Tag Archives: low tunnels


April 23, 2015

Chicks Are In!

The chicks were able to sleep in their new coop Wednesday night. My husband still needs to give them a roost and I still need to paint it but they’re in!11160355_926645277386322_2140022752_n(This is not the final product (before we put the door on or did any detail work). It is very make-shift but it gets the job done 🙂 ) 11119760_926645247386325_1910571124_n(For size comparison)


Besides building the coop, I was able to plant some warm-weather seeds and transplants.

I have planted a three-sister’s garden for the last 3 years. I plant it more for a space saver than to improve the soil. Chicken manure and woodchips take care of that 🙂 I read that letting beans climb corn helps keep the racoons away and steadies the corn so it is less likely to fall. I think the racoon deterrent works; however, every year, we have had a big storm right before harvest time. About half of the corn falls and then nothing deters the racoons because the plump corn is on the ground!

SO, the latest thing I read was to plant the corn with sunflowers to keep them from blowing over. With the big storms, only a few of our sunflower plants fell so I thought that was a good idea. I planted corn and beans (two of the three-sister garden) in one row and sunflowers and cucumbers in another row. I alternated rows, planting 4 of each. AFTER finishing, I thought, ‘uh, oh’ – the corn rows are 30″ away from the next corn row. Will they not pollinate each other? Ugh. It’s already done.Nieto Photography 2015(You may be able to see the rows in this picture? The darker ones I planted yesterday but seeds are actually planted all the way to the tree – they were planted the day before)

I planted another patch of corn in a different section of the garden and made a sunflower border around it so the corn will have a better chance of pollinating but will still have the support of the sunflowers. It will be an interesting experiment.

I also buried my sweet potatoes this week. I covered some pots with plastic a couple of weeks ago to heat up the soil. This week, I put sweet potatoes in with soil around the sides. These were sweet potatoes that I harvested last fall. They have made it all winter and we are still eating them. What’s more, they are SUPER sweet (get sweeter with time)! I digress. After putting the sweet potatoes in the pots, I covered them with mulch and then covered the pots back with plastic. I’ll uncover the pots in a few weeks, or whenever I see slips growing. This is what I did last year and our slips AND sweet potatoes did really well!Nieto Photography 2015(Already had a few sprouts in storage) Nieto Photography 2015Speaking of sweet potatoes, as I was planting corn and sunflowers this week, my daughter spotted 2 of the 3 sweet potato slips that had died (or so I thought) from the frost Easter morning. They live! Nieto Photography 2015We were excited…until I realized not only did those live, I am growing my own slips, AND I’ve ordered 24 more slips…aaaaaand no room! I had a little internal freak out as I looked at how little room there is for sweet potatoes this year. Once I finish planting everything that needs to be planted this week, I am going to rip up a bunch of tarp to try to make more room.

I planted snap beans (purple and green), tomato, pepper, and ground cherry seeds early this week. The greenhouses were looking pretty good so I planted most of those out as well.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015I still have quite a bit more to plant…and tarp to rip up…and I’m still having to deal with the covers for our low tunnels. The wind has been crazy lately. I anchored the insect barrier down and that helped but The covers are still blowing off completely when we get a big gust. Suggestions?Nieto Photography 2015

I am thankful we are dealing with this now because I am planning on using low tunnels and covers a lot this winter (when the wind is just as strong) and I would rather figure it out now than have to deal with it in the winter when it is much colder and crops being uncovered would ruin the them completely.

Questions for you:

  • Thoughts on the corn spacing?
  • Suggestions on how to deal with wind and covering crops?
  • Can I plant my sweet potato slips in the same bed where I just harvested garden potatoes (not the same family but still not sure if it is wise)?
  • And finally, wanna come expand the garden for me so we will have room to plant all of my sweet potatoes?

Harvest Monday and Garden Chores

March 16, 2015

This past week turned out to be really nice (it was supposed to rain most of the week). We are harvesting eggs AND our kale made it through the winter! We are harvesting lightly but really, we are super excited about the kale sprouts that will be coming up soon! YUM!Nieto Photography 2015We are also seeing some sprouts in the greenhouses!Nieto Photography 2015some kale… Nieto Photography 2015some purple cabbage…

We also have broccoli, lettuce, onions, and even one tomato (or ground cherry?) sprouting!

If you have been following our journey from the beginning, you will recall before we knew about Paul Gautschi and Back to Eden, we covered our garden with tarps to keep the bermuda grass out (nothing else worked). We would cut through the tarp to plant. All around our blueberry plants and around our raised beds is mulch on top of tarp.

As we continue to expand the garden, we put down newspaper/cardboard and then mulch. We eventually want to expand the garden to the fence line (on the other sides of the pruned trees)…Nieto Photography 2015 and all the way down the hill. Nieto Photography 2015That is our burn pile. with all of our prunings. We tried to burn it this week…Nieto Photography 2015but everything was too wet so we basically burned the grass…we’ll try to burn the wood if it ever dries out here. I am looking forward to being able to add the wonderful minerals from the wood ash to the garden.

Back to expanding. 🙂 We typically will expand a section or two each year, as we collect cardboard. This takes the whole family, one wagon load of mulch at a time, as we are without machinery.

In the meantime, I am increasing our planting area within the garden by ripping up sections of tarp and covering the bare ground with mulch. The mulch will have all summer to break down and it will be ready to be planted in next spring or maybe this fall (depending on how strapped I am for space).

Here is a section of tarp, ripped up.Nieto Photography 2015Even being covered in tarp for 3 years, there were sprouts of green (from where the tarp was thin) that needed to be covered up with newspaper. Nieto Photography 2015Here it is mostly covered. Nieto Photography 2015Notice in the foreground (to the right) is another of different-colored mulch — that was a section I did a couple days before I took these pictures. In the foreground (to the left) is where we planted corn this summer (for perspective). Nieto Photography 2015Later in the spring, when I’m busy getting seeds and transplants into the ground, I won’t have time to do any garden expansion. Might as well spend these nice days (before planting time) doing something productive outside!

SOOOO, Garden Chores I Accomplished This Week:

  • Pulled up tarp and covered with mulch (two areas)
  • Weeded the whole garden in an hour (yay BTE!)
  • Staked the raspberry plants (last year they drooped and ants had a field day!)
  • Moved the tractor
  • Set up low tunnesls for brassicas

Raspberries staked:Nieto Photography 2015Tractor moved from here (where the cabbages and kale were):Nieto Photography 2015(Left side of pic where tractor was…Right side of pic where tractor is) Nieto Photography 2015Ready for planting! Last spring, peas were planted here. During the summer, sweet potatoes. I am planning on planting tomatoes and ground cherries outside of it so they can climb up the sides and shade-tolerant crops inside. Nieto Photography 2015And finally, setting up my low tunnels for brassicas:

I followed the tutorial from Mother of a Hubbard. I LOVE her blog. SO informative regarding fall/winter gardening! We do not have a stud bar so I used a piece from our broken down trampoline 😉Nieto Photography 2015As you can see, I marked 12″ with a sharpie so I would know when to stop driving it into the ground. I used a post driver to do so. I used 10′ PVC pipes we had left over from making chicken tunnels. Nieto Photography 2015The holes are 5′ feet apart and the hoops are spaced 5′ apart. So here I have a 5’x10′ bed. I could have spaced the holes 6′ apart but I am growing broccoli in here so I wanted the hoops higher. They are 3′ high. If I end up with more transplants than room, I can always add another hoop.

I made another low tunnel the next day for kale. I have such issues growing brassicas because of the cabbage worms. I am going to be proactive this year and cover everything from the start! Also, now that I see how easy it is to make low tunnels, hopefully my 2015/16 winter garden will be hoppin’! 😀

Are you ready to get out into the garden? I know this was a long post but frankly, I’m happy about it — I was sick of the ‘only harvesting eggs’…’too cold to do anything’ posts 😉

Check out what other gardeners are doing at Daphne’s Dandelions today!