Urban Agriculture update

If you are on Facebook with me you’ll have already seen these, but I wanted to share them anyway.  One of the big initiatives I’ve been working on over the past year or so is a plan with the city to turn some of our vacant abandoned home sites into an urban farm.  It’s finally coming to fruition.  Almost.  :-)

The ordinance modification necessary to allow Urban Agriculture passed it’s first reading.  Our development proposal also passed so we can now begin talking with city staff to work out an agreement to gain access to some land to we can start farming.

I’m going to post more information as it becomes available.  I’d like to post a link to our Urban Ag ordinance so other places can look at it as an example as well as our development plan which I think is top notch (and the city staff members have told us that as well).  If or when I can find them I’ll post them up here so ya’ll can see them.

KCRG TV story featuring an interview with me

Gazette Online story discussing these developments.

Bananas for bananas

So, one downside of my thriftiness is that I, on occassion, buy things when they are on sale that don’t always work out.  But, in my defense, it’s not always my fault.  For example, last week I bought a huge bag of partially ripened bananas because it was $1.99 for the whole bag vs. $.59/lb.  Normally this works out fine, but for some reason no one ate bananas this week.  So I ended up with a ton of leftover bananas.  I can put them in the freezer and wait to make bananas bread, but that is so cliche.

I couldn’t think of a better way to use them up than to make a dessert.  Bananas foster here we come!  Heck, who doesn’t love a dessert they can set on fire?

In case you’re interested, I found this resource online as well with 100 different ways to use bananas, though I got the bananas foster recipe online from the original place, Brennens, in New Orleans.

It was delicious.

Slideshow with pictures from the farm

I’ve created a slideshow on the urban farm book page if you would like to see some pictures of the farm we created through this summer.  It was a ton of hard work form dedicated Americorp VISTA members as well as local volunteers and youth on mission trips.  So far it has been a great success.

Now that the summer is slowing I think I’ll be up for more writing.  Watch out, I’ve got some stuff saved up!

Update from the farm-part 6

I’m not sure if this is week 6 or not, time has slipped away in the past few weeks.  They’ve been a haze of vacations, hot weather, bugs and running around.  I’m sure most of you can appreciate that!

This week we will have the absolute last of the lettuce until later this fall.  This goofy weather is wreaking havoc on our broccoli (the heat causes it to go to seed almost overnight) but we expect to have a very small head for each of you.  We also are expecting a bunch of potatoes (they’ll be harvested tomorrow morning with the help of the St James kids, not withstanding the duck that has taken up residence in the plants to hatch her eggs) as well as beets, carrots and kohlrabi.  We may have a mix of zucchini and cucumbers for you to choose from.  Kale should be ready but I’m not sure about the onions.  They were really beaten up by the wind last night and most of their stems were snapped off.  The stem is what captures the sun to make the bulb grow so they may be stunted at their current size.  We’ll have to see.
Believe it or not, we’re already planning for the fall crops.  Even as we harvest what we planted this spring we start replanting the same crops to harvest again later this fall.  Broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi have been seeded.  More will be planted this week as we pull up the potatoes and replant, as well as planting carrots as space develops.  Looking forward into next month we’ll start with more beets and greens next month.  The goal with this planting is to enjoy another fall crop of our cool weather friends as fall develops.  Let’s just hope that we don’t get any early cold spells.
The most important crop, tomatoes, are coming along great.  We have a lot of fruit set, we just have to wait for them to ripen.  If you haven’t had a fresh tomato before you are in for a treat.  I’m also expecting a fairly large crop of cucumbers, zucchini and peppers, so you may want to think about ways to preserve a few of them.  You may not be able to eat them all when they start really growing.  Below I have included two different recipes for refrigerator pickles.  They require no canning but have to be kept in the fridge and eaten in a few weeks.  Keep this recipe for a few weeks down the road.
Some of the old time farmers are telling me that we’ll have a hot summer because we had a mild winter.  I guess the mildness of the winter is relative to your perspective, but if that adage holds true we will be swimming in these hot weather crops as I planted them based on what was necessary the past few years (which were cooler) to get a decent crop.
We’ll see you all on Wednesday again.  We’ll be in the tool library.

Gardening book is updated

Just dropping a note that my gardening book has been updated and is back for sale on my “books” tab.

Had a great vacation.  :-)  I’ll write more later as I have time.

Traveling library

I’m going on vacation for a week, so you won’t hear from me for a little while.  I just hope I have enough books to read while I’m on vacay!

 

 

 

 

 

If not, I’ve heard of an outstanding book store in the area that I’ll make sure to check out!

Garden pics

The garden is finally in a state where I’m not completely embarrassed to show it to the world.  It’s still not perfect, but whose garden is right?  ;-)

The pic below is looking out from about the middle of the garden.  Directly in front of you is my cold frame bed.  It’s extra deep and I place two windows across the top in February to get the lettuce in early.  The lettuce has been dying because of the heat (and we’re eating it) so I’ve been sowing carrots in there as the lettuce comes out.  Directly to the right of that is a large batch of broccoli, cabbage and zukes/summer squash.  Straight across on the left are green beans.

 

 

 

 

The pic below shows the beans again but also the mixed bed.  That bed had lettuce and spinach in it.  It hasn’t been replaced much yet but also has carrots, some lettuce and cabbage left.  You can also see some kind of grass growing in there that I’m having a hard time getting rid of.  Behind that is the bed of peas, which I think I’m done growing.  They are a pain in the butt to harvest.  I think I’m done growing them.  On the right is more broccoli and carrots.  On the far left back is a bed of peas, potatoes and brussell sprouts, along with two onion plants that were left from last year I guess.  As you can tell I really need to get some wood chips down, but I’m behind the game so far.

 

 

 

 

Here I’m standing next to the bed of cabbage, squash and broccoli.  There are 3 beds of potatoes (I like to grow potatoes on new beds the first year so all the grass and leaves can decompose in place while they cover the taters).  Behind the black wheelbarrow I have some beans, onions, canteloupe and watermelon.  Also a bed with sweet potatoes and cukes.  Right in front of you here I have winter squash.  Only one has come up.  I think I’ll need to replant.  This area is all new this year and still being built out, but it’s still growing food.

 

 

 

 

My comfrey plants.  I finally got some after all these years of wanting some.  I ended up planting about 20 plants so I should have a ton of biomass here before too long.  The weedy patch right behind them is the sandbox which I’m going to fill in with compost and plant to carrots this month.

 

 

 

 

 

This year I’m doing something very different with the garden as I’m trying to grow a lot of things to store for the winter and focusing on the things we really eat, both fresh and preserved.

Even with all this stuff planted I still have about two beds that aren’t fully planted yet (we eat a lot more cool weather crops than hot weather crops) so I have to wait for July so I can sow more broccoli, cabbage and carrots for the fall.  I love working with small spaces and seeing each bed rotate over as one item is spent and replaced with another.  I don’t think you would get the same thrill from seeing that when you have a really large garden space.

Not pictures above is a bed with garlic and herbs in it as well as another bed of potatoes.  They are closer to the house but will move when they are harvested shortly.

It’s strawberry season too.  Last night I put up 20 jars of jam and last Friday it was 6 quarts of strawberries.  I have another 6 or so to do tonight and tomorrow and then we’ll probably be set for the winter.  My blackberry bushes have so many berries on them I’ll need to make plans to make jam from them too!