Last year was my first year of farming here at Strawberry Moon, and it was a great one. Sorghum-sudangrass flourished in our fields, loosening the soil and covering it with a thick layer of mulch. In September, crimson clover was overseeded into the sorghum-sudangrass, and we are hoping for a breathtaking, honeybee-luring carpet of blossoms come spring. I also attended several conferences and workshops to learn more about beekeeping, permaculture, winemaking, grape growing, and small scale farming.
Inside the house, all 58 incandescent and halogen light bulbs were replaced with energy efficient LEDs. Drafts were blocked, insulation was installed. DH even completed a training course to become a certified solar panel installer, so we can build our own solar energy system at a substantial savings. All these things will help us achieve our goal of a self-sufficient, eco-conscious farmstead.
Last year was an important and necessary foundation-building year for the farm, but this year I want to see some real action. These are ambitious goals for someone with a full time desk job, and I’ll need help if I’m going to pull this off. With a little but of luck and a lot of hard work, it will happen.
- 1,000 Trees!
- To jumpstart the edible riparian buffer project, we will plant 300 elderberry trees and 300 wild plum trees in our wetland! These will comprise the majority of the understory in that area. Additional edible tree and shrub species will be added to the wetland later, when seedlings become available. On higher ground, we will plant 100 Norway Spruce trees for an edible windbreak (needles and new growth “tips” have culinary and nutritional value), 100 red oak trees as a short term timber crop (we will later grow mushrooms on the cut logs), and 100 each of pawpaw and persimmon to kick-start our orchard.
- Before winter is over, I intend to build two top bar bee hives and four swarm traps. If we are lucky, some wild honeybee swarms will find our clover fields, and then decide to stay.
- I’m nearly finished building the first coop and brooder, so I’ll be ready whenever our chicks are born. I expect a call from the breeder in April, but the exact arrival time is unknown.
- Solar Panels
- If all goes as planned, we will install an array of solar panels large enough to cover most or all of our electricity usage. Although solar energy is not a vegetable, it is nevertheless a valuable resource we can harvest from our farm.
- More Cover Crops
- Last year, I had planned to grow a third cover crop of tillage radish. This didn’t work out because the sorghum-sudangrass never stopped growing! Rather than kill the sorghum-sudangrass with chemical sprays or risk re-compacting the soil with heavy tillage machinery, I let it grow until the killing frost. That meant I couldn’t plant the radish seed I had already purchased, but it also meant we received extra value from the sorghum-sudangrass. Since I already had the seed, and I believe tillage radish will greatly benefit our soil, I decided to extend the cover crop project by one year. After the spring bloom of crimson clover, we will grow a short summer cover crop (probably buckwheat), followed by the radish in August. The pasture grass will be postponed until next year.