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:

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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

First Full Season (2017) Recap

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Lao Tzu

The summer of 2017 was my first full season of attempting to grow my own food.  It was one giant experiment as I had never tried growing more than 10 plants at once before nor had I ever had this much space.  I tilled the ground, built my own drip irrigation system, threw a bunch of seeds in the ground, and tried to keep the weeds at bay while the vegetables grew.  Here's what happened:

Before doing anything, this is what the yard looked like (2016):

Splotchy grass yard with playset

Utilities marked and tilling underway (2017):
 I bought a small, electric tiller that works surprisingly well and since it's electric there isn't much maintenance to do on it.

Freshly tilled dirt

Drip irrigation system being built and seeds being planted (April 2017):

Drip irrigation system being installed