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Don’t Let Fall Leaves Get You Down – Compost!

leaves

Did you know that leaves from most trees have double the minerals as manure pound for pound? Put a little elbow grease into fall and use the free leaves to help your garden. The deep roots of trees pull up a vast amount of nutrients from the soil which goes directly into the leaves. When the leaves decompose, those minerals transfer into the soil that will be created from composting.  

Gather up a pile of leaves near where you want the compost pile to be. You can rake the old-fashioned way, or get out your lawn sweeper to collect and break them down. Either way, leaves should be shredded somehow before being composted, as the smaller pieces will have more surface area to decompose faster and easier.

Assemble your compost pile in layers, starting with leaves, then a layer of organic material containing nitrogen. The nitrogen helps the leaves break down quicker. Add nitrogen material in a ratio of 5:1. For every 5 (whatever your measurement is) of leaves, add one of nitrogen. Manure is usually best, but garbage, fresh cut grass, or even sawdust can do the trick.

While your leaves are composting, go out every few days and turn over the pile with a shovel. This will help to get oxygen distributed to heat up the pile which will make it break down quicker. Come springtime, you will have a beautiful pile of “Black Gold” to put on your garden!

Sources:

“Composting Leaves – 4 Simple Tips to Making Great Compost With Leaves.” Old World Garden Farms

“Using Leaves for Composting.” Compost Guide

Root Out Food Savings

root cellar

Fall is the time to store your harvested garden in preparation of the coming winter. An easy and inexpensive way to store your produce or canned goods is to put them in a root cellar. A good root cellar can be in a basement or dug into the earth. All that is needed is darkness, humidity, ventilation, and a shelter. You can even build your own above ground if you are handy!

Produce should have dirt shaken off of it instead of washed. This will help store the fruits and veggies better. Wash produce when it is brought up from the root cellar to be eaten. Since certain fruits give off ethylene gas, which shortens plant life, keep them separate from vegetables and store in brown paper bags.

When storing produce, handle with care to prevent bruising. Once bruised, the decomposition process will start. Try not to pile up vegetables as it is better to give them some breathing room to keep them cool and not weighing on each other. Some vegetables give off an odor that can be absorbed by other produce (like cabbage) that affects the taste of other vegetables. It is best to store these potent produce a safe distance from other items in the root cellar.

Know where to store your items in the cellar and how long they will last. The higher up items are, the warmer the temperature. Unsure of how long items will last? Click here for a handy chart.

 Sources:

Neverman, Laurie. “Root Cellars 101 – Root Cellar Design, Use, and Mistakes to Avoid.” Common Sense Homesteading

Newton, Sandy. “Root Cellars: Handle Your Harvest With Care.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac

“What To Store in a Root Cellar.” Rodale’s Organic Life

All Hail the Mighty Tractor

tractor

No matter which color tractor you use, tractors are a vital machine to have on your farm. Tractors can be used for a whole slew of jobs if the correct implement is attached to it. From planting crops, to tillage activities, haymaking, and harvesting, these beasts help do the grunt work for you.

Nowadays, it is easy to get a smaller and very powerful tractor that is able to carry heavy loads or work in tough environments. Most tractors also have power steering and enclosed cabs with, wait for it, air conditioning!

Front or backend loader attachments allow for a variety of farming implements to help complete several different farm tasks utilizing the same universal machine. Planting or harvesting can be completed in a significantly shorter amount of time, sometimes from days to hours. Tractors save money (even though the initial expense is high) and they pay back easily. Reduce manpower, time spent, and improve production, which all saves money.

John Froelich created the first ever, gas-powered tractor in 1890. In 2012, over 122 years from creation, the first autonomous, self-driving tractors were created. Now they can be hooked up over wi-fi via apps with cameras or sensors to be able to help you in daily field work or other chores. How time flies!

Sources:

“Benefits of Tractors in Modern Farming and Agriculture.” Ferret.com

Taber, Rich. “Selecting a Tractor for the Small Farm.” Cornell.edu

“Tractor History.” Sodgod