Saturday, March 28, 2020

Second Full Season (2018) Recap

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments." 
– Janet Kilburn Phillips

During the first year I learned what grows well where I live, what does not grow well, what all the different seedlings look like and how to differentiate them from weeds, weeds suck and will crowd out anything / everything if you give them a chance to, the drip irrigation system rocks, and tilling isn't terribly fun when the soil is as hard as cement (it is a good arm workout) but it does break up the soil which makes it easier for the plants to grow in.  I'm sure I learned lots of other things but those are the things that stand out in my mind as I look back on the photos and re-live what happened that year.

For my second year (Summer of 2018) of the urban farm, I took what I learned during the first year, applied it, and tried out some new ideas that I had no idea if they would work or not.  Here's what happened during the second year:

Winter Vegetable Experiment (February 2018):
I attempted to grow some plants inside to try and get some fresh produce during the winter.  They grew but it took a lot of energy (even with LED grow lights).  Not the best option but it works.

Countertop in basement with six plants and a grow light

Saturday, March 21, 2020

First Full Season (2017) Recap

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Lao Tzu

The summer of 2017 was my first full season of attempting to grow my own food.  It was one giant experiment as I had never tried growing more than 10 plants at once before nor had I ever had this much space.  I tilled the ground, built my own drip irrigation system, threw a bunch of seeds in the ground, and tried to keep the weeds at bay while the vegetables grew.  Here's what happened:

Before doing anything, this is what the yard looked like (2016):

Splotchy grass yard with playset

Utilities marked and tilling underway (2017):
 I bought a small, electric tiller that works surprisingly well and since it's electric there isn't much maintenance to do on it.

Freshly tilled dirt

Drip irrigation system being built and seeds being planted (April 2017):

Drip irrigation system being installed

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

February of 2020 Overview

Crazy Ass Icicles
Crazy Ass Icicles

The month of February are when things start ramping up for the urban farm.  I usually try and start the first seedlings of the year during the first few weeks of February depending on what else I have going on in my life.  The peppers need to get started first since they take the longest to grow but as a result of laziness combined with striving to be as efficient as possible this year I started as many seedlings as I could along with the peppers.  I definitely try and limit it to the things that take a while to grow (peppers take ffffooorrrrreevvvveeeerrrr to grow) since my laundry room only has so much space for seedlings.  In years past I've started seeds in the small 1x1 seed blocks that you commonly see at garden stores.  I've grown to dislike using these as you have to transplant the seedlings to a bigger pot fairly fast or else the plant growth gets stunted and that seems to happen anyways when you transplant them.  Last year I started using 3x3 containers (also found at garden stores) and I loved them so this year I'm only using 3x3 containers to start seeds in and I might not need to transplant any of the plants until they're ready to go outside which saves me time and the plants will be happier.  I use normal potting soil (natural as possible and with added microbes) to start my seeds, I don't see the point in using seed starting specific soil as such a thing doesn't exist outside in nature and I've never had any trouble just using normal soil to start seeds in.  As far as I can tell seed starting soil is just a ploy by the gardening industry to get you to buy more product so they can make more money off of you which boosts consumerism.  Whether that's actually the case I don't have the slightest idea, I'm sure I'll find out as I read more and more about soil health and everything soil related this year.  If you use seed starting soil you have to transplant the seedlings fairly quickly to more nutritious soil so the plants continue to grow properly, so why not just them start off in normal soil and bigger pots?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Flowers are Fun Too!

“It is easier to tell a person what life is not, rather than to tell them what it is. A child understands weeds that grow from lack of attention, in a garden. However, it is hard to explain the wild flowers that one gardener calls weeds, and another considers beautiful ground cover.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Colorful wild flowers
Wildflowers in the front of the house

Vegetables are great, provide a lot of sustenance and allow you to lower your dependence on the typical food system.  They do tend to be pretty plain looking though, it's usually a sea of green with some small color variations here and there as the plants mature and fruit start to ripen.  If you're like me and you like lots of variation and you want some scattered color here and there, you'll also want to grow wildflowers.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Got Land?

Sssssoooooo I don't have any land, how in the world am I supposed to grow my own food?

This is a fantastic question and point, it's pretty dang hard to grow your own food if you don't have anywhere to grow it.  However what you can do is look at this situation from a different perspective and take this as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a disadvantage.  You can utilize the space you currently have and experiment with small scale growing in pots or planters.  If you live in an apartment or condo try growing a few things on your patio / balcony or in a place inside that gets some direct sunlight.  This is a fantastic opportunity to fail on a small scale, learn from your mistakes, improve your knowledge, try again and repeat.  Work on building up your knowledge base while saving up money for a house and / or land then when you do stumble upon a situation where you have land available for you to grow on you'll be ready for it and you can take what you've already learned, apply it to a larger scale, and you'll likely be more successful, even if you have yet to be successful with small scale growing (which is exactly what happened with me).

The Balcony of my Previous Apartment:
Twenty pots with plants on balcony
Attempting to grow a variety of vegetables