Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wouldn't You Know It

It sure did not take the Almighty long to let me know what I did wrong in making my garden boxes: Yesterday morning I went to thin the beets and Pak Choy. I propped open the box cover and a gust of wind came along, tossed the cover off the props and and pushed it all the way over so that it hit the ground. The bump caused the plastic to tear off the staples, some of the PVC pipes to bounce out of their clamps, and the wood screws to tear out of one edge of the lid. Pride goeth before a fall . . . .

So I humbly mulled over the problem while I thinned the veggies and by late afternoon I had a solution: I cut 2' off each PVC pipe to shorten the area of potential wind lift thus keeping the total box area closer to the ground, and I decided to not attach the plastic to each box but merely hold it in place over the hoops with concrete blocks. With the lower head space, one roll of plastic 25' plastic now covers the entire box, and keeping the plastic unattached allows me to work on both sides of the box more easily. Since I will try planting seed for next Spring in October, the boxes will be essentially undisturbed for most of the winter and I don't have to worry about the plastic and blocks freezing to the ground. By leaving a little give on the plastic, I should be able to crack the box lids on sunny days to keep any slow growing sprouts from cooking. It will be an interesting experiment.

I re-read Eliot Coleman's book Four-Season Harvest this morning to refresh my memory on succession planting, and I think I am doing everything right. At least I have planted many of his recommended veggies for fall/winter gardening. We'll see how everything grows.

It is a lovely, breezy late Summer day here. You can feel Fall around the corner. Tom did a bar-b-que for lunch of spare ribs, cucumber salad, and baked potatoes. Then he doused the coals right away so we wouldn't have any bear trouble. And speaking of bears, we thought of a simple solution to chewed up bird feeders -- simply bring the feeders inside the house before dark. I don't know why we didn't think of it before!

There are some interesting programs coming up that I received notice of from the Ag Extension. On the 23rd, the Wisconsin Aquaculture Association will hold it First Annual State Wide Fish Farm Day. Cost is free to visit the fish farms that elected to open their premises to the public. As I am very interested in incorporating Aquaponics into our farm scheme, I would like to visit the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility in Red Cliff. I have a pretty good idea where this is (I got lost in Red Cliff the first time I went to go apple picking in Bayfield) and I think I even turned around in the Demonstration Facility's parking lot. For more information contact and for the listing of participating fish farms. Next, on Halloween, the UW-River Falls is hosting a day-long conference on High Tunnel Production for Beginning and Medium Sized Commercial Growers. Several high tunnel experts will speak on the subject. Again there is no charge, but you are asked to register by October 1. To register contact Gayle Dodge at There was supposed to be a link to a detailed agenda for the day, but I couldn't open the link. That conference really looks interesting. The last one is a training workshop on November 7th in Eau Claire that teaches small producers (like moi) to successfully apply for state and federal grant money. I REALLY hate traveling, but I'd rather drive to Eau Claire than all the way down to Menasha for something like this (there is an October date in Menasha). There is a $10 fee for this, and as it starts early in the morning, I will probably rent a hotel room somewhere the night before. We'll see. Anyway, to register for the Eau Claire location contact Pam Herdrich at

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