Fun on the Farm:
Did you know? Studies have shown that plants grow better (bigger and stronger) when they are spoken and sung to?? A study was done by Penn State University, and then later tested by MythBusters to put this housewives tale to the test. Home Gardeners have long claimed that their plants grow better, and produce more, when you talk to them. So these teams set up two greenhouses, one with a radio playing, and one completely silent, to test that theory. They started plug trays of seeds in both of the greenhouses, and kept all routines the same, except for the sounds. Each greenhouse got the same amount of light, water, and maintained the same temperature. The only difference was the radio playing in one, and complete silence in the other. Incredibly, they discovered, after 60 days, all of the plants in the greenhouse with the radio on, outperformed the plants in the silent greenhouse! So, the next time you feel inclined to talk, sing or hum to your plants, remember you’re actually doing them a favor!!
What’s Growing On Around Here?
Wow, a lot has happened already, and 2017 has just begun! I am so excited and thrilled to be able to share with ya’ll all of the changes going on at the Urban Farm throughout the upcoming year! For those of you who haven’t met me yet, my name is Meg, and I have been running the Urban Farm since April, 2016. I grew up on a farm in Connecticut, and have been raiding my Mom’s garden since I learned to walk. Most summer days would find me in the middle of the garden patch munching on cucumbers, green beans and tomatoes before my Mom could pick them for dinner! I love the challenges of farming, as well as the joy that comes with seeing your plants grow and thrive!!
The Hub City Farmers Market Urban Farm is a half acre site right across the parkinglot from the Saturday Market Pavilion, on Howard Street. We have a large Greenhouse, a Hydroponics table, and quarter acre of outside raised bed space. Through the dedication and efforts of staff members, our incredible board of directors and local businesses, we have been able to make some much needed improvements to the Urban Farm, which I am so excited to be able to show everyone! When I started helping out the previous farm manager at the farm, in the fall of 2015, we only had one water spigot on site, and we didn’t have the electrical necessary to support the installation of a much needed fridge. Our Board of Directors has made these improvements possible, and I am thrilled to be able to share these positive changes with them and with all of you!
These changes also wouldn’t have been possible without the help of local businesses like One Call Plumbing in Spartanburg; they got our sink outfitted and ready to clean and process our produce; and installed two more water spigots throughout the farm to help with irrigation. The guys at Live Wire Electric were quick and efficient and in just half a day I had electrical outlets in the greenhouse for the hydroponics table and aerial fans, as well as electrical in the shed, to support our new fridge. Speaking of a fridge, we were able to work with Appliance Source to get a new fridge to store produce as it comes off the farm! I am so grateful to our local partner organizations, and to the small businesses in the area that have made these changes possible!
With all of these improvements going on around the farm, I have been keeping busy too! I learned really quickly that there is no down time on farmd in the southeast! December and January have certainly kept me busy! During the month of December I did a deep clean and santization of our Greenhouse to remove any disease and pests from the space and get it prepared for the spring planting season. By the first week of January, I was hauling fresh potting soil into the Greenhouse and getting plants started. Right now I have cold crop seedlings (Broccoli, Cabbage, Collards, Kohlrabi, etc) as well as some summer crops (Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes and herbs) growing in the greenhouse. I am currently hardening off my cold crops, in preparation for transplanting outside, next week. Hardening off is the process of acclimating plants to the outside weather and environment, via brief, controlled exposure over the course of 7 to 10 days. This helps them to do better once planted in the ground, and reduce the loss due to environmental shock.
The outside bed space is also coming together, with onions, sugar snap peas, carrots and radishes enduring the cold under frost sheets. After preparing and planting 13 of my outside beds, I have less than a week to get 9 more 40 foot beds cleaned up, get compost incorporated, apply plastic sheeting and install cold frames before my cold crops are ready to be transplanted! The pressure is on!
I am also preparing for the February and March gardening classes, than will be hosted on the Urban Farm. Each of our gardening classes runs for roughly an hour, from 10am to 11am, and costs $5.00 per person; this cost covers materials and hand outs you’ll receive during the class. Everyone is welcome, from those interested in starting a backyard garden, to those who have some experience and want to learn more! The more the merrier!
On February 18th, I will be hosting a class on the Greenhouse Growth. Tips, tricks and techniques to get the most out of your greenhouse, and how to keep your plants happy! I will also be demonstrating how to make your own Microgreen seed mix, and grow microgreens at home.
Our March 18th class will be all about spring preparations. We will be reviewing a case study on compost vs fertilizer, organic vs inorganic, and choosing the best option for each attendee. We will go over methods for weed control and weed prevention, as well as how to pick the right varieties for your needs and location. Just in time for the early April planting, my goal is to get each backyard gardener off on the right foot! If anyone is interested in coming to either one of these classes, just send me an email and let me know to expect you (email@example.com).
I apologize for the super long introductory post! I assure you, they will get shorter as summer season approaches! Stay tuned for updates on the farm, as well as teasers about upcoming classes and volunteer days! For questions and comments, feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!!