fresh from the garden

fresh from the garden


Welcome to the ramblings of a fifty-something suburban "farmer"

Hoping that if you should stumble upon this blog my daily musings might bring a little smile to your day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Second Spring is Coming

  Yes folks that's right second spring will soon be upon us .No it's not a cousin to silent spring or a pagan holiday (that I know of ,I' m not a pagan).It doesn't even have it's own fat and fuzzy mascot to tell if it will be early or late . It's a term I read from Eloit Coleman referring to August first as his second spring because it's a whole new planting season. Most folks are just beginning to reap the benefits of all of their hard work in putting down all of that compost and carefully nurturing those seedlings and seeds .Anticipating  each day how far the plants have come (is that a bud on my peppers?) Battling both the weeds and vermin (we gotta eat more weeds) .
  Second spring is when we start planting the crops that we'll harvest late into the fall and even into and through the winter . That's right through the winter. Eliot and others have put out some great  books on how to grow food year round (even without a heated greenhouse). I gotta tell you it was pretty cool last year when I asked Tyler our 7 year old grandson if he wanted to help me pick some veggies for Christmas dinner. He looked at me like I had 4 heads and exclaimed Grandpa it's winter there's no veggies to pick . The look on his face when we went out to one of the low tunnels and chipped away some of the frozen ground and voila! ! Tyler was picking carrots at the end of December .They were awesome !!. The cold temps bring out the antifreeze in the plants (no not prestone but sugar) that sweetens them up almost like a carrot candy. That's one way to get a kid to eat his veggies. So get ready for the second spring !

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Time keeps slipping away

    OK so I was supposed to do the post about tomatoes or leaves 3 weeks ago .I guess I need about 3 more hours in the day to get most of the things done I want to. Jackie keeps telling ,me that I bite off more than I can chew. I just want to do some things and they seem to take more time than I have available. Kind of like juggling plates with greasy hands sometimes you drop some but it's really cool when you pull it off.
     Anyways here goes .SO are you growing tomatoes or leaves on your tomato plants? This may seem like an obvious answer but most people grow leaves and are lucky enough to get some tomatoes. This was really quite a revelation for me when it was explained . Most everyone already knows about suckering your tomatoes (if not it's removing the branches that start to form at most leave nodes) but how about removing the leaves when the tomatoes are done with them .HUH? The plant needs the leaves!!!!! You can't cut off perfectly good looking leaves it will hurt the plant!!!!!! WRONG!!!!!. As your tomato plant grows it will develop flower buds on the internode (space between two leaves (nodes) the leave nodes above and below are the source of energy /food for the tomato flowers between them . Once the tomatoes have formed and reached full size the leaves above and below it are now no more than suckers themselves and they gotta go . By doing this you are removing the oldest most tired leaves and sending more nutrients to the top of the plant which will grow more and produce more flowers (more fruit). It looks a little different but works really well . (I wouldn't suggest it if I hadn't had the results myself)


Sunday, June 1, 2014

First Crop Available ,sweet potato slips and more.

         First as I sit at the keyboard looking at the 42.6 degree reading coming from my greenhouse on JUNE1 I have to wonder what the temperature would be if we didn't have global warming BRRRRRR........ Thank God for global warming! Things are really moving along here at SAF. We have our first crop available for sale Beautiful Cherokee red leaf (and I mean RED leaf) and Tropicana Greenleaf lettuces .They are beautiful looking stuff. We grow these varieties at work but the lights don't bring out the deep  rich almost burgundy red In the Cherokee. More Color means more nutrients yeah!
     UPS had some "truck problems " so the sweet potato slips that were due in on Friday (so I could plant them this weekend) won't be here until Monday. Guess what I get to do after working 11 hours Tuesday /Wednesday and Thursday. We've got 10 varieties coming in so I will have some available for sale .
     We have a remote location at the Wilbraham community gardens (a nice 50x50 spot) that I hope will be a good addition to our growing adventure. If all works out I want to try adding another 100 x 200 for next year giving us almost an acre between both places. Being a Farmtek employee has given me access to lots and lots of goodies for the farm. I've been told by some of the folks at the community garden that I'm giving some folks "Fence Envy" because I was able to put up an eight foot deer fence around the plot up there . Losing all of our work to a few vandalous deer is not an option. Watering by hand is a very tedious process and because I'm the newest member at the community garden I'm literally the farthest from the well . Farmtek to the rescue! I've installed a 150 foot hose and drip tape irrigation system that makes things much easier (as long as I don't drill anymore holes through both sides of the pipe) Once it starts to grow out I 'll add some pix. Well off to home depot for some hose repair fittings and back to work.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mason Bees are out!

Well after a six month long nap in the back of our fridge I took my mason bee cocoons out of cold storage and placed them in their new digs . The results were amazing . Last year I started off with 20 cocoons and ended up harvesting about 125. I thought that was pretty good Although I thought "just put these in the fridge  still spring ,really?" but what the heck that's what they told me to do. Well yesterday morning while digging for some peanut butter (yes I keep my peanut butter in the fridge ,I like to break butter knives) I saw movement in the clear box the bees were sleeping in. A couple of bees were very slowly stumbling around .I guess they didn't want to oversleep. So out they came and before I could even get all of them into their mason bee house about 50 had hatched and were in various states of trying to wake up . Within 30 mins about 100 cocoons were empty and many new mason bees were out and about .Not bad for the first year . Throughout the day and at Dusk I saw quite a bit of activity so I guess some of the new generation will call this bee box home .And so the circle of life continues.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WOw it's dusty around here!

 After almost 2 and a half years we're going to give  this thing another try. SO much going on that hopefully something will interest you and get you to come back for more. It's official, Suburban Artisan farm has it's own website (of course it's under construction  and not ready for you to see just yet.) but it will be soon. Stay tuned as we show you some of the many new things going on around here.  It's kind of funny to think of how one statement can change someones life . GROW FOOD NOT LAWNS. Seems simple enough right ? Got the bumper sticker, put it on the truck and there you go . I started to think about it and it made total sense to me (maybe it had something to do with the fact that I never could grow a really " Nice " lawn anyways) .Here are 5 very good reasons why it should make sense to you also.
1. Water usage. Maintaining a lawn in dry, arid regions requires regular watering to keep it green and lush. Really the only way to irrigate a lawn is with overhead sprinkler systems that generate a fair amount of water waste via over spray and wind. But even if 100% of the water intended for the lawn actually benefited the lawn, does it make sense to use precious water to grow lush grass that provides essentially no value. I understand that this is the norm – and mind you, I’ve lived in houses with grassy front lawns – but knowing what we know now, isn’t it time to reconsider whether this is a smart use of our water?
An edible garden in the front yard can be watered with a drip irrigation system or by hand, putting the water right where it needs to go, eliminating water waste.
2. Poisons. Because a lush green lawn is a sort of status symbol in many American neighborhoods (what is up with that?), people will go to great lengths to keep their grass glowing. Nurseries sell products that promise nutrition, boosting, and building. That sure sounds good, but what they don’t say is that many (if not most) of these products boost and build with chemical fertilizers. Products like “weed and feed” take it a step further as they build up the grass and kill the broadleaf weeds in the lawn. Double the chemicals, double the fun? People, these are poisons, plain and simple. If you’re growing a lawn in order for your kids to have a play space, please consider that those bare little feet are coming in direct contact with anything you put on the lawn. (If you must have a lawn, either for the kids’ use or due to residential requirements, please, please consider skipping the poisons!)
Of course, people can and do grow vegetable gardens with chemical fertilizers, too. But since the end product will end up in our bodies, I think people are a little more wary of dousing edible plants with poisons.
3. Emissions. If you succeed in growing a lush lawn, the next step is to chop it off. Silly, yes? Every time the grass grows a few inches, homeowners fire up the gas mower, chop off all of that lush growth, and emit noxious fumes that contribute to global climate change.
A vegetable garden does not need to be mowed.
4. GMO. Because it’s not hard enough already to eliminate genetically engineered crops from our lives, a “Roundup ready” bluegrass seed has recently been exempted from federal regulation. So guess what? If you’re installing a new lawn from seed or sod and it has bluegrass in the mix, there’s potential for genetically modified grass in your lawn.  Because grass seed is typically sold as a blend with bluegrass as part of the mix, it will be very hard for consumers to avoid this genetically engineered plant. The only way to be sure that you’re getting GMO-free grass is to buy organic seed or sod, something that’s certainly not common in retail outlets at this stage of the game.
Organic vegetable seeds, on the other hand, are readily available, so consumers can be assured that their plants are not genetically engineered.
5. Economy. These days, it seems like everyone has a tight budget and a tight schedule. Why spend time and money maintaining a lawn when with the same effort, you could be generating food for your table?
     The whole idea of a lawn comes from the middle ages , it was a status symbol for the kings "We've got so big of a kingdom that we don't even have to farm it all, we can just waste this perfectly good farmland ". Look down your street , think of how much food could be grown in the place of grass. Now think of how many fewer people would be hungry, how many fewer people would be sick (you know eating fresh veggies is much healthier for you). How much less oil would be used to get you your food (the average carrot travels 1500 miles to get to your table).How much money you could save . How much fun you could have . And if you really have to compete with the Joneses ,my tomatoes are bigger and tastier and look how long my cucumbers are!!!!!!!!!
So as I was saying GROW FOOD NOT LAWNS!!!!!