Category Archives: Farming

A collection of posts dedicated to growing things. Fruits, vegetables and whatever else comes out of the ground.

It All Starts With A Trunk Full Of Wood

I didn’t anticipate that farming would require carpentry skills.

Building Materials

I don’t have a carpenters union card in my wallet. I can easily identify a claw hammer from a rubber mallet. But, don’t let that fool you. Carpentry is not something that I consider to be among my list of skills. It’s not that I can’t build things, it’s just that the outcome may be a little unpredictable.

Our farm plot at this moment is a work in progress to say the least. The soil, if you can call it that, has lots of clay in it. Weeds seem to like those growing conditions, but, apparently not vegetables. Most of the Spring seedlings have long been washed away by heavy rain. Our tomatoes are growing, but, the peppers are struggling. An intervention is needed.

After checking out what some of my farming neighbors had resorted to, I knew what needed to be done. I had to construct a couple of wooden boxes to grow my plants in. Once built, I could fill them with some nutrient rich, organic growing material and have the perfect environment to reap a giant vegetable harvest in six to eight weeks. That’s the plan anyway.

A trip to the local hardware store and I had all of the necessary components for my project. Eight, four foot pieces of lumber, a box of deck nails and an assortment of filler. I was ready to build.

In order to not reinvent the wheel, I modeled my boxes after my neighbors. Easy construction and perfect for the intended use. I picked the hottest day of the summer to date and set about my work. After about an hour of hammering, straightening and sweating, things looked pretty damn good (my assessment). Have a look.

Planter Boxes

I just needed to pull the weeds inside the boxes and fill them up. I think those bags of dirt weighed in at about seven hundred pounds total.

Planter Boxes

Now we’re talking! Those are a couple of sweet looking boxes. All ready to plant. Since our peppers were really having a tough time growing where they were, I figured I would transplant them to a new home.

Pepper Plants

Don’t they look happy? I also planted some sweet peas and bush beans. One box for each. You can see the tomatoes in the back left corner of the image. They’re hanging in there. They need to be staked though.

Just in case you were wondering, here’s my next door neighbors box.

Planter Box

I guess there’s always next year for me…

Weeds And Other Annoyances

Growing things is an art form. And, I’m not generally considered an artist.

Bird House

We go to our local farmers market. Or, we hit up the produce section of our favorite grocery store. There it is. All nicely arranged, displayed like it was just dropped in from above, no effort at all. Ready for us to enjoy. The reality is nothing like that. Farming is hard.

Here’s a quick update from the “farm”. Weeds 10, Edible Stuff 1. That’s not a good score. Not by any measure. One thing I’ve learned from my first few weeks of farming, I’m great at growing things that aren’t supposed to be there (aka weeds). Let’s take a look at my progress.

My Weeds

These are my weeds. They’re plentiful. I wish they were a cash crop. They’re not. It’s amazing how fast those buggers grow. Even unassisted. There are some tomato plants in the back row, but, mostly weeds.

Here’s the ONLY piece of uplifting news on the weed scene…

My Neighbors Weeds

These are my next neighbors weeds. He has outdone even me in the weed growing department. You can see my plot in the upper left corner of the picture. He has me beat. Here’s the only thing that bothers me. I think his plot is totally UNATTENDED, whereas mine, I’m actually farming. That’s deflating.

Let’s look at another example of my farming prowess.

My Lettuce

Here’s my lettuce. Bibb to be exact. This is three weeks after planting.

My Neighbors Lettuce

Here’s my neighbors lettuce. No, the other neighbor, not the one with the weeds. Yikes! I thought I was doing great just getting my seeds to sprout. On the other hand, my neighbor can actually make a salad. A little discouraging.

All is not terrible out at the plot.

My Tomotoes

Here is one of my tomato plants. It’s really growing! Doing great as a matter of fact. Little flowers and everything. There may still be hope for something edible springing from my dirt this year.

The tomatoes have me hopeful. I don’t want to scrap the rest of the growing season. I’m not calling it quits on everything else just yet. I have a plan. And, it involves eight pieces of lumber and sixteen cubic feet of top soil, compost and other organic growing material.

Details to follow…

It’s Just Dirt

It’s as basic as basic can be.

Community Farming

In the middle of May, in Southwest Michigan, it should be warmer than the mid forties with a wind chill somewhere in the thirties. It just should be. On the upside, the sun was shining.

It was my first trip out to our shiny, brand new farm plot. A ten by ten piece of recently tilled dirt. That’s all that’s there, just dirt.

Our Dirt

It wasn’t exactly as I had envisioned it. I wasn’t thinking this would be a nicely pre-groomed, argi-science plot, complete with it’s a own irrigation system and fencing, but…

Apparently our little slice of planting paradise had been even more basic than when I first laid eyes on it. My fellow farmer, Jerry, had already been out to turn it over once (or maybe twice). It did come pre-staked so we would know where the planting boundaries were. I guess it’s possible that they made Jerry do his own staking (I’ll have to ask).

Two “Farmers”.

Two Farmers

Let there be no mistake. This is who is you’re dealing with. That’s me on the left and Jerry on the right. You can tell we’re serious, experienced farmers by the fact that we’re both wearing boat shoes! At least we look good leaning on a rake. He looks a little more seasoned than me, he’s wearing gloves. I think we only have one pair.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be planting some stuff.

Seed Packages

And, you’re going to get to see it come to life.

We’re farming at a community garden set up by a local church. We’ll be donating a portion of our crop yield (my first farming term!) to the church’s local food bank. The gardens rules prohibit the use of commercial chemical fertilizers. They’re trying to promote organic farming methods, which is fantastic. So, not only will we hopefully be growing lots of good food, but, also food that is good for you and food that can help feed our neighbors.

I can’t wait to see what comes out of our humble plot.

 

Just in case you may have missed one of these other posts, here are some links:

I’m Going To Be A Farmer!

I’m Going To Be A Farmer!

Trust me, it’s not what you’re thinking. Or, maybe it is.

Farm Building

I’ll keep this brief. I’m having dinner and a few cocktails with my friend Jerry the other night. In between flipping a pork tenderloin on the grill and another Miller High Life, he said to me, “Hey, I’ve got this plot at a community farm our church is sponsoring this summer. Interested in farming?”. What kind of a question is that? Of course I am.

The details are a little sketchy at the moment. But, I do know one thing. This summer I’ll be planting, weeding, tending, nurturing and hopefully harvesting my own crops. And, helping out some needy folks at our local food pantry in the process.

More details to follow…