Gaston County Farm

Week 80, 2020

Week 80, 2020

This is our first post since re-designing the website, 80 weeks since we started this journey back in 2018 to provide Gaston county produce. When we started with this barren plot of land it was sometimes hard to picture how we would even get started. It is rewarding to look back and see all that we have accomplished in that time and how the vision has come to life!

It has been awhile since we posted an update, the winter seems to become the project/get things done season.

In The High Tunnel:

The high tunnel is basically our “storage” garden over the winter. Crops either don’t grow or grow very slowly. Now that we are on the other side of the 10 hour day we spoke about in our last post things have started to grow slowly. Timing is important this time of the year as we prep for spring and summer. It was important to get seeds and transplants in at the right time to allow for a well-timed harvest

High Tunnel
Winter Carrots
1 of 2 totes, last of the winter carrots. Seeded 9/7/19.
Winter Carrots in Storage
Stored using wood shavings and carrots layered.
Winter Carrots
October 5, 2019 seeded carrot.
New Kale Seedlings
Blue Curled and Scarlet Kale started for the market!

We just went though what will probably be our last harvest in the high tunnel and moved the chickens into the tunnel. We have had a pretty significant pest problem since early winter (subsided after a few hard freezes) and are using the chickens to hopefully break that cycle. The chickens will be in the tunnel for about four weeks so they can do their beautiful chicken scratch and pest eating in there.

The high tunnel also got an upgrade for this coming year. Tired of seeding flats on the ground we built a seeding table and some accompanying greenhouse tables. We used 2x4s with PVC legs to prevent rodents from accessing the seedlings on the tables.

DIY Seeding Table
DIY Greenhouse Table

Outside Plot:

In our last update we had just started prepping our permanent beds for the outside plot. We have now completed all that work. That was an undertaking. We dug out the paths and put the dirt on the beds, limed the beds and applied about 1.5-2″ of compost. It has been about a month since we wrapped that project up and currently have tarps covering the whole plot to prevent erosion and keep the moisture in the soil, as well as, smother out any germinating seeds from the disturbance.

We made a questionable decision to cut four foot strips of our tarps to allow us to cover some beds but leave others uncovered when in production. This turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, long thin tarps love to blow up in the wind and we have not had a shortage of wind this winter. After bagging roughly 150 sandbags we think we’ve got them down pretty good and hope to minimize any more blow aways.

Market Garden Progress
Finished permanent beds.
Spreading Compost
Compost and lime applied to beds reading for seeding.
Organic Compost
Moving 15 cubic yards by wheelbarrow.

Chickens:

As we mentioned earlier the chickens made their move to the high tunnel to break the pest cycle we have in there. They are doing a good job tearing things up that we will have to redo later (joy!), but the result will hopefully be less pests and maybe even a little fertilizer.

Three weeks ago we had another hen casualty, finding a red-tailed hawk having a chicken for lunch. We are now down to 10 hens from the 12 that we started. Anticipating selling eggs at the market this year we made a decision to add to our flock. In order to produce enough eggs for sale, we would need to add to our flock and will be adding another 12 Golden Comet hens in March.

Wash-Pack Shed:

This was our big project in the last update, getting the shed built. Building the shed was just the start we still needed to add our tools, tables, walk-in cooler,…

In the first project, we added a cold water line to the shed. An outdoor spigot for any hose needs we have outdoors and an indoor line to fill our greens washer.

The next project we tackled was a bit unplanned but will provide a bit more comfort in the summer/winter. Our initial plan was to sheath the inside of the building with just OSB board and keep it un-insulated, but we elected to insulate the shed. This didn’t require to much more cost to insulate and will no doubt add to the comfort later on.

DIY Washer to Greens Spinner Conversion

Once we had the walls up in the shed we could start working on our wash and pack tools we needed. The first completed was a washer converted into a small farm size salad spinner. This type of conversion is pretty standard in the small farm space, however not much is available on the specifics. This was a long mental project, we ended up purchasing three washers and recycling 2 of them after learning what type and model was necessary. We chose to figure it our for ourselves and not pay for an online resource we found here. For someone that doesn’t have time time or skills it is a great resource we would recommend.We probably could have paid for the directions/information, but it wasn’t that complex and would not have honestly been worth the cost to us. We posted an article full of information we could not find to try to help, click here to see it. Here is our finished spinner!

DIY Greens Washer
Completed DIY Greens/Salad Spinner
DIY Walk-In Cooler

A much larger project, we are building a 8x8x8 walk-in cooler in one corner of the shed. It is super important we have this additional space to store the produce we harvest. The basic setup will be a 15k BTU Window A/C Unit controlled by a CoolBot and very insulated.

The A/C unit is tricked by the CoolBot into cooling down to temperatures around 36 degrees. This is perfect, we will be using it to keep the cooler around 38-40 degrees. The walls/floor/ceiling will all be insulated with 4″ of foam board and having an additional layer of rock wool within the stud walls and ceiling.

That much insulation starts to look like a huge project! As it sits today we got the first 2 ceiling pieces in (the hardest part) and are beginning to work on the walls.

Walk-In Cooler with CoolBot
First sheet of insulation up on the ceiling.
Walk-In Cooler with CoolBot
First Layer complete on the ceiling.

Mother Hiker Soap:

Mother Hiker Soap is getting a brand refresh and its own website! We’re taking new images and tweaked our logo to match the brand better. We’re working hard to get the site up and going so stay tuned! Here is a little preview,

Mother Hiker Soap
Mother Hiker Soap Workbench:

Another project we got to check off the list was building a series of shelves and a table just for soap making and storing. We used 3/4″ plywood for this project. Enough room to store all the tools and supplies with enough workspace to handle making the soap on top of the shelving.

DIY Soap Workbench
DIY Soap Workbench
DIY Soap Workbench

From Around The Homestead:

First Lettuce of the Year.
Foggy Morning.
Snow on January 31
Snow on January 31.

Thanks for reading,

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Comments (2)

  • Marianne February 15, 2020

    Wow, so much completed! Can’t wait to see the shed complete and working for you guys.

  • Robin Meyfohrt February 22, 2020

    Can’t believe how much you accomplished in short period of time. I’m learning a lot from your blog as well. You two are amazing. I look forward to visiting the markket

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