In late Fall the FOTO team began to prepare for the winterization of the hoop house. The first step was increasing the height of the structure. Next, the heavy duty plastic was attached and the outdoor plants and composting worms were moved inside. One of our goals for the winter of 2017 was to provide some heat in the hoop house. Due to the generous donation of a 6ft x 6ft solar panel by one of FOTO’s board members we were able to do just that.
The solar panel was set up by the hoop house in the direction of the sun. The panel connects to a regulator that controls the charge to a deep charge battery which in turn powers a small heater. We placed the small heater inside two terracotta planters that hold the heat for several hours. For overnight heat we installed two 100 watt hanging lamps that run on a timer. Last year we had frost inside the hoop house, but this year so far we are frost free. Cabbage and Red Beets were started by seed and are growing nicely. Oregano, rosemary, Italian parsley, and other herbs continue to thrive. We will be investing in a larger heater to provide more heat to help out the growing vegetables, banana trees and some other baby fruit trees that sprouted in our compost bin in late summer. We will also use the hoop house in the fall to start seeds so by spring we have plants to share with our garden friends.
Spring and Summer Garden 2016
Spring has sprung here at the FOTO Homestation Garden. Winter vegetables of cabbage and kolibri were harvested to make room for spring planting. With the hoop house we were able to start our seeds outside in small containers. Some of the seeds were harvested from last year's flowers and vegetables and others purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. For 2016 FOTO will expand on their seed saving program. We also have welcomed 1,000 composting worms to the Homestation Garden from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm Uncle Jim's Worm Farm . Within the hoop house several annuals such as cosmos, marigolds, and tomatoes self- sowed and are growing nicely.
July 2016 - Lessons from the garden to date: Cucumbers and Squash are doing very well this season. Cucumbers were grown vertically which allowed for more space to grow other vegetables. In the future gourds will need to be grown separately. The leaves are just too big and had to be cut back to allow for sunlight on the peppers and eggplants. Gourds have now been trained to grow vertically too. Tomatoes are not doing too well this season. Possibly from the excess moisture from earlier in the growing season. Flowers at the FOTO Homestation Garden are in full bloom with LOTS of Pollinators visiting.
Fall/Winter Garden 2015
Update September 2015
Due to the milder climate the tomatoes continue to flourish along with the eggplants and peppers. We have started collecting seeds from some of the annuals in the garden. Plans are in the works for creating a greenhouse for later fall using pvc piping and clear plastic. We have also potted some perennials for the spring and will take clippings from the fig tree to root and pot. All these will be shared with the community.
Update October 2015
FOTO's Summer Garden's first year taught us that soil is everything. The more compost that was added the better things grew. Because we started in early summer our harvest was not as plentiful. However, we produced lots of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, some green peppers, a few eggplants, and several types of herbs.
As the fall months approached we collected seeds from some of our flowers- Cosmos, Marigolds, Zinnias and a few others. We also discovered the Autumn Olive Berry. Though this tree is considered very invasive most people don't know that the berry it produces is a superfood that is 17 times higher in lycopene than the typical raw tomato. If we could get into the habit of picking and eating the berries we could get the benefit of this superfood, and at the same time decrease the spread of the tree. One can make smoothies, jams, sauces and fruit leather with the fruit. It can also be frozen for later use.
For the Fall Garden we added compost to the soil and planted winter plants to include: green cabbage, kale, lettuce, red cabbage, bok choy, and a few others. In the weeks to come we will create a greenhouse using bendable pvc piping and clear heavy-duty UV plastic. All green tomatoes were collected and stored inside until they turn red. Fried green tomatoes are also a yummy dish.
Update November 2015
FOTO's winter vegetables are coming along nicely. To prepare for the cold winter months construction has begun on a hoop house using recycled pvc piping.
Update December 2015
The Hoop House is near completion. To read more about the construction of the Hoop House click here. The month of December has had some unusually warm days. The plants are thriving and growing. With the near completion of the Hoop House the roots of the plants should be well protected for the coming colder months ahead.
Update January 2016
The colder weather has arrived. With some evening temperatures entering into the teens we are happy to find that the Hoop House is protecting the roots of the plants. However, the leaves were slightly frosted so we have decided to hang a light with a 100 watt bulb inside the hoop house to raise the temperature during the colder evenings. We will test this method and see if it works. Harvests so far include Bok Choy and lettuce. To find out more about the Hoop House click here
Spring/Summer Garden 2015
Welcome to the FOTO Home Station Garden. This year we started FOTO's first vegetable garden. Everything in the garden was started by seed in small recycled plastic containers that once held fruit. The containers worked well because they created a small greenhouse effect. Later on in the early summer we transplanted them into Dollar Tree Bags until the fence was completed to keep deer and other critters out. The iron fence parts you see in the photo are recycled. They were going to be thrown out and FOTO spray painted them and put them to use. We built a 12x12ft garden box. The box was filled with a mixture of dirt and leaf compost from Parson's Farm. Recycled strips of wood were used to create walkways because the box is so big. Vegetables were then transplanted into the garden box. Basil and several other herbs were planted in-between vegetables to ward off potential insect problems. Raspberries and Gooseberries were already established and harvested in July.
Pollinators and Other Visitors
Pollinators and other visitors are plentiful here at the FOTO Home Station Garden. The wildflowers, annuals, perennials, and flowering bushes make this a popular hang out for bees, butterflies, dragonflies, hummingbirds and more.