Memphis Backyard Farmer

Urban Farming Event in Memphis
January 28, 2011, 2:17 am
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Yes, this is last minute, but I only found out about it a few days ago. It’s an event sponsored by the Sierra Club here in Memphis about urban agriculture. It’s tonight (January 27) at 6:30 pm at the Benjamin Hooks library on Poplar Ave.

For more info, check out the event on facebook:

Expect The Unexpected
January 27, 2011, 4:30 am
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When you live with four boys you never know what will happen. I came home for a wonderful lunch of home made Reuben sandwiches that my wife had made. Sitting there stuffing my face with fabulous sauerkraut goodness, I was interrupted by my 13 year old, bursting through the door, breathlessly calling me outside.

Broken leg? Treehouse fall, complete with crushed skull? House on fire?

All I could think about were those last two bites of my sandwich. But I put it down and rushed outside. There in the backyard I found my son’s first big kill: he had shot a squirrel out of a tree with his pellet pistol. Before any Peta folks give me a hard time, you have to know how incredibly difficult, and sporting, it is to shoot a squirrel out of our massive oaks with a single shot pellet pistol. My kid’s a heck of a shot.

So the rest of my lunch was spent field dressing a squirrel – a first for us all. If we’re going to be raising meat rabbits – which we’re working on now – then its time I got over my squeamishness and learned how to do this. I prayed over this little gal and did what needed to be done, with much respect. It wasn’t easy for me, and I hope it never becomes easy. I hope all of the Scott family recognizes the responsibility we take upon ourselves when we take a life, or raise a living animal or crop.

The hide is now curing outside (see pic) and the meat’s in the freezer.

And no, I didn’t get to finish my sandwich.

Winter Bee Feeding
January 25, 2011, 10:30 am
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Tip for feeding your bees in the winter here in Memphis.

Seed Testing
January 25, 2011, 2:03 am
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It’s winter, and I’m bored. It’s too cold and wet to get out and do much in the garden, so I’m resigned to projects I can do in preparation for spring.

One project is testing seed. I order seed, like most everyone else, but I try in earnest to save seed from any heirloom and/or open pollinated varieties of fruit I’ve grown the year before. A guide to seed saving is way beyond what I can do in one post, but testing the seed you’ve saved is easy cheesy. I like to test both seed I’ve saved from the previous year’s harvest, but also leftover seed from seed packets I’ve bought.

To see if your seed-saving efforts were successful, take a few seeds and wrap them in a paper napkin, or half a paper towel. Dampen the paper towel with a little tap water. (That was dampen not soak). Seeds need a little moisture to germinate, but too much and they’ll rot. Take the paper towel-encased seeds and tuck them into a zip lock baggie. Don’t “zip” it – leave it open to get a little air. Then take the baggie and put it someplace warm, hopefully 65 degrees or higher (I put mine on the blower unit of my¬†furnace in the attic). Wait a few days, maybe a week, and depending on the expected germination time of your seeds, you should see growth. If you don’t – wait a few more days, but that generally means you have a problem with your seeds, and you should consider purchasing new seed.

If you have enough seed and want to be a bit more scientific, you can test a large sample of seeds, then compare how many sprouted vs. the total amount. That will give you an estimate of what your failure rate is, and help you decide how much to plant come spring.