Category Archives: Urban Farming

Not just chickens…

I know it seems that all aspects of our lives have stopped to watch Chickens.
14_0202 KohlrabiJust look at this beautiful purple kohlrabi!

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Urban Fruit Trees

Well, our tress have been in the ground for a little over a month.

You may notice they are quite a bit smaller than when we first planted them…  WHY?! you ask.

Our local Urban Farm guru, who we purchased the tress from, recommended that we cut them down to 18-24″ high.  By doing this, branches are forced to grow very low on the trunk, thus creating fruit bushes as opposed to trees.  He further suggests that the trees, as they mature, be pruned to keep the trees no taller than 6′ high and no wider than 6′ in diameter.  A few of the benefits of doing this is the ability to have many different types of trees in a small space and the fruit is much easier to pick when it is only an arm’s reach away.

I am the one who usually cringes when the trees in our yard have to be pruned.  In this case, if we were to prune the trees to bush height, I was the one who had to do it.  All of the trees are doing great except the two peach trees.

The apples already had low branches on the trunk so they look the best.  I just noticed this morning that there are a couple of new sprouts on the trunk that were not there just a few days ago.

The Anna is to the left and the Dorsett Golden is on the right.

All of the other trees had no growth on their trunks when I pruned them to 24″.  Here’s the two apricots…

The Katy variety on the left and the Golden Kist on the right.

 

 

These two trees are the Flavor Delight Aprium on the left and the Santa Rosa Plum on the right.

 

And here’s the two peaches; Desert Gold on the left and Mid-Pride on the right.

I will talk to our guru and let you know if the peaches are just slow or if they were traumatized and may not make it.

New digs

“New digs” means a lot of different things to us right now.  We were challenged to become “official” with our urban farm through naming it.  Naming a place has a lot of history to it and goes a long way with creating identity.  Think about the different places you have been, that just by thinking of the name, images, memories, and feelings are conjured up.  Seattle is one of these places for me – I immediately think of Pike Place Market, early 1980s Pike Place Market.

Of course, we rose to the challenge, and as soon as we did the name was right there – 5 Dogs Digs.  Yes, we have 5 dogs now (I can’t figure out how to get a picture of him posted on the sidebar).  And, I’m really hoping, fingers crossed hoping, the dogs realize that “digs” means where they live and hang out, as opposed to meaning that all 5 of them will be digging in the new beds.

Digs, right now, also means a lot of digging going on…  We are in the process of completely redesigning our backyard layout.  The two beds we have been experimenting with are located in a space of our yard that either gets way too little sun in the winter months or way too much sun in the summer.  We have talked about moving or shading them in this last year, but haven’t been motivated enough to take those steps.

Motivation occurred this last week when we ordered 10 fruit trees and decided the best place to plant them was right where the beds are currently located.  We ordered apples, peach, apricot, plum, aprium, kumquat, and Meyer lemon.

To make room to plant the trees, the beds are being disassembled and moved to the east side of our yard – hence, new digs!

Compost is Luscious!

The word on the street is the compost from Singh’s Farm is the BEST.  So, that’s where we headed.  Standing in the middle of Singh’s Farm, you have no idea you are in the middle of the desert and it’s 113 degrees outside!  There are native trees planted throughout the entire farm, creating a wonderful microclimate of cool humid goodness.

Entrance to Singh's Farm

Main walk at Singh's Farm

Working Farm

Plants for sale at Singh's

Mr. Singh accepts food waste from Whole Foods plus plant trimmings from local landscapers.  He turns it into three different grades of wonderful, fertile, luscious smelling compost.  Yes, compost smells luscious!

Singh's compost by the bag or truckload

Medium grade compost

Fine grade compost

We ended up purchasing 2 loads of medium and 1/2 load of fine grade compost.  It filled the trailer!  Although we had the entire load cover with tarps and tied down well, we still drove home slowly so we didn’t lose any of our precious load.

What to Plant?

It’s almost fall…  well, at least in many parts of the country but here!  Here, the daytime highs are still hovering around 100 degrees plus.  Some of the only ways to tell it’s fall is the palpable excitement about double digit temperatures (OMG, it was only 99 today!) and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is back.  And, if you’re up early enough in the day, the mornings are a little cooler – the nighttime lows are dropping below 80 degrees (like last night, it was all the way down to 79).

What this is all leading to is planting guides.  When gardening in the desert, all of the “typical” when to plant guides are meaningless!  The best planting guide for our region that I have found so far comes from the work and experience of Matt Suhr and Greg Peterson at the Urban Farm.

Based on their chart, we are looking at planting beets, fava beans, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cilantro, fennel, kale, radish, swiss chard, turnips, scallions, onions, parsnips and spinach.  Next step – figure out if we have enough room to grow everything!