URBAN HOMESTEAD HAPPENINGS

We have been enjoying a week of warm and sunny weather aswe continue our spring and summer plantings.

We are still significantly behind in normal rainfall.

Normal is 19“, last yearwe had 16“, and this year we have had only 4“. The rainy season here is from Nov-May.  So the window is closing fast for any more measurable precipitation to help us through the dry summer months.

Already we have started corn, beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers,cucumbers in soil blocks in our planting area on thewarmest side of the house. With the warm temps, most are ready now to be transplanted into the garden.

Thisy ear we are adjusting what we are planting for summercrops, as our customers liked some varieties overothers. Last year the lemon and white cucumbers were popular, so were heirloom tomatoes. This year we planted over 50 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. We’re planting greens, bi-colors, oranges, purples, pinks, reds, white, yellow and in small, medium and large sizes. For bush beans, we’re sticking with ‘straight and narrow’ as they were a favorite also.

The salad mix ( heirloom lettuces, cresses, arugulas, redorach, miner’s lettuce, endive, salad burnet, New Zealand spinach, etc.) is so popular that we are going to try and see if we can extend the season through the summer. We are purchasing summer lettuces and will add it to the summer greens we already have from last year–Aztec spinach, vegetable amaranth, purple goosefoot, New Zealand Spinach. We plan to place the lettuces in Earthboxes on the cool side of the house with some shade cloth. We’ll see how that goes as this will be the first time we try to keep selling salad mix through the summer months.

The broccoli didn’t do as well as last year’s. The winter was too warm for a cool weather crop with daytime temps in the high 80’s. Even the peas don’t look as good as they did last year. Even though we are still harvesting quite a lot, they are looking starting to look “worn out.”

Our chicken raising experiment has been delayed as we arehaving trouble locating the breed that we want. The feed store in our area won’t be carrying the ones that we had hoped, so it looks like we will have to figure out another way to find and purchase the
chicks.

Our homemade plywoodsolar cooker is finished and up and operating! This one is much sturdier than the cardboard ones that we made last year. This year, especially during the summer, we are planning to cut back our having to use the gas stove to warm up or cook some items. It’s really easy to use. It just takes time to adjust your schedule. You can place food out early in the morning and by lunch, it’s hot… and you don’t have to worry about burned food! (Not to mention keeping the kitchen cool). On a regular spring day the oven’s temps reached up to 300 degrees.

This past week, our urban homestead was visited by a group of students from  Compton High School. They walked our gardens, ground grain into flour, used a u-bar on a bed and started fire with a bow and drill.

Our ultimate goal is to make our urban lot a model for urbanites, sharing our experiences and projects as we journey on our path to self-sufficiency and sustainable living.

This year we are hoping to exceed our record of over a ton offood harvested.  We were blessed with a significant amount last year and hope that the blessings will continue into this new harvest season.

PostScript 3/18/02:  The past couple days has be cool (night time temps in the
30’s) and windy. On Sunday a much needed rain storm brought us some significant precipitation (about ¼”).

Springmakes its own statement, so loud and clear that  the gardener seems to be only one of theinstruments,  not the composer.
~Geoffrey Charlesworth ~

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