Urban Farm Updates, May 25th, 2017

Urban Farm Updates, May 25th, 2017

Fun on the Farm!

In anticipation of the impending tomato season….. Did you know? Most tomatoes are high in Carotenoid Lycopene, which is the phytochemical responsible for the red coloration in tomatoes, some carrots, watermelon and some other red fruits. Carotenoid Lycopene has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, and aids in the prevention and delay of Alzheimer Disease. So this tomato season, eat up! Your body will thank you for it!

What’s Growing On?

Newly installed pvc tower, ready for cucumber seedlings.

Newly installed pvc tower, ready for cucumber seedlings.

This week has been yet another interesting week! It was busy, busy, busy for me, with plenty of ups and downs. My first “up” is the produce coming off of the farm; with all of the fresh compost added to the rows, as well as the weed barrier installed, the vegetable production on the farm has far exceeded where it was a year ago. As I am typing this today, on the 25th of May, I have harvested 225lbs of produce this month; with a total of over 500lbs already for 2017. With such a positive start to the year, I am excited to see where the rest of the year takes us!

As far as “downs” go, you may know, if you follow my blogs regularly, that I had two volunteer groups (roughly ~40 people) scheduled to work on Saturday morning from 9am to noon time. I had quite a list of projects that I wanted to accomplish before the end of the day, and I was so excited to be able to know out a large amount of work in one day; as they say, many hands make light work. However, Saturday morning came, and I waited, and waited, and waited. And no volunteers came…

Terraced raised bed

Terraced raised bed

So, my Mom and I knuckled down and did what we could; we got one final pvc tower installed and set up, we got one terraced raised bed built, and we got the two raised beds for the Arbor built. I still have 3 more raised beds that need to be built, so my Mom and I are going to come in this Saturday, to finish building them. Then, during the following weeks, I will be able to fill them with a compost and vermiculite, and then plant them with summer vegetables.

Freshly completed Arbor.

Freshly completed Arbor.

However, the whole building process did not get off to a smooth start for us on Saturday. I had a total of 3 drills on the farm (in anticipation of more helpers), and so, with the wonderful selection of drills, a high powered Craftsman, and middle of the road Royal, and an “el cheapo” $20 drill, I selected the Craftsman for the job. (Believe me, this was like the whole Goldielocks scenario, construction style)…. I installed the drill bit for the pilot hole, and proceeded to try and drill the hole. I got about an inch into the wood, and the drill wouldn’t go any further. I tried several times. So, I exchanged it for the middle level drill, not expecting it to do any better…. Same result…. So, I eyeballed my little cheap drill, picked it up, and said “why not? what’s the worst that can happen?”… So, I went for it, and guess what?!!! The little, baby drill went through, no problem! So, we had a really good laugh about it, and proceeded to build and construct the raised beds with the smallest, least powerful drill. Never underestimate the small but mighty!!

Fresh leaf lettuce.

Fresh leaf lettuce.

Last week for the first time I was able to harvest any substantial amount of lettuce from my pvc towers.  The towers were installed and planted with seedlings at the end of April, and from this harvest, I got several lbs of lettuce from the 4 towers. I could not be happier with how well the towers are working out, and how fast the lettuce is growing in the vertical system.

My newly installed vertical PVC tower.

My newly installed vertical PVC tower.

As I said earlier, I was able to install a 5th vertical pvc tower on the farm this past Saturday, and I have planted it with cucumbers, for a summer crop!

Zucchini

Zucchini

My Zucchini and Yellow Squash plants have been growing like weeds and are starting to mass produce little tiny babies. I am anticipating that I will be able to add some Urban Farm summer squash to the farm bags next week!

Onions

Urban Farm Onions

Speaking of farm bag, this week’s farm bag was a blast to contribute to! The Urban Farm contributed Onions, Chives, Collards and Carrots! That is right, the first carrots of the season were ready to harvest, and each bag got a nice big bunch of farm fresh carrots!

Carrots

Carrots

In my crop of carrots on the Urban Farm, I have 4 different varieties planted, I have a traditional orange, I have a dark red (red striping on the outside, with a dark orange interior), I have a deep purple (with a purple interior) and a mild yellow carrot. So far, I have been incredible happy with the yield for each variety, and am happy with the harvest thus far. I only have two small beds planted with carrots, as a trial run. Carrots seem to be quite finicky, so I didn’t want to plant several large rows and then lose the crop, or have a decreased harvest due to weather, pests etc.

And, because I know almost everyone appreciate the “funny” carrots, I took special photos of my specialty carrots to share with you all!

Three's company.....

Three’s company…..

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And the rain came......

And the rain came……

And so, after all of the mayhem and production from the past week (Saturdays projects, harvesting, weeding, farm tours etc)…… The rain came…. and came…. and came…. The rain certainly forced me to slow down with some of the projects on the farm during the first half of this week; turning the farm into a wet, soggy and muddy mess. However, the rain was also a blessing, as it nourished my plants and also gave me some time to work on the office side of my job, without feeling guilty about not being out on the farm. I was able to use the rain to get a jump on the planning and preparation for 2018, as well as spend some time working on some problems solving for a few 2017 issues, we are working out. The rain also gave me a wonderful hand in weeding the front two raised beds, which had a bunch of nut sedge popping up. Weeds always come up so much easier when the soil is wet, so I like to either wait for a good rain storm, or water down the row before I weed it. It makes the weeding go so much faster, and also helps me to do a better job by helping me to remove the roots easily. Leaving the roots of a weed in the bed will help the weeds to come back faster, and before you know it, you’ll be having to weed the space all over again.

Thank you all for reading, and for expressing such interest in the little Hub City Farmers Market Urban Farm!! I look forward to sharing more adventures from the farm next week! As always, if you have any questions, concerns or comments please feel free to email me (mwhiteley@hubcityfm.org)!! Until next time, have a wonderful day!!!