Soil, Seed Sowing, and New Farm Hands - Oh My!
We are getting so excited for our first season growing, and it is crunch time! These next couple weeks entail welcoming some new bee friends to the farm, sheep shearing, and getting our hoop house ready for ALL THE VEGGIES! On the vegetable production side of things, we are working on establishing a good foundation for growing conditions. This means testing our soils, finding the best ways to use on-site sources like sheep manure, and ensuring our seedlings have a happy start to their lives. So…let the “farm science” commence! Let’s talk soil! We want to make sure our soil has an average pH of 6.5 (slightly acidic to neutral range) for most plants. Of course, there are exceptions like asparagus who prefer more alkaline soils, but I digress…Our native soil is mostly clay and very dense, so we are going to bring in a good, balanced, loamy soil to get our beds off to a good start. I gathered some bulk garden soil samples from around the area, mixed in some manure and mulch in different ratios to find our best options for filling all of our raised beds. I tested pH, as well as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) content using a soil test kit. Turns out, our Gotland sheep’s lovely poop, mixed in with their bedding (hello, mulch!) is a great amendment that will give us most of the essential nutrients we need for garden success! Plus, since it is a "cold" manure, we can use it right away! We will do a 50/50 mixture of this and the planting mix from Earthworks garden supply located in Chino Valley as the bulk for our beds. With additions of some worm tea throughout the season, we should be well on our way to some happy vegetables!
Next up - news in the potting shed! I set up a small potting area in the back of the house with heat mats, grow lights, a small vermipost, and mini greenhouse to harden-off seedlings in the backyard. This will get them ready for the big world in the hoop house or in a raised bed outside. Being that our last frost isn’t until June 10th, we have to do some early-season coddling and give our seed babies some extra protection and assistance. We sowed the first seeds of the season, focusing on our longer crops like tomatoes and peppers. Among our favorite varieties are Cherokee purple’s and some heirloom cherries like gold nugget and black plum varieties. As far as peppers go, I seeded some cayennes, jalapenos, yankee bell peppers, and sirenevyi (a fun, purple sweet pepper). We will be seeding all week, focusing on loads of herbs, onions, and cold-loving greens like Kale and Collards! Our brains are also percolating with ideas about perennial gardens and medicinals that will support our bodies, the bees, and the land for years to come!
Whew! So much to do - our bees arrive later this week and we could have some surprise lambs any day now! So much excitement, so little time…We will keep the blog updated as things happen!
Oh, and I guess I should introduce myself… My name is Morgan and I grew up in Prescott, AZ. I am in love with getting my hands dirty and the thought of self-sufficiency. When I’m not digging in the dirt or throwing sheep poop around, I enjoy climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, Volkswagens, and nutrition (part of what sparked my love for farming). Is brewing kombucha and fermenting cabbage a hidden talent? Clearly, I have trouble sitting still. The best part about me, though, is my dog. His name is Roscoe and he is possibly the greatest farm dog you could imagine! Though, he is unsure how to feel about the sheep...
The high alpine desert is home to me, and after spending the Winter season farming in the tropics, I have missed being back on my stomping grounds. Kara and Ross are near and dear to me - I have known them for years and I consider them family. Thanks to them, I get to live in a cool vintage bus on the prairie (come enjoy a farm-stay with me!). Kara calls me the consultant...the pressure is ON! Just kidding, but I will be helping them get the farm up and going and I hope to be the best farm hand as we establish our roots (no pun intended). I can’t wait to see this little property come to life as we learn, experiment, and grow on our slice of prairie heaven!
Thanks for following along, we would love to connect and hear from you in the comments! More updates to come!
In abundance and gratitude,