Hello folks. To start the post I want to tell you about some topics I’d like to blog about in the coming weeks, for which I’d love to receive photos featuring your farming techniques (email me!).
-Veggie washing/processing stations: smart layouts and techniques
-Transplanting techniques (in general or for a specific crop)
-Greenhouse designs (or smaller aspects/features of a greenhouse design)
-Chicken Coop designs (or smaller aspects/features of a chicken coop design)
-Hay Feeders or other barn features
-Home made hand tools for around the farm
All right then:
Vaness and I just started leasing some farmland for a market garden and the soil is ROCKY. This example is typical of the whole garden:
Our soil makes seeding crops very difficult. We were spending loads of time on two separate activities--rock picking and bed prep--before Vanessa came up with an idea to combine the two tasks.
This is the rock sifter we built. The wheels extend just beyond the width of our 3 foot garden beds, so once we've measured out a bed we can move the sifter along the bed and sift rocks larger than a half inch out of the bed.
It turns out that there is a great metal salvage yard where we live, and on my first visit I found these wheels. They were the perfect size for what we intended to build.
The best thing about the wheels was that embedded in the hubs were some steel protrusions...short axels, sort of, that meant I could attach them to the frame of our rock sifter quite easily.
We made a simple frame to the desired dimensions and topped it with stiff 1/2" wire mesh.
The system works best with two people. One shovels soil from the bed onto the sifter while another uses a garden hoe to sift the soil back down onto the bed. The rocks get dumped into a bin with a rope attached, and every so often the bin is dragged to the rock-dump. The end result is a much finer seed bed. For our 3 x 42 foot beds I estimate we take about 100-200 pounds of rock out of the soil. It takes us about 30 minutes to cover the whole bed. Time consuming, but we get better germination and we no longer have to do separate, slower rock-picking sessions.
Here's what our seeding trenches look like afterward. A vast improvement!
Incidentally, all this rock sifting got Vaness and I talking about how overwhelming a new piece of land can be, and unsure whether all the effort we’re putting in to rock picking is an appropriate use of our time. It makes us curious about whether others have done the same and found their efforts worth their struggle in the end, and about other kinds of challenges people have encountered on new land. So if you’ve got any comments to make in that regard, I invite you to leave them below. Thanks for reading.
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