Garden update.

There's been kind of a theme in my life, lately. Well, there have been a few. I have been focusing some on humility, which is never a bad thing. I'm meditating a lot on the whole concept and value of honesty. I've learned that honesty is a really big deal to me. And I mean like, ruthless, radical honesty- specifically with myself. I'm not saying I'm flawless in this area… I'm hoping to move in that direction, though. I'm also thinking a lot about goals and purpose and meaning in life- what's the point of it all?… that kind of thing. I mean, I don't have great words of wisdom to impart, nor do I have an answer to that question (lots of wispy theories, though…). But my ears are perked, I'm listening to the messages that the universe has for me. There are many, lately.

And strangely, in the midst of all these challenges and ultimate questions, I feel comforted. I feel faith. I feel promise and peace in so many moments. I can hear my insecurities speaking up, and then quieting down in the midst of what I am happy to report is a solid foundation in my own sense of self-worth. I love who I am, challenges and short-comings and all.  Certainly that is something to be grateful for, despite any emotional hardship I might encounter.

That's all I really wanted to share on that front. Mostly I just want to give a garden update. I couldn't believe that I hadn't really done one for this year yet. It's nearly June! Perhaps I'm just too much in the thick of it to take much time to reflect. But, I am determined to document this adventure of a year, at the very least with a few scattered journal entries and some photos. 

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This was a few weeks ago, when the first radishes were just starting to come up. Things change so fast.


The new greenhouse has definitely come in handy, but it really was becoming more of a storage space than we would have liked.

I got inspired one day and just cleaned it all up. Here's the before:

My make-shift plant covers. I used the conduit we use for trellising as a frame for draping sheets over the seedlings to protect them from frost. It worked really well, and I think we'll use conduit for all this stuff. It'll be sturdier and less costly than the commonly used pvc for this kind of thing. Makes me think about constructing all of our low tunnels out of the stuff. We do have a pipe bender, so it makes quick work of it.

Here's just a view of the middle of the yard. I'll admit that Jeff has rolled his eyes at me here and there for taking on yet more garden space this year. But he'll see… he'll see like every other year. Mwahahaa! Anyway, you can see the small little patch of grass that remains. These straw bales are doing fairly well, but I already have some criticisms. I'm really quite the naturalist when it comes to gardening. I don't like weeding, so I rarely do it. I prefer to mess up weeds and lay them back down and smother them with more soil to feed the next generation of plants… just like it happens on the forest floor. I don't like to water. I will if I have to, but I think there is no substitute for rainwater. It's amazing the difference. And I don't like to fertilize. I like to add compost, rotate crops, and build up the soil in other ways. I'm becoming more a fan of blood, urine, kelp meal and manure… but those fall into the same category for me. It's all just the stuff of life, and the model comes more from nature than from a science lab. Anyway, long story short, it's clear to me now that these bales are just lacking in nutrients. In order to get the kind of growth from my plants that I would from my raised beds, I think I'd have to fertilize every couple of weeks. I am going to try my hand at compost tea, which will benefit everything in my garden, and top off the plants with compost each month. We'll see how it goes!

Greenhouse after. Although it's not truly "after", as Jeff has been hard at work creating cedar framing for the raised beds around the perimeter, and digging out the central walkway. This enables my tall guy to walk all the way through the greenhouse without hitting his head on the rafters. Woohoo! I'll be sure to update with pictures of the finished greenhouse.

My office lately.

For my little sister's birthday I gave her a CSA share (the first ever, and the only one this year) from Polliwog Farm. This was her first share. Sunflower shoots, a couple of eggs, radishes, herbs. I was kind of proud of it, and she loved it. It just feels good to share, really.

Jerusalem artichokes, also known as "sunchokes". I am really excited about these. They are growing strong, and I'll be planting them out at the land this fall to hopefully multiply and become a good crop for us.

Strawberries. Also going to transplant all of these in the fall. It's been fun to think about the land and work out there. We've got a fairly large garden that we just broke ground for. It will be home to all of the things I just don't have room for here at the urban farm. Squash, corn, melons, artichoke, okra, parsnips and various other root veggies, and asparagus. This week we work on amendments and walkways and then this weekend we'll plant. This new garden (I'll surely update about it) is located just west of our proposed house site. It's our first garden on our land. I feel kind of lovey about it, imagining Jeff and I aged and weathered and still working out there with grandchildren underfoot. It's a dream I'd love to realize.

Garlic is looking amazing. I'm going to save a lot of this for planting out at the land as well.

An overview. The metal barrels you see are our potatoes. I had hoped to start them earlier, but I never worry much about doing things late. It's always better than not at all.

Here you can see our microgreens and seedlings in the greenhouse.

Pea shoots.

Sunflower shoots.

The Odettes. They are doing well, although I wish they had more room to range. They tear apart the garden and walkways. We've been thinking about the possibility of chickens out at the land, too, but have to figure out the logistics of keeping animals on land that we don't yet inhabit. Could be tricky, although it might be easier than we think. Then we could have a large flock and actually sell eggs. Fancy that.

We're getting about 5-7 eggs a day from the Odettes, and about 1-2 from Vera's little bantam hens (Miss Frizzle and Lemon). It's the perfect amount for our needs. We're egg people, that's for sure.

On this day I was plopped in the middle of the garden, with my big garden hat, and I just felt so content. 

Two beds of tomatoes at the urban farm, the rest of the paste/storage tomatoes will go out at the land. Funny, it still means about 60 plants here. I have trouble paring down when it comes to sweet juicy tomatoes. I can't have too many. Besides, we didn't get nearly enough salsa last season.

Anyway, that's all for now. I hope to update about the garden about twice a week. If I don't I fear my pictures will be too outdated. What about all of you? How does your garden grow?

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (5)

  1. decemberthirty

    Mmm, love the garden photos!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    with ya on the criticism

    I completely agree about the strawbales. I found muself daydreaming one day and realizing that it goes against all natural ecology. No green manure, no good bugs to attract underground, no soil enhancement from rotation, and yes – lots of fertilizing. The only pro is less bending down. I see it as an investment in our education as we grow as farmers. Not all investments have a positive yield, but it still taught us many things!
    -Brett

    Reply
  3. purerandomness

    I think you should change your ‘i’m a farmer?’ tag to ‘i’m a farmer!’ 🙂
    We got our 1st CSA share last week and I’m picking up the next tomorrow. I’m taking pictures each week and plan to write about what we cooked with the beautiful veggies. Lots of spinach, so far.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Everything is looking lovely and so organized! Nice job. And I agree, no question mark, you ARE a farmer!
    Sorry the straw bales were a bust. If you need someone to take a few off your hands I’d be happy to for mulch, chickens, etc. 🙂

    Reply
  5. wildnettles

    ooh, the conduit pipe to hold up bedsheets! thats a great idea that i think i’ll try. usually i end up trying to prop up wooden sticks and stuff to keep the bedsheets off the plants and that hardly ever works.

    we love sunchokes! a few years back we harvested so many from our garden that we didn’t know what to do with them all! here are two pics that i took back then:
    http://lovinglandbase.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/zsunchokes.jpg
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41839786@N05/3860028485/
    both of those were just a little part of our harvest! our problem was that since some people get sensitive tummies from sunchokes we didn’t feel like giving them away to all our friends. thankfully my tummy doesn’t mind them at all 🙂

    i like the potato barrels also, are they made of chicken wire? i grow my potatoes in a barrel too, but its an old plastic trash-style barrel that i had previously used as a rain barrel (and then accidentally left water in which froze and split the side open a little bit). the problem is that since its plastic it blocks the sun if i start the potatoes closer to the bottom of the barrel. yours allows light in which seems like it would work a lot better. also, do you grow yours in straight straw or do you mix something with it?

    Reply

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