Category Archives: Weather

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

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

A Cry For Spring

Apologies in advance, but I need a place to whine and I’m close to throwing a tantrum these days. It’s been a dizzying Winter season here in Lawrence, Kansas. First, we had the longest Fall imaginable. That was marvelous, and it gave me time to finish building the chicken coop and fencing; a huge blessing. When Winter began it seemed like we would never get snowfall this year, and we kept whining for it. Finally we got A LOT of snow in January and February, but lately had a few days that climbed into the balmy 70’s. One day our kids and the neighbor kids were over here jumping on the trampoline and playing outdoors, and the next day we were buried again in snow. Insane!

Daniel says the snow outside is making him feel nauseated. When Mother Nature gives you a taste of Spring, that’s what happens. We’re sick to death of snow. There is a saying we have- “If you don’t like the weather in Kansas, wait five minutes.” It is so true. Today we have dense fog and the snow still blankets the earth. It’s going to melt as we climb into the 50’s today. We’ve got a whole tray of happy, thriving seedlings growing in the sun room, baby chicks in the kitchen, and we can feel life stirring in our own bones. This time of year is both agonizing and exciting. We’re on the edge of our seats, so ready for sunlight on our skin, soil under our nails, laundry on the line, and leaves rustling with sweet smells in the air. It’s in our biology- a primal urge to step out and become one with nature; to awaken like the birds, snails, and new life. Restless... that’s the word that best describes the state of our family right now. The stronger our trembling anticipation, the more joy we’ll experience when it finally hits. I know, I know- it’s best to live in and appreciate the ‘now’, but we’ve had enough of these cold, snowy moments. C’mon Spring!!!

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” -Mark Twain

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Ducks: Day 5

For some reason, I can’t help viewing our hens’ adjustment to the ducks as a silly soap opera. Like humans, each hen has her own distinct personality and way of coping with things. The ducks weren’t much of a disruption to Marigold and Petunia, but for Jasmine it was another story. She’s the drama queen. Being the smallest hen and the bottom of the pecking order may explain it to some extent, but after talking to other henthusiasts, I have a feeling it’s just how that one hen is handling the situation. It’s not always the lowest or smallest hen, but at times can be the most aggressive hen. Marigold is the most aggressive breed we have (Rhode Island Red), and she’s the matriarch, but she’s taking it all in stride.

Jasmine decided to make the duckling’s lives hell for the first three days. She kept following them around and keeping them from eating or drinking. She was obsessed with it. She’d puff up her chest to push them away, and even resorted to pecking them on occasion. She was a bully, and I became frustrated just watching the drama because I was worried about the ducklings. We’ve had some seriously cold temps this week, so they need to eat and drink more than ever. I ended up placing three bowls of food in three different locations, and an extra water area. This helped to some extent, but Jasmine kept following them and bullying anyway.

How I understand it, the ducklings are viewed as strange and different by the chickens. If there is a strange, deformed or different hen in a flock, they will do all they can to ostracize that hen and make sure they don’t survive or reproduce to carry on their bad genes. It’s an evolutionary survival thing, and a good instinct when considering the overall species. Jasmine wanted the ducks gone, and was purely following instinct by not allowing them to eat or drink. She’s not really ‘mean’ or a ‘bully’, but definitely appears that way to our human way of thinking. I was at a loss about what to do, outside of selling Jasmine to another farm, which I don’t want to do.

Fortunately, another snow came along with some deep cold temperatures. It was so much snow that the chickens refused to go outside all day yesterday, and the ducklings had complete freedom in the run. They splashed in the water, and ate & drank to their hearts content. This went on all day, until last evening when the hens decided to venture out before sunset. By that point, Jasmine’s brain had gotten out of the ‘stuck’ mode of obsession with the ducklings, and she basically left them alone. I was shocked. She walked by them as they ate, and she did nothing. A first. This morning I witnessed the same behavior, and I’m crossing my fingers that we’ve crossed over to a more harmonious place. If it starts up again, we’ll be putting up a temporary fence for a duckling area in the run so they can have peace until they’re big enough to defend themselves. Meanwhile, there is no drama here today…. for now.

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Video: Prasad’s Birthday Blizzard

We finally put together a few short clips from Prasad’s birthday which took place on the same day as one of the biggest blizzards we’ve ever had in Lawrence. I believe we got something like ten inches in just twelve hours, and that night it got down to fifteen below zero… the chickens really hung in there! They debut at the end because I kept trodding out in the snow that day to bring them table scraps. Marigold, our Rhode Island Red, showed signs of dehydration the following day (bright green, runny poo) so we learned our lesson about how badly chickens need to drink A LOT in very cold weather. Marge recovered fully the next day, and she’s now back to her shining role as matriarch in our little flock.

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