Planting the 3 sisters

Wooden planter
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As time passes during lock down and I’ve had that little bit extra time. The fruits of my labor are starting to become visible. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and the persistence of doing little but often has started to be noticeable.

The foodscaping journey so far has been great. Seeing the results makes the daily tasks very rewarding. Watching Giblets and Apollo (my rescued chickens) go from strength to strength has been wonderful to watch and they are doing a fantastic job of pest control. I have not seen a slug since they arrived!

The seeds that were planted within the last 2-3 weeks are really starting to strengthen up and some have even been transferred outside to brave the big wide world!

At The Backyard Farm we use NO chemicals like pesticides or liquid plant feed. There is also a regime against plastic in the garden in an attempt to set the path for a plastic free future. It is important to lead by example.

Transferring the first seedlings

Only 4 days ago the first seedlings went into the raised beds. These were radish seedlings and so far so good! The cardboard holders that the radish plants were nursed in can be planted straight into the soil. The roots will soon break through it and into the ground. This reduces the stress on the plants during transfer.

Along with the radish I have transferred the rocket salad seedlings to their home. They will live on the windowsill in my kitchen in a lovely red clay pot for easy picking as and when I need them.

The other herbs and salads will be moved to a new grow box which was put together this week from re-purposed material like fence panels and pallets. I will transfer the seedlings into there this week.

One of the wooden trays made has had some carrot seeds planted in it. These carrots will be harvested early for baby carrots. If it works well this will be continued through the year keeping a supply of tasty of baby carrots.

The natural pest deterrents seem to be working

There will be no use of pesticides in the Backyard farm. Instead I am relying on several different natural defences and deterrents against pests that might want to eat my food- so far so good.

The area where I live, like much of the UK has an abundance of snails and slugs just waiting to eat freshly grown leaves! There are many products that help ward off and kill them but none cure the problem and many are toxic to pets or birds.

After a few years of trying to grow a small amount of vegetables outside and failing due pests I decided to see what could be done. Using techniques like crushed egg shells or used coffee grinds did not work for me on their own. Maybe they would work as a combination?

This time around I am using more than one system of defence. Also one of the ultimate enemies of the snail and slug… the chicken!

Apart from the chickens, I also have bramble branches at the base of the raised bed. These have been cut into 30cm strips and is about 3 canes thick all around the raised beds. We then have egg shells & coffee grinds on top to deter them that little bit more.

Coffee grinds also release nitrogen into the soil over time which is vital in a plants daily processes.

Snails and slugs do not like the smell of coffee and the egg shells or bramble canes are sharp against their soft bodies. Making it very uncomfortable and even deadly for them to cross.

I also have some lavender currently in the nursery. This will go around the raised beds as a deterrent to a multitude of pests.

Planting the first of the 3 sisters, corn

The temperature has just reached a warm consistency of around 15c-20c making it time to plant the sweetcorn. This is the first crop of the ‘3 sisters’ planting technique derived from the Native Americans. To get the kernels started I soaked them in water for around 8 hours.

This softens the kernels and saves precious time in gemination once they are planted.

Once the corn reached knee height it will be time to plant the beans and then the squash. These plants are planted together in what is known as ‘companion planting’ where the plants support each other through the season.

What else was done in the Backyard Farm the last few weeks?

A lot has been done, but there is still a lot to do. I have managed to source some wooden pallets to build some wooden planters and garden furniture. So far I have repurposed x2 pallets and a fence panel to make a store.

This store is very simple and did not take long to make. This day and age up have to be resourceful. Especially in a lock down as you might not always have exactly what you need available. Using a mixture of repurposed wood I made a decent store for my gardening tools!

The gardening tools used to live in my shed, but, the chickens now live in there!

I have yet to source some paint but the structure is sound and it will keep my items dry for a year or 2 at least. I will also be needing a good amount of paint for some other upcoming projects. To source this I will be looking through options like auctions and second hand websites to keep costs low.

Resourcefulness and adaptability are key skills and should be practised.

My new drill

As time has moved along and my projects are getting more ambitious it became evident that a hammer and cheap nails were not going to suffice. As it was birthday month I decided to jump on the opportunity to get a cordless drill.

Needless to say it did not take too long considering many of the main shops are closed. The drill was purchased online and delivered around 1 week later. The avenues this very simple tool now open up for me are going to produce some wonderful food and furniture for the Backyard Farm.

Another plus side to having hens aside from the eggs, crop protection and entertainment is the trading of the eggs for other things. Due to many shops being closed I have had trouble sourcing decent screws (without going online) so, my neighbour being a builder I decided to ask.

6 eggs later I have lovely box of screws ready to build my pallet sofa!

New drill! New projects – pallet furniture

Armed with my new Black and Decker feeling like a real builder I began on my carpentry projects. It was soon evident I am no carpenter however, the things I have cobbled together I am still proud of. They are also still functional!

The first project was this wooden planter. It will be a combination of a herb garden and a bed for my leaf salads. The large front area for the salads and the back bottom & top trays for some herbs.

The bone is a sheep jaw from my local fields added for decoration. I’ll also be getting creative and painting them to brighten them up a little bit more. I will be using some basic acrylic paint for this to avoid any contamination of the soil.

The garden furniture currently used for my fire area is not the best. I have always been keen to make some pallet furniture. Now that can be achieved, with 2 pallets and the drill I’m hoping to cobble together something more comfortable, better looking and sturdy.

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