Berry Farm in Progress
Starting a Berry Farm
In 2011 we bought the farm, literally that is, with fields full of soybean. Following the fall harvest we began work on the berry rows. With the initial soil test from K-State extension service, it appeared we had great dirt but needed to increase the organic matter and lower the pH. A bit of a crazy reversal for the soil as the previous owners had added lime to increase the pH so we were simply helping to restore the natural order.
We incorporated horse manure, over 10,000 pounds of coffee grounds, coffee chaff, Canadian peat moss and pelletized sulfur into the soil.
Horse poo, smells like money
Mucking in the sun
Deere power and plow
Using one row plow to turn manure and coffee grounds deep into the soil
Mucking even in the cold but you do work up a sweat
Flyer for coffee shops
Ground to Ground, coffee grounds to our berry ground.
Don't dump recycle!
We saved over 10,000 pounds of coffee grounds that would have gone to the landfill!
Berries love caffeine!
Its almost like bean bags, light and smells great
Filling the dirt back into the ditch
Preparing the pipe
This was the easy part
Pipe along the upper half
200 yards plus of pvc
Connecting the pipes
My fingers were purple for a few days
Drip pipe along rows
We put buckets over the new plants and then mulched
Drilling holes for the up tubes
Lots more planting to do
Prepared beds 18" deep
While better than mucking off the trailer too long a drive to big mulch pile
Not trying to impress, just never ending mulching.
Installing the drip system
In 2012 our initial test rows of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries seemed to be doing well. Unfortunately, that was a dry year and we spent a lot of time watering with long lengths of garden hose to keep them moist. So in 2013 we planned for installing a irrigation system. We had prepared 27 rows for planting with over 1000 plants, garden hose watering just wasn't in the future!
Using 1.5 inch pvc pipe, John Deere pressure regulated drip pipe and what was the most confounding connectors (until I read the instructions), we had a drip system ready.
When planting we mix up "Brownie Batter" for each plant. Takes time rehydrating peat moss, mixing in sulfur and small amount of fertilizer but gets the berries off to a good start.
Weeding is also one of those evils that consumes time. We don't use any herbicides, just weed pulling and torching them.
Mulching is also key to thwarting weeds and keep roots moist. The first year we mulched by hand but we now have graduated to a Mill Creek mulcher. Best money spent!!
and enjoying a cigar
Making Brownie Batter
Peat moss, sulfur and fertilizer
Shoveling out batter into each hole
Not the batter you want to lick off
Two Year old bare root plants
We spaced the planting over 6 weekends
Putting up end posts for blackberrie
Huck and the new row mulcher