Memphis Backyard Farmer

Okra Is Coming!
July 17, 2014, 9:56 pm
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Okra!Okra bloom


Fruit Fly Frustration
July 4, 2014, 9:30 pm
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IMG_20140703_083959The more fresh fruit and vegetables we eat, the more fruit flies we have to contend with. They piggyback on grocery store fruit and multiply like crazy once they get to the house. In years past they were overwhelming. They’d not only swarm fruit sitting out on the kitchen counters, but also around the garbage can, compost containers, and sink.

I found this little tip that works wonders for keeping them under control, and as I prepared this week’s batch, I thought I should share it with you. Simply take a small, shallow bowl (these Pyrex bowls work well, but ramekins work well, too) and pour in a half-inch or so of apple cider or red wine vinegar. Then take a drop – really, just a drop – of dishwashing liquid like Dawn in the vinegar. Place the bowl next to an area where you’ve noticed a lot of fruit flies. I’ll typically place mine next to the garbage can or close to a bowl of fruit. That’s it! As you can see by the picture above, this works great.

The mechanism, if you’re interested, is that the fruity vinegar attracts the flies and the dishwashing liquid breaks the surface tension of the vinegar so that rather than floating on top of the liquid, the fruit flies sink. They aren’t poisoned, they’re drowned.

I hope this little tip helps you like it has me. If you have any tips like this, please share!

Absence Makes The What Grow?
July 1, 2014, 9:56 am
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I took a few days and traveled to East Tennessee over the weekend for a wedding. It was gorgeous there, beautiful cool weather, perfect for some lake time. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Memphis was under a deluge: rain thunderstorms, flash-floods, the works. I arrived home wondering what the house, rabbits, chickens and plants would look like on my return. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise to find everything lush, green, and blooming.

You may complain about the rain this year, but don’t be surprised if I suddenly punch you in the throat. My garden, and beautiful, thick sunflower, corn and soybean fields across the state would argue that this year, finally, Memphis has had some perfect weather.

Meet Hermione
May 28, 2014, 8:14 pm
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Hermione is the newest addition to our little backyard “farm”. She came to us via a friend and fellow urban agriculturist  who was having trouble with her vocalizing her opinion, so to speak. She was clucking so loudly, and so early, that it was waking both him and his neighbors. Since I’m the closest thing to a butcher most of my friends know, I usually get their problem animals. Such was the case with Hermione. But it turns out that she rather likes it here. She’s quiet unless the dogs spook her. She wanders the yard pecking and scratching and has laid a couple of eggs for us.

So – for now – she stays.


Spreading The Word
May 5, 2014, 9:16 pm
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This Year's Starts

If you’re connected to this blog, then like me, you probably like fresh, great-tasting food, gardening, nutrition, and the (natural) science of where your food comes from. Part of the reason I blog is to keep a running journal of what I’m doing, but also to let people know how easy it is to grow your own food, especially in a small space. We need to spread the word!

So in the spread-the-word department, a couple of things that might be of interest to you.

First, I’ve found that a great way to get people started gardening is to lower the barriers of entry. One of those barriers is knowing what kind of plants to buy, where to buy them, and how to get them cheaply. So many people just don’t know what to buy, and they’re intimidated by their lack of knowledge and the price of good plants at their local big box hardware store. To the rescue! This is now the third year I’ve had a plant giveaway at my church. Yesterday I gave away close to 80 tomato and pepper plants. I start the seedlings for myself each year, and honestly it’s so cheap and easy to do that there’s no reason not to produce a surplus. For each of the last three years I’ve added to the number of seedlings I’ve planted. I pick what I want for myself then take boxes of plants to church with a “Please Take Me Home” sign taped on. People are thrilled to get them, even folks who have never gardened before, and it opens up all kinds of opportunities for conversation. I get to tell them why I plant heirlooms, the organic methods I use, what kind of care their plants need at home, etc. If you’re handy with seed-saving or seed-planting, let me encourage you to plant for surplus, and give away as many as you can.

Second, over the weekend I received an unsolicited email with a link to a great infographic about micro-farming. I love infographics. It saves me from having to do any serious reading <grin>. But seriously, give it a look at, and share it with your friends. Oh – and do the reading. If you scroll below the (long) graphic, there’s some good background to the numbers and concepts.

2014 Farm To Table Conference
January 8, 2014, 7:35 pm
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Farm to Table LogoI wanted to take a quick minute to give a shout out for this year’s Farm to Table conference on February 4 in Memphis. I missed it last year, but attended the first two years. I learned a ton of great information that ranged from growing melons to selling in farmer’s markets. It’s also a great way to connect with like minded foodies, farmers, and policy makers.

You can get more info here at their web site (which, admittedly, is still a bit sparse).

See you there!

BJ’s Favorite Spot
May 27, 2013, 11:10 pm
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ImageWhen I’m working in the yard, I like to let the rabbits roam. They chase each other, play games, munch on grass and flowers, and explore. I worked on beekeeping equipment all day Saturday, and so turned the rabbits loose for the day. BJ is a rabbit we had serious health problems with early on. Somehow he punctured his abdomen in his cage, and had an intestinal protrusion that we thought would be fatal. I honestly thought it was a digestive problem related to his feed. I was out of town when the event happened, and by photo and research, I thought BJ had become severely constipated and had blown out his rectum. This is known to happen in rabbits. I had the boys change his feed to hay only, had them isolate him in a separate cage, and keep me posted until I arrived back home. I honestly thought he’d soon be dead.

But by the time I arrived a couple of days later, BJ’s protrusion had shrunk to the point where I could see that it was coming from a small slit in his lower abdomen. To me, that pretty much sealed the deal; he was a goner. I was ready to put him out of his misery (because there’s no way I would pay to have this fixed with a vet, if it was even possible to do so). But because of the boys’ affection for BJ, they begged me to hold off. The piece of intestine appeared to shrink gradually, much like an umbilical cord does on an infant, until it eventually dropped off. Meanwhile, this skinny, scrawny rabbit fattened up until he is now one of the prettiest bunnies in the rabbitry. He’s quick, has a great demeanor, and a beautiful coat. Here he is, relaxing with me on the patio Saturday.