Memphis Backyard Farmer

Vampires Beware!
December 2, 2013, 3:31 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: ,

IMAG1163Better late than never? I hope so. I’m only today getting my garlic planted. We’ve got a warm spell this week, so the weather is nice enough to get some things done.

This year’s plot is a little different than last year’s. I planted another 60 cloves (like last year). But if you notice the picture above, I have markers placed for divided sections of twenty cloves each. Last year I bought a big bag of garlic from Costco, divided the cloves, and planted. This year, I bought another bag, but I also bought a small bag of organic garlic, and took three heads of garlic that I grew last year, and divided those. So, I have three different types of garlic planted, to compare with each other. I’ve marked them above with “O” for organic, “S” for Scott garlic, and “R” for regular, or conventional, store-bought garlic. Eventually, I’d like to only grow garlic that I’ve cultivated, but we just didn’t have enough left from last year’s crop to plant a full bed. Read that last statement carefully; we probably pulled in 55 heads of garlic of the 60 we planted. But just like a raise in your paycheck, any extra you have gets consumed quickly. We have burned through an enormous amount of garlic since July when we harvested.

For those of you who haven’t planted garlic before, you should. It’s incredibly easy, and it’s so rewarding to have long braids of fresh garlic hanging in your kitchen, ready to pull anytime you need to add a little spice to a meal.

Last of the Summer Bounty
November 13, 2013, 9:23 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: , , , , ,

Last Harvest of VegetablesIt’s a bit of a sad day here today. It’s the last harvest of the summer veggies. Although the last few days have been perfect, mid-60’s kind-of-days, tonight it’s going to plummet to 26 degrees. I went out today and cleaned the plants of tomatoes, peppers, okra, and the last few butternut squash. This is a full 11 days earlier than last year – in fact, the last couple of years I’ve been able to hold off until a day or two before Thanksgiving.

I ended up with a huge bowl of green tomatoes, which are hidden away in newspaper now, hopefully to ripen and extend our summer pleasure just a little while longer.

The rabbits are nestled in beds of hay, the plants are bowed to the ground, their wooden skeletons pulled. And I’m already dreaming of what I’ll start in the attic come February.

September 26, 2013, 2:58 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: ,

It’s been a good garden year. I haven’t posted much since spring because, frankly, summer is a busy time. The garden has done great. I’ve had some great successes (and some colossal failures). But by far, my most anticipated fruit of the year are almost ready. I give to you now…butternut squash.


IMAG1098These have been a long time coming, and are frankly a miracle for me this year. I’ll post more about the ordeal later. But they looked so beautiful this morning, I had to share.


July 6, 2013, 12:57 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: ,

Here’s our first braid of our first ever crop of garlic. And this is just one braid – we have more! We eat tons of garlic here, so this will be a money/life saver around here. Very excited – had to share.

Oh – and thanks to my wife for the beautiful braid. She took initial clues from Garden Nerd’s video here.

Front of Braid

Front of Braid

Back of Braid

Back of Braid


Maybe I HAVE Learned Something
June 8, 2013, 12:41 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: ,

ImageIf you garden very long, you know that each year is a learning experience. I’m not a terrific record keeper, but I do take note of what is working, what isn’t, and tweak for the next year. In fact, this blog is one way that I detail my progress.

It seems like this year I’ve been able to take my past mistakes and turn them into gold. The garden this week is beautiful. Blooms abound on tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cucumber, and peppers. The tomato plants are packed with fruit. The newly planted herbs are thriving in their new sunny spot by the mailbox. The garden is virtually weed-free.


Marketmore 76 Cucumbers

Of course, I can’t take all the credit – God has provided ample water (and more!). Bucket loads of rain have come down in long, soaking intervals every four or five days. My workload has really been easy.

I still have some big-time learning to do: the grapes didn’t get pruned this winter, and so they’re a mess. They’re currently full of new fruit, but much of it will rot unless I open it up to sunlight. The garlic is falling over because it’s simply so tall and heavy. I’m really not sure what to do – do you stake garlic?  I know it still has some growing to do, because I pulled a plant to inspect the bulb – almost there, but not quite. And the plants haven’t gone to flower yet, either.

Reach for the light

Potatoes, squash and pepers reach for the light

This weekend’s “to do” list:

  • Clean the rabbit cages
  • Use the rabbit poo to fertilize the herb garden
  • prune grapes
  • pull weeds from strawberry beds

What’s going on in your garden? What successes and/or failures are you experiencing this year?

Who Knew That Being Negative Could Be Such a Good Thing?
May 18, 2013, 2:17 am
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: , , , , ,

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!

A Bloomin’ Surprise
April 30, 2013, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Gardening | Tags: , , ,

IMAG0874I 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.

Happy gardening!