Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Patch of Blueberries

On Saturday we added a blueberry patch to our collection of small fruits. We planted them in front of a fence by the barn, that had been home to a large compost pile. After leveling the compost and working it into the ground, we dug holes for the 12 plants, and watered them with an acid fertilizer. We added a mixture of peat moss and potting soil into the holes and around the plants, which were two year old bushes. We'll keep working on that ground to keep the pH around 4.7%. We chose to put the blueberry patch in front of an existing fence so that we'll only need to add a few more posts in order to fence it in and cover the bushes with netting, once we actually have berries. We ended up planting the following varieties:

  • 2 Chipewa

  • 4 Bluecrop

  • 2 Misty

  • 4 Liberty

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Transplanted Tomato Seedlings

Transplanted our two flats of Roma tomato seedlings during the last two evenings - not sure what we are going to do with 166 plants yet :)

We used 8oz clear plastic drinking cups, Jeff made holes in the bottom by heating a nail on a torch, then added regular potting soil around each seedling.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Home for the Treehouse

Today we finally moved the former "treehouse" to a useful location. We decided to put it into the grove of pine trees which is located at the far corner of the pond-side of our property. But first we had to do some tree trimming to make space for the treehouse - now called the playhouse. Then we carefully loaded the playhouse onto the trailer (with the help of the tractor), and pulled it with the four wheeler across the street to the new location.

Then we had to move the base ( the deck portion of the playhouse which used to be anchored between the trees) - Jeff did this with the tractor. Once the base was where we wanted the playhouse to be, we backed the trailer to it and tilted it (again with the help of the tractor) and slid the playhouse onto the base. After the playhouse was positioned on the base, Jeff used the tines of the tractor's front bucket to lift first the front, then the back - while Zach stacked cement blocks under the base to make it level.

The playhouse still needs some boards replaced, and screwed to its base + a door and windows, and the railing...and maybe some front steps and a little deck - and a firepit...maybe some benches....

After all that, we planted the extra 20 pine seedlings we had gotten to make the grove of trees a little larger.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Henry and Henrietta

We have a pair of Canada Geese who made their home on our pond and started a family. We are calling them Henry and Henrietta.

Henry usually swims on the pond, on patrol it seems, while Henrietta guards her nest of eggs - which is right next to our stone bench.

Henry does not like it if we get to close to the nest though, so we have to be
sneaky in order to get a close-up photo. Even up close, it is difficult to see Henrietta on her nest.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Little Orchard

Our tree order from the Cumberland County Conservation District arrived today - we had ordered 6 pear trees and 10 White Pine seedlings, but when we went to pick the trees up, they had extras for sale, so we bought 2 additional pear trees and 10 Colorado Spruce seedlings. Anja and Duff had given Jeff 4 of these pear trees as a birthday present and Jens and Grace had given us two peach trees for Easter.

We mowed the field on the road side of the garden and measured two rows, 20 feet apart, then drilled 5 holes in each row - also 20 feet apart...and planted our trees, which are probably 4 feet tall and are dwarfed by the large field. But we'll call it our orchard despite the tiny trees.

  • 4 Bartlett Pears

  • 4 Bosc - Golden Russet Pears

  • 1 Elberto Semi-Dwarf Peach

  • 1 Belle of Georgia Semi-Dwarf Peach

The pine seedlings are still wrapped in newspaper waiting to be planted. But we did plant one pack of Melody spinach seed, which we had forgotten the other day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vegetable Garden Update

Before the blackberry plants arrived, we had already planned the vegetable garden, plowed and disked the soil and put in the cold weather crops. (The picture shows Jeff and Zach in the garden)

Here is what we had planted by April 5:

  • 20 lbs of Kenebec potatoes

  • 20 lbs of Red Pontiac potatoes

  • 3 seed packs of Hollow Crown parsnips

  • Green Ice lettuce ($1.25 worth of loose seeds)

  • Detroit Dark Red red beets ($1 worth of loose seeds)

  • Little Marvel peas (~ half a pound)

  • 300 onion plants ~ about 260 Candy, and 40 Spanish

  • 50 asparagus roots in a separate trench

This evening we also planted 1 lb of Early Frosty hull peas. And Jeff and Lars put down drip irrigation hoses for the vegies. Then we decided this garden was not going to be large enough, and Zach plowed another plot for extra sweet corn.

Meanwhile, the tomato and pepper plants (and some flowers and herbs) are growing in flats inside the house - in sunny windows.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's called The Long Shot Farm because....

Well, Duff (in the picture with his wife Anja) came up with the name while we were all brainstorming about what to name the farm. The entire exercise was more difficult than naming a baby. It took a while to sink in how fitting The Long Shot Farm name really is and how flexible and appealing to everyone. Good job Duff!

It turns out that everyone we mentioned this name idea to interpreted the meaning a different way, here is a sampling:

Jeff: "Great, and for our website URL we could use 25.06" (his favorite caliber)

Tina: "You are right, I never thought we'd pull this off and actually get a little farm"

Sam: "I thought it's because everyone in the family is a really - REALLY - good shot, you know, we are the long shot family"

Zach: "you are not allowed to post anything about me"

Rachel: "As in 'slim chance of succeeding?'"

Knud: "As in the extra tall shotglasses at a bar? Perfect"

Anja: "I was really surprised to come back from Germany to find out that you named the farm after Duff"s idea - wow"

On a more practical note:

  • We are just about a "long shot" from the borough of Carlisle...meaning it's a relatively short drive.
  • A photographer would think of the beautiful scenery being captured by a wide angle lens.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Irrigations Lines Drip on the Newly Planted Brambles

3500 feet of tubing, 600 emitters, assorted fittings and (most importantly) a bunch of "goof plugs" later - the irrigation lines are working and dripping slowly onto the newly planted brambles. We set it up so that we can connect a water house from an outside spout to the irrigation feeder line as needed, right by the garage. With the current water pressure from our well, we can run three of the blackberry rows at once. Jeff set it up so each row has it's own on/off valve, giving us lots of flexibility. Since the irrigation is working so well, and was rather easy to set up, Jeff wants to now irrigate the vegetable garden also.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Teamwork gets the brambles planted

By 8:30 this morning we had figured out how to work together to get the brambles into the ground rather quickly: Jens and Zach took turns running the auger to make holes for each plant.

Jeff trimmed the roots of each plant and dropped them into the holes, Tina followd and planted each bramble. Then Lars inserted an emitter into the drip line at each plant.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blackberry Plants have finally arrived

Late Tuesday afternoon, the UPS truck pulled into our driveway and delivered 2 huge boxes of dormant blackberry plants. After reading every article, website posting and advertisement and re-reading the Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide all winter long, we had finally decided to start off with the Apache variety.

We had already planted Arapaho, Navaho, Hull and Chester (we think) varieties in our previous backyard, but decided we needed to expand - which is how our farming adventure got started. This is our first spring at the new farm and we have been clearing trees and fence rows all winter long. Jeff had been working on what will be our first acre of blackberries for weeks - marking off the rows, sinking the end posts for the trellis wires, figuring out fertilizer needs. So planting brambles is our first order of business, to be followed by replanting vidal blanc and chancellor grape vines that we left behind at our old house.

So this week we officially started to plant the 600 brambles. By Thursday evening we had finished about 100 plants, with Jeff drilling the hole with a hand held (gas motor driven) auger, Tina putting in the plants, and Lars putting the drip emitters into the irrigation line. Then thunderstorms moved in and we did not get any further. The remaining - dormant - plants are sitting in large plastic bins covered with moist peat moss and we are hoping for dry and warmer weather for this weekend.