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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scheduling backyard farming projects

Hello, everyone! I hope this last month has felt more productive for you than it has for me. Talk about settling down for a long winter's nap!

I started the new year with grand aspirations of how I was going to be better (diet, exercise, sleep, finances -- you know the drill), but it was too many goals all at once, and my will broke like a tree branch after heavy snow.

I know I do better when I pace myself and identify specific goals for a month at a time. I decided to do this same approach with backyard farming projects. There are many things I'd like to learn about this year -- such as bee-keeping, espalier trees and cold frames -- so I will plan now when to study them. I will also schedule specific projects instead of saying, "Oh, I'll get to them someday." Here on the blog I will share with you what I have studied and present my projects. Perhaps that's my biggest reason of all, to have this kind of accountability. Some of the goals, such as the one I have in November to feature homegrown food at the Thanksgiving table, will inform the choices I make earlier in the year.

Here are my backyard farming goals for the rest of the year, above and beyond the usual projects of tilling and planting the garden:

1. Decrease food spending and food waste through better meal planning. Evaluate all of January's food expenditures (including eating out) for a comparison.
2. Learn about bees in my area, including if city permit is required.
3. Determine planting schedule and quantities for upcoming garden. Remember Thanksgiving dinner goal.

You may wonder how I count food spending as a backyard farming project. Simple. My garden endgame is to provide food for my family. Thus, I hope that patterns of efficient meal planning and avoiding waste will carry over into the months of fresh harvest. Maybe I can even sock away money saved on winter food costs to invest in fruit trees or other plants.

1. Actually set-up indoor seed-starting rack this year! Start veggies from seed.
2. Rejuvenate strawberry patch by digging out plants, culling the strong ones and replacing in improved soil.
3. Learn about espalier methods for fruit trees.

1. Install soaker hoses around raspberries. (I've meant to do this for a decade!)
2. Prune/remove trees, particularly those that infringe on garden areas.
3. Learn about rain collection methods.

1. Make parking strip (land between sidewalk and street) into a garden area.
2. Start more grape vines from cuttings.

1. Learn about increasing tomato yields through pruning.
2. Design and implement a more workable compost area.

1. Study food dehydrators and drying methods.

1. Learn about a worm bin.

1. Do not let produce go to waste. Process the day it is harvested, or give to a neighbor right away.

1. Find a better place in my home to grow herbs indoors.
2. Create a better spot for longterm storage of squashes.

1. Make something for Thanksgiving dinner that came from the garden.
2. Make infused vinegars with herbs.

1. Learn about, and build, cold frames.

I would love to learn of your 2016 garden projects, or what resources you've found valuable for my areas of study this year. Let's all teach each other how to make this year a fantastic one.


David said...

Jennifer, there you are. I was wondering what happened. Of course I can't talk, I haven't make my first blog post yet this year. You have a lot of things planned this year. I learned that if I make my plans too grandiose that it will only frustrate me when I don't get them done. I usually just pick out a couple projects and work on those. This year is will be to get the sweet corn fortress completed with electric fence and live animal traps. If I don't get it done, well, there's always next year. I want to get another 1/4 of the garden area (32 feet by 32 feet) covered with weed barrier (old carpet) and possibly plant some pumpkins, squash, and watermelons. Another big project that will take several years is the natural spring water irrigation system. Perhaps this year I will get the platform built over the spring and the hand pump installed to pump water out of the 10 foot stand pipe a neighbor helped me bury a couple years ago. Since the garden area is lower than the Spring, it's easy to water the garden from the Spring. I built a rock pile up a couple feet high and leveled a 35 gallon barrel on top of the pile. I will be able to pump water out of the spring and dump it into the barrel. The barrel has a 3/4 inch bulkhead attached. A regular faucet is screwed into the bulkhead to attach a hose and water the garden. I have a 250 gallon IBC tank that will become a water storage tank for garden watering some day. It will be about four foot higher than the 35 gallon barrel on a platform. Water to fill that will come from a four foot deep side portion of the Spring that will be lined with steel window wells bolted together. That will allow water to accumulate into a small pond that will hold about 200 gallons of water. I have a waste water gasoline pump that will pump about 200 gallons in approximately 3 or 4 minutes. So, yeah, ambitious projects for many years to come. I've learned not to set dates for completions as family, friends, and neighbors want time with me as well. :-)

Have a great yearly project planning day.

daisy g said...

I like that you have divided up your goals into a manageable few for each month. That makes it doable. We share many future goals, such as bee keeping and feeding the family with home-grown food.
Right now, we are kind of on a holding pattern, so my goal setting will have to wait until we sell our home and relocate to NC. I do have some veg growing now, including carrots, beets, lettuce, kale, broccoli, tat soi, eggplant and tomatoes. It feels good each and every time we are able to pick something from the garden to enjoy at a meal. That's all the motivation I need to keep on doing it.
Enjoy the journey, girl!

Anonymous said...

I just re-read a British gardening magazine I got for Christmas and there was an article that said if you have anything in your garden that makes you feel like it is nothing but a nasty chore to attend to, then you should get rid of it and replace it with something more pleasing to you. I know this sounds like common sense but it made me realize I absolutely hate the 8 rhodies that were here when I moved in. The colors don't go with the rest of my plantings so when they bloom, they stand out like a sore thumb and they are too large for me to take care of. They are going- all 8 of them and I am replacing them with blueberry bushes. My husband loves blueberries so this will be a much better use of space. This will be work to remove them but it will be worth it in the long run and less maintenance in the future (I hope). I like replacing with edibles. That is my number one gardening goal for this year. Otherwise, my time will be spent helping my son with the home/garden he just purchased.