Eight years ago we completed installing an 8 foot high deer fence around 4 acres of our crop land, and after that project, we said we’d never build another such fence. The deer fence works incredibly well and requires little maintenance which we are thankful for but it was a lot of work to clear the fence line, then move the rocks away from the fence line, dig the post holes, concrete the wood fence posts, install the 12 foot high T-Posts, stretch the 8 foot high tensile wire, and finally hang the gates.
So here we are again – fencing in another 1.5 acres of crop land all because of deer – just so that we can have a better crop rotation plan. So that is what Carl and I have been doing these past couple weeks. Removing the old barbed wire and locust post fence, cutting down the trees that for the past decade we let grow along the old fence line and in our first and abandoned small fruit orchard, clearing rocks that we removed from the fields and piled along the old fence line with the belief that we would never be fencing in this field. We are doing this all because we enjoy growing food and want to maintain healthy soils and our rotation plan is an important aspect in nurturing healthy soils.
The project began with us bush hogging the hillside below our house which hadn’t been done since the deer ate all 64 blueberry bushes and a combination of 200 blackberries/raspberries that we planted ten years ago. We also removed our first greenhouse, which seemed quite large at the time in being 12 foot wide by 16 foot long, and was used the first couple years of our farming career in starting all our transplants. It was made out of PVC and collapsed just after two years because PVC just isn’t meant for long term use when exposed to sunlight.
Next Alvin came over with his track hoe and pulled all the trees up so that most of the roots were removed reducing the chance that the tree would grow back. Since we are placing this land back into crop production we want to minimize the shade created by the trees. Not to mention, we don’t want the trees falling onto our fence. Alvin pulled a lot of trees out of the ground in just a couple hours so now I feel that we might actually finish this project in the next month which is our goal. Once the fence project is complete, we will replant berries, and are excited about the prospect of including such fruits in with future CSA Shares. CSA Members, if you are reading, it may be a few years before these will begin yielding enough, so patience is needed.
In between farm jobs such as seed starting (seeding into flat inserts, that are kept in the greenhouse, just so the seedlings can be pampered before they are transplanted to the field.) and direct seeding (placing tiny seeds directly into the soil out in the fields) we’ve been potting up plants that will be sold at area tailgate markets. We sell plants that are well adapted to our climate, which we know, because they are the same cultivars that we grow for fresh produce that is distributed to our CSA and sold to tailgate market customers. We have trialed a lot of cultivars and have selected those that grow well here in Western North Carolina. Be sure to stock your garden with plants from your local farmers’ market. We use the McEnroe soil mix, that is a little pricy, but has OMRI’s stamp of approval!
Our little seedlings in the greenhouse are growing quickly so we spent a couple days this past week transplanting them to the field. We use a tractor and transplanter to set our plants out in the field, that I tried to capture on video, but my video didn’t turn out so well. Say your prayers that all of our transplants grow into edible food for us, our CSA Members and tailgate market customers! We were fortunate to have about an inch of rain since these transplants went out to the field so no need to set up irrigation yet. YEA! It is my guess that Tony, Townes and Nern didn’t miss hauling rocks around the field.