Urban Farm Updates, May 11th, 2017

Urban Farm Updates, May 11th, 2017

Fun on the Farm!

Did you know? Figs are not considered vegan? When a fig is pollinated by a fig wasp, the fig flower closes trapping the wasp inside; meanwhile the enzymes of the flower digest the wasp’s corpse! Creepy, right?! I will never look at figs the same again!!

What’s Growing On?

Hello and welcome! As it nears summertime here on the Urban Farm, I am preparing for the transition from cold crops to summer crops both in the greenhouse, as well as my outside rows. With the addition of more bed space and a longer growing season in the greenhouse, I am working on developing new plans for producing more on the farm, maximizing the use of the space and planning the best rotational guide for the property.

Gardening in a small space, on a small budget!

Using every day items such as laundry baskets can allow you to garden in a small space, on a small budget!

As a part of my addition to the container/space saving gardening here on the Urban Farm, there has been a new addition this week; coming in the form of a cheap, upright laundry basket.  One of my goals here on the farm is to add more inspirational ideas for people with limited space, and limited funds to be able to grow their own produce. Utilizing items like inexpensive totes and laundry baskets will allow you to grow more in a small space, without the huge cost of a large planter or raised bed. Around the top of the laundry basket, you can plant larger things, from the dill plants that I have, to a tomato or pepper. In the gaps around the laundry basket you can grow things like herbs, greens, cucumbers and squash. The options are endless, and it really allows you to maximize the use of the space. I can grow roughly 18 full sized plants in the sides of the basket, with several more on the top, in the same amount of the space that I could plant 3 lettuce plants on the ground. Right now I have it planted with more seedlings (64+), because we are getting into warmer weather and I will harvest baby greens a few times, from this basket before transitioning it over to summer crops.

Growing cucumbers, greens, strawberries and herbs over a deck railing can be a huge space saver, and ensure that they are easily accessible from the house!

Growing cucumbers, greens, strawberries or herbs over a deck railing can be a huge space saver, and ensure that they are easily accessible from the house!

At my own house, I am growing some summer cucumbers in a saddlebag growing system; this gardening method involves 2 pouches attached to each other in the middle, which after often hung over a fence or railing.  This year my system came as a kit with the seeds and pouch, but you can easily make your own with an old XXL t shirt, or a yard of thick fabric.

Everything on the farm is doing really well right now; all of my cold crops will produce a little more for another week or so (with the exception of the cabbage and onions which take a little longer to grow), and then I will start changing the winter crops out for summer crops. It is hard to believe that I am in the middle of hardening off my summer crops, but here we are, in the middle of May already!

I have gone on more farm visits this week and it is so exciting to see how well our farmers are doing and to get to talk to them about their plans and goals for the year! They have got some exciting stuff that you will get to see at the market this summer!!

Shelled Peas are drying and will be planted again this winter....

Shelled Peas are drying and will be planted again this winter….

At the Urban Farm, I have been harvesting some Snap Peas that ripened up too much to sell, and I have been shelling them to save the seed. I will dry and preserve the seeds so that they can be used again to sprout seedlings this winter.  Saving seeds reduces waste (I cam make good use of those pea pods that escaped harvest over the weekend) and it can also help save money in the fall, when I won’t have to buy as many seeds.

Sweet Peppers.

Sweet Peppers.

Inside the greenhouse I transplanted some of my pepper plants into the large recycle bins that I have. The peppers are all doing very well, and a few of them have peppers on them that, I anticipate, will ripen up in a few weeks. I should have several type of peppers going to market this year, a white sweet pepper, a banana pepper, and a red sweet pepper. The recycle bins I transplanted the plants into were previously planted with lettuce greens and arugula this winter/spring, but those plants have produced most of the Urban Farm salad greens that you have seen being sold up at the Saturday Market, and recently they had started to bolt. Bolting is the process of a plant flowering and forming seed heads; in lettuce greens and most other leafy plants, this means that the leaves turn bitter and are unpalatable. This process of the leaves turning bitter is part of the plants natural protection; if the leaves are bitter, they are less likely to get eaten and therefore the leaves will be able to provide all of the energy that the plant needs to produce viable seed heads and they will be able to seed the next generation of plant life. It is an interesting defense mechanism when you think about it! Needless to say though, when a plant starts to bolt, it is no longer viable for production, so it needs to be pulled and replaced with another plant; so I decided to give my peppers some much needed growing room!

Some of my summer seedlings are hardening off outside, and will be transplanted shortly.

Some of my summer seedlings are hardening off outside, and will be transplanted shortly.

Outside, I have all of my summer crops hardening off and acclimating to the outside weather conditions, before they will be transplanted into the ground in another week or so. This spring has just flown by and it is hard to believe that I am already preparing my little summer seedlings to go in the ground outside! I have several varieties of tomatoes, honeydew melons, peppers, cucumbers, malabar spinach, Tomatillos, Okra, and several other types that will be direct seeded in the garden later on.

You can see just how tiny my Tomatillo seedlings still are, and they are already trying to produce fruit!

You can see just how tiny my Tomatillo seedlings still are, and they are already starting to produce fruit!

My little Okra seedlings are already trying to produce Okra pods.

My little Okra seedlings are already producing mini Okra pods.

My little Tomatillo seedlings are already producing little fruits, which will continue to ripen after they are transplanted outside. My little Okra seedlings are also starting to produce little tiny Okra pods, despite the fact that they are only 6 inches tall and are still in their little plug trays. It will never cease to amaze me how vivacious plants are, and how fast they grow up, when given the right conditions.

Overall this was a very good and productive week, and I am excited to see what the next week hold for me!

Please feel free to email me any questions, comments or concerns (mwhiteley@hubcityfm.org)! I look forward to sharing with you again next week! Until then, have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the nice summer weather!