Urban Farm Updates, June 29th, 2017
Fun on the Farm!
Did you know? There are over 20,000 known species of bees, worldwide?! That should be great news for farmers; however, in recent years, bee populations have been steadily declining. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, U.S. beekeepers lost an average of 44% of their colonies. Over the last 6 years a total of 10 million bee hives have been decimated; and with an average of 20,000 to 80,000 bees per hive, that is A LOT of bees! That is a tremendous loss that farmers cannot afford. Bees are essential pollinators for 75% of the commercial agriculture products we grow and eat on a daily basis. So what is killing bees? Bees are dying off for multiple reasons, but the two most common are: an increase in viruses and bacteria which are spread from hive to hive, by a little pest called the Varroa Mite; as well as increased bee poisoning from neonicotinoid insecticides being used on Agriculture fields of all places. The Varroa mite numbers are on the rise, and are currently being studied by scientists, to find a way to control their populations and overall impacts on bee populations; and the neonicotinoid insecticides are, for the time-being, still legal to use as pest control in the United States.
What’s Growing On?
Well guys, what a week it has been! It has been so wonderful to be able to see the sun out for an entire week, after the previous rainy and gloomy month. And boy are my plants enjoying it! It is kind of strange to have to set up my irrigation strips again for the first time in what feels like forever! It is incredible to think that over the last 3 months, we received almost double the amount of rain we usually receive for this time of year! We are definitely not shy on rainfall for the first half of the year!
I had a group of youth from Urban Hope summer camp come out to the farm earlier this week for a farm tour and to help me work on some projects around the farm, and one of the projects that they helped me out with, was to start the base layers for the Lasagna Garden berm that I am creating at the back of the farm. This berm will be made up of layers of compostable green and brown materials, as well as previously composted material. These layers will continue to break down as the plants need nutrients and will provide fresh new humus for the plants to draw from as they decompose. The berm will be planted in the spring, with perennial berry bushes that will provide a different type of produce to supplement what we already grow on the Urban Farm.
I have now cleaned up all of the beds from the remaining cold crops, and it is hard for me to wrap my head around having to plant early fall produce already! Where has the first half of the year gone??
I am starting to get the first Nasturium flowers off of my Nasturtiums in the front linear bed along the fence line! They are beautiful, and also, edible!!!! Although, word to the wise, don’t eat them alone; eat them in a salad or soup, but never alone. Unless you like the flavor of a mouth full of pure peppercorns; which, believe me, is not pleasant!I tried a Nasturium for the first time raw, without anything else, and it is definitely an experience I will remember for quite some time! They are amazing and oh so beautiful, in a salad, though! It is akin to adding arugula to a salad; it brightens things up and adds a bit of pepper punch, without being over the top.
I have also been working for the past week to train my over-enthusiastic Honeydew vines back into the bed, using that time to also check on the status of my Honeydew melons! The vines have a tendency to want to grow everywhere except where I want them to, so it takes a lot of work in beginning to get the vines trained where I want them to. After a while, they will completely fill up their bed, and will stay in a nice compact row, where they are easy to check on and harvest from.
I am so happy with how well they have been growing; they have been flowering and producing little melons everywhere! I have been tracking the first few melons, which should be ready some time around the beginning of August! So excited! Honeydew are some of my favorite of all of the melons to both grow and eat! They start out as these beautiful, prolific flowers on the vine, and then turn into these little tiny fuzzy bobbles everywhere. From there, they just grow bigger every day, and when they are fully grown you start to smell Honeydew every time you walk by, and after a double check to see how firm they are, you know they are ready!
As usual, thanks for checking out the blog, and taking the time to see what is going on at the Urban farm this week! I am glad you stopped by! I look forward to sharing more Urban Farm adventures with you as they unfold! Have a most wonderful rest of the week!
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions, concerns or comments (firstname.lastname@example.org)!