Monday, November 7, 2011

The farm is ready!

Our farm is ready! Two weeks ago the Happy Green Life crew (and some other friends) got our garden ready for our fall crops! Like I mentioned before we started off by contacting our friend Farmer Eric and asking him what we should do. We were instructed to rototill the area that we wanted to plant, test our soil, add fertilizer if we needed it, then remove any large rocks and clumps of grass.
We had some options for how we wanted to plant the garden. My parents plant in raised box beds, they build boxes and then fill them with soil and fertilizer, this seems to be an easy way of doing it but we didn’t want to spend the money on boxes so we went a different route. The last three years I planted directly in the ground (I didn’t raise my beds), this works but I had a little trouble with flooding. So we decided to do raised soil beds. We marked out our beds, 3 feet by 18 feet, and 18 inches apart. We did this by hammering posts into the ground where the corners of the beds would be, then tying string to them, this way we had a perfect guide for our beds. Next we dug a walk way around each of the beds and threw the excess soil into the beds. By doing this we were able to raise our beds approximately 2 feet from the ground and create walkways that double as trenches for water so that our beds don’t flood.
Once we had enough soil in the beds we turned the soil with a fork and then flattened it out with the back of a rake-making sure that we didn’t pack the soil just smooth it flat. Once our beds were ready we measured out where we wanted to plant. For our brassicas (lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale) we staggered our plants between three rows 8 inches apart. This leaves them enough room for a medium to large plant.
For our root plants, carrots, beets, radishes we planted in straight rows dropping our seed throughout. Once they have begun to sprout we will thin the rows out allowing the plants enough room to grow approximately 2 inches (some plants up to 8 inches, check the seed pack to see how much space they need).
We have seven beds left, five will be planted with wheat and peas and two will go to herbs (our tomatoes are currently in them). We will be “nicking” the sweat peas outer shell so that they can absorb more water and then planting them 2 inches apart. For our wheat we will be spreading it out across the beds (no rows for this stuff). We will have enough wheat to make approximately 40 loaves of bread!
After everything was planted it was time to water. Farmer Eric taught us to check our soil by taking a handful and clumping it together, if it clumps into a ball then it has moisture, if you are unable to break it up in your hand it has too much moisture and you should hold off on watering. We are to water our veggies once a week for about an hour.
Once our veggies are grown we will be rotating our plants around so that we can add nutrients back to the soil. It will take approximately 60 days to see some veggies. In the meantime we are growing some veggies from seed in the house so that they are ready to plant after the first harvest. We will keep you updated on our farm, wish us luck!  


  1. I would love to start something like this, unfortunately, we don't have a Farmer Eric :( Can you or he recommend some books or websites where I can start?

  2. I was wondering about the beds when I saw a picture earlier. I hope this method works well for all of you. - Trisha

  3. Hi guys sorry about taking so long to get back to you. First the beds have worked out great. I had never used this process for planting before, we usually built beds out of wood and then filled them with soil but this is working great! We have had a lot of rain and our beds have kept their shape! It is nice because there is walking space between all of the beds, and we didn’t have to spend any money to make the garden.
    If you don’t have a Farmer Eric there are tons of books you can check out! I like The Essential Urban Farmer by Willow Rosenthal, it is a how to guide for urban farming and The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! By Carleen Madigan. For inspiration, laughs and some tips check out Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter. And don’t forget to pick up your Farmers Almanac!! Happy Farming!!