It was nice to have a weekend where we just enjoyed camping on the farm, without working. The grilled creation was cooked over the fire in the black cast iron cookers. The shell was made of corn dog roll with hot dogs, chili and onions inside. Tasty!
The Mayapples are growing. We never get any of the fruit because the critters always beat us to it.
You can camp on the farm too, just visit
The work on the emergency communications plan is moving forward. Our plan covers two main contingencies:
- team is deployed to an emergency site
- team is not deployed but there is an emergency
One of our team goals is put ourselves in a position where we can help the broader community during a wider emergency, such as a grid down situation after a hurricane or power station sabotage (like the next county over went through in 2022).
This plan is a step towards achieving those goals. Later phases of plan development should help address the communications divide between the CERT team and the greater community. These later phases should also incorporate some of the great ideas that were generated in the brainstorming / brainwriting work.
The rough draft of the plan is below. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
Lee County CERT Team – Communications Plan
Rough Draft – dated 2023-03-18
At time of muster, team members will be assigned to a group and a backup group based on available communications tools and radios.
At time of muster, team members will also be assigned a cell phone number for a command staff member, where they can confirm the communication channel they should be using. This communication should occur via text message. This cell number can also be used to short messages between command staff, as needed. Primary communication method is radio communication.
Priority 1 (Group 1) — Zello Channel – “Lee County Emergency Response Team”
Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using the KB4HG repeater – 441.9500 / +5 MHz / 136.5 Tone
Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #3 (151.94 MHz)
Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #15 (462.55 MHz) [Note: limited FRS range]
Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #22
(Backup) Priority 1 – No backup, go to other group
(Backup) Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using the NC4ML – 147.240 / +5 MHz / 91.5
(Backup) Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #5 (154.60 MHz)
(Backup) Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #17 – 462.60 MHz [Note: limited FRS range]
(Backup) Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #24
Note: Group 2 – If both HAM repeaters are not available, switch to Simplex 146.58 FM
Priority 1 (Group C1) — Zello Channel – “Lee County Emergency Response Team – Command”
Priority 2 (Group C2) – HAM Radio using Simplex 144.400
Priority 3 (Group C3) – MURS channel #2 (151.88 MHz)
Priority 4 (Group C4) – GMRS / FRS channel #19 (462.65 MHz) [Note: limited FRS range]
Priority 5 (Group C5) – CB channel #21
(Backup) Priority 1 – Use command text message number to ask which alternate group to use
(Backup) Priority 2 (Group 2) – HAM Radio using Simplex 144.800
(Backup) Priority 3 (Group 3) – MURS channel #4 (154.57 MHz)
(Backup) Priority 4 (Group 4) – GMRS / FRS channel #21 (462.70 MHz_ [Note: limited FRS range]
(Backup) Priority 5 (Group 5) – CB channel #23
Non-deployed Comms [used during emergency situation where CERT team isn’t deployed]
Use the following communications channels on the schedule below with a wilderness protocol (seeking to minimize power use in case the grid is down):
- text message to designated contact
- Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 (Carolina Trace local area), Group C1, Group C2
- other groups activated in an extended emergency to provide greater footprint in community
Note: number of groups is minimized to reduce the amount of time the command staff has to communicate with team members.
|Orientation||Email or text message from command to start comm protocol, or event / emergency to trigger start, includes emergency text message contact number|
(first 3 days only)
|Group 1 – Zello||Daily||07:00 PM|
|Group 2 – HAM Radio||Daily||07:15 PM|
|Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)||Daily||07:30 PM|
|Group C1 – Zello||Daily||06:15 PM|
|Group C2 – HAM Radio||Daily||06:30 PM|
|Weekly Check-In||Group 1 – Zello||Sunday||07:00 PM|
|Group 2 – HAM Radio||Sunday||07:30 PM|
|Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)||Sunday||08:00 PM|
|Group C1 – Zello||Sunday||06:00 PM|
|Group C2 – HAM Radio||Sunday||06:30 PM|
(4th day and beyond)
|Group 1 – Zello||Daily, except Sunday||07:00 PM|
|Group 2 – HAM Radio||Daily, except Sunday||07:10 PM|
|Group 3 – MURS (local to Carolina Trace area)||Daily, except Sunday||07:20 PM|
|Group 4 – GMRS||Daily, except Sunday||07:30 PM|
|Group 5 – CB||Daily, except Sunday||07:40 PM|
|Group C1 – Zello||Daily, except Sunday||07:50 PM|
|Group C2 – HAM Radio||Daily, except Sunday||08:00 PM|
|Anytime during emergency||Text messages to command cell # – when radio or Zello comms aren’t available||Any day||Any time|
Here are the ideas that we generated. There are over 140 ideas. Hopefully these give you a head start on developing your plan.
|Work with local AM / FM stations to get message out. (Highly rated idea by group)||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|Create AM / FM bandit stations for a hyper local reach (added after the session)||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|MESH Network||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|SPOT/Garmin Beacons||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|Tell citizens to turn on AM or FM radio to a preplanned channel / frequency||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|Use air raid sirens to get citizens to check for info||Beacon / One Way Comms|
|Add org chart to plan||CERT Team|
|Add rotation plan to comm plan||CERT Team|
|cache radios for use in emergency||CERT Team|
|comm plan “jobs to be done” list||CERT Team|
|consider situation where CERT is used as helpers instead of standalone group||CERT Team|
|create comms map for each band for Lee county||CERT Team|
|create form for passing messages (needs / requests / news) via voice||CERT Team|
|Create member capabilities list (skills, interests, experience and equipment)||CERT Team|
|create trailer with telescopic mast and battery / solar to use a temporary repeater||CERT Team|
|develop online repository for standard forms||CERT Team|
|Forms list for comm plan, use ICS forms (ics-214, 201, 205, 205A, 213, 214, 217, 221, 211,222)||CERT Team|
|get more CERT members to take ham test so they can help with Lee county EOC||CERT Team|
|Go bag plan for comm plan||CERT Team|
|have (email / voice / phone) contact in comm plan for tech support / comm plan questions||CERT Team|
|look at our plan using interoperability continuum from ICS||CERT Team|
|should different message types be transferred on different frequencies||CERT Team|
|use for ICS 221 after demobilization||CERT Team|
|use form 213 for message taking / delivery / resource requests||CERT Team|
|use form 309 to document interactions||CERT Team|
|use issue tracking software (online?) to track requests||CERT Team|
|Take a look at the Lee County Emergency Communication plan and report (Highly rated idea by group)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Develop a communication plan and network of people (chainsaw brigade) that allows us to direct a chainsaw network that clears trees off the road after a weather event. This helps clear the roads quickly so first responders can reach people in need. This network would need to work with various parties to identify locations of blocked roads then send out requests for network members to go clear those roads (Highly rated idea by group)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Develop ways to communicate with Lee County EOC (Highly rated idea by group)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Use community centers as a shelter, muster point, comm point or cache point (Highly rated idea by group)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|add HOA layer to comm plan||Communication between CERT and local community|
|add relationships layer to comm plan||Communication between CERT and local community|
|better integration of Lee County Emergency MGMT||Communication between CERT and local community|
|CB||Communication between CERT and local community|
|create contact list for Lee County and Sanford emergency mgmt and EOC||Communication between CERT and local community|
|create list of emergency contacts across county (public / CERT / private)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|create list of how to reach EOCs for areas outside of the county||Communication between CERT and local community|
|create list of lee county / sanford and adjoining city / county /agency frequencies||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Degraded Power Grid – If cell is up, utilize cell – HAMs will likely conduct accountability via COMM nets – GMRS for short distance non-HAM comms||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Determine muster points for CERT to meet and exchange info face-to-face in bad weather. Alternate communication path for those who don’t go out||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Develop CERT teams across county, possibly using fire station coverage map to drive CERT team AO||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Develop community network around volunteer fire departments||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Develop list of areas where CERT under serves the community and determine if there are areas that could benefit the most from a local CERT team||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Do welfare checks on people with mobility or other health issues (esp during an emergency)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Hand-held walkie talkies||Communication between CERT and local community|
|How can we fill in gaps with the Lee County Emergency Communication plan?||Communication between CERT and local community|
|How do we communicate with citizens in economically distressed areas?||Communication between CERT and local community|
|If teams are dispersed, it becomes more troublesome. Best scenario is to have multiple methods of communication lying within CERT EOC to serve as broadcast beacons, i.e. multiple HAM radios programmed to different frequencies, if issues arise on one frequency, you swap to another frequency and periodically blast net messages on degraded frequency indicating the swap to the secondary frequency.||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Interface with Lee County Emergency Management||Communication between CERT and local community|
|share a version of the com plan with local groups (church, prepper, community, etc)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|use fire stations as a gathering / communications point||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Use map of fire station map to understand community relations||Communication between CERT and local community|
|use microwave or other rf connections to fire stations||Communication between CERT and local community|
|VIPER (if able to utilize)||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Within Trace this should be fairly easy and facilitated via CERT runners within our respective communities. Individuals that are CERT members could be arranged into “teams,” with those teams being broken up into respective HOA groups. One CERT member, preferably a HAM, could operate as a base station and send the runners out into their respective HOAs and conduct welfare checks on residents and report back to base station.||Communication between CERT and local community|
|work with nextdoor.com as a broad communications tool||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Zello||Communication between CERT and local community|
|Hold ham crams in churches or other groups or HOAs (Highly rated idea by group)||Deployed Communication|
|Engage local HOAs and help them develop networks or CERT teams and then fold that into our CERT network (Highly rated idea by group)||Deployed Communication|
|ATAK network (transported over MESH network)||Deployed Communication|
|Can we get an affinity group to help develop a communication network (providing people, location or funds)? Could be someone like the Sanford Business League. Also, local business could work with us to help them and their employees be prepared both at work and at home.||Deployed Communication|
|GMRS, MURS, CB (short distance comms)||Deployed Communication|
|HAM (for those licensed)||Deployed Communication|
|Have one person that takes notes for the deployed teams to track activities and have a way to share them. Could those notes show up online and realtime? Could be someone that doesn’t have their ham license or is without radio experience||Deployed Communication|
|Hold exercises that include these ham / radio operators so CERT can practice communicating to their group through them||Deployed Communication|
|How many community groups, organziations (including HOAs) have ham operators? Can we form a group of those ham operators, so the operators can interface with the groups they are members of, becoming a force multiplier. Have those operators train together. Also consider other means of communication such as GMRS, meshtaastic, cb, etc. or means we haven’t considered yet. Maybe even have social events for those operators. Train together and with CERT and develop those relationships.||Deployed Communication|
|Map social network – including affinity groups, churches, business, civic groups, government. Maybe develop a list of group sites like on facebook, nextdoor, etc.||Deployed Communication|
|MESH network (Meshtastic devices, etc)||Deployed Communication|
|Place meshtastic nodes or equipment caches at locations where the community groups meet (groups that have ham operators that are part of the network).||Deployed Communication|
|Use DMR repeater in Lee County (Highly rated idea by group)||Digital Comms|
|create form for passing messages (needs / requests / news) via winmail||Digital Comms|
|DMRs (Digital Radios)||Digital Comms|
|MESH network||Digital Comms|
|Software defined radios||Digital Comms|
|Use group.me app for group text messages||Digital Comms|
|Communicate through grocery stores, home depot, gas stations and other places people go in an emergency to get supplies (Highly rated idea by group)||Gathering Points|
|Consider parks and schools as possible gathering points||Gathering Points|
|Develop a PACE plan for the gathering points||Gathering Points|
|Incentivize groups to communicate with us. Maybe find a local company(s) to help fund some of these activities and partner with us. Also work with churches and other local groups||Gathering Points|
|Look for organic gathering points as a place to get the message out. Maybe Walmart or Lowe’s Home Improvement||Gathering Points|
|Use gathering points to disseminate information to community||Gathering Points|
|Use a balloon or kite to hold meshtastic node at an elevation, check for coverage and consider competing interference in the LoRa band (Highly rated idea by group)||Grid Down|
|A MESH network that is properly constructed (Solar power, hardened) and is adequately distributed across the county should be able to provide this “beacon” and be accessible to everyone in the community as long as you have a device to enter into the network itself. Obviously this has limitation as you need to have the device and have it properly configured.||Grid Down|
|Develop type of even list – nuclear, hurricane, etc and try to consider a lot of possible events||Grid Down|
|Have someone monitoring the situation so a runner can be dispatched (walking or driving). This way we can reach people in a hyper local area and manage emergency requests even if the person needing help can’t directly communicate with us. Use this to communicate with and help people in an area where people can’t actually leave home or the local area.||Grid Down|
|I believe this is likely the most difficult situation to rectify until we answer some of our other questions. Obviously the most fool-proof way of communicating during a grid down situation is by runners between CERT members, with a HAM CERT member acting as a control station for people to check in with. Once we flesh out some other methods of communication that are more fail-tolerant, we can utilize those.||Grid Down|
|Iridium (Cost prohibitive but will function as long as you have battery in the phone and SAT Uplink)||Grid Down|
|Runners/Foot Mobile||Grid Down|
|use radio propagation software to determine expected coverage||Grid Down|
|Use Rattlegram as a beacon (maybe on HAM, CB, GMRS, MURS?)||Grid Down|
|use solar powered repeaters (ham / grms / meshtastic?)||Grid Down|
|Use support nets in comm plan||Grid Down|
|Connect APRS to satellite for messaging and locations||Ham comms|
|connect to state Winlink Service (shares)||Ham comms|
|create an adhoc winlink server for CERT group / remote message server / rms relay software||Ham comms|
|determine coverage of repeaters and other comm sources in plan||Ham comms|
|determine how long lee county and moore county repeaters stay up when grid is down||Ham comms|
|Hold schedule update (radio show like) at specific times and dates / intervals during an emergency, i.e. a form of wilderness protocol. This minimizes power usage during a grid down situation||Ham comms|
|Hold schedule update (radio show like) from drone that carries up an antenna at specific times and dates / intervals during an emergency, i.e. a form of wilderness protocol. This minimizes power usage during a grid down situation||Ham comms|
|Use APRS for texting||Ham comms|
|Use APRS to locate a victim or track team member locations||Ham comms|
|Use balloon or drone to launch||Ham comms|
|use field situation report to apprise state EOC of status (nceoc.ncdps.gov), maybe through winlink||Ham comms|
|use national calling frequency 146.52 or 446.0 from page 46 of the Auxfog||Ham comms|
|use winlink to transfer info among CERT members, how can we do that with and without an internet connection||Ham comms|
|ADS-B (Aircraft Tracking)||Improving situational awareness|
|ATAK (General SA collation tool)||Improving situational awareness|
|Better understand why people don’t prepare ahead of time so we can help people understand why it is important to be prepared, or somehow encourage them to prepare||Improving situational awareness|
|Downlinked NOAA data (WX tools)||Improving situational awareness|
|Have someone continually monitor what’s going on. Have someone able to communicate immediately if someone else needs help.||Improving situational awareness|
|Know any communication alternatives, so you can change what you are doing and still be able to communicate||Improving situational awareness|
|Signals Plan/PACE Plan||Improving situational awareness|
|Understand that we can only help people prepare that will help themselves. We can old help so much and have to be ready to deal with unprepared neighbors in an emergency situation||Improving situational awareness|
|Attach Meshtastic to HF to reach Internet via Gateway. Use remote HF transceiver for access (Highly rated idea by group)||Non-Ham Comms|
|Attach Meshtastic to internet at far distributed points||Non-Ham Comms|
|Cache Baofengs at different locations across the county||Non-Ham Comms|
|can we runwinlink over gmrs or cb?||non-Ham Comms|
|Cell network, Zello||Non-Ham Comms|
|Create list of existing tower sites with existing and unused feed lines||Non-Ham Comms|
|Create list of tower or other sites where we could put repeaters (meshtastic, GMRS or other)||Non-Ham Comms|
|Full Power grid/All services – This is likely a pre-call out function – Utilize cell, email and prep for no-grid possibility.||Non-Ham Comms|
|GMRS, MURS||Non-Ham Comms|
|Hand-held Walkie Talkies||Non-Ham Comms|
|If a robust and fail-tolerant Mesh network is developed, you can utilize that for message traffic and indicate to deployed teams the changes required.||Non-Ham Comms|
|If cell services are operational/slightly degraded, you can still utilize those as a means of broadcasting changes as well.||Non-Ham Comms|
|If grid is still up, cell network is likely the best option and is likely the easiest option for most members as well. If deployed and in a grid down situation, that is when our MESH/ATAK network would likely provide the easiest geolocated SA tool for status. HAM and GMRS radios can also be utilized for this function as well.||Non-Ham Comms|
|If we have an emplaced CERT EOC, it is likely that team members will be co-located at some point during deployment. This would assume that word of mouth would be the primary method of change management for commo methods.||Non-Ham Comms|
|look at Cert team in Cary’s plan for GMRS usage (contact Virginia Enzor for info)||Non-Ham Comms|
|No Power Grid/Initial — Runners within Trace (if movement is safe)//Need strip maps for non-Trace CERT members – HAMs that have back-up power serve as beacons for runners for accountability||Non-Ham Comms|
|Outside of Trace this may become more difficult. Strip maps of all non-Trace CERT members should be developed and located within the CERT administrative documents. This would facilitate accountability to send runners from Trace CERT to non-Trace CERT members. Lee County governmental organizations, Emergency Management, would also play a role in this. We should understand their game plan for an actual call-out and develop a link-up protocol with them. This would provide them extra manpower via CERT members and would facilitate the flow of information.||Non-Ham Comms|
|Place meshtastic nodes at local stores, churches and other organizations||Non-Ham Comms|
|Provide data to host (tower or building site) as a thank you for hosting our equipment||Non-Ham Comms|
|Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes at Lee County Emergency Mgmt site||Non-Ham Comms|
|Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on church buildings||Non-Ham Comms|
|Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on Duke Power sites||Non-Ham Comms|
|Put repeaters / Meshtastic nodes on water towers||Non-Ham Comms|
|Stand up a solar GMRS repeater||Non-Ham Comms|
|Stand up GMRS repeater in Lee County||Non-Ham Comms|
|The easiest way to improve SA is to ensure that we have multiple, easy methods of communication between team members. Obviously some members will have more experience and have preferences on which communication method to prefer and that’s ok. We need to develop a solid signals plan that lays out what we do in particular situations, develop a PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency) plan for various instances.||Non-Ham Comms|
|This assumes that we have in-roads with the local emergency management here in Lee County during the emergency. It is imperative that we wargame the scenario with local EM reps to ensure we are all on the same page in the event a large scale disaster happens. This would likely include what methods of communication they will be utilizing, disaster response plans and basic link-up procedures.||Non-Ham Comms|
|Use GMRS repeater that is already running in Harnett County||Non-Ham Comms|
|Use SDR dongle with loop antenna and android device to allow listening to a CERT status update on HF (or other frequency). Create a standard design with tutorials to make it easily accessible to as many people in the county as possible (CERT members and everyone else). Create youtube video to explain how to setup and use||Non-Ham Comms|
|Develop SOPs for emergency communication roles, actions, responsibilities, etc. (Highly rated idea by group)||SOPs|
We gathered as group at the training room in the local fire station. This was great venue with whiteboards and plenty of room to spread out.
- Participants – everyone introduced themselves
- Plan for the morning
- Go through the rules for brainstorming
- Capture ideas as we go
- No analysis or critiquing idea, instead just let the ideas flow. It is good to build on ideas
- Looked at the buckets and challenge / specific questions
- Review the brainwriting results – quickly went through all of the brainwriting ideas
- Brainstorming session – after the first idea went out, this group really took off with ideas. We posted stickies with written ideas on the white board and grouped them by bucket.
- Analysis – we ended the brainstorming session. The next steps:
- Everyone voted on their favorite ideas, working to identify ideas that we should explore
- Talked about the highest priority ideas and looked for themes (ideas that grouped together around a common theme)
- Identified next steps and concluded the meeting
An enthusiastic group that really wants to find better ways to help out in the community during an emergency really made this morning a joy.
Here are some images of the ideas on the white board.
Between the brainwriting and the brainstorming, the team generated over 140 ideas! Many of the ideas were very high quality. There is lots of interest in pursuing those ideas in the wild and turning them into actionable plans.
Thanks to everyone who participated.
We’ll publish detailed results in a separate blog post, or 2 or 3, where we can look at them in detail. The ideas and the themes we discovered are all helpful.
The next step in developing our CERT Emergency Communications plan is the brainwriting challenge for team members.
How do we create a workable plan that allows the CERT team to communicate within the team, with local authorities and the community in an emergency
- How do we communicate with all CERT members (Ham and non-Ham) during a deployment?
- If we have an issue with one communication path how do we let everyone know that we need to switch to another method (maybe another channel, repeater, app or method all together)?
- How does the CERT team communicate with the community during a grid down situation?
- How does the CERT team communicate between members (HAM and non-HAM) during a grid down situation?
- What would a one way communication / “beacon” do and how could it be accessible by hams, non-hams and the general community in an emergency?
Communication between CERT and the community
Beacon / One Way Comms
Camping is a great way to get outdoors and take a break from the digital clutter. Consider a digital detox and reap the benefits.
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If you want to see my handiwork and the campsite that I designed, checkout
Some days are easier than others. Being flexible helps turn a frustrating day into a productive and happy one! The zero turn is fixed and the garlic bed is weeded and hay put down around the garlic.
The blackberries are starting to fruit!
The last two days have been a blur. We have been busy. Even with 4 people on the farm working hard, we still have more stuff to do before everything is been planted.
We are on still on a rapid learning curve as we work hard. The garden area in the pictures below was pasture for decades so we had to work to plow up the grassy area and then build new beds.
Using the BCS Tractor
The BCS tiller was also a new piece of equipment for us. The biggest challenge we’ve had with the BCS is laying out beds so that the rows come out the width that we want. Our BCS tractor has the 5.5 inch extensions added to the the 749 tractor. This makes the tractor wider by 11 inches.
The vegetable garden beds are on a sloped face. To help minimize any erosion issues during rain events, we kept a 10 foot ribbon of grass between each plot. Each plot was laid out to have 2 rows per plot (30″ wide rows) with an 18″ wide walkway between each row. When I added up 3 walkways plus a quantity of 2 of the 30″ wide rows, then we should need a plot that is 9.5 feet wide. In practice, it just isn’t working out that way. I suspect we’ll have to till and hill a plot and measure to see where I’m off in my estimation of the total width of each 2 row plot. There is definitely a learning curve to becoming a better farmer.
We just installed rows of trellis for pole beans and tromboncino squash. We are using a curved trellis for the tromboncino squash and pole beans. I keep seeing videos and picture of the curved and over trellis configuration, so we wanted to see at try and find out if it works as well as we keep hearing. The curved trellis (when covered with tromboncino squash) should provide provide shade for the young rhubarb.
One of my projects for this summer is to install posts in the field, near the rows, where we can hang the cattle panels (used in the trellis) this fall after we take the trellis down and store it for the winter.
Tagging Each Fruit Bearing Tree and Bush
One of the projects this month was to map and tag each fruit bearing tree and bush. My wife took this project and ran with it. We now have a map that shows the location of each fruit bearing tree and bush, indicated by a unique tag number. The unique tags number are recorded in a spreadsheet. Information about each plant is recoded with the tag number, such as variety and date planted. This will also us to track historical data about each plant. This data is also useful when we propagate cuttings, allowing us to properly identify plants for sale.
Let’s start off with what is a Hugelkultur mound. Here is a great video that explains Hugelkultur
Our First Hugelkultur Mound
We built our first hugelkultur mound in our garden at home. The mound is about 35 feet long and used trees that we had cleared on the back of the property. It has worked great for growing squash. We use drip watering to keep the plants watered. We have noticed that the hugel mound requires more water than the conventional garden areas. I expect that to reverse as the logs in the hugelkultur mound (about 1-2 years since the trees were cut) decompose.
The Hugelkultur Mound at the Farm
My original goal with to build at least 2 large hugelkultur mounds on our hobby farm property. We had a great growing experience with the hugelkultur mound at our house, so why not try it on a larger scale.
When we put in the driveway, there were two problems what we were able to turn into opportunities. The first is what to do with the top soil that was removed before the membrane and gravel can go down. We also had to decide out what to do with the tree trunks and limbs from the trees that were cut down to build the driveway.
There was never going to be a better time to build the first hugelkultur mound on the new property. So we used the logs, limbs and top soil to build the first one. The mound ended up being 85 feet long, 30 feet wide and about 8 feet tall.
We installed drip irrigation and planted winter squash, watermelons, pumpkins and cantelopes. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of winter squash and pumpkins.
Getting Ready for the Growing Season
One of the tasks for Saturday was to cover the entire mound with a 35 x 100 foot silage cover. Of course it wasn’t windy until after we started spreading the silage cover. Do you remember going out into the parking lot in elementary school where your class surrounded a parachute? This felt pretty similar with the wind getting under the tarp.
You can see the bumps where the wind kept getting under the tarp as we were getting it in place and held down.
Once the tarp was in place, we’ll leave it there until just before we plant at the end of April as way to suppress any weeds.
My wife and I have this love / hate relationship dynamic with horseradish. We only eat a small amount of it, but we have several family members and friends that really like it. We mostly use it in Connie’s homemade cocktail sauce or on roast beef. Here is a chart showing the pros/cons with horseradish. This should help you decide if you want to grow it. My suggestion is to give it a try, just grow it in an area where you can mow around it to keep it contained where you want it. It will outgrow many garden plants, including asparagus – sorry Connie.
One strategy is to have enough plants that you can harvest about every 3 months. That way you can always have fresh horseradish on hand. The spring and summer harvests may not be as strong as the fall harvest but fresh still wins.
|Easy to Grow||Can be mildly invasive, best to grow it somewhere that you can mow around (easiest way to contain it, in my opinion)|
|Roots did deep in the soil, which is good to breakup soil||It can be invasive, so you need to make sure it doesn’t spread into unwanted parts of the garden|
|Very hardy||If it spreads into an unwanted area that you can’t mow then you have to week that area to control it|
|Deep roots help breakup soils to a depth of 1-2 feet||Have to dig deeply to remove the roots for processing. Takes time to eliminate from an area because of the roots you miss when digging the plant up to process|
|Tastes great in cocktail sauce or on roast beef. Stores about 3 months (refrigerated). Very easy to grow and you can dig it up any time to make more horseradish sauce||Limited uses. No way to preserve long term after processing (if there is, please let me know)|
|Easy to process||Can be time consuming to peel smaller roots|
|Can be harvested any time in the season||Best if harvested late in the season for best flavor, but not a requirement. Look for yellow leaves, usually after first frost.|
|Limited storage life after processing||Easy to store in the refrigerator|
|Plant pulls minerals from deep soil||None|
|Leaves are mineral laden and make great compost, just leave them where they fall||None|
|Leaves are great supplement for chickens – https://tinyurl.com/2p85yuuz||None|
Step 1 – Wash roots and peel
I washed them outside first (they can be pretty dirty). Then wash them again in the sink. Make sure to remove any dark veins. Use safety glasses and good ventilation to protect your eyes.
Step 2 – Chop the roots up so they fit in the food processor
Step 3 – Pulse in food processor until finely chopped but not mushy.
Wait at least 2 minutes before adding the vinegar. The longer you wait the hotter the horseradish will get.
Step 4 – Take one lb of horseradish and add 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of cold water. Add approximately 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (adjust to your taste preference
Step 5 – Pour into jars – we use smaller jars because most of the time the amount of horseradish used is fairly small. These are great Christmas presents.
Note – we’ve had limited success vacuum sealing the jars. I suspect that we would need to do the vacuum sealing process fairly slowly to avoid making a mess.