|Patrice's garden over at Rural-Revolution.com|
There is so much land on the farm being unused that there is ample space for a nice sized garden. Where to put it is step one. Should it be next to the farm house where it would enjoy a four-wire barbed fence around it's perimeter? Or near the barn where there is much more open space to utilize but no fence.
I'll be adding a water catchment system by placing gutters along the barn and farm house. These will dump rainwater into barrels just like I did at my house. I have plans to run drip lines from the barrels to the garden so proximity of garden to structure (barn/house) is not too important.
I've talked about water use before and showed a video of my automatically filling water barrels. I have somewhere around ten 55 gallon water drums filled at my old house. That will be a good start out here at the farm but since there was a devastating drought for the last two years, I'll definitely need more storage.
The soil at our family farm is very sandy. Because of this, I've been pondering using Patrice Lewis' gardening method. Having had several years of unsuccessful gardening due to critters munching (deer, voles) and weeds, she has begun laying down old used billboard signs on the ground to choke out the weeds and act as a barrier to voles (moles). These vinyl signs are then covered with rock for weight and added stability in windy conditions. She then uses her saws-all to cut a tractor tire in half and place the tire-half in her garden. Into the tire goes her manure and soil mixture.
Luckily for her, the vinyl signs, tires (and manure) are free. A local sign company donates their old vinyl signs and a local tire company gladly delivers oodles of old used tires to her homestead. Her cows gladly donate the manure ;-) Too bad they don't deliver near the garden.
She is reporting much greater success in the last two years with this method than any prior method. I'm thinking that the HUGE mole problem I have might be solved with this method of ground cover. Weeds are a pretty big issue here too. Just ask the poor Brush Hog. I have plenty of cow dung around the property too. Patrice added a few more feet to her short six foot fence to finally dissuade the jumping deer.
Uncle R shared with me that past gardens here at the farm were successful in growing: corn, potatoes, onions, green beans, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. That's quite a plateful right there! Mix those yummies with some homegrown beef or local venison and I'm set. I've already practiced dehydrating most of those items and Wifey can put the canner to good use.
So first, the specifics: where would YOU put the garden? Since the north and south side of the barn has large barn doors for driving in and out, I can't put it there. The west side of the barn has built in stables so it's a no go on that side. This leaves me with the east side of the barn.
Being that this is a large sheet-metal-covered barn, I learned some previous lessons that might play out here. In Arizona, I had a raised bed garden right next to a little sheet metal shed. The heat given off by the sheet metal fried my first crop (for lack of a better word). I draped a blue tarp down the side of the shed and anchored it on top with several heavy decorative stepping stones that I had laying around the back yard. Problem solved.
Would I have this same problem with the barn? Note: the raised bed garden was on the south side of the shed. The farm garden would be on the east side of the barn. Perhaps that effects the level of heat? How many feet AWAY from the barn would be enough to minimize this effect? I like this spot because it offers easy access to rainwater gathered from the rooftop but there is zero fence coverage.
Another option would be to simply moved the garden location a few hundred feet to the southeast where it would be bordered on the east side by a four strand barbed wire fence. I could pretty easily run the drip line out to this spot without much difficulty. There would be no danger of radiant heat from sheet metal barn walls. With one side being bordered by fence, I could add fence to the other three sides AND would probably have to raise it up to eight feet tall, as Patrice showed was necessary for deer stoppage.
I decided to make a rough aerial map of all the additional possible locations. The fence marked by red lines is four line barbed wire, normal height. Some places inside the farm house "pen" would be shaded by trees. There is one large open area next to the farm house. There is also a large open area on the west side of the barn. Note, the cows free range feed. They do visit the old horse corral but only for a drink. The rest of the day, they could be anywhere except near the farm house.
So, what do you think?
PS. Here's the whole farm:
All the red boxes are where my cousin farms wheat, rye, etc. The little blue box is where the barn is to give reference to the image used for garden location. This is 160 acres.