2019 Plans and Update

Aquaponics update

2019 has come in with a roar, it’s already February! Last year spring caught me off guard and I’m determined to not let that happen again, the last frost date for this area is February 20th so it is approaching fast. My spring task list to have completed in the next few weeks is get the vegetable garden planted, trim all trees, and get everything into the ground as possible (potted trees).

The web site move was a much bigger deal than expected and is still not completed. Turns out a lot of things were lost (photo descriptions, feature pictures, metadata) so I’ve been trying to get all that fixed.

What’s the plan for the coming year? The fencing is the biggest thing to get completed. I’m about 2/3 of the way done putting posts in, once that is done the actual field fence goes up, the two top wires go on (like barbed wire without barbs), then I have to realign the front rail fencing to line up with the new stuff.

Field fencing rear

Once the front is realigned I’ll be putting a welded wire backing on it for additional protection to keep animals in and out.

Field fencing side yard

Another recent change is with the aquaponics system. The floating raft bed was changed to a media bed since these have seemed to perform a lot better,

Changing aquaponic bed

The change was pretty easy since this was how it was originally set up. The bell siphon was already made and I had the media put in do the whole process only took about an hour.

Aquaponics media bed

Speaking of the aquaponic system, it is performing much better now. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s due to the cooler weather or it just needed a year to get better established.

Aquaponics and Swiss Chard

A Roma Tomato plant that was placed in has done exceptionally well, it took a long time to get started but really took off in the last month or so. If I had planned better I would have put some support in for it. In the photo below you can also see some celery getting started. Celery has always done well in this system.

Aquaponic and Roma Tomato

I’ve changed my mind a bit about the aquaponic system, I wasn’t impressed originally but it does seem to have become more productive. I’ll redo some testing and challenges this year and see if the results are improved.

Another recent success is with the Pigeon Pea plants. I’ve been harvesting these for the last few weeks and they just keep producing.

Pigeon Pea plants

There are two plants in this picture and they have different colored peas, one is green and the other is brown. The brown ones take a little longer to ripen and get a little longer but they are otherwise very similar.

Brown Pigeon Peas

Both plants have been producing heavily and are still flowering with new peas.

Green Pigeon Peas

My big goals for 2019 are to get the fencing done then get all underground plumbing and electrical in place for future projects. If I get more than that done then great, the new garden area would be next.

Next week I’ll post a list of new plants I’m trying out this year, and the first seed and plant exchange for this year has already been posted. If you are local and would like to attend please see our Facebook page for details.

Growing Here: Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas are a great fit at Three Acre Paradise, besides being an edible legume they are a fast growing perennial and can provide quick shade for more delicate plants.

Description

Pigeon peas are a fast growing perennial legume that have many uses in a food forest or permaculture environment. Pigeon peas have been used as a protein rich food source for humans for at least 3,500 years and are popular in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They are also very drought tolerant and can provide a heavy harvest for three to five years.

Pigeon peas 3 months

Uses

Food Source: Pigeon peas are protein rich and can be used as a green vegetable pea, dried, or made into flour. 

Animal Fodder: The leaves, seeds, pods and the remnants of seed processing are used to feed many kinds of livestock.

Improving Soil: Since they are a legume Pigeon peas provide nitrogen fixing for soil. This can be accomplished by simply pruning the plant and dropping the cuttings on the ground. The deep tap root helps break up hard soils and pull nutrients from deep down and the plant can provide shade and a wind break for smaller plants.

Pigeon peas 6 months

Growing Pigeon Peas

Pigeon pea plants can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 15 and can grow up to 12 feet tall. The plants deep tap root can grow to up to six feet in length which helps the plant to locate water. For the first few months after germination the growth is slow but speeds up as the plant gets established. Most Pigeon pea cultivars are a short day plant blooming when nights are long. For best results start plants directly in ground although they can be started in pots and transplanted later.

Propagation

Pigeon peas are easily propagated with dried seeds. They are not very picky about planting depth or soil type.

Pigeon peas 9 months

Pigeon Peas at Three Acre Paradise

Currently there is one area where Pigeon peas are growing at Three Acre Paradise. There are two plants that have grown to about ten feet high and wide. There were several other areas where they were planted but they were damaged by animals and did not recover. Next spring I will be starting two new areas and they will be better protected against damage.

The pictures in this post are of the same plants over a several month period.

Wikipedia Page for Pigeon Peas

Pigeon Peas and Fence Clearing

Last week I mentioned how well the Dragon Fruit was growing, this week I want to add another great plant to the list. In addition, I’ve started clearing the fence line for the remainder of the property. This will help with the three main goals I had this year: level and fill, fence the whole property, put in the electrical and irrigation infrastructure.

Pigeon Peas

Pigeon Peas (wiki) are a perennial legume that fit in well with food forests (and permaculture) environments. They are heavy producers once established and will continue to re-seed to keep the population going. There’s a lot of benefits to this plant –¬† they are a good food source, beneficial to the soil, can provide shade and wind break, and can be used for animal food.

When I first started planting these over a year ago they had a really slow start. The plants only grew to about a foot tall then seemed to stop, much like these pictures of some more recently planted ones.

Pigeon Pea juvenile plants

They did provide a few pea pods, maybe 3-4 per plant. After the pods dried up and dropped, the plants really took off.

Pigeon Pea mature plants

The plant on the left is about four feet tall, the one on the right about seven feet. I’ve read they can get to 12 feet tall, these seem on their way and are bushing out quite nicely. Once they start providing a new crop of peas I’ll post an update. Also, you can see some of the land leveling going on around this planting area.

Fence Clearing

This week I’ve started clearing the west property line for the wildlife fence (see Upcoming Projects). This is going to be a bit challenging, it is pretty overgrown bit in addition I don’t want to clear beyond my property line.

Overgrown fence line

There is actually an old fence in there, mostly barbed wire that has fallen apart but also a chain link section the neighbors put up years ago. Even though the old fence is useless as far as fences go, it is serving a couple of purposes. First, my property survey has these identified so I can tell where the property line is (it’s not right where the fence is, the fence wavers across the property line). Second, since I am technically repairing the fence there is no permit needed so I save a few dollars and don’t have to deal with the county.

Rotted fence post

I never really paid much attention to the property line on the survey, it turns out the chain link fence is actually well on my side. I’m an easy going guy so I’ll work with the neighbor on replacing or moving this, the challenge is that the house next door is for sale and currently vacant. It was bought by a house flipper so I doubt he cares to put any money or time into this, maybe by the time I’m ready to put the new fence up the new owner will be living there.

Chain link fence looking south

In the picture above you can see my orange marker on the south end, my property is on the left and the neighbor on the right. On this side I’ve got about a foot, the north end is a foot and a half. I’m putting more solid and visible pipe in as I go so it is clear where the line is:

Chain link fence north end

In this picture my property is to the left and neighbor to the right. The chain link fence is heavily damaged so something needs to be done anyways, also I’d like it to be taller to match the fence I’m putting up. We’ll see where this ends up.

Here’s a neon green lizard I spotted while clearing:

Bright green lizard

I though that was pretty cool.

I got the front section cleared out without too much trouble, the back is a lot longer and has some challenges. The one that will slow me down the most – poison ivy. When I bought the property and started clearing in 2013 I had never really been exposed to poison ivy. The result? A few months of downtime due to spending a day pulling it out of trees. Here’s a picture of my leg at the time:

Poison Ivy on leg

Ouch – I can still remember what a tough few months of recovery that was. I got both legs and arms pretty bad but luckily nothing on my chest or face. If you are working around poison ivy get some of this – Mean Green Power Hand Scrub – it’s the same as a lot of the very expensive washes and works great at a tiny fraction of the cost. Use it to wash your hands and body parts after any potential exposure and it will wash the oils off. I wish I had found it sooner, it took weeks of research. Also, I eventually threw out all clothing that had potentially been in contact or was washed with contaminated clothing.

Back to the clearing, here’s how the front looks where I ran a string line and pushed back the old fencing (my property on the right):

String line along property border

And here’s the beginning of the back clearing. I haven’t gotten very far, this will probably take a few weeks or even months. There’s a lot of poison ivy, although I though I had eliminated it from Three Acre Paradise it has heavily grown along the untamed jungle along the border. I’m using a long pair of needle nose pliers and a trash bag to pull Poison Ivy first, then coming back through with some loppers to find the old posts.

Property line clearing

New Plants

I’ve got a few new plant additions for Three Acre Paradise this week, I’ll try to get them planted and some pictures up by next week. The list of things growing here on the blog¬† is getting pretty outdated so I need to give it some attention, I’m also tying to add pictures to the actual plants growing here to every page.

Upcoming fun stuff – using a plant cloner, Aerogarden vs Burpee Seed Starting kit, generator hookup panel installation, and chicken coop build. I’d like to make two posts a week but there just isn’t time, at some point I’ll be more organized and faster at this so then it will be a possibility. Until then, keep on planting!