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On the side of our house, between the house and the driveway, we have a small strip that was once a flower bed.  It's about 20 feet by 3 feet roughly.  Last year we ripped out the flowers, yes they're pretty but not edible, and planted 4 raspberry bushes and 3 blackberry bushes.  Before you yell as us for pulling out nice flowers, they were transplanted out back about the garden to attract bee's, hopefully ;o)

We already have a great 3 year old black lab who is trained not to dig and listens well.  We got a second pup black lab... well I don't need to go into the gory details, but only 1 blackberry bush survived.  After morning the loss and trying to figure out what to do with that space, I thought of planting some tomatoes we started from seed.  These are doing great, but do require more watering then out in the garden.

This space is south facing, which got me thinking of putting up some cold frames and try for winter greens after the tomatoes are done.  I salvaged some old sliding window panes and have some access to free left over lumber, so just have to come up with a game plan to build them.  Let's see how the tomatoes do first though.

The raspberry bushes have more then doubled since last years planting and look very healthy.  They seem to love it there and hope to get a good pick this summer.  The one blackberry bush that survived is thriving... so we'll see how this tenacious one does this summer.  It's sitting between the tomato plants, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing, but so far so good.

Urban Homestead Summer Garden Update 2010

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It's been a while since I've been able to post due to intense work schedule. Been keeping busy around the house and garden though. It's been a trying spring and beginning of summer with workload, preparing for a new baby, studying and gardening... obviously a few of the more ambitious plans had to go ;o)

Due to time and money, the squre foot garden conversion had to be pushed off till next year. That's OK though as we expanded the garden yet again to add a 20 x 5 plot for corn and potatoes. We also planted an herb garden on the deck boxes and testing planting tomatoes on the side of the house where the cold frames will go this fall. Here are a few pictures to start, get caught up and document the start of the garden. Plan is to take pictures on Friday to document and visually follow the progress of the garden as well as note what worked and what didn't... on to the pictures.

My son give the thumbs up after his first shot at starter seeds back in April.  He started and cared for tomato and cabbage.  The cabbage didn't make the first round, I think due to over watering?, but the tomatoes came out good and are planted on the side of our house in the test bed, next to the raspberries... yumm!

The deck herb garden is a new addition this year.  We used to have flowers in there but decided this year to grow some herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, mint and a couple others as well as jalopenos and peppers.  The boxes are about 8" deep and were filled with black earth and compost.  Next year the plan is to rebuild these as self watering containers using old storage bins, hidden inside the wood frames.  It will look just as it does now, but will be much less maintenance to keep watered.  We need to water these boxes at least once a day or twice if it's an extremely hot day.  We'll test a few different methods but one setup I like so far is: Building a self watering container.

The new bed we put together this year for corn and potatoes.  Should have taken the picture after weeding yikes!!  Potatoes on the left and corn on the right.  Half the corn was started indoors and the rest seeded direct.  This bed used to be a long flower and shrub bed along my neighbours fence line.  We moved the cedar shrubs at the top of the pics to create a natural barrier for our dogs and transplanted the flowers around the house.

We planted bush beans, pole beans and giant oregon snow peas where we had potatoes last year.  Here they're just babies.  My son and I had fun running out to get alders for the frame that will support the netting for them to climb up on.  Hope it works out.

Last picture for this post is an overview shot of the backyard garden just prior to planting.  I'll get some updated shots in the next few posts.  This picture looks like we live in the country...lol.  It's hard to believe we are about 5min walk to 3 grocery stores, 3 big box stores and basically a shopping mecca.  We are lucky as our property is pie shaped backing onto a green-space.  Just below our backyard is a drop of about 8 to 10ft and a small brook.  What the nice trees in this picture hide is the huge heavy equipment rental shop just across that little brook and a car dealership.  Which reminds me... I need to go complain about how loud their damn outside paging system is!

Enough for now... now that work and personal schedule is getting under control I hope to bring this blog back to it's normal posting frequency.  Cheers and happy gardening!!

Transitioning From Winter To Spring

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On the calendar spring is only a few days away, but in my neck of the woods we'll still have snow till mid to end of April.  Mother Nature always has that last good-by winter storm in April!  Still, just the thought of Spring coming makes me smile and warms me up.  Local stores have their patio furniture, camping gear and Spring/Summer clothes out.  Local nurseries started putting out the seed displays and Spring displays... I love this time of year.

The nice days are starting to outnumber the cold dreary ones now.  Here are a few pictures from last week during March break where my son got a nice white blanket of fresh snow to go sliding ;o)

It was pretty nasty but now the snow is melting and Spring is in the air (hopefully).  In the picture of the back yard the garden is buried under the snow between the patio and my son's play cabin.  It was bare just a few days ago.. ah well ;o)

Over the weekend Seb (my son) and I started a few seeds.  We started a few tomato, cabbage and asparagus peas.  It's still a bit early but I had the itch and hope I can keep them to transplant to a cold frame to get an early start.  We'll start staggering seedlings in the next few weeks.  I can't wait to be able to invest in a good greenhouse!  But the new baby on the way will take care of that money.. haha.  It will be a busy busy summer with a new black lab puppy, Sookie,  as an addition to our 3yr old black lab Maddy and then the new baby (to be named) due Aug. 27th.

Whoa just starting to sink in with all the fun work ahead... good start to 2010!!  Ok back to reading planning the garden... ;o)

Garden Plan 2010 Draft

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Been busy couple weeks at work and coupled with the snow I just can't wait for Spring to come around.  I'll be picking up my seeds probably next week and within the next 2 weeks, start some seedlings indoors.  Visited the local nursery and they still hadn't put out the Veseys Seedsyet, but should be out next week I'm told.  I might just order them online...

I thought I would put some of my work conference call time to good use and draft up what our new raised garden beds would look like in Excel.  It's not pretty and things will not be planted as shown in the image, but setting it up this way will allow me to easily move things around.  Still have some reading to do an beneficial/companion planting and aligning to the sun.  Looking at the image, East is the top of the beds and West is the bottom.  The right side length of the beds will face South.  I have to confirm the number of seeds per square, per vegetable type as well as I only used one reference online but it didn't seem that accurate.  Once it's all put together proper, I should be able to calculate by function the number of total plants per type and benchmark yeild, etc... ya geeky, but it's a start ;o) 

I had to buy a few more training books for work so of course bought a treat.  I figure after toasting my brain on Windows 2008 Active Directoy Configuration (yes it's as exciting as it sounds), I thought I should reward myself with some good reading so included All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! in my order.   Talk about "one of these things are not like the other..." (if you ever watched Sesame Street you get that ;o)  I had the original edition from the library but had to bring it back before I was done since someone else had it on hold (good for you!!).

So the plan is to study, finalize selection of seeds, start seedlings indoors and complete the plan for the new raised garden beds, almost in that order.  I'll be pricing out the Hemlock that I'll use for the beds once I calculate how much I need.  Also have to start looking for my options on materials to create my own versions of Mels's Mix.  I won't have enough compost to do all the beds so have to find some alternatives.  I can get loam and peat moss perlite at good prices, but good compost in bulk might be hard to come by in the quantities I'll need to kick off all these beds at once.  Still researching at this point. 

So as this is posted it's another snow day here (30cm of the white stuff) and seems like Spring will never come, but it will and I can't wait!!

Urban Farm: Spring 2010 Issue… Nice!

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Picked up the second issue, Spring 2010, of Urban Farm magazine and it is chalk full of good useful articles!  I really do hope the magazine turns into a monthly issue and they start accepting subscriptions... all in good time I guess. 

One of my favorite articles is "Cinch by the Square Foot".  This article was great timing for me since I'm actually planning on converting our conventioanl row garden to raised beds and square foot gardening practices.  The article is written by Mel Bartholomew who is the author of Square Foot Gardening, which I am also actively reading. 

Another good article is "P is for Prosper".  The article goes through urban-farming pioneer Will Allen's  north Milwaukee urban aquaponic farm, Growing Power inc." and his seven P's for success and community building.  I stumbled on to Will Allen while researching aquaponics and was immediately interested in his processes.  I love that they are growing food where it is needed.  Here's a YouTube video as an introduction:

The entire magazine is good, but a few other articles I personally liked:

  • "Permission to Play in the Dirt" - Different techniques on composting and compost bins
  • "Power to the People" - Nice primer on renewable energy
  • "Pushing City Limits" - Struggles of urban farmers vs city ordinances

There are many more great articles so go out and buy your copy today.  You should also go out to their website UrbanFarmOnline.com and submit a comment showing your support ;o)

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