Farm update for July

We got all of our spring planting done, but some things were put in very late. We will be using row cover to hold off early frosts, so hopefully we get a yield from everything.

Squash and zucchini are doing well, and we have already harvested a few. Our best variety is Costata Romanesca, which has constantly done well for me here.

Our tomatoes are looking pretty good. There is a small amount of fungal disease, but overall the plants look healthy, and are loaded with green tomatoes. We have harvested a few ripe ones so far. We never got around to staking or tying most of them, so some of the tomatoes will probably be lost to sitting on the ground. Then again, some sources claim that in a hot dry climate, letting tomatoes sprawl helps keep them from drying out and getting sun scald!

Our peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse are growing like crazy! They really like the tropical conditions in there.

Our beans, melons, and cucumbers were heavily damaged by bugs. Some melon plants survived, but we were already late planting them, since a first planting failed to germinate. So they don’t have that good of chances. We replanted cucumbers, and our third try, surrounded by cut-off yoghurt containers, is doing well. Either the cups kept off the pests (possibly pill bugs) or a natural balance had kicked in. (Due to a very wet spring, pill bugs and sow bugs have gone crazy, and did a ton of damage in my home garden. Due to the fact that we are not on the farm site at night, we can not actually assign blame to them there, but the damage looks similar and there are lots of pill bugs about. Pill bugs damaging plants is a much debated topic on gardening forums and websites.) We replanted beans. The bush beans are still struggling, partly because the mulch and compost we planted them in went hydrophobic. We sprayed soap to correct this. The pole beans are taking off.

All of our trees have survived so far, and are doing well, with the exception of a struggling nectarine. Fire blight hit surrounding mature trees heavily this year, probably due to the wet spring.

We had a beehive placed on the property, but it died. We will be trying again next year. Hopefully we will have our top bar hives done by then.

Despite the wet spring, watering has been a huge chore. We are experimenting with small scale PVC watering devices, donated drip hose, and Ollas; traditional terra-cotta watering devices. An Olla is basically just a unglazed pot buried in the soil. It wicks water out depending on the dampness of the surrounding ground, and the plant’s needs. We are also building some waffle beds, and using rocks as a lithic mulch. These are techniques used by native tribes in the desert southwest.

The heavy storms in the Denver metro have mostly bypassed us, with only a small amount of damage to the site. The lines of trees along the fences and creek have done a good job breaking the winds, sustaining a fair amount of damage in the process.

We are beginning planting for the fall. We are planting peas directly in the ground, and starting cabbage, broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts at a member’s house.

Weeds have been a constant problem, especially bindweed. The bindweed was  not stopped by our sheet mulch, but it was slowed down considerably.

WIth the main planting done, we have been working on organizational projects. We have been setting up tool racks, sinks for washing up, and a work station. We hope to build a solar hot water heater and a reed bed for one of the sinks.

We are finally beginning to see a bit of produce coming in! There is not much yet, just a few cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and some greens.


Planting continues

We have now got tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, yard long beans, summer squash, zucchini, luffa gourds, pattypan squash, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and some winter squash planted. We still need to plant dry beans and some more winter squash, and we will be done with the main season planting. Late, but hopefully not too late, if we get a reasonable autumn. We will be succession planting green beans, summer squash, cucumbers, and lettuce all summer. Cool weather crops will be planted in late summer.

Planting has begun!

Over the last few meetings, we got a lot done! We rented a rototiller, and broke up 1500 square feet, addition to the 1500 square feet of sheet mulch beds we already prepared.  We will plant into this area immediately, and mulch it latter. This will speed planting, since mulch supplies for our sheet mulching have been hard to get recently.
On Saturday, lots of members came out and planted 250 tomato plants. There are still some more to plant, but the biggest ones, which urgently needed to get into the ground, have all been planted. We prepared a lot of planting areas, and are almost done with the fencing project. We are digging big holes in unprepared grassy areas and filling them with manure. We will plant vining winter squash in these and let them help smother the weeds.
Next week our squash, melons, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, peppers, and eggplant will be planted. Because we got off to a slow start, we are waiting till late Summer to plant cool weather crops, except for lettuce. We have some heat tolerant strains of lettuce which we will be trying out.

Trees planting: notes from the work day, April 23rd

We got our trees planted today! The weather cooperated, with a nice even cloud cover. We planted three standard pears (Moonglow, Stark Honeysweet, and Starking Delicious), five semi-dwarf apples (Candycrisp, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Enterprise, Goldrush, and Co-op 31 Winecrisp, ) two apricots, one standard and one dwarf (Harglow and Stark SweetHeart), two semi-dwarf plums (Stanley Prune and Green Gauge), A standard nectarine (Stark SunGlo), and a standard peach (Redhaven.) So with the addition of a five in one apple and a five in one plum planted earlier, there are now 16 fruit trees on the property. We will probably be planting two cherry trees as well. We bought bare root trees, which tend to have better root systems, and soaked them in kelp emulsion, which contains growth hormones and trace minerals. We did not use any fertilizer, which tends to spur trees into rapid growth before their root systems can handle it. We added inoculant to start the growth of mycorrhiza, beneficial fungi which grow into the roots of trees. Most trees have fungal allies of this sort, and need them for survival. The fungi spread over wide areas and act as a vast transport network, joining trees and other plants together into one functioning root system. This greatly enhances a new tree’s ability to take up water and nutrients, especially phosphorus.


Notes from the Work day, April 16th

Our fruit trees have arrived! Three standard pears, five semi-dwarf apples, a standard apricot, a dwarf apricot, a semi-dwarf nectarine, three semi-dwarf plums, and a semi-dwarf peach. We will probably buy some cherries to add to this collection. We are also looking into trees for the wetter areas of the property, possibly including pawpaws, hawthorn, and serviceberry. The trees will be planted at the next work day, Wednesday the 23rd.

At this meeting we planted 200 snap peas in our sheet mulch beds. We will be planting more in future work days. At a member’s house we have started 500 tomato plants.

We finished cutting up a tree felled at the last work day.

Demolition of Shed and operation of Greenhouse; Notes from the Work Days March 20th and March 23rd

There was an old run in horse shed on the urban farm property. Due to age and improper construction, it was beginning to fall apart, and was, in any case, too small for our purposes. So we decided to pull it down, salvage what lumber we could, and build a new shed.

Here are some pictures of the project.

The shed as it was, a few months ago.


The walls starting to come down. We still have to remove all the stuff that had been stored in the shed over the years.


The roof collapses after being disconnected from  the back posts.


After this point, we used a vehicle to pull down the front posts which the roof was leaning on, dropping it to the ground. (Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of this step.)

At the next meeting (March 23rd) we broke up and cleared away the roof and other debris, and dug out the posts.

At these meetings we also eliminated poison hemlock from the areas where we will be working, and tidied up the property. Our greenhouse vent arm seems to be working well, and lettuce is growing inside. As you can see, there was still some snow on the ground from the most recent fall, but the temperatures inside the greenhouse were warm and steamy, triggering the vent’s arm to pop open. At the next meeting we hope to plant Brassicas and other cool weather crops in the greenhouse for transplanting to the main gardens in April.