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.

Salad
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
-Hacksaw
-PVC Cement
-String
-Zipties
-Sandbags for weighing them down after constructed
-Motivation
-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

ATTENTION...ATTENTION...MAY I PLEASE HAVE YOUR ATTENTION FOR A VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT...

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.