Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spring Approaches...

Homestead Plans for 2012

I started planning the Garden today..I hope I have room for it all!!
As Far as I KNOW I have ordered a LOT of seeds!! 
Our Half  acre ( which includes our house, barn and chicken coop...is set in the Gatineau hills with trees all around and a ravine in back..so laying everything out take some creativity! My First Garden here..I panted a three sisters garden in one 1/4 of my garden plot..but I planted to many pumpkin and squash..and it pulled down the beans and the corn and the squash took over half the garden before it was through!!!
So this past year I abandoned the 3 sisters and planted two rows of corn separated by the beans and things..and the squash I planted in planters..But I am ready to attempt it again...this year I am a little older and a very little wiser.  The three sisters garden is an old native way of planting the staples of their yearly vegetables...
Corn, Beans and squash..it is ingenious really..
You plant the corn in hills.. when the corn is 6 inches to 1 foot high..you then plant the pole beans among them..then at the base of every OTHER hill in Every OTHER row... 

I know that 6 squash plants does not look like much..but it is almost too much!
The Idea is..that the corn leeches the soil of nitrogen..and beans are a nitrogen producing plant..so they help each other..in return the corn acts like a pole for the beans to climb!!  The Squash then snakes in and around the bases of the hills and shade the ground retarding weeds and the prickly stems keep four legged pests to a minimum! Tried and true..IF you do it correctly!!! ( laughing at my first attempt) But live and learn right?

This year I have selected Old Tried and true 3 sisters heritage plants..Indian Corn..which I will use in grinding flour and supplementing my stock feed!
And Trail Of Tears Cherokee Beans..these are a good bean for drying for soups and stews..(It memorialises the forced relocation of the Cherokee Indians in the mid-nineteenth century. They carried this bean throughout their infamous walk, which became the death march for thousands of Cherokees.)
These beans are for drying and so is the corn..so I will allow them to just that. The beans will climb ( hopefully) around the corn supporting each other and I will leave them to dry that way until harvest. Essentially that whole section of garden , once established ..should remain untouched until harvest.
Th rest of the garden( I hope)..I have planned to be as companionable as possible!  I am hoping to fit in Cabbage, onion, Mangle beets ( for the goats rabbits and chickens) A half row of Swiss chard and the other half of Kale..A row of carrots..a few rows of snap beans for canning and a row of sweet peppers.

Once Again I am going to plant my tomatoes in Hangers...I got a lot of blossom end rot last year when using the hangers..and I found out it is because the soil lacked calcium..SO..I have been saving my egg shells!! I rinse them and dry them in the oven at 200 for about 15 minutes (actually I rinse them and dry them in a cake pan inside my Dutch oven on top of the wood stove)..When dry I put them in a jar..where Later I grind them up in my old coffee/spice grinder.
You Don't want the shells touching the roots..so once they are in the planters and the soil is in..I will top the soil with about 1/2 cup of ground eggshell in the planters..this way every time I water..they will get the nutrients.  If you want to try this with your "in Garden" Tomatoes..just sprinkle some dried and crushed egg shells around the base of each plant..working it in a little..not touching the roots and leaving some on the surface ( slugs HATE sharp eggshells)
Last Year I got some celery plants on sale at the end of planting season..And so I stuck them under the hanging tomato plants..as I heard they are "companion" plants for tomatoes..and also need lot of water..Being on a well ..It made sense to plant them under the tomatoes..that way..when the tomatoes get watered..and excess also waters the celery! It worked BEAUTIFULLY! So I have ordered some celery seed and will start them indoors and do the same set up again this year!
This is a shot of the garden from last year..I have bought two more hangers...
This is a hanging planter for hot peppers..
I plan on planting some cayenne peppers in these..originally I was going to plant strawberries in them..but I am going to ask my husband to build me a raised bed for Strawberries in front of the porch.
I am told you can't plant different kinds of peppers to close to each other..so hanging the Cayenne makes sense.
My original garden plan about shows me planting sweet peppers next to the snap beans..BUT ..I am also going to grow POP corn this year ( It is my one weakness) and I am thinking since the snap beans are at the other end of the garden from the pole beans..why not put a row or two of popcorn in between the snap beans..with the same companion planting premise as the three sisters garden?
The Planters that i grew the squash in this past year..
Have been given a liberal bucket full each of rabbit poop..and Is where I will Plant my sweet peppers! This just makes MUCH more sense to me!!
This picture is from last year where I shelter the squash plants with frost blanket over inverted tomato cages.
Behind these planters is where I am hoping we can put a 12x4x 5 feet tall pig crate..
This will be raised off the ground several inches with a slatted floor..the urine will go down through the slats to the ground...The Water and feed troughs will be at one end..with a PVC pipe spout on the outside where I can pour feed and water into two separate troughs...the door will be at the other end and while they are eating I can reach in with a hoe and pull out and poops!
I would LOVE to pasture pigs..but with only a half acre..we have to work with what we have for now. The crate design I am planning I saw on a youtube video..and they had 3 pigs in there..now by the time they get crowded it will be time to butcher..but we plan on having only 2 at most.
The Squash and pumpkin this year will be planted up closer to the road on a long hill we plan on making from last years compost..I wish I had realised how much compost the goats, chickens and rabbits would make..and I would have started it there last year..but live and learn!
In front of those planters where I am going to plant the peppers...I Plan on planting potatoes in bags I will make out of landscape fabric..and we will be building a rabbit hutch out by the goat yard..we are also moving our Bees from behind the garden out toward where the rabbit hutch and squash plants will be...It is going to be another BUSY year..But I hope more organised!!
But you can bet your boots I will be blogging the process!



Renee said...

Very nice! I'm still figuring out where to put the garden. Hope to start digging this weekend.

Half Acre Homestead said...

@Renee Exciting isn't it??