I think everyone can unanimously breathe deeply and trust that 2021 can only be better than 2020. At least that’s our agenda. We have another month or two to finalize decisions on new capital expenditure projects (fancy lingo for a large storage shed and a new winter chicken shelter). A high tunnel is waiting to be erected as well. More importantly, we need to decide what we want to grow and how much. Then we can determine how much field prep work lies ahead.
We’re going to assume that next summer’s Covid-19 inspired economic activity level will be slow again. That actually isn’t such a bad thing for us. The main field can be subdivided into three 100′ by 30′ beds. One of those beds has been cleared but not tilled and prepped with amendments. The other two will have to be cleared and prepped. Lots of work. Colleen also has a 50′ by 30′ garden that has been prepped and is currently being used. The high tunnel will cover the one cleared 100′ bed. Colleen’s garden and the 100′ bed will give us about 4,500 sq. ft. to plant. That will be our focus. The other two 100′ beds will be back burner projects.
So far we have planted garlic and potatoes. This coming season we will be planting more of the same along with some root vegetables. For commercial purposes, we are leaning toward garlic as the primary crop. Garlic doesn’t need to be rotated. It doesn’t need refrigeration and it can be easily stored. We’re thinking about mushrooms as another cash crop. The other vegetables that we grow this year will be for our own consumption and food banks if we have extra.
Here’s a couple of recent books on mushroom cultivation and soil regeneration that we picked up.
Wild morel mushrooms are popular here in Alaska. They come up like weeds after forest fires. We’re both garlic and mushroom lovers (hence our primary crops). Growing these fleshy spore-bearing fruiting bodies of fungus is a bit more technical compared to other crop options but we’re up for the challenge!
We have 14 free ranging birds. This worked great during the summer and fall. Snow brought new complications. We want them running around as they see fit but snow made it difficult to get them all in at night. To avoid the snow, some were hanging behind at dusk in the spruce groves. If you want a sure-fire fast tract to insanity, try chasing chickens around in a densely wooded spruce grove.
Fortunately we built this little high tunnel before the snow hit. It has withstood all the storms (60+ mph winds) and heavy snow. The chickens seem to love it as evidenced by their ongoing egg production.
If you’re wondering why a little snow would complicate chicken life, check out this pic.
Stay well folks!