Saturday, May 9, 2020

Hopes, Dreams, and Goals for 2020

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness." 
- Thomas Jefferson

Urban Farm with Sunset

Who knows what the fourth year of the urban farm will bring.  My overall goal is fairly simple:

Try and get the farm to be as productive, if not more productive, than last year while simultaneously expanding my general, overall, knowledge and doing a better job of preserving food for the winter along with focusing more on composting and soil health.

That should be a fairly easy and attainable goal however the reality is that each year you have no idea what challenges mother nature is going to throw at you.  Hail from a storm could annihilate the urban farm within a five minute time span.  There could be a late frost after transplanting the seedlings (last year there was snow in the last week of May).  Pests that I haven't encountered before could decide that they love my urban farm and want to reside here.  There are so many unknowns but you just have to trust what you already know to get you through whatever challenges you may encounter during the growing season.

The past few years I've focused so much on getting the actual plants to grow and survive, along with learning all about these plants, that I haven't done as much with preserving food and making compost as I would have liked.  Even with that, this last year I spent about two weekends towards the end of the summer blanching and freezing vegetables and those vegetables lasted me throughout the majority of the winter.  This greatly reduced my grocery costs over the winter and I came to the realization that it's fairly easy to take your plentiful bounty that you grow in the summer and preserve the excess food for the upcoming winter.  You're taking food that would likely otherwise go to waste and you're making it work for you in the future.  It's basically the food version of a savings account.  This year I'll be preserving more food as I harvest throughout the summer!

I have been actively composting throughout the past three years and I haven't had any issues with the actual process or the compost itself.  Composting has been more of an afterthought and a task that I do as I have time rather than a main focus of mine.  This year I want to focus more on composting which will likely comprise of expanding my composting knowledge, looking at ways to make my composting process more efficient, and perhaps some composting experiments.  One potential possibility here is to utilize Bakashi Bran, however I need to do a lot more research on this before I decide if I want to use it or not.  As of writing this I don't know a whole lot about it aside from the general concept but I have heard a lot of good things about it.  Even if I don't change my composting process at all, turning the piles more often should speed up the time it takes for the piles to break down.

Other goals of mine for the 2020 growing season:

-Try and not screw up the Brussel Sprouts, Corn, and Broccoli Romanesco.  These are three vegetables that I really enjoy and I have yet to be successful with them.  I really hope I can get at least one of these to be successful this year!

-Improve the potato yield, try to not kill the potato plants, and once again try and get the potato towers to work.  Even if the vertical gardening concept doesn't work with potatoes, not killing the potatoes and getting a normal potato yield would be splendid.  The potato towers may have a drainage issue with them, layering peat moss into the towers should be beneficial.

-I'd love to learn more about seed saving and start experimenting with saving my own seeds.  If I could get that down, my overall cost for the urban farm should plummet with minimizing the amount of seeds I need to buy each year.

-Learn more about companion planting and make changes to the layout of the urban farm as a result (if needed).

-Improve the PVC trellises.  When I originally built these I didn't see the need to glue the individual PVC pieces together and I thought weighing them down with bricks would be sufficient.  I was wrong, they need to be glued together and weighed down with full on sand bags.  I'll get this done on a nice day in the spring along with completely rebuilding one trellis that was annihilated last year from constantly being knocked down in the wind.

-Keeping track of food expenses for the entire year.  This is so I can get an accurate look at how much (or how little) I'm spending on food that I don't grow (any edible food expense).  That will then be shared on this blog and you can compare it to your food expenses to allow you to see how having your very own urban farm may positively impact your life from a financial standpoint.

-Take photos of and record failures (this still makes me cringe) to be shared on this blog in order to give you an accurate look at what all goes into having an urban farm.

That is what I'm hoping to accomplish this year.  If I don't finish a goal this year, it will likely be rolled over to next years goals.  Most of these are things that don't need to be done or learned right away but are more long term goals.  For this very reason I won't be stressing out about accomplishing these goals.  As you can see my general mentality is that I just want to keep the positive trend going and expand my knowledge.  Knowledge is power and is key to my urban farm.  With knowledge you can improve upon the prior years as long as you're actively willing to read some books and research papers, have conversations with other farmers, and keeping your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.


  1. Enjoying these posts and love that Jefferson quote. Thanks, James! ~Lauren

    1. You're welcome and thank you as well, I'm glad you're enjoying the posts! Happy Gardening!