Monthly Archives: May 2011

Bike economics series on Grist

If you haven’t seen it already you should check out this series on Grist about biking and the economics a bike economy can have on a city versus focusing on cars.


This is why we have an urban farm



Watch this video.  This is why we operate an urban farm.  We’re not there yet, but we will be soon.

Courtesy of Civil Eats

Easiest way to grow potatoes

Potatoes.  Who doesn’t love potatoes?  I know I do.  And I love how easy they are to grow.  If I was ever to get involved with growing  large amount of some crop, ala, monoculture, I would choose potatoes over our traditional (at least around here) corn and soybean rotation.

Check out this article on Sustainablog about easy ways to grow potatoes.  I think these are two good suggestions, but I like my method better, which I’m going to share with you.  It’s similar to his method #2 but provides a bit more safety from weeds and grass growing through your bed.

Method 1-otherwise known as the one where you plan ahead

When I need to plant potatoes I usually plant them on virgin soil that I want to eventually grow on.  I start the planting area in the fall by collecting lots of leaves.  Then I make a huge pile of them in the area that I want to grow the potatoes on (sometimes with cardboard under them and sometimes not).  Over the fall and winter these leaves will decompose, as will all the weeds and grass that is under the leaves.  When the spring comes I simply pull back the leaves and stick the potato seed in the ground and cover it back up with the leaves.  Now, as the summer progresses I cover the plants with grass clippings.  Voila!  When the tops die you’ll be able to dig up the potatoes and eat them.

In summation

  1. Collect leaves and make them into a pile.
  2. Let them decompose over the winter.
  3. In the spring make a hole and set your seed potato in the hole.
  4. Cover up with your remaining leaves.
  5. As the summer progresses cover with leaves or grass clippings.

The best part of this setup is that after you harvest the potatoes you have created a new raised bed that will be filled with mostly composted soil that you can plant right into.  Essentially you’ve composted the soil you’ll need in place!  I’m thrifty with my energy like that.

Method 2-wherein you didn’t plan well enough 

Now, if you want to grow potatoes and it’s spring and you didn’t plan ahead (I promise I won’t judge you) this is how I do would do it.

  1. Put down a healthy layer of newspaper or cardboard.  (cardboard is better)
  2. Toss down a little bit of compost to give them just a bit of nutrients.
  3. Put down your seed potato chunks.
  4. Cover with leaves, straw or grass clippings.
  5. When the tops die back you can simply reach under the mulch and harvest the potatoes.
  6. If you let these clippings continue to decompose you’ll have a nice bed of compost shortly.
There you go.  I think he and I are on the same page except that I like to set up the bed in the fall.  I also like to put down cardboard to kill the grass if I don’t pile up enough leaves to kill it for me.

The things I think

I think it’s amazing to me, that the kid at the school concert we were just at needed the full 45 minutes to get that treasure out of his nose.

I think it’s telling about the state of humor from the past when my kids replicated it today saying corny jokes and then one banged on the electronic drum for the bah-dum-dum sound.  Just like what you see today on late night TV or even back in the day with Johnny!

I think I like farming but when it rains things get really boring.  I don’t do boring.

I think if we keep tweaking it, this Urban Farm book of mine may actually be a true book and not one written by a business wonk with little creative juice.

I think the site people I want to punch in the throat is a funny take on general life.

I think the Honey Badger don’t give a f$%#.  (Link NSFW)

I think I really like the book Empire Falls that I just finished.  So many fiction books today are mystery/murder/etc books.  This is just a fiction book that sucks you into the lives of people in this small town.  It reminds me of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis only updated to current time.

I think used book stores might just be the coolest places on earth.

Seeding made easy

I’m typing this while having created some time tonight, well, Mother Nature created it for me by sending through a huge rain storm.  It’s raining so hard the gutters aren’t keeping up.  Therefore I’m not out weeding and doing garden work like I need to be, but inside typing and working on all the other things on my never ending to do list.

Today for the first time I used an Earthway seeder.  And I loved it!  I love this thing!  My gardens at home are all sq ft gardens which are planted fairly laboriously by hand using Mel’s techniques.  I even did this with most of the crops that I planted at our urban farm as they are all sq ft garden beds as well.

It’s no wonder that bigger farmers use tools such as this to grow their crops.  It would make the seeding so much more effective, especially when you are seeding in a row. I did figure out though that you need a fairly well broken up seed bed.  The seeder liked my beds made of all compost but didn’t care for the beds that were trucked in dirt with clods and whatnot.  (When I’m planting by hand I can just work around them so the clods don’t really matter.  🙂 )

I used the seeder today to plant green bean seeds, and I tried it in the sq ft garden beds as an experiment, in addition to the long rows I intended to be bean rows.  Typically a sq ft garden bed would have 9 plants per sq, or 288 plants for one 32 sq ft box (8×4).  Today I was able to run 7 rows across the bed (on the 4 ft spacing side) that size and as long as the seeds are spaced at the stated 3.6 inch spacing that would work out to about 200 plants in that bed.  ((8×3.6)x7 rows)  That isn’t as many as with the sq ft method, but I had the bed planted in less than 5 minutes compared to a solid 30 minutes to do it with the finger method.  Given this time savings it might be worth the slightly reduced yield from each bed. Of course I could try to get in an eighth row which would put the number of plants up around 230.

Planting is mostly completed for this summer (save for tomatoes and peppers) but when it’s time to direct seed the fall crops I’m going to use the seeder and see how it works for the beets and carrots, two plants that always take a ton of time to plant in the beds.

Check out the videos below!  Some cool information about the seeder.

If you’re interested, check out this info from Johnny’s.

Also, the human powered home has a section (I need to review this book at some point)

Also, also, 🙂  I know I saw something on Gene Logsdon’s blog about how he uses Earthway Seeders on his acreage  but I can’t find it now.  He meshed together 3 of them I think and used them to plant his corn rather than buying a device to pull behind the tractor.  (Gene is really big on keeping costs down when you grow instead of getting bigger and bigger)

Smoked fatties

You may have already seen this on my Facebook update a few weeks back, but I wanted to share it here as well.

I made this recipe again and I have to tell you, it just keeps getting better.  I used Jimmy Dean sausage instead of Country Home sausage and it was a lot better.

Smoked fatties

I cut these up and placed them into hot dog buns which didn’t work for the boys.  😦

And they didn’t seem to like it this time around.  Maybe I gave them too many snacks this afternoon.

Check out the link to BBQ Addicts.  I’ve tried this with ground pork without the sausage flavoring and it was not good.  Don’t do that.  🙂

Old Chinese Proverb


This is so true.  The Chinese have the best sayings.  We hear this a lot at work with all the ideas we propose to people who are a little more…um…conservative.