Friday, May 18, 2012

What does "Sustainable" Farming Mean?

I am sure you have heard the word “Sustainable” agriculture/farming.  On our farm, we use sustainable farming practices, meaning our concerns and methods allow for the production of crops and livestock in such a way that it does not damage the land or its natural resources, preserving it for future generations.
We conserve irrigation water by the use of a drip system on our vegetables and have installed a timer to keep the watering consistent.  Another sustainable practice is the rotation of crops which helps to keep the soil full of nutrients.  In our winter months, we plant Fava beans which not only are wonderful to eat, but are high in nitrogen.  In the spring, we mulch the plants and plow them back into the soil enriching nitrogen naturally.  We plant potatoes for our CSA customers which when finished, leaves the soil higher in nitrogen.  This year, where I had previously grown the potatoes, we planted green beans, which just LOVE nitrogen.  It is suggested for small vegetable gardeners that there should be 3 sections of planting; each year to completely rotate around each section i.e. When Section 1 is finished, it goes to Section 2; 2 goes to section 3; 3 goes back to section 1 on the 3rd year.  Of course, it is always recommended to compost in your yard and to put your mulch back into your soil when needed or during the winter months. (photo is example of gardening sections)
Around our property lines, we have left the blackberries and trees and brush to help wildlife alive and a natural setting. I am not saying it is wrong, but so many farmers cut down every tree, spray or burn every bush, weed, plant on their irrigation ditches and property lines to maximize planting of crops.   We try and encourage birds to help eat insects so we have put up bluebird boxes; bird feeders and have owl boxes to help with the gopher problems.  I saw recently an idea where people put out yarns in a basket for the birds to use for nesting.  I am a knitter so I have lots of bits and pieces of yarn, I will be doing that next year to encourage nesting in the nearby trees.
I feel that our sustainable practices must be working because our small 5 acre farm has a den of foxes in the back; we have blue birds nesting in our boxes; the trees are filled with every imaginable bird; I have frogs everyplace; so far this year I have seen 4 snakes (good ones); we have owls in our boxes; we have a big family of quail that live in the blackberries and roam around our place; we have our resident pheasant; and loads and loads of bees on anything that is blooming.  All living in harmony with Frank and I as we weed our vegetables, disk our fields; water the orchard.  Now I must say one negative about this friendly relationship.  Those darn birds are getting into my cherry trees before I have had a chance to pick them!!!  I am going to get out my netting today to try and save my cherry crops!!  They are going to have to stay with worms.
Some gardening tips and suggestions for this week:  Don’t forget to water now that the weather is warming up. Check those drip systems and sprinklers so they are working properly.  Trees are best deep soaked well a couple times a week rather than quick sprinkling, it encourages roots to go deeper.  May is traditionally a time to fertilize trees, shrubs, flowers to give them a good start for the summer.
Gardening is fun and so rewarding for yourself and your family.  If you don’t have much area to put in a garden, then have a few pots. Plant a tomato, maybe some herbs or a cucumber plant.  Put some sticks in the pots and have the cukes grow up instead of down.  I saw these mason jars used as hanging lights, thought they would be so cute for summer dinners.

From Windmill Farm-

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Grandson's DIY Bedroom & Bathroom Remodel

Go figure this weather!!! Hard to plan what to do out in gardens from day to day.  Oh well, the plants don't know if it is too hot or too windy and of course, THE WEEDS love it all. 
I went to Yuba City late one evening taking the old Township Road and saw some farmers spraying their fruit trees at 9:00 p.m. at night!!!  Only time they could spray without the wind and temperatures were probably perfect.
I was able to spend some time with my grand kids last weekend.  Celli and I wallpapered Collin's room with a world map.  We re-arranged his furniture, cleaned good and updated his wall decals from CARS to STAR WARS his latest interest.  Celli found some large road maps on sale so we lined his dresser drawers with them and will be covering a lamp shade too.  I had some old wooden fruit boxes and we found another one at a local antique store, so Chris installed some casters on the bottom; we lined them with the road maps; and rolled them under Collin's bed full of LEGOs and toys.  A fun DIY project. Collin is loving his new room!!
My peonies are all finished, but they were spectacular this year.  They take so many years to get established but once they are happy in their location, the blossoms get bigger and more of them.  This is year 3 for the ones I planted in the yard and I loved having them along with cut roses in my kitchen.
We started remodeling the hall bathroom around March doing the work ourselves.  It is finally finished and Frank and I are very pleased with the results.  We tried to keep the look of the bathroom to have that 1920s/30s look to it which is the age of our house.  Still need some final items for walls but there will be garage sales and flea markets coming up soon.  Here is a before and after photo.
In my next blog I will show you some photos of the shower and storage cabinet Frank made.
Frank and I want to wish you a very wonderful Mother's Day this Sunday.  Both of us do not have our loving Mothers with us any longer, but a day does not go by when I don't think of my Mom who was so inspirational in my life.  She loved gardening and flowers and passed that love on to me.  Take the time to tell your Moms, Grandmas, Great-Grandmas that you love them. From Windmill Farm to your house-