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

Leftovers from the previous year (March 2018):
I left the plants in the ground over the winter to see how much of it would decompose.  I had high hopes that the majority of it would decompose, I wouldn't have much to do in the spring, and the ground would be that much more nutritious.  As you can see, the plants did not decompose as much as I would have liked but it did look like a scene straight out of a scary movie!

Urban farm with leftover dead plants

After I cleaned everything up (March 2018):

Cleaned up urban farm

Freshly tilled and potato tower frames built (March 2018):
The theory with potato towers is simple: you plant potatoes, as the potato plant grows you pile dirt on, the plant grows more then you have a giant box filled with a whole bunch of potatoes.

Base of boxes built meant to grow potatoes vertically

I also built trellises out of PVC pipe.  Two of these tied together makes one whole trellis.  I built 6 of these for 3 complete trellises (March 2018):

PVC trellis on cement ground

Trellises assembled and in-place, potatoes planted in potato towers and all of the plants are growing (Mid-May 2018):

Trellis' erect in urban farm, dirt in potato towers, small plants

Just past the patio is a whole lot of garlic, I don't remember how much I planted, but it was a lot (Mid-May 2018):

About 250 knee high garlic plants

First radishes of the year (Mid-May 2018):

Farmer man in hat pretending to eat a handful of radishes

A massive thunderstorm rolled in, dumped a ton of hail, and flooded the streets (May 2018):
I was out walking around with some friends and we got caught in the brunt of this storm.  The hail and water was up to my knees and this truck was being lifted up and moved around by all the water when I took this photo.  The weather in Colorado is notoriously unpredictable, luckily this storm caused minimal damage to my urban farm.  There were quite a few farmers whose entire crops were destroyed by this storm though.  It was about a 30 minute time span from the streets being bone dry (right before the storm) to them being flooded with the several feet of water and hail you see in the photo.

Truck in street with water at the tops of the tires and the bottom of the cab

The potatoes are growing in the potato towers (End of May 2018)!!!:

potatoes growing taller, more wood added onto potato towers

The lettuce rocked it as well (June 2018):

Row of lettuce growing

I bought the hanging baskets from a local flower nursery.  I didn't start them from seed but I successfully kept them alive (June 2018):

Colorful flowers in hanging basket on patio

The garlic is doing well and unfortunately the weeds are thriving (June 2018):

Overview photo of green vegetables and weeds

I accidentally killed the potatoes by putting too much dirt on them (June 2018):
It turns out that you want to slowly pile dirt on the potato plants as they grow and not cover the entire plants, which is what I did.

Nothing but dirt in potato towers

The garlic and the weeds battled it out as I struggled to keep the weeds under control (End of June 2018):
I let several of the garlic scapes go to seed just to see what would happen and how it would affect the garlic, plus they look cool when they go to seed (the balls at the top of the plant).

Weeds climbing all over 250 garlic plants

Everything's still growing and the weeds are taking over (End of June 2018):

Overview photo with house in background, sea of green plants

The first of the garlic harvest hung out to dry (End of June 2018):
Notice how the garlic has now been weeded as well, it was much happier after the weeds were gone.

Garlic head hanging from patio with rest of garlic plants in background

Everything is getting bigger (July 2018):
Believe it or not I spent all of my free time weeding (you can't really tell).

Middle of the farm, sea of vegetables and weeds

One of the many fresh salads I made that I topped with Dragon Tongue Beans and Sugar Snap Peas (Beginning of July 2018):

Glass bowl on countertop filled with salad topped with beans and peas

More garlic harvested and hung out to dry (July 2018):
This also keeps the vampires away.

Garlic heads tied together and hanging from patio with colorful flowers

Yellow crookneck squash, patty pan squash, kale, and a few peppers (End of July 2018):

A few squash and some kale on wood step

I think I should have planted more garlic, I don't think I have enough (August 2018):
Garlic is probably my favorite thing to grow.  You just plant it, water it, and it basically takes care of itself.

Patio table with tools and over a hundred heads of garlic

The corn kept getting taller and taller, a few sunflowers grew as well (August 2018):

6 foot tall corn with 6 foot tall sunflowers

I tried to line the walkway to the fire pit with marigolds (August 2018):
I started these marigolds from seed at the beginning of the season and they turned out to be pretty bushy so they effectively covered the path and made it difficult to walk along.  They looked pretty bad-ass and smelled great though!

Stone pathway to fire pit lined with orange marigolds

The trellises worked out pretty well and the pole beans especially loved them (August 2018):

Three PVC trellises, one is covered in beans

The weeds are still trying to take over (End of August 2018):
The main thing running through my head for the entirety of this season was, "I have to do something different to try and keep the weeds at bay next year."

sunflowers in foreground, house in background, sea of vegetables in-between

The wildflower front yard did fairly well (September 2018):

Colorful and scattered wildflowers

Final bounty of the year (September 2018):

Countertop full of tomatoes, an assortment of squash, and garlic

I got to hang out and play with some black lab puppies (October 2018):
Puppies (and dogs in general) are the best!

Farmer man sitting with two, four week old, black labs on the ground on towels

Overall it was a very successful season and turned out better than the first season.  I was pretty disappointed I killed the potatoes that had been thriving until I put too much dirt on top of them.  I was glad that the massive spring hail storm didn't destroy everything but it did stunt the growth of the majority of the plants and set everything back a bit.  The main takeaway from this season was coming to the conclusion that I have to do something different in the future to keep the weeds under control.

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