Happiness is knowing that whatever road in life you are on,
it will always lead you home.

Finally, a Garden not Eaten

For many years we made early spring attempts to plant some garden vegetables in a protected area that received only a few hours of sun during the day.  The result was spindly plants that were soon abandoned for lack of much produce from the amount of labor and water involved.  Or, the plants were eaten by Pygmy goats as their browse dried up and the garden was their oasis. 

So, when trees were cleared for a cb tower, the possibility of a garden presented itself again.  A garden would have to be fenced during the spring and summer months since we let the goats out regularly because they keep the undergrowth around home and barnyard in check.  And, we would have to provide some soil since our hill has very little topsoil and is mostly rocky sandstone.

Of course, we have all the fertilizer we need in the form of goat, sheep, chicken, and donkey poo.

Not wanting to spend more money on a garden that we weren't sure would come to produce produce for the table, we looked around at what was in the stockpile of items that currently were not being used.  A six foot by twelve foot dog pen  would solve the issue of goats making our plants and vegetables their own buffet.  Then we had a number of disintegrating hay bales left from last fall.  After studying a number of sites on the internet about hay/straw bale gardening, we set the pen in the best sunny location within reach of a water hose and lined the inside perimeter with ten bales.  We mixed the fertilizer provided by the animals in past years with water and let it set for a couple of days.   After piling some soil on top of the bales, we poured the fertilizer tea over the bales, then let them set for a week.   An old hose was laid on top of the bales, looping and zigzagging it all the way around on top of the bales.

Next comes the planting.  Using a small shovel, we spread the hay in areas close to the hose, then, inserted some soil and the plant or seedling.  A teaspoon of water absorbing crystals was mixed in with the soil to help hold the water.   With a sharp knife or drill a small hole was sliced into the hose next to the plant for drip irrigating.  After all plants were in, the water was turned on and the holes were opened more, if needed, to allow more water to drip on the plant. 

That's it!  It worked well.  The bales drain very quickly of excess water, so, a slow drip irrigation was best to conserve water.  We tied plants (even cantaloupes) to the pen's sides for support and ease of picking the vegetables. 

So, finally, we got to eat our produce from the garden! And, the goats could roam without having to be constantly watched to see if they were invading the garden. Watering was simple... Just turn on the drip irrigation while we fed and off after feeding was done.

Cleanup after the season was a snap... Just clean off the vines from the fence, flip the pen on end and move out of the way.  Then, get the front end loader and take the bales to the compost pile.

The only improvement that would be even less work woud be to add a timer for the irrigation to automatically turn the water on and off.  But, that would actually mean forking over some cash to purchase.  Other than that our only expense was for seedlings and water.  Old leaky hoses had been put aside for the trash bin, but, were recycled for using on the garden bales.

Return to Oh Dang Farm Projects

Good Growth, but, too Small

One month after planting our garden.
One month after planting.

Two months after planting the garden in the pen.
Two months after planting! Drip irrigation worked well to conserve water and our time. We could feed and hay animals while it slowly watered the plants.

Follow OhDangFarm on Twitter Link for Oh Dang Farm Facebook Page