April, 2005. After
experiencing one of the more intense winters we have had in years,
I was beginning to wonder if a new season would ever materialize.
But spring has finally arrived in true fashion here in the mountains
of Colorado. The garlic is now poking up through the mulch. A few
spinach plants, leftover in a cold frame from the fall, are looking
perky again. My goats are regularly filling the pail to the rim,
and those little egg-dropping machines have decided they are comfortable
enough to turn up production a bit. The weather has allowed me a
few days to actually get out and work on gardening projects while
enjoying the sunshine.
The greenhouse is now partially assembled after my folks and a
good friend came over to lend their backs. It was, supposedly, a
day-long project for two, however, as carpentry skills were a bit
lacking, we took the better part of the day and still didn’t
quite get it wrapped up. So I have put that project on hold for
the time being and turned my focus to getting seeds started, a couple
of weeks late.
Following the suggestions of Elliot Coleman, my “gardening
guru”, I constructed three cold frames out of bales of hay,
wood, and various windows that I salvaged. The seeds were started
in a mix of peat moss, perlite, manure, worm castings, lime and
bone meal. This mix was poured directly into the cold frames about
3 inches deep. In theory, the seedlings will be “potted up”
by cutting them out and transferring them to another section of
the cold frame with more of the starting mix. Once they are ready
for transplant, I will cut them into 3-inch blocks and transfer
them to their permanent homes. It’s a cheap way of making
soil blocks without the fancy and pricey (by my farm income’s
standards) “blocker” contraptions. As nighttime temperatures
are still dipping into the freezing zone, I was a bit leery about
the success of germination, but hey, Eliot’s the guru and
he says it can be done. (I threw some blankets over them just to
The manure was a Godsend, as have been many of the items that have
been procured for the farm. It is one of the many blessing of living
in a small town. Seems all I have to do is casually mention that
I am looking for this or that and inevitably I am linked up with
someone who just happens to be ready to part with the very object
I am in search of. In the case of the manure, I was talking with
a family friend one day about compost and she told me that the KOA
(Kampgrounds of America) she works for was loaded with horse waste.
Little did I realize that this was not any ordinary equine excrement.
After loading my pick-up with the well-aged goods, I headed to the
post office. As I am sitting in my truck reading a letter, I notice
this fellow eyeballing my pile of poop in a lustful fashion. As
I get out, I watch as he buries his hand nearly wrist-deep in the
dark, rich heap. “Where did you find this?” he nearly
begs. I give him the details and he excitedly tells me of his love
for composting. Turns out he was once quite the expert on the process,
writing about it for Organic Gardening magazine back in
his earlier years. He has promised his wife manure for her birthday
and is giddy as a little boy that he will be able to provide her
with a gift as fine as this.
With a 5-year-old pile of manure waiting to find its way into the
garden, compostables coming in from egg customers and hopefully
a few restaurants, seeds germinating away, a happy herd of goats
and flock of chickens, and an eight hour a week job/education at
Echo Organics, I feel like things are moving in the right direction.
Even if I am a bit behind schedule, thanks to a great community
of family and friends and a healthy dose of sunshine, Easy Growin’
farm is becoming a reality.