Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Happiness Jar Challenge

"A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes." 
-Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness Jar
James' happiness jar.

As we roll through the holiday season and sail into the next year, I have a challenge for you.  Start your very own happiness jar!

Happiness Jar???  Well that sounds quite odd.

Oh, I know, believe me, but stay with me here...

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Guest Post on Earth911.com

A guest post of mine went live on Earth911.com on 12/21/21.  If you haven't checked it out yet, check it out, it's called "Convert Your Yard From Grass to Veggies."

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Perfect Breakfast Routine

Fancy breakfast in September of 2021.  A breakfast this fancy is rare but a very enjoyable treat once in a while.

Break that fast with breakfast...

Is that where the word breakfast comes from?  You're technically fasting when you sleep so when you wake up and eat breakfast you are breaking that fast.  Right?!

Weird thoughts aside, there are quite a lot of options for breakfast:  cereal, toast, eggs, pancakes, waffles, muffins, bacon, salad, biscuits, coffee, nothing at all, etc. plus probably a lot more concoctions that I'm not thinking of at this very moment.

There are a few general problems with your average breakfast:  cost, sugar, empty calories that leave you feeling not so great, and time to cleanup.  A lot of people love cereal but it's generally loaded with sugar.  It may be on the cheaper side when you look at per serving cost until you add costly milk.  Pancakes are lower on the sugar and cost side but it's really not that nutritious for you and falls into the empty calories category which normally leaves you feeling sluggish.  Eggs are fairly cheap and easy to make but cleanup can be a pain and they need to be eaten with something else since they're not that hardy.

I've been on a quest to find the perfect breakfast routine for the better part of 15 years now and after cycling through most of the options listed above (and more) for various lengths of time I've finally cracked the code of the perfect breakfast!

Friday, December 10, 2021

How to Preserve Food

“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will." - Vernon Howard

Freezer Full
Freezer nearing capacity with blanched veggies and pesto.

Now that you are growing your own food, you need to learn how to preserve it.  Otherwise you're just wasting your time and if all of the delicious food you've grown rots away in your fridge, there's no point in that.  Efficiency is the name of the game here.  Preserving food for the winter is important however we want to be able to accomplish this as fast as possible so we can get back to the garden or whatever else we have going on in our lives.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gaining Inspiration From Your Local Community

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." 
- African Proverb

Farm Dinner
Farm dinner at Ollin Farms under the stars in 2021.

It was a perfect seventy degree, end of summer afternoon, the sun had been out the entirety of the day with a few high cloud wisps here and there.  The warm breeze cut through my hair as I pedaled my bicycle throughout Longmont while gazing at the bare mountain peaks in the distance, wondering how long it will be until the peaks are snowcapped once again.  As I wound my way along the bike path there were still kids tubing in the river, families fishing, and just people having a merry old time with no sign of summer coming to an end yet we all know it's just around the corner, but not today.  I turned into the Ollin Farms driveway to find a packed parking lot with cars jammed bumper to bumper against the side of the road.  I slowly rode my bicycle past all of these cars and continued on towards the creek where I snagged the best parking spot in the whole place.  As I get my bike situated and watch car after car roll in I ponder why so many people have driven and how amazingly crazy it is how few people rode their bicycles and it really doesn't make any sense especially when the weather is perfect.  You get the enjoy the fresh air, explore parts of the town you normally don't see, get a great workout, all while avoiding costly gas and car maintenance.  It's an amazing form of transportation and you feel great when you get to your destination.  Plus the vast majority of people will surely be drinking tonight which would make riding your bike a safer choice not only for you but your fellow Longmontians.  After musing these thoughts for a few moments, which always results in me chuckling and shaking my head as my thoughts have meandered their way into a mystified stupor of a rabbit hole, I took my backpack off and pull out my party shirt along with a bottle of wine and a wine opener then I continue walking towards the festivities.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Top 7 Things YOU (Yes, You) Can Do To Save the World!

"When all the trees have been cut down,
When all the animals have been hunted,
When all the waters are polluted,
When all the air is unsafe to breathe,
Only then will you discover you cannot eat money."
—Cree Prophecy

Sunrise Over Puerto Rico
Sunrise over Puerto Rico in 2007

Our world is warming up, the oceans are rising, island nations are struggling, weather is becoming more extreme and intense resulting in more major catastrophes.  Scientific communities across the globe release report after report outlining how big of an issue global warming is and how action needed to be taken yesterday, etc.  Meanwhile our elected politicians and leaders around the globe cannot get themselves to join together to make any actionable or meaningful changes that will make any significant impact to our important yet insignificant world that is whirling around in the infinite expanse that is the universe.  What are we, as citizens of the world, able to do about any of this?

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Summer Hunger

At least a few times a year I'll be laying in the hammock, minding my own business, taking in a good book on the relaxing grounds that make up James' 5 Star Urban Farm Resort amongst all of the tasty vegetables and fragrant flowers while a single thought meanders it's way into my mind...Barbeque!  It seems to be human nature that we always want the exact opposite of what we have, with barbeque though there's more to it than that.  There's something about the hot weather and fruity flowers of summer that just call out to having you partake in preparing some crispy and delicious animal flesh that we call...Barbeque!

Lamb Shoulder
Lamb shoulder on the smoker for 2021's impromptu end of year harvest celebration.  Excess meat can be frozen for the winter!  This cut of meat is from Buckner Family Farm.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Cleanup and Plant Garlic

“To dream a garden and then to plant it is an act of independence and even defiance to the greater world.” - Stanley Crawford

Cleaned Up Garden and Garlic
Cleaning up one of the spots where garlic will be planted for next year, trying to get it in the ground as soon as possible before the ground freezes.

Freezing temperatures have come, your garden has been destroyed and you successfully cleaned up the garden by cutting the plants at the base and leaving the top part of the plant on the soil and the roots in the ground for them both to follow the natural process of decomposition which will improve your soil health for next year, now what?

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Freeze Time

"It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over." - Paulo Coelho

First Freeze
First freeze of the year, mid-October 2021

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  If we're being real, all things come to an end at some point regardless of if they're good or not, that's just the way the cookie crumbles.  As far as your garden is concerned a good freeze will surely bring it's productivity to a sudden end.  Depending on where you're at you may have already experienced a freeze, it may be just around the corner or you may be in a location that doesn't have freezes.  In the front range of good old Colorado, we're just in the midst of a freeze with the temperatures flirting with freezing.  Even if the temperatures are forecast to get down to 31 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit, it's a fun game of will the ground be warm enough from the daytime sun to keep the plants slightly warmer than the actual temperature.  I've certainly been surprised before and I'll surely be surprised again.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Kimchi Making

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

Homemade Kimchi
First batch of 2021 homemade kimchi

Kimchi...Kimchi...Kimchi...  That is all I have to say, goodbye...

I'm kidding of course, I have much more to say than that.  But now you're wondering, what is this Kimchi?  How do I Kimchi?  Is it what all the cool kids are doing?  I'm so glad you asked...

Kimchi is a delicious fermented food that can largely be found in Korean cuisine.  The main ingredient is normally cabbage with a whole bunch of other vegetables and spices thrown in, the flavors of which all mingle together in a hot and steamy dance party while a disco ball spinning above spews spiciness all over the ingredients giving everything a healthy, spicy, kick.  The cabbage juice (along with some salt) preserves all of this naturally, giving you an extremely delicious condiment that you can add to any (and all) dishes that you make.  Maybe I've been inside too long and need to get out to a dance party or maybe I just really need some homemade kimchi, or perhaps I need both.  Time will tell.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Grill Those Sunflowers!

Wait, what?  Grill the sunflowers?  Are you crazy?

Why yes, yes I am, that should be pretty well established by now but that is aside the point.  Sunflowers are most definitely edible.  What do you eat when you go to a baseball game?  Okay okay, forget the footlong hotdogs, beer, lemonade, and space ice cream.  What do you eat after all of that?  Sunflower seeds of course!  What magical plant produces these sunflower seeds?  A sunflower, tada!

Sunflower Person
The sunflower person

Saturday, September 11, 2021

How to Make Salsa AND Pasta Sauce

 Alright urban farmer guy, my garden is currently exploding with tomatoes, what in the world can I do with all of them?  Help me out here.

Salsa / Pasta Sauce
Salsa and pasta sauce made and ready to rock (or freeze)!

Quite an excellent question from a loyal reader just like you!  Tomatoes tend to grow in very abundant amounts and are generally ready to harvest in batches.  It's rare for them to be ready one at a time which would be quite convenient so you could easily consume them one at a time at a nice even rate.  Instead you stare at them for a week or two trying to will them to turn ripe then one day you walk out into the garden and every last damn tomato is suddenly ripe, all at once.  You throw your arms up in the air thinking "what in the world am I going to do with all of these tomatoes?  I can't possibly use all of them."

Fear not, utilizing tomatoes is quite easy as long as you enjoy either salsa, pasta sauce, or both.  If you don't enjoy those then my question to you is:  Why are you growing tomatoes???  Grow what you are going to eat, come on people!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Truth About Your Food: Through the Eyes of the Worlds Best Urban Farmer

"By far the best investment you can make is in yourself."
- Warren Buffett

Fresh Tomatoes
Freshly picked assorted tomatoes - September of 2021.

We've all done it.  You go to the grocery store, fight for the best parking spot, snag the shopping cart with the squeaky wheel that keeps locking up and veering to the right, then you get very annoyed at everyone else in the store as you walk around, you then wait in the checkout line while the person behind you loudly pops and chews their gum to the point to where you want to rip your ears off .  Finally you make it to the front of the line, buy your food for the week, go home, put it all away, eat the food over the course of the week and repeat.  I pose to you a very simple question:


Friday, August 27, 2021

Fall Plantings

Fall Crops
Fall crops that came from spring plants that went to seed, they just so happened to arrange themselves perfectly.

The nights are getting cooler, days shorter, and the mountains in Colorado have already received their first snow.  This can only mean one thing:  winter is right around the corner and we want to try and squeak in some fall crops before the first frost of the year arrives.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Making Pickles

Freshly made pickles, ready to go in the fridge.

Refrigerator pickles are where it's at!

Wait, you don't know what refrigerator pickles are?  Don't worry, neither did I until a few years ago.  Refrigerator pickles are simply pickles that you make and store in your handy dandy refrigerator instead of canning.  You let the convenience of our modern world take over the majority of the preservation process so you can avoid timely canning.  It's also great if you're just lazy.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Preserve Food: Quickly & Easily

Vegetable Harvest
Single day vegetable harvest in early August of 2021, 21.57 lbs (9.78 kilos)

Are you ready for this?  I can teach you how to quickly and easily preserve your vegetables for the winter in a single blog post.  Are you sure you're ready for this? I don't think you are...

Throughout the summer you should constantly be thinking, “How can I preserve this for the winter?”  for any produce that you have abundance of.  Preserving some items are obvious, if you have excess tomatoes, you make tomato sauce, put the sauce in jars and freeze.  Boom, easy.  The not so obvious veggies appear to be tough to preserve but really it’s quite simple, you blanch and freeze them.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Harvesting Squash & Squash Flowers

Your garden is now likely growing out of control, you look at it each day and wonder, “What have I done?”

Welcome to the wild world that is gardening!  Squash are probably the most interesting and most beneficial vegetable that you can grow.  Each squash plant can provide an abundance of food for you and your family.  Off a single pumpkin plant you can easily get several 15 to 30 pound pumpkins (pumpkins are edible by the way).  Zucchini are the most commonly grown squash and usually the most prolific.  How do you know when to harvest your squash?

The easy answer is whenever they look like they’re ready to eat!  When they get to a size that looks good to you, pick them and eat them.  For a less vague answer, go with the size that you normally see those vegetables at when you go to the farmer’s market or your favorite local farm.

Zucchini can be eaten at any size, no matter how small or big.  The texture and taste does change as the vegetable changes though.  When they are small, they’ll be more tender and not as hard.  The larger they get they get harder and more bitter.  Both have their own uses in the kitchen.

Various summer squashes, freshly harvested and ready to eat.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Half(ish) Through 2021 Update

Farmer with Squash
James with the first of the squash from the 2021 harvest.  Squash make up the majority of what I eat in the winter.

It's official, I have made it 1 year on vegetables that I grew in my very own backyard and with plenty to spare!!!

Let's not misconstrue that though, I have most certainly been to the store and I have most certainly eaten out.  However those are both optional for me now.  I don't have to go to the store unless I really really really want that tub of ice cream or chips or chocolate or whatever my latest craving is.  I also don't have to eat out unless I want to, which makes eating out much more enjoyable when I do partake.

Food security is what I now have!  Your average chump has to go to the store and/or eat out whenever they are hungry.  I do not, I can cook my own meals from my own vegetables whenever I want or I can eat out if I want, it's MY choice.  Now that is what food security is all about.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Harvesting Garlic

Mountain of Garlic
The mountain of garlic that you can work up to if you continuously plant your largest garlic cloves year after year.  This is only 68.92 lbs (31.26 kilos) of garlic.

Harvesting garlic is easy to do once you know how to recognize when your garlic is ready to be harvested.  Since the bulbs grow underground you don’t really have any way to tell for certain until you pull one of the heads up but there are a few signs that you can use to recognize when your garlic is ready for harvesting!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Garlic Scapes: The Underappreciated Tasty Treat

Garlic scapes ready to be harvested.

If you’re growing garlic, you may have noticed stalks growing out of the tops of the plant with a small bulb forming on each one.  This stalk is your garlic scape.  It is edible, incredibly delicious and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.  If you’re not growing garlic, you can find them at the farmers market or your favorite local farm and the tempura recipe below is a great way of enjoying them as well as any other vegetables that you find yourself having lots of.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Free Vegetable Seeds for You!

I have oodles of free vegetable seeds that I'll be sending out to people to be divvied out amongst their communities, let me know if you're interested.  If you know someone who might be interested then share this with them.  Lets get some free seeds spread out in communities across the US!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Get to Know Your Weed(s)

 Not that type of weed, come on now!

Weeds are going to grow regardless of where you are so it's important to be able to identify them and pull them before they get too big and overtake your precious vegetables.  Getting to know your weeds is the hard part, once you can identify them it's easy to pull them as soon as you see them.

Starting out, the best way to go about getting familiar with the weeds in your area is to plant your vegetables thick when you're putting the seeds in the ground.  This way when they start popping up you'll see the thick line of seedlings, which is what you planted.  Then you get to see what those seedlings look like from start to finish without wondering if that actually is what you planted or not.  Anything else that does not look like the thick patch of seedlings is going to be a weed and you can pull it.

Weeds are going to vary a whole lot from city to city, state to state, region to region, and country to country so there really isn't going to be a one size fits all weed guide.  Here are a few common weeds in my area that I'm constantly battling, perhaps this will help you out on your own journey.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Greens and Things - Salad Season

 All winter long there's one thing that I long for.
Blanched and frozen vegetables fill the deep freezer.
I watch the snow fall as the prior years harvest sits on the counter thawing out.
The snowflakes fall out of the sky, tumble through the air and rest on the ground.
Melting into and rejuvenating the soil.
Providing water, minerals, and nutrients for next years bounty.
Lettuce, radishes and many other greens will soon burst from the soil.
Which is what I dream of as I watch the snow fall as my frozen veggies thaw.
Imagining my taste buds dancing and the crisp crunch of freshly picked food.
Grown in my very own backyard.
Dreaming of standing in the urban farm on a warm spring morning.
Seeing if the spring greens are ready to be devoured.
While the birds chirp.
The bees buzz.
The slight breeze going through my hair.
Cooling me down as the day heats up.
Patience is a virtue they say.
There is nothing I long for more on a cold winters day.
Than a freshly picked salad topped with thinly sliced radishes and lovely nasturtiums.
Drizzled with olive oil for good measure.
A dash of salt and pepper for a little zest.
Sitting at the patio table overlooking the garden as I eat the bounty.
Spring cannot come soon enough is all that runs through my mind.
As I watch the snowflakes fall from the sky.
While my frozen vegetables sit on the counter and thaw.
Into a mushy state of their prior glorious existence.
Still tasty but it's not the same.
Nothing beats freshly picked food from the urban farm.
Patience, patience, patience.
Must be repeated time and time again.
Salad, salad, salad.
Cannot come soon enough.

Freshly picked salad in May of 2021 - Lettuce, Arugula, Sorrel, Orach, Spinach, Mizuna and probably lots of other greens.

Holy crap, there's no way that you love salad so much that you just wrote an entire ballad about your love of salad.  Right??  That can't be true...eh?  Tell us that isn't so Mr. Urban Farmer guy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Get the Warm Weather Plants Outside

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
– Alfred Austin

Pepper Roots
Got Roots?  Check out the giant corbaci pepper roots!

It's mid May and if you're lucky the chance of a snow or freeze in your area is now gone.  Out here in Colorado we had one last May snow the other week, which made me very glad I hadn't planted any tomatoes or peppers yet.  A big part of urban farming is knowing your area and what you can expect depending on the time of year.  Most of the time you have to go with your gut feeling on what you think is right given what you know.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

How to Build Your Own Fancy Dancy PVC Trellis

 "Why Buy Something When You Can Build It?" 
-Someone at some point in history

Building your very own PVC trellis is very easy, it doesn't take much time (as far as building things goes), plus they're relatively cheap and durable.  If you're looking for some trellising then look no further, go get some PVC and build it yourself.

You can certainly build a trellis out of pretty much anything you'd like so if you have some extra building material laying around, get creative and build a trellis out of that.  I went with PVC for the following reasons:  I didn't have a lot of time, I wanted to make it myself, I wanted it to be durable, I wanted it to be light, and I wanted it to be cheap.  That all led me to making some not-so fancy but very functional trellising made out of PVC.

If you've never built anything before then you have no need to worry.  This is a great project to start with, by the time you're done you'll be making up new garden projects to get creative with and construct.

Materials Needed
-PVC Pipe
-PVC Elbows
-PVC Tees
-PVC Cement
-Sandbags for weighing them down after constructed
-Good tunes and/or audiobook

Friday, May 7, 2021

Get the Cold Weather Plants Outside

Hear ye, Hear ye!

If you haven't already planted your cold weather plants outside and it's starting to get warmer outside where you live then it's definitely time to do so.  Depending on where you live your spring growing season may have come and gone (I'm looking at your Floridians), it may not be here yet (Northern Minnesotans), or it may just be coming into full swing (such as us Coloradans).

The broccoli in the urban farm war zone after being transplanted among marigolds and dill

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Ween Off the Plants (a.k.a. Harden Off)

The last of our seeds have been started inside, the spring crops have been planted outside, springtime is in the air, it’s finally getting warm outside, and seedlings are growing.  This warm daytime weather means that it’s time to start weening off (or hardening off) your plants and it’s also time to start the last of the seeds indoors.

Seedlings Outside
Seedlings getting used to the great outdoors in April of 2021

Saturday, April 17, 2021

April Seeds & What to Plant for Spring

We've made it to April!  We have the last of the seeds to start inside and we're going to start planting more outside. 

Baby Spinach
Spinach starting to grow outside in April of 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021

What About the Meat?!

 "Sssssoooooooo you must be one of those vegetarians, eh?"

Aha!  I knew this question was going to pop-up at some point.  For some reason when you eat a lot of vegetables people automatically assume that you are vegetarian, or vegan, or pescatarian, or whatever the most recent food / diet craze is.  My hippy / hipster vibe that I tend to give off probably doesn't help either.  If you've been reading each of my posts (if you haven't then you should) and you have a keen eye then you may have noticed mentions of meat sprinkled here and there.  I am in-fact not vegetarian, which is usually quite a shock to people, which is actually a shock to me in return since a lot of people are so quick to judge and assume.  Don't judge a book by its cover people!

Leg of Lamb
Baked Leg of Lamb - It was very delicious

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Thoughts & Prayers

Once in a while I get asked by an astutely aware friend, "Why is it that every time you walk into a building you stop for a few seconds and look around?"

If you really want to know I have three stories for you.  Before I explain, you always tell me how lucky I am to have grown up and lived in Colorado my whole life.  I largely agree but these three stories offer a different and rarely explored perspective that may just change your mind:

Sunday, March 14, 2021

March Means Start More Seeds

Seeds that were just started in March of 2021

March is here which can only mean it's time to start more seeds.  In Colorado it's still too cold to plant most things outside, although if you have fancy row coverings then you can start putting your cold loving crops outside.  We’re currently about two months away from Mother’s Day (eight weeks), which is a good general day to use for the last frost day where I live, although we can still get snow after Mother’s Day. You'll want to lookup the average last frost date for where you live and see how far away you are from this date. Some of you warm region folks may already be beyond this date and you may be able to start planting more seeds outside. For my next round of seeds, I'm going to be starting vegetables inside that say to plant them around 8 weeks from the last frost on the back of the seed packet.  Here's the list of what those are:

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The REAL Cost of Growing Your Own Food

Yelling at the sky about the cost of tools for growing your own food

"Hey now, what's the big idea, are you trying to jip us?  Your last post didn't include any of the actual expenses associated with growing your own food.  How much does it really cost to grow your own food anyways?"

I know, I know, that information was left out intentionally.  Not to try and deceive you but so that information can have it's very own post!!!  Alas, here we are.  Now we're going to dive into the costs associated with growing your own food.  As you've been reading through my super awesome guide of how to grow your own food you've probably noticed a recurring theme of "buy this", "buy that", "go get this", etc.  Which likely has you wondering, how much money is all of this actually going to cost me???

Saturday, March 6, 2021

How Much Money Did I Spend on Food in 2020?

 "How much money can this really save you anyways?
How much money do you spend on food?"

Takehome Brunch
Take home brunch COVID collaboration.  Veggies were from Ollin Farms with the meal made by Chef Paul from Beast + Bottle.  I just picked it up from the farm, took it home and put the finishing touches on it in November of 2020.  It tasted much better than it looks, and it looks pretty damn good!

Whoever's reading this blog has quite the assortment of great questions for me, keep them coming.  As questions arise, just send them on over and perhaps I'll make an article out of your very own question!

Lucky for you I kept track of exactly how much I spent on food in 2020 and we're going to take a look at those numbers shortly!  I strive to grow all of the food that I eat, however I'm not quite there.  Each year I inch closer and closer to this goal and this year it appears that I was able to preserve enough food to last me until I grow more food in 2021.  Even with this though I still have grocery store expenses such as: rice, noodles, quinoa, couscous, coconut aminos (basically soy sauce but better), ingredients for my current and beloved breakfast routine along with anything else that I may want from the grocery store which would be luxurious expenses such as:  cheese, ice cream, chocolate, fish etc.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Get the First of the Seeds Planted


It is now time to plant the first of your seeds...that is all...

Pepper Seedlings
Pepper seedlings growing.  They grow up so slow.

Uuuhhh What?  It's only February, it's winter, and it's still cold outside, in-fact it's snowing right now.  What do you mean it's time to start the first of the seeds?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Crop Rotation - Rotate, Rotate, Rotate

"The farmer whose soil produces less every year is unkind to it in some way; that is, he is not doing it what he should; he is robbing it of some substance it must have, and he becomes, therefore, a soil robber rather than a progressive farmer." -George Washington Carver

Urban Farm in 2017
Urban Farm in September of 2017

We're going to jump ahead for a quick minute and get you thinking about the future.  Your urban farm is now planned out for this year, think about next years growing season, just for a few minutes.

For subsequent years, you aren't going to plant everything in the exact same spot you are planting them this year, you need to ROTATE everything.  Assuming you did an okay job the first time around with your crash course into companion planting, just rotate everything clockwise.  Your goal should be to not plant the same plants in the exact same spot for another 5 years.  You take your map from this year, rotate everything clockwise so you're not planting anything in the same spot, then hopefully in 5+ years your back to your original map and you just keep that going until the end of time.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Don't Forget About the Flowers!

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." -Claude Monet

Bees on Flower
Bees on a Bachelor Button Flower

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers...

Are one of the most important aspects (yes, I do say that a lot about a lot of different things but it's equally true for all of them) of having your very own urban.  Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, etc. need flowers to survive.  Flowers need the bees to survive.  Your veggies ALSO need these pollinators to survive.  Without pollinators you wouldn't be getting any tomatoes, peppers, etc.  and our society as we know it would basically be doomed without pollinators as food production would plummet.  New research suggests that your everyday pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, etc. are in-fact bad for pollinators.  While these chemicals don't kill the pollinators instantly, they do over longer periods of time.  Providing chemical free flowers for your neighborhood bees and pollinators to enjoy is of the utmost importance to not only these very same pollinators but your veggie production, your neighborhood, and the world as we know it.  Lets save the world with chemical free flowers, shall we?! 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Continue to Plan and Dream!

"Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized." -Allan Armitage

Urban Farm Aerial View
Aerial View of the Urban Farm - July 2020

You have a rough plan for your up and coming urban farm, your garlic is planted (or will be soon in the early spring), you know what you're going to do for tilling / broadforking, your compost piles have been started, your seeds are in the mail to you, you have a plan drawn up for drip irrigation, and you have a plan for keeping the weeds at bay, what could possibly be next?

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Looking Back and Looking Forward: 2020 in Review

"They Tried to Bury Us, But They Didn't Know We Were Seeds."
-Dinos Christianopoulos

Vegetable Bounty
Vegetable Bounty From a Single Harvest in August of 2020

That quote sums up 2020 pretty well, non-stop chaos that will hopefully bloom into beauty.  I'm optimistic that 2020 will be looked back on as a turning point in American history, perhaps even world history, for the better.  At the very least it seems to have jarred people awake to the realities of our world and has caused people to stand-up for what they believe in and to give those whose voices have been muffled by society a platform to shout from for everyone to hear.  Time will tell for certain though.  With how chaotic of a year 2020 was in the world, it was a surprisingly good year on the urban farm, in-fact it was the best year yet!  I grew over 700 lbs (317 kilos) of food, worked on improving my preservation of food and filled my deep freezers with enough food to last until I grow more food in 2021 (hopefully).  This year wasn't without its challenges, the potato harvest was fairly meager (but it didn't fail completely like I originally thought it had), the beet harvest was pretty abysmal, kohlrabi was non-existent, Brussel sprouts continue to evade me, the hanging baskets didn't get many flowers on them and stayed mostly green.  I thought I might get some Romanesco this year but the plants died in the frost in the fall while the heads were still very small (but they were there).  Then there's the corn, oh corn, I did get a few ears of good tasting corn this year but I don't think I'll be growing corn again.  It takes way too much water for what you get, the racoons will almost always beat you to eating it, and I can buy it from local farms for extremely cheap.  It does look cool, but I don't think that's enough this year to keep me attempting to grow it.  I'd rather utilize that space for more squash.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Keeping the Weeds at Bay - Landscaping Fabric

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows." -Doug Larson

Weeds and Veggies
 Weeds or Vegetables?  Both are there but the weeds are more noticeable in this throwback photo from the early days of the urban farm.

Your brand new, fancy urban farm or garden certainly comes with its own set of new challenges.  The biggest of which being those pesky weeds.  They grow fast and furious, crowding everything out around them.  Some weeds even emit toxins out of their roots to kill off any other plant that may be growing around them.  The plant world is nuts.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Water Your Veggies - Drip Irrigation

"A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them." -Liberty Hyde Bailey

Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation Lines Among the Newly Transplanted Squashes - 2020

Drip irrigation is the way to go and is far superior to other watering methods.  It's more time intensive initially and despite the fact that the parts do cost more than a hose it pays for itself in the long run in efficiency, ease of use, reliability, and time savings.  Once built, you can add a timer so you don't even have to think about watering, it just happens automatically per the timer you set.  Right now you might be thinking that just watering with a hose won't be a big deal and you'll have time for it each day.  I guarantee you that when mid-summer rolls around you'll be cursing yourself for going that route as you'll likely have better things to do whether they pertain to the garden or not.  Plus when you water overhead, a lot of the water is going to evaporate anyways so you might as well get the most bang for the water you're paying for.  Plants don't really even need water on their leaves, while they can absorb water through their leaves they mostly drink from their roots.  Overhead watering is kind of like someone trying to give you water by pouring water on top of your head.  It can be done and some of that water will make it into your mouth but it's really not that efficient.  You'll want to plan out your drip irrigation system now, get the parts, and build it in the early spring (after your landscaping fabric or mulch is put down).

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Great Composting Experiment of 2020

"I find that a real gardener is not a man who cultivates flowers; he is a man who cultivates the soil. He is a creature who digs himself into the earth and leaves the sight of what is on it to us gaping good-for-nothings. He lives buried in the ground. He builds his monument in a heap of compost."
- Karel ńĆapek
Composting Pile
Composting Hole with the Composting Experiment Underway

 At long last here's the long awaited post that likely nobody has been waiting for but I've been meaning and wanting to write this one for a while now and it keeps getting pushed back in my list of topics to write about.  The Great Composting Experiment of 2020 has been an unexpectedly tame and straight forward experiment.  I'm not sure what I was expecting but I was certainly not expecting it to go smoothly and without any issues at all.  However from my highly unofficial experiments it has proven to be a very effective way of composting.