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.