Saturday, April 4, 2020

Third Full Season Recap (2019) - Part I

"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece." 
– Claude Monet

Part One of Three

After the second season the main thing on my mind was how in the world do I keep the weeds under control so I don't have to spend all of my free time weeding (even then the weeds were still sprouting up everywhere)?  A friend of mine owns and runs Micro Farms Colorado where he turns peoples yards into urban farms then gives each house a share of the food and he sells the rest at local markets and to restaurants.  I was down at his place and while we were cleaning up some of his produce we got to talking about weeds and about different ways of managing them and he brought up landscaping fabric and he showed me how he uses it and how it's worked out well so far for him.  It looked like a fantastic idea and fairly easy to set-up and once it's setup you shouldn't have to replace it for at least 5 years (if you get the good kind of landscaping fabric).  It's permeable so water goes through it when it rains, it blocks out the light to keep the weeds from growing and it also traps the moisture in the ground a bit better, so if you live in an extremely dry climate such as in Colorado it keeps moisture in the ground and keeps you from having to water quite so much, which is always a plus!  Once the landscaping fabric is down though you can't really till anymore unless you pull up the landscaping fabric.  Tilling has been something that I've been wanting to experiment with getting away from since it disturbs the soil and disrupts the environment that the organisms, worms, etc. have going on in the soil.  Tilling also puts weed seeds back into the soil, if you till year after year, you'll likely get a lot more weeds than someone who doesn't till (if they stay on-top of the weeds that is).  After two years of tilling and growing vegetables the ground is a lot looser so I wasn't worried about trying not tilling as an experiment to see what happens.  I bought some landscaping fabric of my own, tilled one more time, rolled it out and planted the seeds.  Here's what happened:

The seeds have arrived (January 2019):
This is the most exciting time of year!

Stained cement floor covered in neatly organized seed packets

A falcon chilling on my fence (January 2019):
This along with other wild life sightings has become increasingly common as the urban farm grows and gets better each year.

Falcon sitting on chest high fence next to a minivan

Epic fail (February 2019):
If you do a multi-day burn in your fire pit to get rid of some brush that accumulated over the summer, make sure the ash is cool before you move it (it sounds obvious).  In my defense I did wait three days before I did anything with it and it was below zero for those three days.  I assumed the ash would be cold but by the time this bucket was full the bottom of it was starting to melt.  Luckily there was still a bunch of snow and ice on the ground so I was able to isolate the bucket and pack snow / ice around it.  After a week of being packed in ice the ash cooled off and this is what the bucket looked like.

Thick orange 5 gallon bucket full of ash with lots of melt marks

Seeds have been started for some of the plants and the seedlings are growing (February 2019):

Half a tray of seedlings started inside with a wall and outlet behind

They grow up so fast (Mid-March 2019):

Five rows of seedlings on a counter top inside

The snow has melted, it's time to start rolling out the landscaping fabric (March 2019):

Overview of freshly tilled urban farm with shed and house in background

Part of the landscaping fabric in place with rows burned into it with a torch (March 2019):

Landscaping fabric rolled out over a small area with rows burned into it

The crocuses start making an appearance in the front wild flower garden (March 2019):

A single purple crocus with the bodies of a few more crocuses around it

The garlic is growing well as are the potatoes in the towers (April 2019):

Potato tower with plants in it and 300 garlic plants growing behind it

The strawberry patch is thriving and is getting a lot of flowers on it (April 2019):

White strawberry flower

The tulips pop-up in the wild flower garden (April 2019):

Two orange and one red tulip with a small light in-between them

I started the Redman Super Cactus Zinnias indoors along with some of the seedlings, they're pretty beautiful flowers (April 2019):

Orange and red cactus zinnia on a counter top with other seedlings behind it

More of the landscaping fabric is rolled out (May 2019):

Rest of the urban farm with the start of the landscaping fabric on it (no rows burned in it yet and it's barely held down on the ground)

Weening all of the seedlings off that were started inside (May 2019):

A dozen trays of seedlings on a cement patio

Lettuce and Orach growing along with the Garlic (May 2019):

Green and purple lettuce and orach growing in tandem with the garlic

The kale is coming along nicely (May 2019):

Row of small red russian kale

A tomato seedling has a bunch of flowers and a few tomatoes on it (May 2019):

Tomato plant with a dozen flowers and one small green tomato

New for this year are Dahlias, they're starting off strong in their pots (May 2019):

Row of large pots on patio with foot high dahlia plants in them, urban farm in background

There was a really late frost so I couldn't get the seedlings into the ground until the last week of May (May 2019):

Freshly planted seedlings in ground

Pepper seedlings have been planted (May 2019):

Row of pepper seedlings in the ground

My first radishes of the year (May 2019):

Four red radishes on a paper towel on a counter top

Fred the squirrel chilling and taking a nap (May 2019):

Squirrel laying down on a beam of a patio covering

The strawberry patch is growing (June 2019):
It turns out that the small strawberry plants with the yellow flowers are fake strawberries, the normal strawberries are doing well too

Strawberry patch, variation of small and large plants

Wild flower front yard is looking pretty, ppprrreeeetttttttyyy good (June 2019):

Lots of colorful and fairly thick wild flowers

The garlic, lettuce, and orach all seem to be playing nice together as they all thrived (June 2019):

Rows of chest high garlic with green and purple lettuce and orach growing in tandem

I managed to escape the urban farm and get out for a hike (June 2019):
I have to get away from the farm every now and then, also Colorado is the best.  This was a six mile hike round trip.

Giant grey rock towering over a meadow with bright blue skies

Out of focus strawberry which was also the first strawberry of the year (June 2019):

Out of focus strawberry with potatoes and garlic in background

Russian Red Kale is getting big and growing well (June 2019):

Overhead photo of Russian Red Kale

Sunflowers popping up and growing extremely fast along with some orange poppies (June 2019):

Mass amounts of knee high sunflowers bordering a fence

The seedlings took to their spots pretty well and have been growing strong (June 2019):

Strong looking plants

The Allium I planted as a bulb is growing among the sunflowers as are radishes and arugula (June 2019):

Purple ball flower

Borage is a pretty cool flower (June 2019):

Blue Borage Flowers with sunflower in background

I didn't think this many sunflowers would grow, eek (June 2019):

Sea of sunflowers bordering fence, chest high

Part Two of the Three Part recap is coming up next!

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