It’s been a month!…long post but lots of photos!

It’s been a month since the last EcoRanch post…where has the time gone?  Oh yeah, fundraising, ordering, building, teaching, learning, volunteers, interns, planting, planning, and animals!

We were preparing and hoping we would hit our Kickstarter goal, so we started about 2000 kale, herbs, onions, chard, lettuce, and beans so when the weather warms up we could get some babies in the ground.  Nicole and Tianna, the first two WWOOFers of the season helped to get the starts going while Matt, Jojo, and Kelsey helped plant some frost tolerant plants.  We cover them every night to keep them from getting damaged.  Hopefully the random end of spring snow or mysterious summer snow doesn’t kill them.

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Getting seeds into the start trays.

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Planting onions

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Planting onions

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Planting kale in the hoop house

In mid April, the Barrett Honor’s Sustainability Club from Arizona State University came up for a weekend of volunteering.  Five students helped finish the berms, dig some of the  raised beds, and trim back the kale starts.

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We hit our fundraising goal and went on a huge shopping spree for the raised bed materials.  We will be putting up an itemized list of all costs once we are done buying everything for this project so you can see where exactly you’re donations went.  We are also making progress on organizing the incentives so we can send those out soon.

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950 Bricks and 20 bales of straw

At the beginning of May, students from the Sustainable Botany Class at Northern Arizona University came out for a few hours to help build our first bed.

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DSC_0099 Weaving the hardware fabric to keep out gophers

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Straw adds organic material and retains water

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Shoveling action shot proves we actually did the work

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Bed 1 – finished product – Bed 2 – mesh down

Matt and I finished bed 2 and then we put down old pieces of sidewalk and cement to create a walkway and thermal mass between the beds.

First 2 finished beds

First 2 finished beds

And YES, that is hail that accumulated on the ground.  Both of these beds have kale, radishes, carrots, arugula, chard, onions, and bok choy in them.  PLEASE STAY ALIVE!

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Kelsey – master planter!

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Rocks and Milk Jugs painted black and filled with water act as thermal mass

Other plants we have in the ground; asparagus, onions, garlic, kale, peas (but they died from the cold the first night), chiles from the Andes, potatoes, and black beluga lentils.

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Kelsey and I drove to Phoenix yesterday to pick up the 3000 gallon water barrel.  I was a nervous wreck driving it up, but the Santa Fe was a rockstar hauling machine.  We made it safe and sound and we will hopefully have this done within a couple weeks.

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Last, the bees are awesome.  They have been busy collecting pollen and as of today, the queen is laying and there are many capped brood.

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The red pollen is cottonwood or willow and the bee with the red dot is the queen.  These pics were from about 3 weeks ago.  The following three are from today.  Notice the caps on the cells and the size increase.

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Also, if you are interested in beekeeping, check out this flyer from Patrick Pynes, Honeybee Teacher

Sustainable Backyard Beekeeping Course

Next on the to do list:

  • finish bed 3
  • visit and service by Northland Preparatory Academy students to learn about raised beds, finish bed 4, and discuss WWOOFing and some Flagstaff agriculture techniques
  • install rain water barrel, shower and sink
  • Kickstarter incentives
  • Install greywater harvesting project for NAU intern – Cedar
  • Build and install root cellar for a collaborative project with 2 other NAU interns – Alicia and Sam
  • visit and service by Upward Bound students to finish bed 5 and help planting

We hope you can make it out for a visit or to lend a hand.

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