Monthly Archives: December 2013

Our new worm box- not your typical dinner conversation:)

We recently upgraded from the fancy, store bought,  multi level worm hotel to a homemade rubbermaid contraption.  I wanted a more sustainable, do it yourself model.  Most of the plans for boxes don’t address the need for  multiple layers.  Without layers, the worm farmer is forced to remove all the worms by hand before using the castings.  This new set up has 2 rubbermaids (any container that blocks light will work) that are interchangeable.  So when the top one is full, you place it on the bottom, put new bedding and food in top box and all the worms will find their way to the food source, leaving you with a lower box of worm free castings.  This set up also collects the “worm juice”- a valuable plant tea/feed.

We followed the plans from this website

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/easywormbin.htm

new worm bin

new worm bin

2013-12-12 14.44.10

new shaded spot

new shaded spot

December 2013 update

sweet baby lamb- but noisy!!

sweet baby lamb- but noisy!!

 

super happy pepper plant

super happy pepper plant

 

one of our friendly egg layers

she is telling me yet another “why did the chicken cross the road” joke

 

current state of wicking buckets I created last year.  Still growing well- this is the 3rd planting

current state of wicking buckets I created last year. Still growing well- this is the 3rd planting

 

little silky egg

little silky egg

 

2 of the 15 new posted signs

2 of the 15 new posted signs

A few bullet points to outline what is currently happening at the farm

our wonderful crew of work duty students are beginning to leave on outreach- Friday is our last day together.  We are initiating the new grill for a potluck BBQ.  We will miss these wonderful young people- they worked hard and loved being on the farm.

We were blessed with the presence of an Idaho potato farmer.  He stumbled upon the farm while exploring and immediatly engaged.  6 days after meeting him there were seed potatoes from his home to plant.  Kelli tried several varieties in all of the 6 African keyhole garden beds, but the sow bugs ate them all up.  We have 3 plants from over 100 seeds.  This had been our experience in the past- but it was worth a try while blessed with the presence of a REAL farmer:)  He also planted millet, corn and amaranth.  The amaranth did not sprout, the corn was getting eaten up by bugs but last week the pigs finished off all the rest!  Time to start over

We have alternated from using all Neem oil bug control to also using our homemade chili oil with garlic and soap.  .  the recipe is

1 cup chili oil– we soaked Hawaiian chilis from the garden in vegetable oil for 2 weeks and strained

1 TBPS soap

2 TBSP garlic

add one tsp of this concentrate to one cup water.  So far the thrips have stayed away, but the Japanese beetles are still munching away at night.  The sunflower leaves look like lace- but we planted the sunflowers for the purpose of taking the brunt of insect munching and they are doing thier job!

For some reason all our basil- thai and greek and drawf, are all looking yellowish and upheathly.  There is spittle bug on the bigger plants, but sources we read say that spittle bug does not usually harm a plant.  We are spraying with the chili oil

The pepper plants are looking fantastic- some are like bushes.  Last month we had to destroy the entire pepper crop due to a maggot that was inside the peppers making them rot right as they hit maturity.  We now have a whole new crop so far so good.  We spray with chili oil 2-3 times a week.  The leaf hoppers seem to have declined in population, but can’t say there is a big difference between the chili oil and neem oil.

Lady bugs are thriving!  White moths (cabbage moths) are being hunted and fed to chickens.  They are plentiful.  One day Herta killed 18!  They are difficult to catch as you have to ballet through the garden beds to catch them.  Herta and Beno are Canadian farmer Mission Builders and served our farm for 2 months. Their care and expertise has made the place shine.  We are missing them already:(

Kale continues to thrive, along with lemon grass and sugar cane.  We have a whole bund planted with sugar cane from cuttings.  The new okra plants once again have become giants.  THe eggplant is not producing as before.  See “soil science” blog entry for recent soil analysis

The little silkie hen started brooding yesterday!  We have 3 silkies, one hen and two roosters.  She just started laying a few weeks ago.  She is very dedicated to her one little egg.  I wish she had more- but we kept collecting eggs not realizing she would brood so soon.

We started digging an area for a pond/water tank in the chicken yard.  Daniel is determined to get through the lava with a pickax and pure power, but I am thinking a jackhammer may be in our future.  The chickens love eating duckweed and we would like to raise a few ducks, so if the pond can become a reality we could experiment a bit.  That will be a continued project for next quarter

14 lambs from 7 mothers were recently born.  Such sweet little faces.

A leadership track staff, Stacey, has worked hard on making informational posters to place around the farm.  We are currently putting them in place.  This has been a long awaited improvement

We upgraded the worms to a new, homemade worm box with more room to multiply.

The “Back 40” is looking really slick!  THis week the students have put 3 truck loads of mulch on the large hugelbed.

Compost bins are beginning to finish up.  We sifted the first bin and put the finished compost in the chicken yard for the chickens to clean the bugs out.  2 big batches of potting soil have been made from it so far.   We have been waiting for the compost to finish so we can continue building the hugelbeds in the back.

Only for soil science geeks

 

traditional garden bed built with KNF methods

traditional garden bed built with KNF methods

 

New bund

New bund

 

African Keyhole garden area

African Keyhole garden area

 

raw soil

raw soil

In the last 14 months we have sent 3 batches of soil samples to the University of Hawaii for simple analysis.  We would like to have more indepth analysis of micro nutrients and microrganisms in the near future to see how our Korean Natural Farming method of adding IMOs (indigenous mircorganisms) has effected the soil.  We are awaiting funds for such an endeavor.  In the meantime here are the basics.

The raw soil in this part of the island is mostly allophane clay- so it repels water and does not drain well.  It is in great need of organic material but rich in nutrients.  We have conditioned it by adding compost and IMOs, and the beds are maintained with regular doses of fishwater from the aquaponics system and mulch on top.  Due to the infestation of sowbugs (aka potato bugs or rolly pollies) we took the mulch away for one year.  The bugs continued to be troublesome so we returned the mulch in order to save water and continue to add much needed organic material.

Raw Soil

To our surprise, the pH was 7.3   the expected pH was 6.15     we don’t know the reason for this discrepency

P- 236    high

K- 341   sufficient

Ca- 10,273  very  high

Mg- 950   high

as you can see- we have a soil rich in nutrients.

New Bund

this bund was layered with raw dirt, then sheep manure, compost and finally mulch.  It was about 5 months old at the time of testing and looked so beautiful!

pH- 5.6.  All our other soil is higher- so I believe what happened here is the mulch started composting and acidifying the soil.  From this we learned to make sure the composting process is finished before using the bed.

P- 267  high

K- 3237   very high (don’t know why so unusually high.  does the composting process effect K?)

Ca- 7230 high

Mg- 1596  high

African Keyhole Garden Area

this area has been in use for 18 months.  It was first planted as a backyard African garden and since then has grown African grains such as millet, sudan grass, sorghum and corn.   Most recently was an unsucc

African Keyhole garden area

 

essful attempt at potatoes.

pH- 7   high

P- 133   high

K- 1717  high

Ca- 10624  very high     I am curious as to why this is so high

Mg- 1905  high

 

Oldest bed – about 2.5 yr old

this bed has had IMOs and compost along with mulch and regular fishwater the last year.

pH- 7.3

P- 143- high

K- 1107  high

Ca- 8505   high

Mg – 1774  high

the main difference between the newest and oldest beds appears to be balance.  On the analysis chart  the oldest bed has very even nutrient levels.  We will continue to add organic material and IMOs.

Craving Bacon

We have a small herd of wild pigs (try to keep the number around 20) who serve as our garbage disposals.  According to the research done, they save our campus about $10,000 a year for the disposal of food scraps.  The herd size is managed by donating to local families in need.  Our campus is not allowed to eat the pigs due to requirements to have a USDA butcher- we don’t have one on this side of the island.   If a natural disaster were to occur we could then use them, so they are also a “food on the hoof” foodbank.  For the most part the piggies are happy to live a contained life in exchange for free food delivery.  But sometimes they get bored.  Breaking out of thier comfortable confinement and roaming around in the dark, they bust up fences and uproot rocks and destroy plants galore.  Naughty little pigs.  Last week they managed to escape two nights in a row.  We are almost finished fixing the damage done, but will need to replant several spaces.  This extra required work has built up a

here piggy piggy

here piggy piggy

strong craving for bacon:)

The Pond

The Pond is an ecoponics venture, that is to say, it is fish and plants growing in the same space, but without electricity.  Aquaponics is the latest trend in food systems, but it is not available to nations were power is intermittent at best. Thus the need to really understand how best to grow food and fish together without electricity. God Himself designed the pond system, and we all know His design is best; we just need to learn how to utilize it more effectively.

Here on the Natural Farm we are growing three different types of fish in our pond: catfish, tilapia, and guppies (to eat mosquito larvae). We are also growing water hyacinths which we plan to use as natural water rafts to float other plants on as well as kang-kong (water spinach) and lily pads which are edible, but not generally known to be so by most. Along with these we are also growing duck weed

duckweed

duckweed

water spinach

water spinach

 

ScienceandTechnology 078 which we feed to the fish as well as the chickens. Germination of water potatoes continues and we will add them to our ever expanding pond salad as soon as we reach success!