Finally!!! A little progress this past week on the silo! The project has had to take a back seat the last few weeks – first due to some windy weather, and then while we waited on the metal sheeting to arrive.
On Wednesday however, with some beautiful 60 degree sunny weather – we were able to get a little closer to finishing her up!
We temporarily set the silo up on the east side of the barn – to shield from any winds while we attached the metal sides. It will soon move it to its permanent spot above the garden and beside the compost bins – after we pour a small concrete pad for a base. We’ve decided to attach the side posts to the concrete floor with anchor bolts to make sure it stands strong in any windstorm. After attaching the posts, we will cut away the temporary wood cross-braces on the base, leaving a nice smooth floor.
We have had a lot of questions about the exact purpose of the silo. The silo will be used to store huge amounts of shredded leaves and grass collected each fall from the yards around our neighborhood and surrounding areas. When full – it will hold close to 275 cubic feet of material. What will we do with all of that? Well, we have a couple of things in mind.
First – We’ll use the stored leaves to make extra compost through the summer months – when it’s harder to find available composting materials. Each spring, our compost bins are overflowing from all of the fall clean up around the farm. However, it quickly vanishes, as we use it in all of the planting holes of the garden and flowerbeds – as well as making our own potting soil mix. In year’s past – it took quite a while to add more organic matter into the bins to get the next batch going – especially in early spring and summer – when there are not a lot of leaves, grass and plant debris readily available to put into the bins.
So we will use the stored shredded leaves and clippings from the silo to fill the compost bins back up immediately – combining them with our chicken coop manure, grass clippings and of course any available vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, etc. to get the next batch cooking. Our hope is to make quick, continual compost batches through the season – and you can never have enough compost!
Secondly, in the past few years – we have used chopped straw in the beds underneath our raised rows. Straw is great – but it’s not free – and can be really expensive once we start using it to also mulch the rows in between the garden. Our plan: to use the tons of shredded leaves stored in the silo for that purpose as well. It’s free – and even higher in organic matter than the straw as it breaks down in the garden.
Saving Seeds For Next Year’s Ornamental Peppers
Yesterday, in between watching some great college football games, we also tackled harvesting next year’s seeds from this past summer’s ornamental peppers. We start the process in late summer – choosing the biggest and best of the peppers on the plants to use for our seeds. We store them whole, in a cool, dry place for a few months to dry out. Then, this past week – we simply sliced open the peppers, and scooped out the seeds. We usually let them air dry for a few more weeks on a paper towel – and then seal and store them in a ziplock bag until we are ready to start our seeds indoors in early February.
We grew over 200 ornamental pepper plants from seed last year – and hope to increase that number this year. They are a great plant for annual color in the landscape. They also have the added benefit of being low maintenance – requiring little water, are resistant to most insect damage – and very hardy in cool or hot temperatures. Last year we grew the Sangria, Poinsettia and Tequila Orange varieties – and will add a few more to the mix this year.
We save a tremendous amount of money by growing our own ornamental peppers from seed. They can run upwards of $3.00 a plant – and that’s if you can even find them in local nurseries in the first place. When you plant as many as we do around the farm – in mass plantings, flower pots and hanging baskets – you have no choice but to grow your own from seed!
Hope everyone has a great Sunday!
Jim and Mary