Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Three Sisters

The Three Sisters Garden of the Iroquois is made up of corn, beans, and squash. Our pasture area never grew to fruition and so it is being transformed into a massive site for composting and gardening. The first planted row is a Three Sisters Garden.

As our animals' pens are cleaned, their manure is set in thick rows in the pasture area so that it can decompose and become fertile soil. The goats produce the best manure as they are picky eaters and tend to leave behind the bits of alfalfa they don't care for. Their leavings are a nice balance of poop and dried plant material, perfect for composting.

A dip along the center of the wide rows is made. The seeds are set in and covered lightly. Using old soaker hose covered with straw has already proven a simple and effective way to irrigate. The seedlings have shown themselves today:

Alpaca Shelter

This ugly but functional house was built from 12 wooden pallets, some 2x4s and corrugated metal roofing. The pallets are bolted and screwed together for added strength. It is about 8x8 feet inside and provides good rain shelter for the fluffy boys. The best part of all: they actually USE IT! The alpacas shelter inside or on either side of this new house, depending on where the sun is in the sky. On a real hot day, the shade in there feels pretty good. When it cools off some, I'll be adding siding and my favorite barn red paint.

My design is slightly based on the one here: http://www.petdiys.com/gallery/wood-pallet-pasture-shelter/  I didn't cut my pallets at an angle though, as electricity is limited to a generator at the ranch, and I don't like to mess with it much. My version was built with a battery powered screwdriver/drill. My roof has less of an angle and is mounted on the 2x4s which were set at a slight pitch atop the pallets.

This project took me about a week to finish as I can only work on it when the weather is tolerable and for as long as my drill had a charge. Two people could probably finish this, if they have electricity, in a day.

To Raise or Not to Raise?

Summer was harsh on the Gigantic Garden. The extreme heat, well over 100 degrees most days, and the lack of a strong, humid monsoon really took a toll on production. We had a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, a decent crop of potatoes, maybe 7 zucchinis and 5 cucumbers. That's about it if you don't count the pretty sunflowers. Our young trees are straining to survive and all this with daily watering.

I've always believed there is no better water for a garden than rainwater. The evidence is clear after a nice downpour, when the plants stand at attention and act like that's the first real drink they've had in weeks.

We've always had raised beds in the garden, beginning with thin rows, then wider rows, but I built a prototype raised bed with rubber fence slats to see if the extra depth of loamy soil will help roots develop better and soil be retained and moist more so than a wide row on the ground.

I'll decide in a few weeks if I want more of these contraptions (which are very easy to build).

Today it was planted with peas, spinach, lettuce and green oinions. There is an existing fruit tree and surviving potato plant already in the bed.

Bellowing Update

Since her first date, Ms. Karma has not bellowed.
The consensus is that she's knocked up. Good job, Doc Mary!