We have been busy and have made a lot of production changes over the winter. In order to help all the greens along over the winter, we constructed row cover "caterpillar" tunnels over the spinach and lettuce. The tunnels offer protection from the wind, and raise the temperature under the row covers on sunny days. By raising the temperature, it warms the ground which traps and holds heat over night. All this helps to keep growth going.
Here is how we build our caterpillars. The first step is to set the pins that will hold the support hoops
Next, the hoops are bent over the bed and slipped on the pins
Finally, the row cover is stretched over the hoops, and clipped to the hoops.
The finished caterpillars.
We also decided that after all the damage from last fall's drought, we need an irrigation system. But there are some problems. We don't have electricity available in the fields, so that rules out a well for now. Besides, our ground water is very acidic and it is loaded with iron. Treating the ground water could be very expensive. But there is another possibility. The good news is that we have several creeks that cross our property, and at least one of them is big enough that it runs all summer. The bad news is that most of our fields are not near the creek. So we need a way to move water around to where we need it.
Someone offered us an old hay wagon. It is a Ford "Big Blue" wagon circa 1960's, as far as we can tell.
It was not much to look at. The tires were dry-rotted and the rough-cut oak bed disintegrated quite a while ago, but the metal frame itself looks in good shape.
This wagon had a 14' long bed, which we don't need. So we shortened the frame, and we will rebuild it with a 10' bed.
We replaced the tires and stripped off the old bed, and now it doesn't look so bad.
Fasten down the new bed.
Here is the wagon with a 550 gallon polyethylene tank on it. Now we have a way to transport water to where we need it.
The caterpillar tunnels work very well, but one of the most annoying jobs on the farm is burying the edges of the row covers and then digging them up to open the tunnels. It really is a lot of work. We heard someone suggest using sandbags to weight-down the row covers. We bought some sandbags, and we were on the verge of ordering a dump truck load of sand, when it occurred to us that the one inexhaustible resource we have on this farm is rocks. So we have been filling our sand bags with rocks. You could say that we are killing two proverbial birds with our very own stones. :-)
Here is a small garlic field (with blackberries vines in back) where we have been filling the bags. When the kids were growing up, we are sure that picking up rocks would have been much more fun if they had these really cool orange bags to put the rocks in.
Here is one of the tunnels with the row cover edges weighted-down with rock bags, rather than being buried. This is much easier to install.
And it is much, much easier now to open up the tunnels. Just roll the rock bags away and unclip the fabric. This is a much better idea.