Monday, March 28, 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I really resent bagged feed.

Buying those convenient pellets is just irritating.  But since my friends stopped buying whole grain feed in bulk I have been at a loss for what to do.

Fodder is all over blogs and livestock forums.  Basically it is growing grass from purchased grains.  I read about it here and here and here.

But the local feed store didn't carry grains for sprouting.  (rolled oats and cracked barley were not going to work)

I ended up driving 25 minutes to a small feed store up north and buying 3lb bags of wheat and oats to try.

Following the directions from the above websites I soaked a 1/2 cup of seed and ended up with 4 containers growing.  I read later that oats take forever to sprout compared to other grains - the wheat took 10 days to reach 6 inches and in that time the oats had barely sprouted.

Wheat ready to feed the hens this morning
I fed the girls with the first container this morning.  They went for the leftover cornbread muffin first, not sure what to do with the grass and seeds.  But it was gone in 10 minutes.

They will get their regular layer pellets in the afternoon.

root mat
Early numbers:
3lb wheat seed was $5
1/2 cup of wheat = 3.5 oz = 38¢
3.5oz dry seed = 10.3 oz fodder
Fodder is 3¢ an oz

50 lbs layer pellets is $15
2 cups of pellets = 12.6 oz = 23¢
Pellets are not quite 2¢ an oz

Wheat on the left, oats on the right.  
 You can really see the difference between the 10 day old wheat (above) and the 10 day old oats (bottom right in the blue bin)

Since the fodder does not need light for awhile, I cover the bins with tomato and cabbage starts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The dark days before spring


That title sounds so ominous.

It's not ominous here, just, well, slow.

The garden is planned for the most part.  (there will always be a few last minute "Where the hell do I put these collard greens?"  That we did not specifically plan for.

It is truly to early to plant seeds, even under lights (spoiler alert - we did it anyway, like the aforementioned collard greens.)

The new Seed Savers Exchange yearbook was delivered yesterday (680 pages with no pictures)  I plan to order a few seeds from that, but mostly I am reading it.  (Introduction of Thumbs Heath was inspiring)  In fact we have all the seeds we need this year so I am not quite as excited as usual by the catalogs that have arrived.

But March is just around the corner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

(Early) spring cleaning

Being an urban farm has quite a few difference from your average hobby farm.  Many are obvious (lack of a tractor for one)

To thrive in a community that does not necessarily encourage such behavior, the look of your property is very important.

We are not there yet.

We, as usual, have many 1/2 done projects around the 'ole homestead.

Today, Chris did one of them.

I wish there was a before picture.  There was about 3 wheelbarrows full of detritus - some from the surrounding plants and some from passerbys.
view from our driveway to the neighbors.  
The sad Charlie Brown thuja

And he discovered a thuja.

If you look closely at the above picture you can see it behind the large bare shrub.

We have lived here for 6 years and have never seen it before.

The green on the soil is vinca major and by summer it will have completely filled in the bare spots.  But first I will be able to dig up the dark double lilac and the white lilac to transplant into the backyard.  The black locust above them allows very little light or water to penetrate the soil, so here they are small and stunted.  In the backyard, by the deck they should do much better.

Now onto the berm in the front yard.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winter reading

Add another must have book to my list:
One of our fellow gardeners gave us this book for Christmas.  After I started reading, I found a highlighter to use.  There are already notes in the margin.  I can tell that our copy will be dog eared before the holidays roll around next year.

Eliot Coleman has been around a long time in the organic world. He started market farming in the 70's and has been experimenting with expanding the harvest season ever since.  He relates these experiments in this book, explaining what they have tried and why they decide for or against any one trial (well, multiple trials)  The book contains charts from decades of trial and error that can be applied in any area.

I have picked up his previous books in past years, flipped through them and returned them to the library.   I continued this personal trend in the later days of December, quickly setting it aside for other books the holidays brought me.  But the enthusiasm with which the book was gifted made me look a second time.  Our friend, in his excitement, called Chris and stopped by work to see me - well, to see if we had started reading it yet.  After that I have yet to put it - or my highlighter - down.  It has been the topic at the dinner table.  Chris plans add his own colour after I finish.

We all have the ability to garden year around in our Ppatch, and our friend has already set up a cold frame this last fall to follow Mr. Coleman's advice.  He has spinach, chard and kale to harvest from now and is eager to have us join in the endeavor and compare notes.

This video from PBS is a good overview.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How much to grow?

Also in the photo is no knead anadama bread for dinner tomorrow.
So I spent an hour or so between these books and the Google trying to figure out just how many plants we need in our garden this year.  Chris has decided to make this year's garden the most productive.  The plan is no running out of salsa in January.  No buying frozen peas in December. No buying onions or potatoes period.

Great theory.

But it is hard to figure out how much we need.  There are a few charts online - but I don't think we need 20 bush bean AND 20 pole bean plants per person.  The same chart says 12 broccoli plants for a family of four,  I don't think that is enough.

Other advice is to keep track of what you buy the previous year.

The only thing I know I purchase once a month is 10-20# of potatoes 5-10# of yellow onions and 5# of carrots.  Everything else is fluid.  Broccoli, green beans, snap peas and asparagus depending on time of year and price.

And then there is tomato sauce, pasta sauce, vegetable soup, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto .  I make them from scratch if I can, purchase if I don't.  How many plants = ingredients?

But I believe I have come up with a simple plan.  We will just plant all the seeds we have.

Great theory.