Filed under: Gardening | Tags: Dr. Heather Darby, gardening, Soil, Urban Agriculture, UVM, Webinar
I live in Tennessee, and I’ve been able to take advantage of some resources offered by my local extension office. I took the Master Gardener course a couple of years ago and it taught me an incredible amount about plants and gardening and soils and – too much to mention. But throughout the course and afterward, I’ve been less than satisfied with the research done and resources offered by the UT Extension regarding organic farming methods. Other states’ extension programs are doing great research in this area, including Cornell University and University of Vermont. UVM has some great resources for small farmers, including some terrific webinars. I’ve just finished watching “Basic Soil and Soil Testing” with Dr. Heather Darby for the second time and wanted to recommend it to those of you who are really serious about gardening and farming. You can find the webinar recording here.
Here are a few tidbits:
- Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) – Who knew that being negative was such a good thing?
- The role of compost / organic matter in your soil (SPOILER: It’s not what you think!)
- The importance of micro organisms in your soil
- Different types of soil organic matter (SOM)
- Where to spend your money for the quickest production boost: “Lime is your cheapest form of fertilizer. The pH of your soil will highly influence how available many of the nutrients in your soil are.” “You can change pH rather quickly and for not much money and will have the biggest impact on your crop production.“
Pop some popcorn, send the kids outside, and set aside a block of time to watch the webinar. It’s an hour and a half long, but well worth it!
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: gardening, Memphis, Urban Ag, Urban Farming
The rain has come so often the last few weeks that I haven’t been able to do many of the chores that need to be done. Monday evening I finally got some okra in the ground, along with some kale and spinach transplants. In order to get the transplants in, I had a tremendous amount of cleanup work to do from the spring weeds. I also planted my rosemary and thyme in the front herb bed, and seeded the other herb bed with basil.
Today, while the sun is shining (it rained early this morning, and more is on tap for tomorrow), I’m going to attempt the following list:
- Clean the rabbit cages
- Turn compost
- Trip and trellis grape vines
- Plant more squash
- Plant oregano
I’m hoping that in between the rain tomorrow and a day of company on Sunday that I can butcher six of my rabbits. That will leave my breeders, Bugsy and Ruby, as my lone rabbits for the hot summer months.
How’s your garden? What do you need to do today?
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: gardening, tomatoes, Urban Farming, vegetables
I was able to get my seedlings in the ground April 15th. These were seedlings I’d started in the attic at the beginning of March. Imagine my surprise when I walked by the garden on Friday and saw blooms on my tomatoes! It’s a big deal for me, first, because this is the earliest I’ve had blooms, and second (and most importantly) because it proves to me that my methodology for planting from seed and transplanting has improved. My first few years of trying to grow from seed worked, but my plants were far less vigorous than they are this year, and matured much later than this.
The particular plants that have blooms are “Early Treat” hybrids, which I’ve written about before. They have small fruit but ripen quickly and produce all season. They’re a great option for impatient gardeners. My heirlooms look to be close behind, however, so I look forward to reporting on their progress soon.
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: gardening, Memphis, Planting, seedlings, spring, Urban Ag
April 15 in Memphis is “the day” to plant. Last year I fudged and got some plants in the ground a little early. I’m glad I waited this year. At the end of last week we were certainly having warm days, but then the temp would plummet back to the 30′s. Monday, and every day since, has been gorgeous, between 70-80 degrees, so my wife and I spent Monday putting seedlings in the ground.
Tomatoes, peppers and loofah seedlings went in, but my okra and herb seedlings didn’t look quite strong enough to put down yet. I also seeded some pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. My usual routine is to put my tomato and pepper seedlings in rows with adequate spacing, then plant vining, creeping plants in between rows to make the growing space a little more intense. Tomatoes grow up. Curcurbits grow out.
I still have some beds to finish up. I have spinach and kale seedlings to put in one bed, basil and cilantro to seed in another, and a few more cukes and squash to put into two yet un-weeded beds.
With all that said, the temp tomorrow is supposed to drop back down in the 30′s, but not quite to freezing. Hopefully the plants will be hardened off enough to handle the change.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Bees, gardening, Memphis, potatoes, spring, Turnip Greens, Urban Agriculture
Had a great afternoon working in the garden today. In preparation for planting my spring crop I harvested a boatload of turnip greens (with my first turnips). I let the plants go to flower because they’re really beautiful and have a fantastic fragrance. I picked some as a bouquet for the kitchen, let the bees enjoy some (the bees love them!), then fed the rest to the bunnies.
In addition, I did a walk through to see what was coming up, and it looks like my first potato is up, and the grapevines are covered in buds.
My seedlings are going in the ground next week, along with lots of pots full of plants. I’ll keep you posted.
How does your garden grow?
For close to ten years I’ve kept in bees in one particular bee yard owned by a very gracious farmer. It’s been a somewhat symbiotic relationship. He accommodates my hives when he plows, mows, and harvests, and my bees pollinate his crops year after year.
But the plot has never been ideal.
When it rains, the place is a mud pit. The hives are located so very far off the road that it’s almost impossible to reach for weeks after the rain. The crops are conventionally grown, which means there’s lots of herbicides and pesticides. My hive losses the last few years have been huge. It’s time to try another, more hospitable place.
If you have a spot you’d like to donate to two bee hives, I’d love to talk.
I’d prefer a spot in the Raleigh / Bartlett area of Memphis, since that’s where I live. But I’d also love to help you if you have an urban farm / garden in the city. As long as there’s easy access, and low/no pesticide application, I’d love to talk.
You can post a comment below if you’re interested, or feel free to email me at memphisfarmer[at]gmail.com.
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: Garden, gardening, Garlic, Memphis, spring, Urban Ag, Urban Farming, vegetables
It’s 65 degrees here in Memphis today, so it’s not hard for me to be distracted by the garden, even though it’s mostly bare this time of year. One exception is my herb garden. In November I planted about 60 cloves of garlic, my first ever attempt at growing it.
Today I walked around to weed out some wheat that’s taken root (from the wheat straw I use for rabbit bedding and mulch). Here’s our current garlic progress. I’m so excited. So is my wife. And my kids. Why? We use an incredible amount of garlic around here, especially on homemade pizza night!