Today Pat and I did something new. We attended a meetup of the Urban Homesteader’s League who put on a workshop about lasagna mulching and building cold frames. Since one of my goals this year was to learn about extending the season, this was a great opportunity. We were there with about 20 people at a house in Cambridge. We spent the afternoon building two raised beds and then helping with building a hoop house frame on another raised bed.
This house in Cambridge has a nice side yard, but has lead contaminated soil. We had some 2×6 lumber to build the raised beds and started the layers by laying down some landscape fabric. Next went on some coarse yard waste – branch trimmings, old squash vines and the like. Next we put in some chopped fruit that had been discarded at the nearby Harvest Co-op. On top of that went 2 layers of cardboard which we wet thoroughly. Old lettuce, also from the Harvest went on next, followed by some chicken manure mixed with sand and some seaweed from Ipswich, brought by our instructor Charlotte. We then added a bit of compost and soil and topped with another layer of cardboard, wet down again. The last layer, before we ran out of material, was ripped up newspaper mixed with leaves which was then topped with more compost and soil. You would think that would fill up the 6 inch beds, but amazingly there was still room left. The family that lives there will continue to add more materials as they become available.
After that we worked on a new hoop house. There were four 10-foot lengths of electrical conduit that were bent using a cool, old conduit bending tool into a shape with a pointed top. These were attached to an 8-inch deep raised bed with two brackets on each side of each frame piece. The tops were then joined together with a 1×2 board with more brackets. Next went on the clear plastic sheeting, which was held down by another board on top of the 1×2. The plastic sides will be weighted down by a board attached to its length, which can be lifted to get into the bed. We didn’t get to see how they were going to close of the ends though.
We learned many things today and met a bunch of really cool people, many of whom arrived by bicycle to the event. We are looking forward to more meetups!