More Microfarms on the Horizon

Anna Carpenter

Our first little “farm” is doing very well, and the experiment with the lasagna method of growing food has been extremely successful, so much so that seasoned local gardeners are stopping, inquiring, and then vowing to adopt it in their own plots. The best part has been that we did not dig… we just layered good stuff on top of good stuff! Or rather, good straw on top of alfalfa straw.

Now that Connie and Keith are enjoying their new showpiece front garden and their early summer harvest, other neighbors have been asking for our help in creating edible gardens. Norma and Natalie want to build some boxes in their backyards for a fall planting. Kim Ohanneson wrote a very funny article in the HighlandPark-MountWashingtonPatch.com about her dashed hopes for backyard tomatoes (see Hoping for Happy Tomatoes with Mount Washington’s Microfarmers). We are scheming to bring her back into the fold of newborn gardeners somehow, sloping lot or not.

Anyway, back to Norma and Natalie. We discussed back and forth using stone, broken pavers, or wood for building the vegetable boxes. Since Natalie’s plot may get flooded somewhat in the winter months, stone is being considered.  However, the vegetable plot would be located at the bottom of a steep hill and it would be hard to carry the stones down there or back up if she changed her mind one day about the location of her garden. Norma is going to build two boxes for herself and two for her neighbor in the traditional way: wood.

Irrigation is where backyard gardeners are always looking for a new way, a better way.  Truth is, neither soaker hoses nor drip systems are perfect.  I think of them as an insurance against disaster, but you need to be out there hand watering from time to time, particularly when the plants are young. This will also give you an incentive to check on the health of your plants and do early prevention on possible bugs.  We will most likely end up using a drip system again, since it is easier to direct the water to a specific plant.

I have said it before… drive by West Avenue 37 and check out Connie’s garden. And plant at least a few tomatoes and some basil in a container this summer. You won’t regret it. Or look up the closest urban farm to buy a share of vegetables (see localharvest.org). Come to the Summer Fun meeting, meet your local microfarmers, and pick up some free goodies, as well as a lot of information on how to bring about a green revolution in your yard. Wishing you a very happy and bountiful summer!

 

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