Friday, April 26, 2013

On The Free Tip

free wooden wine boxes for our CSA
Scavenging has become a way of life for us.  There are so many amazing resources out there people just throw away.  Yes it's cliche, one person's trash is another's treasure...however when you are farming on a shoestring all that "trash" is good as gold.  Perhaps scavenge is not the right word; what we do is more like salvage or glean.  Besides livestock feed, almost all our resources are free.  

leftover Chinese broccoli and bok choy starts from a community garden

From fencing off craigslist, organic seeds from the seed library, wine boxes and pallets for seed flats, straw bales for animal bedding and mulch, vegi starts from the garden club, bamboo cuttings as supplementary feed, truck loads of horse manure from the stables up the street, truck loads of wood mulch from the neighborhood tree trimmer, to more truck loads of pumpkins after Halloween to feed the livestock.  I could go on and on, it's all about the FREE stuff.  

timber bamboo cut down by a neighbor, we used to build a trellis for squash

But what's best about all this is that most of these are things we actually need and some are just fun to have or useful materials for our creative endeavors.  We save tons of money recycling and reusing.  The downside?  Sometimes we wait to get that item we really need/want.  (Which makes us think twice about how badly we really need it!)  Or once in a while we bring home something that takes up space until it's perfect use is discovered.  

old straw bales we use for animal bedding and mulch

And the upside is that we have the ability to create our farm life with stuff we find while we make choices to spend our hard earned money on other things (or save it!)  Not to mention we can tread lightly as consumers while focusing on producing more of what we need.  It really is a win/win situation.  

van full of left over pumpkins, day after Halloween
What kinds of free stuff do you re-purpose out there?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Building A Hoophouse

A couple of weeks ago I was inspired to build a hoop house.  I was getting impatient waiting for my other half to come up with the master plans for our official greenhouse and steadily running out of places to put all the plants we are trying to propagate.  So after hunting around the property and snooping in hubby's workshop I came up with almost everything I needed for my guerrilla project.  The process is pretty self explanatory (if I can figure it out than anyone can).  I made this model 5' x 20' so it can stand alone or fit over a long garden bed if need be.

After screwing the wooden base together I attached some pvc pipe I had  left over from an old chicken tractor we took apart.  Then I added two pieces of pallet wood on the ends for stability and ran more pvc pipe across the top and sides, securing with cable ties.  I used these c-clamps to hold the pvc hoops upright.  

The only thing I purchased for this project was the plastic which I got at the dollar store, so my whole hoop house cost a grand total of $3 to make!

At the front entrance the plastic is tied around another shorter piece of pvc so I can lift it easily for watering and adding or removing plants.  

It may not be totally professional but my seedlings are super happy.  It gets really hot in there!  The corn and cucumbers are all quickly germinating and the squash just keep on coming.  We have also started dill, heirloom collards, Abyssinian kale, assorted beets, mammoth sunflowers, burdock, and peppers.  Whoo hoo!