Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Urban Homestead Gardens 2011: Our Shining Path to Culinary Freedom

We had a real break in the weather here at Monkey Central and we've taken full advantage of it. It's been sunny and in the low 70's/mid 60's for about a week now and after a longish cold winter we've been out getting things ready for spring and we've (well Sparky mostly has) been getting our urban homestead gardens all set up and ready to grow.

One of the first things we did was put our rain barrels back outside. This is rain barrel number one, it's our third year with barrels and the new one out front should help immensely. We won't have to lug buckets of water around front anymore, yay! We're hoping the fish we put inside all of them will keep down the mosquitoes, but four out of five of the ones up front passed on already. They're only .13 cents each so if we have to buy more, it won't break the bank.

Composter number 2 is out and working. It's about half full of leaves and vegetable matter food scraps.
Composter #1 is composting away. I dug out a good sized chunk of rich black dirt from this composter a few weeks ago and we added it to the soil in the main garden. As you can see, our leaf bin is full of nice wet decaying leaves just waiting to be added to our composters.

Sparky has already begun planting in the former rose garden. She put peas in this past Sunday and she erected her pea trellises too. She also planted some frost tolerant veggies to the right of the peas. She's planted carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, and onions. If the cold does come back, and it might, this is spring after all, and kills the lettuce and spinach, it no problem because it's so early we can just replant.

In the main urban homestead garden, as you can see, we did away with most of the raised beds we made last year. We decided to go with a raised mound system for the most part. We'd seen how well it worked in a community garden a few blocks from us so we decided to try it here. We'll plant potatoes, peppers, broccoli, egg plants, some herbs, and more in those mounded rows.
We kept the raised strawberry bed, and as you can tell the strawberries are going gangbusters already. In the other raised bed we kept we have some asparagus growing, this is it's second year, so hopefully next year we can actually harvest some!
Sparky's urban homestead herb garden next to the back of the house looks a little sparse, that chives, sage, and thyme growing in there now, but soon it will be busting forth with rich green basil, tarragon, lemon grass, and more.

This year we decided to give the plants we start inside some assistance so we got a regular florescent shop light to hang over the little pots. It's just a regular shop light with a regular bulb in it and we hung it on the baker's rack we use to start plants on:
We've got two varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, egg plant, and sun flowers started. And after a little over a week of concentrated light on the three trays of seeds, we've already got a slew of growth!
The seeds really respond to the 16 to 18 hours a day of light and they've taken off. Of course planting them in seed starter mixture and keeping them moist helps a bunch too.

More urban homestead updates coming as soon as we get more stuff in the ground!


Anonymous said...

Woo hoo!!

I have a suggestion about the fish if the goldfish keep dying. Get a kid to capture a few actual mosquito eaters from local stream or culvert. In a pinch, I think you can even buy mosquito eaters from the local vector control. They are the toughest little fish in the world, they'll survive the nitrogen cycle of what is essentially your large fish tank, and they last forever. Slim's starter fish are now going on four years.

Flannery Alden said...

Impressive and lovely!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are living the dream! It looks as though it's been a lot of work, but you are going to reap (quick literally) those benefits a thousandfold.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Your homestead looks amazing!

Liberality said...

Very nice!

Mnmom said...

I am SO insanely jealous! Your gardens look amazing. I didn't even realize we could put fish in rainbarrels.

gmb said...

Color me impressed...and green with envy.