Woodhaven Place

Your Neighborhood Farm

Month: April 2016

IBC Totes and what you can do with them?

When we started down the homesteading / farming road there was one acronym that continuously popped up.  It felt like every post I looked at mentioned something called an IBC Tote.  The things people were creating with these containers were awesome, but what on earth is an IBC?  After some research, I came to find out that IBC stands for Intermediate Bulk Container and they are a standardized shipping container for liquids.

BCs are used to transport everything from oil and soap to syrup and molasses.  They come in two standard sizes 275 gallons and 330 gallons.  The footprint of the totes are the same as a standard full-size pallet.  The plastic container is surrounded by a metal frame that creates a very sturdy container.  This allows forklifts to be used to move them and allows them to be stacked several high during transportation.

Depending on what you intend to use the tote for depends on the type you will need to find.  Most things on a homestead or farm require a food grade tote.  Totes that held oil or some sort of solvent are often the easiest to find but are not recommended for use if you plan to store something in them your or an animal is going to ingest.

If your tote contained a food product there is a very easy way to clean them out.  Put half a bottle of Dawn dish soap in the bottom and fill the tote up with water.  After is is 100% full drain the water.  Next, put 2 pounds of baking soda in the bottom and fill it up and drain it again.  The soap will cut and remove the sugar or whatever was in the tote and the baking soda will neutralize the soap.  We used this process when we cleaned a tote to hold maple sap and it worked great.

We first came across the IBC tote when researching aquaponics.  We plan to set up a good size backyard aquaponics setup in our greenhouse once it is complete.  IBC totes appear to be the standard method of construction for the backyard aquaponics.  The general construction method requires cutting the IBC’s into two pieces.  The shallower top portion becomes the grow bed and the larger bottom portion is the fish tank.

Another popular use for IBC totes is rainwater collection.  A 55-gallon drum is great, but the can fill in just a few seconds with a good spring rain.  With the ability to stack totes up to 3 tall, when full this arrangement allows someone to store over 800 gallons of water in a 40″ X 48″ footprint.  There are many how-to articles out there, but this is one of the best I have found and it includes a parts list of everything needed.

 

The other uses for IBC totes are limitless.  There are instructions online to turn IBC totes into livestock waters, waste oil containers, compost bins, chicken coops, mushroom grow beds, dear blinds, hot tubs, I had a guy buy one from us that he turned it into an oil change catch tray for his tractors.

We have a plan to turn one of the more beat up totes into a permanent dust bath for our chickens.  Two more will be centrally located by the well in the garden as a water tower. Then there is a third that lives in the woods by the maple evaporator used to store maple sap.  Once we get the aquaponics system up and running I am sure we will find even more fun projects for these forklift size building blocks.

Frost Dates – Why are they important?

It is important to plant your garden seeds and transplants at the right time and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. Some garden plants taste even better after a little frost. Cool season crops such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and kale can tolerate planting zonesa light frost and will grow best when sown a couple weeks before the last spring frost. Peas and spinach, are so cold-hardy they can be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked,” which means that if the dirt is not frozen and you can get them in the ground go for it! For us, that date is around St. Paddy’s Day.

Warm season crops (i.e., squash, cucumber, and basil) will be killed by frost if your seeds come up too soon. Transplants (already started plants) such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will be lost in that last annoying frost if set out too early. Heed the warning on seed packets that say, “Plant after all danger of frost has passed.”

Finding the average last spring frost date for your specific area may take some research.There are many U.S. maps that show last frost dates however it is hard to find your exact location dates. The best source is the National Climatic Data Center web site. Frost-date-chartChoose your state and  nearest city.  The site will show your average last spring (and first fall) frost dates, based on weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center from 1971 through 2000 from that location. You can choose to plant between a 50/50 probability of frost after the given date, or play it safe and choose the 10%date, which means there is only a 10% chance of a frost after that date.Another great tool to find your average frost dates is the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner web site. The Planner will send you customized planting reminders for which crops need planting based on your frost dates and location.

Our west central Ohio50/50 probability frost free date is April 16th, however, I never trust that date. I am not going to chance losing my transplants by putting them out to early. Most warm weather seeds will not germinate in cold soil so waiting a week or two will not only help with germination but lesson your chance of having to scramble for grandmas old frost-cover-msheets to throw over your baby plants. We plant our transplants on Mother’s Day; if we are having a very warm year and the soil is warm I will direct sow seeds a week before planting transplants.

Very early spring (as soon as the ground can be worked)

  • onions
  • peas
  • spinach

Early springVegi_Planting_001.60152855_std

  • lettuce
  • beets
  • carrots
  • radishes
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • kale
  • potatoes

After last frost date

  • beans
  • corn
  • melons
  • cucumbers
  • squash
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • pumpkins
  • eggplant
  • basil

Light freeze (frost) – 29°F to 32°F—tender plants killed, with little destructive effect on other vegetation.

Moderate freeze (frost)– 25°F to 28°F—widely destructive effect on most vegetation, with heavy damage to fruit blossoms and tender and semi-hardy plants.

Severe freeze (frost)– 24°F and colder—damage to most plants.

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