Memphis Backyard Farmer

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.


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!

Last of the Summer Bounty
November 13, 2013, 9:23 am
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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.

The Fruit of Our Labor
May 16, 2013, 10:24 pm
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FIrst TomatoesI walked out this morning to check on the garden, and it seems that overnight four tomatoes blew out of the ends of my blossoms. They weren’t there yesterday. They’re here today.

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?

Spring Planting
April 18, 2013, 10:02 pm
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IMAG0865April 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.

Bees and Taters
April 13, 2013, 3:32 am
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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?

I Need Some Help
April 5, 2013, 8:20 am
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ImageI need some help.

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]