Category Archives: Natural Food

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.

 

 

 

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

Backyard Pullet Eggs

4 1/2 month old pullet's egg on the left, adult duck egg on the right

I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of the first egg laid by a hand raised chicken. Hens are not called “hens” until they are one year old. Until then, they’re known as “pullets.” We weren’t expecting pullet eggs for another month, so Ermengard is an early bird!

The scale isn’t apparent in the photo, but her little egg yolk was the size of a quarter. Pullets start out laying small eggs, and become larger as the pullet grows. As adults, the bigger hens lay larger eggs. From Prasad’s review, this tiny delicacy was “very nice, supreeemely delicious.” Not bad for Ermengard’s first egg. Sorin wants the next tiny egg, so I guess we’ll have to create a waiting list.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Chickens, Ducks, Eggs, Food, Natural Food, Organic Food, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading

Firsts on the Farm

check out our very first cucumber, hand-picked today. Isn't it gorgeous?

First egg from one our first baby chicks was laid today (pictured on the Left)! It was most likely from 18 week old Ermengard, a Buff Orpington. Isn't it cute?! The egg on the right is from our adult Rhode Island Red, Marge.

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Filed under Chickens, Eggs, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Urban Farmsteading

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

Expecting Ducklings… Again

After releasing our two Khaki Campbells to another farm, we’ve been looking forward to adding more Indian Runner hens to our flock. They’re extremely docile, plus super amusing to watch. I have personally fallen madly in love with the breed. Phoebe, our Runner hen has consistently laid one egg a day since she began laying eleven days ago. She’s outperforming all our chickens, and the eggs are delicious!

We sought local farms for adult Runner hens or even ducklings, but didn’t have any luck this time around. We could have incubated eggs, but instead we decided to order two females through a site online. They’ll arrive within the next 1-3 weeks, at just a few days old. It will be ideal to have a couple more girls for our Mallard drake, and they’ll both be fawn & white like the Runner pictured below. The baby ducklings stand upright just like the adults. Adorable! We recently went through raising the two Khakis indoors for over a month when the weather was still too cold. With the current Summer heat they’ll spend just one or two weeks indoors; ideal for ducklings, considering they become quite a mess when confined in tight quarters as they get older.

When word got out about June ducklings coming again, Sky was thrilled beyond words. Despite the difficult departure of Ellie Mae and Jethro, he appears to be recovering well. Sorin and Prasad are excited, too. There is nothing like baby ducklings when it comes to melting child (and adult) hearts.

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Filed under Ducks, Eggs, Family Happenings, Kids, Natural Food, Organic Food, River Living, Simplicity, Urban Farmsteading

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.

Tomatoes

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!

Zucchini

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

Front Yard Gardening

Handsome Mr. Toad

Mr. Till-Master in the front yard

It’s been a perfect Mother’s Day, doing all the things I love most. We’ve spent almost every moment outdoors, except for a short break at lunch time. We completed our natural wood fence for the back yard garden (well, we actually have just three branches left to drill on), and Daniel tilled for the front yard garden- we’ll grow a large patch of pumpkins and watermelon (Sky has been begging for those). Our nextdoor neighbor offered to lend us the tiller, and it was a huge favor. While tilling, Daniel came across our first toad of the year, and thankfully the big guy was spared the blade! We ended up finding two toads in the yard.

Our plans for the front yard are simple: NO LAWN. Eventually, we hope to have mostly edible plants growing in front. Herbs, medicinals, vegetables and edible flowers. A front yard garden, free of herbicides & pesticides, and one we’ll never have to mow again. One filled with very happy toads!

Posted by Jill

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