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tomatoes

The farm sure has been a busy place. Updates haven’t been made here in quite some time. Lots of updates have been going on with the farm though. We’ve expanded a bit in size and added a few more veggies to the mix. I will try to keep pictures better updated for everyone.

A new, small chick hutch was built as a staging point so they can eat some developer feed for a bit. That should help turn them into some nice egg laying hens. Unfortunately, we’ve been dealing with a few predators. Solved the problem with the cat eating chickens by installing a finer mesh screen for protection. Skunks however, don’t mind digging underneath the entire building. Last night, our local skunk decided it needed 3 chicks for dinner.

Peppers in the aquaponic system have been growing well but not producing as many peppers as the ground planted variety. The plants look a bit healthier but that is mostly due to less wind exposure. The hot, dry winds have been wreaking havoc on the front yard gardens.

Potatoes have been hilled several times. We should have a nice crop of purple potatoes this fall. Golden celery was also planted to experiment with. It’s handling the heat very well so far. The hardier of the plants will be left to grow out to seed for next season.

Watermelons are growing very successfully for us this year. Lots of mulch was key to keeping the soil moist for them. A few of the melons are nearly the size of an 8 year olds head. We should be picking and eating in just a few weeks.

Even in a drought, tomatoes can be over-watered. I managed to stunt their growth a little by keeping the soil too saturated which locked up some of the nutrients. After backing off for a few days and then adding a foliar feed spray, they’ve turned back around and started setting tomatoes again.

We’ve forgotten the name of these but they’ll just be Backyard Grapes for now. They’re ripening up nicely. We won’t have enough for wine making but we’re learning more about growing better grapes for the future.

In order to determine the best growing pepper for our yard, we’re growing 8 types. The jalapenos, serranos and bull nosed bells are all doing great. In fact, I’ll be pickling peppers this week as they’re producing quite a few peppers every day.

The raised-bed corn experiment is doing very well. Next year, we’ll need to make sure it’s in the ground 2-3 weeks sooner than this year. There won’t be a big harvest but it should all be pretty tasty.

One of the fig trees out front. Hopefully it will start setting fruit. This one hasn’t been a producer yet.

Here are a few bottles of the spicy kimchi I’ve made. All the recipes I could find varied with seasonings and vegetables. I decided to use what we had and make up my own pickling recipe. It is really tasty and will be a great way to save money. This much kimchi at the farmer’s market would be around $30. I made all of this for about $6.

Well the greenhouse is finally ready to be a greenhouse. It gets quite warm and roasty in there during the day. Only took a year or so to get it finished up with no outside help. The next step will be making the solar collector for the radiant floor heating. However, my Urban Greenhouse Controller is still in the works for the Renesas contest. It gets priority for a few days now.

Front view of the greenhouse.

Potting soil has been made from sifted compost, peat moss, vermiculite and a bit our homemade organic fertilizer blend. We’ve started a few seeds and the rest of the trays will be filled this week. This is only a start. We hope to have 3 tiers on each wall of seedlings. There will be plenty of tomato seedlings for sale and trade. This year we are planning on a lot of Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Sliced with Buratta, they can’t be beat.

The start…

The baby chickens have been outside a bit. Temperatures are still a bit cool to let them roam. They don’t seem to mind getting a little sun on a breezy day.

The new chickens, 1 month old.

We’ve also been working hard at making a math game. If we can hurry, we’ll make it an instructable and enter it into the microcontroller contest at Instructables.com. All of the hardware is solved. It’s on breadboard now with a custom printed circuit board in the works. It is powered by a ATMega328p (as a barebones arduino) and programmed with a Bus Pirate. The software is being tweaked and should be done in a few days.

Our Money Math Game

We’re still rocking on the Funny Farm! The blog was put on hold for a while. It was becoming a chore to keep the pictures updated. We’ll continue to post pictures just not for a daily timelapse video.

Our growing space has doubled in the backyard and we’ve expanded into the front yard as well. A greenhouse is in the works and will hopefully be ready by May. We found a few designs we liked, but had to modify and design our own to get things just right.

In a few days, we’ll have some pictures to post of everything we already have growing. Be on the lookout for strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and tons of other stuff. There’s also a new aquaponic system operating in the garage. Running on goldfish, we’re growing arugula, beets and lettuce in the grow beds. Expect to see some videos of that soon.

If you’re visiting the the Funny Farm’s website at RoundRockFunnyFarm.blogspot.com you’ll notice a bold, new look. Some colors were adjusted, content added and a new layout was built for the farm blog. A few more changes are in order, but things should be looking good enough now for the world to see.

There has been a lot changing on the farm as well. The pumpkins have been growing like crazy in the cooler, sunny weather. More cherry tomatoes are growing and being harvested everyday. Bees have been extremely active in the mid-day keeping everything pollinated. We sure appreciate their help!

The next posting will have pictures of the new chicken pen. It’s nearing completion with only 1 section of fence left to finish. They’ll be happier in their new 8×12 pen. It will have a small coop, a hanging feeder and a new float watering system. All of these changes should make things a lot easier for us.

The mixed up patch.
A growing pumpkin!
Strawberries still growing.
Bees snacking on a pumpkin flower.
The artichoke sprouts.
Cherry tomatoes!

It’s been really tough keeping up with the farm blog pictures -priorities have been adjusted in the Funny Farm household. The 1st grade and kung-fu lessons have thrown us all for a loop. All that, along with trying to maintain the farm and chickens with all the cooler, wet weather, we’ve been getting has definitely taught us to juggle better.

We’ve taken our first, very small harvest of corn that will be enjoyed at dinner this evening. The tomatoes are fruiting very well and if we can get some warm weather again, they should ripen quickly. Our first canning experiment has gone very well and we look forward to canning a lot of our own tomatoes and beans soon.

Hopefully, the chickens will be moving into their new pen in a week or two. We’ll be cutting close with the much cooler weather. They’ll need a nice, warm spot to rest and keep laying eggs for the winter.

Daily Farm Pic – September 28th, 2009
Honeydew Melon
More melons and butternut squash.
The new chicken pen.

It looks like we’re getting rid of a chicken tomorrow. Cheese has been a bit aggressive towards the other girls and it’s time for her to go. She’s going to a good home where she more likely will get to roam the streets at night and lay her eggs under parked cars.

We’re planting a few strawberry plants in pots to ‘over winter’ them in the garage. Hopefully, there will be a lot of yummy strawberries growing on them in the spring.

Daily Farm Pic 09.25.09 am
Daily Farm Pic 09.25.09 pm
Cherry tomatoes are rockin’!
This honeydew is growing fast!
New strawberries in bloom.
A beautiful Texas sunset.