Growing Food

Small can be beautiful and productive. Food production on city lots can be challenging with many factors to deal with – from neighbors’ trees and house shadows to hard-pan soil … oh, and don’t forget pesky urban wildlife.

Speaking of hard-pan soil: The soil we started with in 1985 was dry “adobe” type soil – water would just run off because there was no living matter to speak of! Over the last 30 years and with healthy soil management, we have turned a small plot of land into a productive mini farm providing a majority of our family’s produce.

To give you a sense on how much land we are farming on: If one acre equals $1.00 our garden equals 10 cents.

Garden at a Glance

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  • Edible landscaping in front yard
  • Over 50 raised beds in back yard
  • Approx 5 – 6,000+lbs harvested yearly since 2003
  • Record harvest of over 7,000lbs(2010)
  • ONLY natural fertilizers such as fish, compost and kelp. No chemicals, sprays, or growth hormones
  • 75% of vegetarian diet grown–excess produce sold to purchase staples-.i.e., rice, sugar, wheat
  • $65,000 + annually in gross sales

In 2001, when we first challenged ourselves to see how much we could grow on our small city lot, we were shocked that the weigh in tally was over 2,000 lbs.   One ton from this little plot? Boy, were we excited!  Could we use our space more wisely and grow even more?

As with any gardening/farming efforts, each year poses many obstacles that we face – drought, bugs and blight. No matter the circumstances, we enjoy tending to our patch of earth and sharing what bounty we have.


The key to any successful garden is the maintenance and welfare of the soil. Over the years we have witnessed a dramatic transformation of our soil from dry, light brown adobe type soil to a loamy, almost black, dirt. We contribute much of our success and the “superior” taste of our produce to our soil.

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Grow the soil and you will reap healthy and happy plants! In fact, we are even “going up in the world” (quoting from a classic line made by Farmer Justin) who stated: “We are about a 1.5 higher than our next door neighbor!” It’s true!

Thanks to our continuous composting and mulching efforts, our property is now nearly a foot higher than our next door neighbor’s.

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  • Composting
  • Heavy Mulching
  • Re-mineralization
  • Vermiculture
  • Natural Decomposition
  • Use of Animal Manure
  • Effective Micro-organisms
  • Mychorrizea
When we started growing full time, every summer it came down to too many vegetables and fruits and something needed to be done with the surplus.

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As the poundage starting coming in and we were up to our necks in produce, we took the plunge into food preservation and haven’t looked back.

During the fall and winter we rely heavily on what we “put up” during the summer. We are proud to say there are not many store bought canned goods that line our pantry shelves.

Looking at the colorful jars that are stocking the cabinet you get a real sense of food security and a connection with the past – something our pioneer ancestors would be proud of I am sure.

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  • Bread Making
  • From Scratch
  • Cheese, Butter & Yogurt
  • Sprouting
  • Canning
  • Drying
  • Freezing
  • Fermenting
  • Brewing Mead & Wines
Sometimes self-sufficiency require us to think beyond modern convince and ask: “What would people do in the past?” and try and apply those solutions into our everyday life (sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully!).

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We strive to eat primarily from our backyard/frontyard or pantry preserves with only minimum assistance from the store.

Eating locally and with the seasons — it brings about a whole new meaning to the powerful prayer: “…give us this day our daily bread…”

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  • Buying in Bulk
  • Organic
  • Local
  • Eating Seasonally
  • Reducing “Food Miles”
  • Fair Trade
  • Vegetarian

Photo Gallery

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