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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Frames for Food

As the yellow-bellied marmots seek more and more food, 
I build more and more cages. 
All shapes and sizes ~ this time of year is a framing free-for-all!

This is the first above-ground frame to grace my garden, and it is featured in the Vegetable Jail post. Lee Johnson helped me build it using old 2x6's from behind our shop. A woman from Omak was giving away old leather belts, so I tried using one for a latch on each corner to keep it shut. It is a good concept, but the old leather was already brittle and they have started ripping. It would be good to have thicker, more supple leather.

Here Fawn is harvesting from this same frame. It was planted on Valentine's Day and has been serving us well! Just a few old 2x6's can protect enough lettuce to keep our family eating salads every day. 

This design is tops for simplicity: 
1. Nail some 2x6's into a rectangle. 
2. Make a lid frame to match, using 1x2's or 2x2's, or 2x4's. 
3. Tack on hardware cloth or chicken wire. 
4. Done. 
(Hinges, latches, and plastic or fabric are optional)

This I call, "Bill's garden bed." My husband's lifelong friend, Bill, was helping me add aged manure to this bed on the day he died at our home unexpectedly, earlier this spring. He also helped me try to remove a piece of rebar that I had pounded in (last year, to support a different marmot cage that came before I learned to frame with wood). I will always remember working this soil with Bill, and the gezellig of working together that day. I will honor his memory by sharing my produce with others in the way that he was generous with us.

This is Bill's garden bed with the lids on, and after the plants have had a chance to grow.

This is how the angled lids open. I love hinges!

This large frame was featured in the Vegetable Jail post. 
I have started adding extensions as the plants get taller.

Here's how it looks from the other side. Since this photo was taken, the carrots and onions have topped out of the extension too!

This design is tops for its ability to grow taller plants...

...and the curved roof for shedding rains when plastic is laid on top. 
It is more like a mini-greenhouse than any of the other designs.

Here Fawn is picking Red Orach, a wonderfully purple salad fixing! The front panel is compression fit into the frame, and the lid lifts off.

When I can't get my hands on wide or straight enough boards, then I cobble together miscellaneous pieces to create the dimensions I need. This is my green bean bed. One side is made from two pieces of slabwood.

The other side is made from several different pieces, all nailed together to generate the needed height and length.

It turned out better than I expected, given the mish-mash of pieces. I love making "something from nothing," a concept we practiced at B.X. Elementary school in our "Extra Enrichment" classes with Mrs. Barling. It means you take things that would normally be discarded as useless, and make something that you are proud of.

Deb visited my garden today and took this photo. It's fun to have garden visitors! 
(Thanks for taking this photo, Deb.)

The next frames on the docket are for the strawberry beds to keep the chipmunks off. The bonus with all of these cages is that they also function as cold frames, and will extend the growing season in both directions. So, I don't mind making the effort and learning some new skills in the process. We are definitely eating more veggies as a result.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cucumber Tipi - Part 2

In the Cucumber Tipi Part 1 post, you saw a patch of weedy orchard grass turned into a central structure in the Wood for Food garden. We now have a tipi for growing veggies vertically out of the first underground aspen hugelkultur bed.

Just for fun, this photo shows me standing in 2012 about where the tipi is now! The tipi would be on my shoulders, though. (The fence post in the above picture is the same post you see in the picture below, taken from a different direction.)

With the tipi erected, it needed something for the plants to hold onto. I love using old materials instead of buying new things that require resources to be extracted from the earth. I contacted the owners of a local gem, the Esther Bricques Winery, to find out how they source their trellis wire. They happened to have some wire that was ready to be re-purposed, and I experienced again the main lesson this garden has taught me: envision having what's needed, knowing that it will surface, and it will. Thank you so much, Linda and Steve Colvin, for helping make this project happen!

Around and around and around I went with the wire. It started raining but I was determined to finish. Here the circular trellis wire is attached, looking up from inside the tipi. This is a much heavier gauge wire than I've worked with before, and I really like the structural integrity that it added to the tipi.

The wire is attached with small fencing staples. 
I left a gap between two of the poles for the door. 

And now, we have cucumber sprouts! 
We can't wait to see the plants grow, sit in the shade of their leaves, 
and taste the crisp, sweet goodness of an Armenian cucumber straight off the vine.

*          *          *

Meanwhile, back in the "early sowing outdoors" beds, things are coming right along! This is our first time eating carrots from the garden at the beginning of June.

 Fresh carrots straight out of the soil taste like, "life is good."