Last fall we decided to apply for the Oklahoma Plasticulture Grant. After reading about plasticulture and all of its benefits, we thought this program would fit perfectly into our garden plans. Since we have a high water table on our farm, we make raised rows to plant our crops in and the Plasticulture program employs this method, plus installs the irrigation tubing and plastic row covers. What a labor savings this is for us! Late last fall we were notified that our application for this grant was accepted and we were elated! Yeah!!! No more backbreaking raking of the garden soil into raised rows! (Yeah, yeah – lots of exclamation marks, but it really is exciting to know that our efforts can be focused on planting and growing instead of raking dirt!).
As everybody knows, work on a farm is majorly hinged on the weather. It had been raining here intermittently and we were beginning to wonder when we would be able to schedule the installation of the plastic. We kept our fingers crossed and called the installer last Monday and tentatively scheduled the installation for Thursday – barring any rain. So when Wednesday evening arrived, and we hadn’t had any rain, we talked to the installer and he said he would be here the next morning at 8:30 a.m.
So bright and early Thursday morning he arrived with his tractor and the fascinating plasticulture machine.
Here he is unloading the plasticulture machine. Notice the rolls of plastic and irrigation tubing mounted at the very top of the equipment.
The is the most southern plot after installation of the plasticulture. Don’t those rows look so pretty and neat?!
Next comes the plot closest to the barn – the second picture shows the installer setting up to make the first row. They drop their machine at the edge of the garden and then have to hand dig some soil and place it on top of the first foot of plastic to hold it down. Then hop back on the tractor and start down the row.
Starting on the second row. Isn’t that just the coolest machine! It does it all for you in one single pass – makes the raised row, lays down the irrigation tubing, neatly lays the plastic on the top and sides, and then covers the edges of the plastic to keep it in place.
Final part of the installation is setting up the header pipes and connectors for the irrigation tubing. The second picture is of both south garden plots after the installation is complete.
Studies have shown that using the plasticulture method can triple your vegetable production and we are looking forward to that. Part of the grant program is to track the pounds of vegetables produced in the plasticulture garden – a small effort for us to make in lieu of raking dirt. If you are interested in using plasticulture in your garden, go to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry website for starters. There is also lots of information on the web about the use of plasticulture.
We are now ready to plant our garden!
Greg and Ronda