Category Archives: In Season

Garden Update: Mid-Summer 2011

We haven’t had the most ideal Summer for starting the journey of urban farming. There’s been little or no rainfall, and the temps keep sticking in the 100’s- unbearable, especially with the high humidity. Despite watering mornings and evenings, we lost our cucumber, pea, zucchini, and our second harvest of green beans fried on the vine. Those losses alone had us somewhat discouraged, however we’ve had big successes with other plants. We’re seeing peppers, potatoes, watermelon galore, and tomatoes popping out of our ears! The cherry tomatoes seem to be the most productive (an absolutely delicious), so we’re saving back seed for next year… we’ve been popping them like candy the last two weeks. The larger tomatoes are doing well, too, but have just started ripening. Our tomatillos had a batch that dried up and fell off a few weeks ago… sad, sad! But the second batch is hanging in there– extra watering required! I assumed they’d be as hardy as tomatoes in the heat, but I was wrong. This is a learn-as-you-go operation, and we’re still having a lot of fun!

Daniel spent the early afternoon weeding, and acidifying (coffee grounds & peat moss mixed into the soil) & mulching the two "test" Blueberry bushes. They're hanging in there, but boy are they struggling! Blueberry plants have shallow root systems.

we have some Russian Giant sunflowers hanging in the shed. We'll be putting paper bags over the heads to catch the seeds. These grew in our front yard, and put on an amazing display... a definite repeat planting next year!

Sky Bear carried this little bucket around and filled it with goodies today. The baby potatoes were harvested early from his little garden since the plants weren't doing too well. The ones we planted in the barrels are still doing great, though.

Last, but not least, I love our big Basil plant. I've been cutting from it weekly, and mixing it into pasta and sauces... fresh backyard Basil is amazing! For some reason it's tolerating the heat much better than our Lavender or Rosemary plants... I think it actually enjoys the heat.






Filed under Blueberries, Food, In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Weather

Pinch Me! I’ve Died and Gone to Tomato Heaven

First cherry tomatoes harvested today!

My all-time favorite crop has to be tomatoes. I could grow nothing but tomatoes, and be perfectly content. There is no comparison between organic home-grown and store bought tomatoes; pure ecstasy. These little cherries taste utterly divine, and will not last long. All our tomato plants, which were started indoors from seed, are now over 6′ tall and covered in deliciousness. Mmmm mmmm!

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under In Season, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Urban Farm & Garden Update: June 2011

first cucumber!

first green beans!

first snap peas!

first tomatillos!

We’ve got a smorgasbord showing up in our first-season garden. Not pictured are oodles of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and red peppers. The whole family gets so excited when we actually see the food. I’m especially antsy to have tomatoes (my favorite), which is why we have 17 plants this year… overboard, I know, but so mouthwatering!

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Filed under In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening

Urban Farm & Garden Update: Late Spring 2011

Potato barrels

Our potatoes are taking off like crazy. We have two experimental barrels this year. Prasad & Sky chose to grow some in their own little garden plots, and those are doing great, too. We’ll get to experience ground versus barrel potatoes, and decide what to repeat for next year. When the plants are towering above the barrels like this, it’s time to add more soil, burying almost half the existing plants. We’ll wait for blossoms to appear, and do a partial harvest of baby potatoes.

Green Beans & Snap Peas

Remember when we first planted these? You can see them here in an older post. The green beans and snap peas have entwined, creating large, happy vines. The peas are already flowering.

Snow Peas

Our snow peas were started much later than the snap peas, which is why they’re so small. We started them directly in the ground with seed from a generous neighbor friend, Kristen. We thought we wouldn’t be able to find snow peas this year, and were thrilled when she contacted me. Thanks so much, Kristen! They took off pretty fast, but we noticed something started nibbling on them. They must be pretty tasty leaves, because nothing else in the garden was being nibbled. Daniel put a little rabbit wire fence around them, and they’ve been doing much better ever since. These are my favorite peas for salads, so we’re hoping they continue to do well.


The tomatoes have gone insane! If you look back at our Early Spring post you can see how much they’ve grown. We’ve had a lot of rain, followed by sun and heat so they’re very happy so far. We’ve had no problems with staking, but when they’re taller we plan to add wood poles for extra support. Our tomatillo plants don’t have any cages, just poles, and they’re doing great, so far. They’ve got blooms, and so do all our peppers!


We thought this little guy was history a few weeks ago. It was tiny when we planted it on a small hill, and it got trampled a few times before the fence was up. I think it was down to two small, very sad look leaves. Now it’s thriving and blooming. I am a zucchini fanatic, so cannot wait!

Our front yard was tilled, and we planted a large strawberry patch, watermelon, and Russian Giant sunflowers. All three are taking off like crazy. Despite living in the Sunflower State, we’ve never been able to grow Sunflowers from seed. Our front yard plants are taking off, and we’ll have to post pics soon!

Summer heat is coming. We’ve had several humid days in the 90’s. The challenge in our climate comes during the intense heat & drought periods of Summer. We’re hoping the loamy soil helps significantly, and that we don’t have to irrigate excessively. It’s something we have to pay close attention to, or we could lose all our yummy crops. If all goes well, I’m pretty sure we’ll have enough food to feed several families!

Complete List of what we’re growing this year:

Potatoes (barrel & ground), 14 Tomatoes, 9 multi-colored Cherry tomatoes, 2 types of peas (snow & snap), Green Beans, 2 Blueberry bushes, 50 Strawberry plants, 1 Zucchini, 2 Cucumber, 1 Bush Cucumber, 4 Jalapeno peppers, 6 mixed pepper plants (red, yellow & green), Garlic, Onion, 9 Eggplant, 8 Tomatillos, Kale, Broccoli, Sunflower, Watermelon, 2 Peach trees, 1 self-pollinating Apple tree, Cilantro

Plus, don’t forget we have a duck & 3 hens laying eggs every day. By August we’ll have 6 more starting to lay. It’s a wonderful feeling when your food comes from right outside your back door.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Blueberries, Chickens, Do-It-Yourself, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Fruit Trees, In Season, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Seasons, Shashwat, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Veggie Gardening, Weather

Wild Food: Dandelion

the kids especially enjoyed their salads

Daniel and I are just recently becoming aware of the outstanding nutritional value of Dandelion. I’ve always known you can purchase it for about $9.95 in capsule form for liver health, but I had no idea about the other benefits you get straight from the plant itself.. the blooms, stems, leaves and roots. Despite the fact that it grows like mad in North America, did you know it isn’t native here? It’s originally from England. The seeds were brought over by immigrants for their great nutritional and healing properties. Since ancient times they were used as a diuretic and liver tonic.

As of two days ago, Dandelions are “in-season” for us. A lot of it is blooming just outside our back fence. The name comes from the French, Dent de Leon, meaning “Lion’s Tooth”, but the botanical name, Taraxicum Officinale, literally means Disorder Remedy. Apparently, it’s a nutritional gold mine. Of course, you should only consume plants that haven’t been chemically treated. This means no plants from public parks, school yards and such. The area on our hill next to the river levee is dotted with yellow beauties, and the kids have had fun harvesting them. Little Plantain weeds are sprouting up, too, but I’ll leave their value for another post when they mature and we sample them.

I have a new respect for this amazing plant, and consider it a super food. Why?

1) Dandelions contain more Vitamin A than broccoli, chard, collards, spinach, or carrots.

2) They contain Vitamin B Complex (all the B’s), Vitamin C and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Potash, and Zinc.

3) The leaves are high in boron, calcium and silicon, which are good for bone health.

4) Dandelion root is an excellent diuretic for flushing out the bladder and kidneys.

5) Dandelion is recommended for stomach, spleen, pancreas and intestinal health.

6) It is recommended for stressed, internally sluggish and sedentary individuals. Anyone consuming excessive fat, white flour and concentrated sweeteners would benefit from a cup of Dandelion tea per day.

7) Dandelion Rootis Inulin is a type of sugar that doesn’t elicit the rapid production of insulin. It helps Mature-Onset Diabetes and can be used as a holistic regime for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

8) The stem’s white milky sap is used to treat pimples and warts, and soothes bee stings and blisters.

9) Did you know that the Ethobotanist, James A. Duke who analyzes plant compounds for the US Department of Agriculture has been known to eat a hundred Dandelion flowers a day for their beta-carotene and ascorbic acid?

10) Duke also points out that they are high in lecithin, which is being studied for prevention of cirrhosis and its potential as a major brain food. Lecithin has been proven to improve memory in lab mice.

Daniel and Sky went out on the levee hill last evening to gather leaves and blossoms for our mixed green salad. To me, the leaves taste like any other green (not bitter), but I’ve read they are slightly bitter. The blossoms had a somewhat sweet and bitter taste, and mixed with my favorite dressing they were a delight to eat.

I’m not sure when we all collectively, as a society, decided that certain plants are bothersome ‘weeds’ and have little value to us. It’s a shame people don’t benefit from these wild gems more. We’re planning to consume fresh Dandelion on a regular basis now, as long as it’s in-season, of course.


Filed under Food, Health, In Season, Natural Food, River Living, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading, Wild Food