go longer without bolting in the hotter part of summer. We will have greens planted in both parts of the bed and will compare the two.

Food Forest Update

Due to my work schedule this last year, I wasn’t able to get enough ground cover / much installed. Because of this the food forest became very overgrown.

Now that everything in the had gone dormant for the year, I’m going in to chop-and-drop. Precipitation is definitely higher than evaporation right now.

I will update this post with pictures after the deed is done.

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I am the part owner of a cow!

Well, 1/4 owner of a cow. This is Sandy:

image

She is a purebred dexter, about 6 months old. She was very skittish at first, but after only a week she has gotten used to us. She now comes running over when she sees us.

I was never really a fan of cows before, but I like this one!

I am certainly looking forward to the milk. It is pretty much illegal to sell raw milk in Alabama, so this will be my first opportunity to partake. Cheese and butter making will be a fun experience as well.

12/03/13: Corrected title from “period” to “part”.

Arduino Controlled RPM Racklight

Hacked racklight? What does that have to do with permaculture?

Well, probably not much.

This is just a project I have been working on for a few days, so I though I’d share it here.

A friend gave me this RPM Blue Racklight:RPM Racklight

For those who are unaware, a racklight is a light that is meant to be mounted to something like a guitar amp case, I suppose to just add a little color to the setup. This one originally was only blue. I decided that I wanted it to do more than that, so I broke it down to see what I had to work with.

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I Love Fresh Herbs

Clockwise, from top: Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage.

Clockwise, from top: Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage.

We just made a pizza using herbs from our garden. The difference between fresh and dried herbs is just amazing, in terms of both flavor and fragrance. I believe everyone should grow some of their own herbs, even if it is just a small pot in a window sill.

The final Product!

The final Product!

Cold Frame Test

I just started a new test. It has been unusually warm here lately and I started wondering if it would be possible to grow some things even though it is February. So I built a simple cold frame:
cold_frame
and direct-seeded a few types of plants below it. I planted broccoli, cauliflower, and a various mix of salad greens. The broccoli and cauliflower were from organic seeds and the salad greens were from seeds that we saved from last year.

The temperatures here in January have been ranging from 23°F to 65°F. I plan to remove the cold frame on days above 40°F and replace it on days below. I have never used a cold frame before, so I’ll see how it goes and post updates here.