Urban Farm Updates, April 6th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? South Carolina farmers actively cultivate over 4.9 million acres of land; these farms are comprised of more than 25,200 individual farms, most of whom are family owned! That means that 25% of the total land in South Carolina, is farmland! South Carolina ranks 37th in percent of farmland, out of all 50 states…..
What’s Growing on?
Well guys, another busy week has gone by, here at the HCFM Urban Farm… The more farm visits that I do, and the more I talk to our vendors, the more fortunate I feel. I got very lucky down at the farm, this spring, escaping any major damage from the severe storms, hail damage and damaging frosts. That just goes to demonstrate the luck of the draw that Mother Nature deals out; I know some farmers just a few miles away that lot a whole crop due to storms and freeze impacts, while I just lost a few plants here and there. Someday it will be my turn to face the damages of weather and impacts beyond my control, but for now, I count my blessings and appreciate the rain!
Because of the warm, sunny weather and decent rain fall we have gotten over the past 2 weeks, everything has really taken off at the farm! My Snap Peas are blooming and it won’t be long before I’ll be out their harvesting. My Marigold seedlings are starting to produce blossoms and will soon be opening up.
I have moved all of my artichoke seedlings outside to harden off before they are transplanted outside permanently, later on in April.
I put the shade cloth up over the greenhouse on Tuesday, and let me tell you, that was no easy feat! The first step is to ensure that the cloth is securely attached to adequate weights on the starting side of the greenhouse; then I have to secure a rope to one of the opposite corners of the cloth, add a weight to the other end of the rope and throw it up over the 20 foot high roof, and have it come safely down on the other side, low enough for me to reach. Needless to say, there were a number of failed attempts at throwing the rope 20+ feet in the air and ensuring that it successfully breached the 30 foot wide structure. Then, once I had successfully thrown the rope over to the other side of the greenhouse, I had to go over to the other side and haul on the rope, to bring the very heavy, front half of the shade cloth up and over the greenhouse. Then I had to hold it secure, while tying it off to a weight to prevent it from sliding back over, detach the rope and run back around to the back corner of the greenhouse to repeat the process with the other corner of the shade cloth. I had the same wonderful experience trying to throw the rope back up and over the greenhouse, but finally got it over and was able to tie off that corner of the shade cloth to a weight, before securing the full edges of the shade cloth to weights all along the greenhouse wall. All included it took me 45 minutes and quite a bit of frustration, but I got it (with lots of determination and prayer). This yankee girl never gives up!
I have also been fighting a new pest which finally showed up at the farm this week (I was waiting)…. The white cabbage moth is an evil, vile garden pest, that targets all of my Brassicas (think Broccoli, Cabbage, Collards, Mustard Greens, Kale, etc), and will destroy a set of crops in just a week… Last year the Cabbage moth went almost unchecked at the farm, and it destroyed the entire crop of kale, collards and cabbage. This year, I will have victory over them!!!!!
I have also been getting prepared for some volunteer days coming up this month, part of which has involved clearing out some areas of the farm to work in. And, while moving the remaining bags of potting soil out of the way for a compost delivery later on this week (thank you, Atlas Organics!), I freed up a pallet. So, naturally, I thought, vertical pallet garden!!! So, Wednesday morning, after moving the bags of potting soil out of the way, I cut some landscape fabric material, and started to make a vertical pallet garden. It started to storm after I finished tacking the material to the back, bottom and sides of the pallet, so I had to call it quits for the time being; but Friday I will come back, add potting soil to the pallet, wet the material, pack it in and transplant some little seedlings into the pallet garden. This is a quick and easy way to dress up some old pallets you might have hanging around, and make use of some vertical growing space. I built this pallet garden out of things I had in the shed, an old strip of weed barrier from the garden, a random box of tacks and of course the pallet that the potting soil was delivered on. This gives me extra growing space, and ensures that the pallet doesn’t go to the landfill. It is by no means finished, but it is a start, and by next week, I will be able to grow produce in the pallet. My only word of warning to you, is to make sure that none of the wood in the pallet is pressure treated, and that you remove any nails that are sticking out and could pose a danger, prior to building your pallet garden.
Another thing that I want to share with you guys, it one that it not often brought up in mainstream gardening/farming, and that is the role that the prey/predator relationship plays, and should play, in your garden. I am fortunate that, prior to any work being started on the Butterfly Creek that runs adjacent to the farm, I have an incredible stand of old hardwood trees and scrub/shrub right beside the farm. This area is home to all kinds of birds that help me to keep my pests in check. I am always seeing mockingbirds, blue birds and cardinals out on the farm, eating insects. However, I also have a pair of Red Shouldered Hawks nesting in one of the large hardwoods next to the farm, and they are instrumental in keeping my mouse, vole, rat and snake population in check. Without those hawks nesting there, I would have to be more concerned with snakes and rodents posing a hazard to any guests or volunteers out here on the farm. As long as you don’t have unprotected hens around, these hawks are a great friend to have on the farm!
Oh, and don’t forget, April 15th is going to be the next Open Farm day, where the farm will be open for volunteers, farm tours and of course the gardening class, from 10am to 11am. We had a pretty good turn out last month, and you don’t want to miss the fun! This month the gardening class will be “DIY Gardening”, and you can take the class on April 15th, down at the Urban Farm from 10am to 11am, for $5.00/person. If you are interested or curious about reusing or upcycling as much as you can, in your garden, this is the class for you! You will learn how to grow a garden, with a minimal financial/labor input, using household items you probably already have lying around! If this sounds like something that would interest you, please give me a holler and let me know to expect you! For any questions, comments or feedback, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will do my best to get back to you quickly! I look forward to sharing more of my adventures with you next week, and then seeing you all next Saturday at the Open Farm Day! Have a wonderful week!!!