Farm Equipment I Use

Coolbot

This is a quick post of the farm equipment that I will be using on the farm.  Some of these items are already being used but I am expanding the operation on the new farm in 2017.

FARM EQUIPMENT I USE

Quick Cut Greens Harvester: http://bit.ly/2hzcfFC

The Quick Cut Greens Harvester from Farmer’s Friend LLC is a time-saver.  Using only a cordless drill to power the cutting blade and the spinning brush, one person can easily cut a 25′ or 50′ bed in minutes.  Compared to harvesting by hand, this tool will save hundreds of hours each season.

Knife and Tool Sharpener: http://bit.ly/2hQPUz9

This tool is essential to a farmer because it will sharpen any knife commonly used on the farm.  It is perfect for sharpening the Quick Cut Greens Harvester blade so you always have a sharp blade when you are ready to harvest the greens on your farm.

Jang Seeder: http://bit.ly/2hw85wy

The Jang Seeder makes quick work of planting seeds efficiently and accurately.  The turnover of beds on my farm requires the use of a quick seeder.

The Coolbot: http://amzn.to/2ihom7d

The Coolbot Walk-in Cooler Controller is a low-cost alternative for your walk-in cooler.  Using a window air conditioner and the Coolbot controller will turn any well-insulated room into a walk-in cooler.  You can build your own walk-in cooler or purchase a used walk-in cooler from a restaurant supply company or even on Craigslist.  A walk-in cooler is a must on a commercial urban farm to help remove the field heat from your produce after harvest.

We already have a growing social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.  We will also be working with great companies like Amazon.com and YouTube in the hopes these ventures can help us afford this website and help us earn a little online income for our many projects.  If you are looking for a book or some of the equipment we use on the farm, please use the links and advertisements found on the site.

 

 

Our Homestead, Farm, and Market Garden

C&L Farms Blueberry Bush - homestead, farm, market garden

Our Homestead, Farm, and Market Garden

It has been a long time since we last posted about our homestead, farm, and market garden.  I apologize for being absent for so long.  We have been in limbo for the last year while we worked on making improvements to our current home in preparation for its sale.  The current home is on the market now and we have been getting a lot of people looking at the house.  Packing and getting ready to move is time-consuming as everyone who has ever sold a home knows but the end is in view for our current life.

I hope to be moved into the new homestead in Carrollton, GA after the new year (2017).  The home we are moving into is an old farmhouse which is over 100 years old.  This is the home that I grew up in and after my stepdad passed away in January 2016, I have been spending as much time as I can trying to keep things stabilized on the farm.  There has been very little farming done in the last couple years on the homestead but we plan on changing that in the coming year.

Homestead and Farm Projects

There is a lot to still do on the farm to get it back into production but I look forward to this challenge.  The old chicken house needs to be demolished and a new chicken house built.  The old well needs a new pump and pipes run out closer to the fields and the garage where my post-production facility will be built.  Fields need to be plowed, permanent beds formed and tarped to prevent weed growth.  Fruit trees need to be pruned (blueberry, cherry, peach, apple, and figs).  New tools and equipment need to be purchased.  A lean-to greenhouse needs to be built on the south facing wall of the garage to act as our seedling nursery and for our upcoming microgreens expansion.  We need to find a new farmer’s market near the farm (there is a small one in Carrollton).  I could go on and on but that is something I will try to do once we get moved and settled down.

Homestead Construction Plans

Another big project is the farmhouse addition that needs to be done to add additional bathrooms, a new guest bedroom, larger kitchen, and a large living room.  The farmhouse is in great shape still but trying to live and function with one very small bathroom for 4 people just won’t work.  My mother has been living here alone for the past year and will continue to live with us.  My wife’s mother also lives with us so she will need a new bedroom.  The farmhouse is around 1500 sq ft with 10′ ceilings, tongue and groove old heart pine planking on the walls, and we hope the original pine floor is still in good shape under the carpet.

The future is looking good and hope we can provide some interesting content in 2017 to everyone who follows us on social media.  Look for more posts about the farm, equipment used, and techniques for having a small market garden produce an income for anyone looking for their own homestead.

Our Farm and Homestead

We already have a growing social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.  We will also be working with great companies like Amazon.com and YouTube in the hopes these ventures can help us afford this website and help us earn a little online income for our many projects.  If you are looking for a book or some of the equipment we use on the farm, please use the links and advertisements found on the site.

Slow Farming for Everyone

Herb Pallet GardenNot much going on around the farm right now. We have been building a number of raised beds for a small garden near the farmhouse for some fresh veggies for the family. The aquaponics system is at another location right now and it will provide the greens and herbs for the farmers market. Until we can get some funding for a larger commercial aquaponics system and greenhouse, most of our vegetables and herbs will come from our dirt gardens.

Cedar Raised BedsThe raised beds will be setup as modified hugelkulture. I’ll post some pictures of the hugelkultures as we begin filling them with the tree limbs, straw and dirt. It’s almost time here in Georgia to start some seedlings. More lettuce seedlings will be started this weekend for the aquaponics system.

Over the last 3 days I’ve been planting seeds for the aquaponics system and the new farm land we have this year. Almost 300 plants. The lettuce is already coming up which will be put in the deep water culture bed in the greenhouse. Feels good to finally get going on something. Working on the hugelkulture at the farm tomorrow if I’m not rained out.

Saving Okra seeds

We already have a growing social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.  We will also be working with great companies like Amazon.com and YouTube in the hopes these ventures can help us afford this website and help us earn a little online income for our many projects.  If you are looking for a book or some of the equipment we use on the farm, please use the links and advertisements found on the site.

Seed Catalogs

I have been a home vegetable gardener in Georgia for about 18 years now and thoroughly enjoy the time spent in my home vegetable garden. Over the years, my gardens have started out small, grown to almost a half acre, and back down to a more manageable 500 sq. feet. I'm not a professional or educated horticulturalist so if you are looking for a professional blog to read, you will not find it here. If you haven't started a garden yet, stick around to learn from an amateur gardener. From container gardening to raised bed gardening, you will find it all here. Be sure to read our older blog posts for some additional history of my journey. Anyone can be a home vegetable gardener because all you need is dirt and a love for growing vegetables and flowers.

Here are some of my favorite companies for unique seeds for your garden.

  • Alpha Garlic Farm Garlic – spanish roja, german red, and german white. Order by email or phone. No print catalog.
  • Amishland Seeds Organically grown heirloom vegetable seeds – tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans & peas. A few flowers and some rare vegs as well. Possible to order online, or fill out form and mail. Will ship internationally. No print catalog.
  • Burpee & Co Good general catalog; one of the best known US seed companies. Annuals, perennials, trees & shrubs, lots of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Plants and seeds. Possible to order online, free print catalog, no Canadian shipping.
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds Highly recommended, especially for short-season crops. Veg, herb, flower and specialty seed. Free catalog with detailed cultural info. Will ship seeds to Canada.
  • Kitazawa Seed Co. Japanese vegetables. Free catalog/list with good descriptions.

We already have a growing social media presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.  We will also be working with great companies like Amazon.com and YouTube in the hopes these ventures can help us afford this website and help us earn a little online income for our many projects.  If you are looking for a book or some of the equipment we use on the farm, please use the links and advertisements found on the site.

Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Burger

If you love burgers, why not try this recipe, Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Burger.  I’ve been making these burgers for years now and will be posting many of my recipes on our blog over the next few months.  Cooking has always been a passion of mine and this recipe is no exception.  These burgers are so good it will make you want to dance on the table.  Stuffing a burger with other items also means you won’t have all of the condiments typically added to a burger come sliding out on that first bite!  These burgers don’t need anything else either, no mustard or ketchup or fancy lettuce.   I would recommend a sturdy bun also.  I usually use a pretzel bun or one of those nice, big sandwich buns from your supermarket deli.  Give them a try and let me know in the comments below how they turn out.  I wish I had a picture of these burgers for the post but I always forget to take a picture.  Maybe I’ll take the time the next burger night to get some nice pictures for my future cookbook.

Bacon, Caramelized Onions & Pepper Jack Cheese Stuffed Burger

1 lb. Ground Beef or Chuck (your call on fat content)

6-8 slices of Bacon (diced)

8 oz Pepper Jack Cheese (or your favorite cheese) shredded

1 Yellow or Red onion (sliced thinly into rings)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Fry bacon in a pan until crispy.  Move off to a paper towel to drain.  Reserve some of the bacon grease to saute and caramelize the onions.  Let everything cool and then mix together in a bowl the bacon, cheese and onion.   Form a patty that is half the size you want the final burger to be and add some of the cheese mixture.  Cover with the same amount of meat to form a burger.  Cook.  Enjoy.  Makes about 4 if your burgers aren’t HUGE.

 

C & L Farms – Aquaponics System Tour

Here’s a quick video of the aquaponics system.  This is the result so far of the redesign and rebuild of the aquaponics system.  Moving the system to the polycarbonate greenhouse and switching from the DWC (deep water culture) raft system to a media based system should give us more stability and water filtering.  The setup in the hoop greenhouse was just not working out for us.  In the heat of summer, the hoop greenhouse was getting way too hot (over 120 degrees F).  It was just too difficult to work in the greenhouse for long periods of time.  We are re-using all of the DWC wood frames and liner for the media growbeds so this should save some money and time.  Please leave any comments below.

Plants That Require Less Sunlight To Grow

The following crops will grow with as little as three to six hours of sun per day, or constant dappled shade. While size or yields may be affected in some instances, taste will be just as good.

  1. Lettuce
  2. Arugula
  3. Spinach
  4. Broccoli *
  5. Green onions
  6. Cabbage *
  7. Parsley
  8. Sorrel
  9. Garlic
  10. Mint
  11. Collards
  12. Endive
  13. Cress
  14. Cauliflower *
  15. Peas *
  16. Currants
  17. Pak Choy
  18. Beets *
  19. Kohlrabi *
  20. Brussels Sprouts
  21. Mustard greens
  22. Thyme
  23. Coriander
  24. Tarragon
  25. Radishes
  26. Cardamom
  27. Potatoes *
  28. Rhubarb *
  29. Swiss Chard
  30. Kale
  31. Turnips *
  32. Carrots *
  33. Sweet potatoes and yams *
  34. Gooseberries
  35. Cilantro
  36. Dill
  37. Lemon Balm
  38. Strawberries *
  39. Beans *
  40. Blackberries and raspberries *

Looking For Homesteading Land

I have been a home vegetable gardener in Georgia for about 18 years now and thoroughly enjoy the time spent in my home vegetable garden. Over the years, my gardens have started out small, grown to almost a half acre, and back down to a more manageable 500 sq. feet. I'm not a professional or educated horticulturalist so if you are looking for a professional blog to read, you will not find it here. If you haven't started a garden yet, stick around to learn from an amateur gardener. From container gardening to raised bed gardening, you will find it all here. Be sure to read our older blog posts for some additional history of my journey. Anyone can be a home vegetable gardener because all you need is dirt and a love for growing vegetables and flowers.

LeAnn and I have been looking for land for our future homesteading life, well, mainly LeAnn.  I’ve been very busy establishing our new blog and working on future blog posts.  I’m not the best writer but I am getting better with each new post.  Now, on to the actual post about looking for homesteading land.

When looking for land for a homestead, the best thing to do first is make a list of your wants and/or needs.  We talked about this extensively and agreed upon the following list:

Source of water

There are many sources of water but our main focus is a small stream that runs year round.  We hope to use this water source to provide electricity by installing a micro-hydro generator or a water wheel.  If a stream is not available then a small pond would work just fine.  We would also be happy to find land with rolling hills because we can use permaculture techniques to capture water high up on the slope and direct it where we want it.  The use of swales and small catchment ponds built into the natural gulleys on a hillside could provide all of the water we need.  More on permaculture water use techniques in a future post.

Wooded vs. pasture land

We want to have a partially wooded lot but would settle for a completely wooded or even full pasture.  The benefits of a wooded parcel is the abundance of materials that we will need for our permaculture projects.  On the other hand, a fully cleared parcel with pastures for farm animals gives us a clean slate to use our permaculture techniques on a blank canvas.  We would need more time with cleared land to allow the food forests to mature.

House vs. No House

We really want to build our own home.  If the parcel has a home on it already then it really needs to be ready to move into with minimal remodeling needed.  Neither one of us are interested in living in a one room home like those tiny houses that are all the rage now.  Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t live in an RV or camper for the short term while we build the house.  I think we have decided that we want a less traditional home so we have decided on building a large steel building and adding living space in the front with shop/parking garage space in the rear.  These steel buildings can be built quickly and require minimal maintenance.  I’ll write more about these steel buildings in a future post.

Vicinity to Farmers Markets

We really want to be close to a couple different farmers markets.  We frequent the farmers market for food and we are also a vendor at the market near us now.

Living On-Grid vs. Off Grid

We would really like to live off-grid but the up-front costs to go completely off-grid are very high.  We want the option of starting out on-grid for basic services (electricity, water, gas, and INTERNET).  As we build out our off-grid resources we can then slowly shut down some of these services.  Internet is a big requirement for us simply because we use the internet for our business development and my job.  Granted, many people choose to visit a local coffee shop to get brief internet access.  I choose not to do it that way.  My reasons, outside of my job, are many but least of them would be comfort.  I don’t see spending 8 hours sitting on an uncomfortable chair with all of the background noise from an active coffee shop.

Our big concern outside of all of these choices is price.  We are not looking to spend so much money on land and not be able to build a home that is still within our budget.  The price of land is important because we want to pay it off as quickly as we can or even buy it outright with cash.  We still have about a year before we are ready to get serious about finding the perfect plot of land but in the meantime, we have a lot of work to do at our current location to improve it when we are ready to sell it.  We also have produce to grow for the farmers market next Spring.

Do you have plans to buy land for a homestead?  Have you already done it yet?  If so, please share your story with us as well as any advice you may have that will help us with our decisions.

Books on Amazon.com about Homesteading and Permaculture


Building A Hugelkulture

With any land purchase there will be large amounts of land clearing needed for a home site, driveway, and for a garden.  The Austrians developed a self-fertilized garden method that requires minimum irrigation called a Hugelkulture.  This structure is used in permaculture and will be used extensively in our gardens for soil-building and to use the waste (this is pure gold in my opinion) from the clearing of land.

First step is to dig a long hole where you want the Hugelkulture.  This is where the longer and larger logs will be placed.  As you build up the smaller logs and limbs will be layered on top to create a mound.  The height is not very important but the higher you go, the more planting area you create.

The logs and tree limbs are the carbon element since this is simply a compost pile.  The soil from the depression that is dug out will be used later to cover the Hugelkulture.  The logs and the depression will help hold water for the plants that will be planted on and around the Hugelkulture.  Once the logs have be placed at the desired height, add pruned greens and organic waste (compost) on top of the woody layer.  This is the nitrogen layer.

You can then add the local soil to cover the wood and green layer completely.  Plants with less water needs can then be planted near the top and plants with more water needs should be planted low on the structure.  Over time, the woody layer and green layers will breakdown from the organisms in the soil to create a rich soil.

Build a self-fertilized garden with minimum irrigation

Here are some books about Hugelkulture and Permaculture that we found helpful from Amazon.com.  Please help us keep this blog going by purchasing these books.  We get a small commission when you click on these links and buy from Amazon.com.  🙂

This is one of our favorite books on Permaculture. The information in this book is very detailed and provided us with a better understanding of many of the permaculture concepts that were not explained enough in the free material found on the internet.

Aquaponics System updates

016If you have been following our progress on this site or on Facebook then you know that we are building a large deep water culture aquaponics system in hoop greenhouse.  We have made a lot of progress over the last few months and have had a couple setbacks.

Most of our issues have dealt mainly with the uneven ground where the greenhouse is located and just how difficult it is to penetrate the red clay soil.  Leveling the site was not easy and we still have a slight grade issue that we are dealing with now.  Progress has been slow but I think we will have plants and fish in the system very soon.  Below are some pictures of the progress.

Be sure to Like our Facebook page here and follow us there also (https://www.facebook.com/AquaponicsAtCandLFarms)

 

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