URBAN FARMING DILEMMAS

First off, like to thank all those who commented on the last post.   We value and appreciate the support.  Better yet, it was great to read how many of you are caring for our good earth – way to grow!

After 25 years of growing food here on our city plot in Pasadena, we’ve had to deal with a whole lot of yard issues (Check out our Photo Gallery and see shocking “before pics”).  Many of you who have been following our decade old blog know that when moving here and starting our first city farm, we had to deal with lifeless soil and junk!  Lots of junk –  bricks, concrete, asphalt, weeds and other  junk.    The people who rented the house were in the junk collection business!   Basically, as a friend so aptly said recently “the place was a dump.”   But it did have a nice BIG yard and loads of potential.   Of course, we didn’t see it at the time.  All we saw that it needed a heck of a lot of work.    After the junk was cleared away and the first garden was planted in lifeless, hardpan soil, we weren’t just growing food, but faith and hope, too.

Over the ¼ century, as we transformed our home into a homestead, we faced many obstacles and had our fair share of failures.   Thought it would be nice to share what obstacles we are facing now which has given us much to discuss at the dinner table.

  • Neighbor’s Trees – 55’ ft pecan tree in the west and 20’ carrot woods running along the southeast and southwest.  Across the street, a bunch of TALL palm trees in the east cast a long shadow The good book says “love thy neighbor” but does that include their shade trees?  We love trees  but  have to admit that secretly we have deeply disturbing thoughts against that pecan tree (which gives NO pecans, btw).  In the fall, the wind blows all of the pecan tree leaves and buries the salad greens.
  • What lies beneath – neighbor’s tree roots sucking water, sunlight and nutrients like a black hole.  Need I say why we have such evil thoughts?
  • Don’t fence me in – 6’ high south east and south west facing concrete block wall.  One thing good about the wall is that it keeps the water on our property and moles out.
  • House shade – we city folks who grow food have to deal with many shade obstacles and, more often than not, the house gets in the way of sunlight.  The shade is nice for growing lettuce  and blueberries in the summer but what we wouldn’t give for a 1/10 acre square plot with no shade obstacles because we’d hanker at doubling our harvest to 12,000 lbs.
  • Not babies any more — maturing fruit trees who taking the sun away from sun lovin’ veggies.  Can’t have all your fruit and vegetables too.
  • Front yard farming.  With edible landscaping you sometimes sacrifice beauty for productivity and so it is with our front yard.  Check out our Four Practical P’s to growing food in the front yard.
  • Global weirding.  Yep, you can forgot about “global warming”–  We are in for wacky weather & shifting food patterns ” The weather anomalies that North American farmers and orchard keepers have experienced over this past growing season may be part of what journalist Thomas Friedman has dubbed global weirding, a far better catch-all term than global warming…. elsewhere, we may be entering an era where much of our current notions about memorable terroir — the taste of place embedded in wines, fresh fruits, or even grass-fed meats — will become geographically scrambled… the prevailing patterns of weather, soil moisture, and temperature —  are shifting more rapidly than we had ever imagined they could? What will these shifts mean in terms of food security for the rest of us? ” that statement would make any sane farmer wave the white flag.
  • Plagues – never in our years of growing food have we seen such infestation as in recent years:  spider mites, citrus leafminers, thrips, and the worst culprit is the hated harlequin bug and, so far no organic treatments that work, we’ve had to resort to killing the buggers with our hands. It’s gotten so bad that we’ve had to change our yearly growing habits.  No longer can we try to extend the harvest of mustards, kales and brassicas.

What obstacles or problems are you facing in your attempt in growing food?  What failures are you attempting to overcome?

Comments(63)

  1. amy manning says:

    When I lived in the city, my problems were:
    -the south facing house shading my garden in the winter
    -shade shade and more shade
    -neighbors that hated my chickens
    -plagues of horrible climbing cutworms and slugs, which I had hardly any control over
    -theft of produce and tools in my front yard
    -city ordinances not allowing me to have goats 🙂
    -and the biggest problem, not enough land. the previous problems I couldn’t do anything about. with the land issue, I gardened in five gallon buckets that I gleaned from restaurants. I grew potatoes in buckets on my garage roof and used restaurant shelves in my driveway with buckets of tomatoes and pepper plants.

    As my website name implies, I don’t live in City limits anymore! Now I’m dealing with more country issues, like predators.

    • Anais says:

      @amy manning: It’s tough farming and homesteading in the city. Like you listed there’s so many problems – people being one of them! We’ve been lucky to have a pretty light set of problems. Don’t know what I’d do if we had what many of ya’ll are listing.

    • Chris says:

      @amy manning,

      Last year, I spent $400 to take out three huge trees that shaded my south lawn to grow my garden. Afterwards, I discovered that my neighbors enormous pine trees also provide shade to my south facing lawn. My garden still did well in spite of the fact that it only gets direct sunlight from ten am to four pm everyday.

  2. Erin says:

    I have poor soil and lots of our dirt has been covered with beauty bark. What can be done to make our soil better? I cant uncover the beauty bark because we dont own the land. But I can try to make the soil better for vegetables, where I can plant. Can I grow anything in beauty bark?

    • Anais says:

      @Erin: For all your gardening problems and question we have a free online network, check it out at http://www.FreedomGardens.org

  3. Khadija says:

    RE: Shade:

    Perhaps you could petition the school to remove the wall? Would that be cool if the kids could actually SEE your farm in action all the time? Or perhaps you prefer the privacy : )
    If you want it down, I could help petition since I am a parent there!

    • Anais says:

      @Khadija: Wow, that’s kind of you to offer. Pretty neat that a NHS parent even reads this blog! It would be cool for the kids to see the daily workings of a farm but yes, privacy is nice. We are finding creative ways to grow things on the wall. What would be nice if the school would trim those carrot woods that are beginning to shade our solar panels and animal enclosure. Unfortunately the people who put in the landscape when the school was built really didn’t plant suitable plants and trees. Hey, I think we’ve been asked to table at the Nov 17 event they are having at NHS…. I have to check on the details.

  4. Ginger says:

    I think your front yard is quite beautiful. If you want to see ugly, come visit me.

    • Anais says:

      @Ginger: Hi Ginger. Oh no really? Define “ugly?”

      • Ginger says:

        @Anais, Well let’s just say it’s an herbalist’s dream—dandelions, marshmallow, purselane, plantain, and lamb’s quarters. I have 5 struggling espalier apples that bring oohs and ahhs, but the huge hole next to the foundation has the neighbors complaining. Oh yes, and we have some awful grass. Someday we will have a home with no grass. When I saw your place, I was “green” with envy. hehe

  5. Nancy R says:

    I put together 3 good sized raised beds. I carted lots and lots of soil in. I added compost that I worked on for a long time, and chicken manure that I bought. And I just lost the plants in half of it to nematodes (I’m in Florida). I also have an orange tree from the previous owner that is sucking the water and nutrients from the raised beds. It is diseased, but has a good number of oranges, so after I consume all of the oranges this spring, I’m going to cut it down and use all of that new-found space for container gardening.

    I’m not giving up on the raised beds, but have to figure out what to do about them.

    • cj says:

      Living in Central Florida, everything is sand and it is 95 degrees for 9 straight months. I have learned to combat the conditions by using a raised bed system. I compost and make about 20 gallons per month to ammend the soil in my beds and I’m thinking about vermicomposting to add even more. I brought in all the soil and manure for the beds. Maintain it organically and use soaker hoses and collected rainwater for irrigation. I also have 11 self watering containers (Earthgro boxes)for veggies that I can keep out of direct sun. I spray organic insecticidal soap and use row covers to protect my brassicas…..if I can grow brocolli, cabbage, sprouts and collards from Sept through April, I’m sure you guys can too. I’ve learned the secrets to growing lettuce and cool weather crops in the hot weather. I have boc choy, chard and lettuce most of the year…..maybe taking July and August off. You just have to be resourceful and take things as they come. Desptie the heat though, I can’t grow a decent crop of squash or beefsteak tomatoes. Plum tomatoes and cherries, no problem though.

      • Anais says:

        @cj: Way to grow! Thanks for sharing your growing efforts.

      • Nancy R says:

        @cj,
        Thank you for the advice. I will keep trying. Squash and cucumbers are my biggest failures. I just grew and ate my first zucchini in the 3 years I’ve been trying, and it was worth the wait. I’ve gotten tomatoes, but tomato growing seems to be getting worse instead of better. I’m sticking with the organic way too. Nancy R

  6. jeanna says:

    My biggest problem is NOT ENOUGH TIME! I just can’t figure out how to “swing” me not working just yet, so getting home late, having to start supper, keep the house and clothes clean is a serious problem with keeping the garden going.

    But, the other problem would be pests! Squash bugs completely destroyed all of my squash plants. Got only one small yellow squash. The rest died.

    The tomatoes were victims of verticulum wilt,

    and

    I’m just way to ignorant to really know what to do.

    I’m thinking next year I will only plant green beans, peppers and cucumbers. They did okay. But… we REALLY love squash! 🙁

    Also, we lost two of our four bee hives this summer, and no surplus honey – we guess from too frequent of rains in our area. We’re just hoping they have enough to stay alive for a cold Missouri winter!

    But, not to be deterred – will try again next year on all of these fronts!

    • Laurie says:

      Think about cooking once a month for the whole month or a week at a time. I do it and it is a wonderful time saver.

      • Anais says:

        @Laurie: great suggestion, thanks for sharing

    • Anais says:

      @jeanna: That’s tough – juggling a full life and gardening. Have to come to grips that you can’t do it all (talking to myself here too) and every bit counts. But job and family do come first. Sorry to hear about your squash, tomatoes and bees. That’s the CAN DO spirit! There’s always another year to look forward to. Oh and if you need gardening help and tips check out our free online network for gardeners at http://www.FreedomGardens.org

    • Susan says:

      @jeanna, I found that San Marzano squash and Serpent de Sicilia squash don’t attract squash bugs. I was very relieved, because I haven’t been able to grow watermelon or any type of squash for the last two years due to the dreaded squash bugs. This year I’ve harvested well from both varieties.

      • jeanna says:

        @Susan, Do you have a source for the seeds for these squash? I would love to try them.

        Also, I read that you can use neem oil spray, but since I know very little, I don’t know what that is or if it is a harmful substance.

        Thanks for the encouragement everybody!

        • Susan says:

          @jeanna, I wouldn’t use a lot of neem oil; it’s only effective on the juveniles anyway, and it makes your squash taste funny if you use it a lot.

          With apologies to the Dervaes’ regarding the link — http://www.growitalian.com/ Another family owned business dealing in quality seeds.

  7. Tamlynn says:

    Ditto the abundance of shade.

    Where I live mildew is a problem on plants.

    Then I have an infestation of these black aphids on my nasturtiums. My broccolis always get a plagues of gray aphids. Any tips?

    • Anais says:

      @Tamlynn: Aphids are buggers too. You can kill aphids by spraying, especially under the leaves, with a solution of 2 tsp mild dish or laundry soap to a bottle of luke warm water. The soap washes off the aphid’s protective waxy coating and causes dehydration. You can also mix three parts luke warm water to one part vegetable or horticultural oil and a couple drops of dish soap. This mixture can be sprayed on to clog the respiratory spiracles of aphids. Spray once a week taking turns between solutions. If using these solutions on food plants, be sure to wash them before eating. If using the oil solution, don’t spray on very hot and sunny days as the oil can magnify the sun and possibly harm the plant.

  8. tera says:

    my beloved and i have tug of war with his fruit trees and my vegetable beds. it’s definitely a balance, figuring out where to plant the trees so in the future we’ll still have enough room for veggies.

    the local raccoons love to party in my raised beds at night. i come out in the morning and my sweet little seedlings have been uprooted, lying on their sides with roots in the air and looking so sad. i’m really stumped as to how to work around their playing habits.

    • Anais says:

      @tera: It is a tug of war, especially for us urbanites who have so little land to work with. Oh man are we lucky we don’t have coons! Those guys are destructive! Good luck with that.

    • Jon says:

      you might consider, for your seedling beds, an arch of hardware cloth staked to the sides of the beds, or to stakes in the ground. Something with small enough openings that they have a hard time getting their paws through the mesh. This setup can also double as a cold frame, if covered with plastic sheeting.@tera,

  9. Kirsten says:

    I have a group big leaf maple trees that must have grown over 10ft last year. This summer my raised bed that typically never got any shade barely got any sun. So much for my tomatoes and pepper harvest. 🙂 I love the tree for the shade it provides for backyard picnics and for the wildlife to enjoy but now I’m having to totally change my planting strategy. I fear that the shading is going to get worse for my raised beds but I’m not sure I can bring myself to cut them down.

    • Anais says:

      @Kirsten: That’s a tough one! The shade from trees offers such a wonderful escape from the sun but not for growing veggies. Guess you are going to have to flip a coin on that one. Perhaps you can do like we did… build an arbor and then trellis something edible on it?

  10. Stacy says:

    I love the idea of some to raise as much as they can in buckets (if you were inclined, you could move them to catch the sun.) I’ve wanted to experiment with some reflective material around the plants in the shade to see if it would increase the light getting to the plants.

    Have you considered approaching some kind neighbors to “rent” their unused yard space in exchange for some produce and yard care? Maybe an elderly neighbor who is finding it hard to keep up with lawn work? We have a wonderful neighbor who bought a lot between our houses. By his request, we have gardened the lot in exchange for produce for years and he has asked us now to garden an acre lot he owns out of the village this next spring. We feel rich!!

    Anais, this may sound silly, but I’ve found it to true. You can curse that tree that is a nuisance (like Jesus cursed the fig tree). It is not bearing fruit. If you each would speak to it “be removed!” whenever you think of it or look at it (like speaking to that mountain Jesus referred to in the bible) — it will be removed. I do this with nuisance birds that nest where I don’t want them (like over my clothes line) or hornets nests in my yard, etc… anything that is outside my control that pertains to my yard or home. Works every time! (Even on pesky bugs in the garden).

    • TamaraG says:

      @Stacy, LOL – I call it praying, and use it to request unhappy, noisy, and sometimes mean neighbor to be relocated to a happier and more suitable location. Works ALL the time. Very weird!

      • Stacy says:

        @TamaraG, Yeah, hah. I forgot to mention to maybe talk with the neighbor first to find out if the tree is a nuisance to them too. Wouldn’t be too neighborly to just start praying people’s trees away…

      • Anais says:

        @TamaraG: Excellent idea!

    • Anais says:

      @Stacy: Hi Stacy! Thanks for weighing in on our urban farming dilemmas. We do still have many plants in containers so we are able to operate a moveable garden. Good idea about renting a yard. Unfortunately our neighbor hood is quite unique. Much are renters and 1/2 the block is not a good place to hang out you know what I mean. Hmm, never thought of that. I dare say we have had many a hated thought about that there pecan tree… so far no luck! But we’ll keep trying.

  11. Jogesh Yogi says:

    Here is a possible solution to neighbor’s trees, which you probably have already tried. Negotiate with your neighbor to see if they would cut down the couple of trees you have mentioned or at least keep them trimmed, in exchange for x pounds of fresh vegetables of their liking. See if they would be open to such an idea. I am not sure what the law says about the neighbor’s branches overlapping your yard – logically seems like an encroachment into your pursuit of happiness.

    About the trees taking up too much moisture and nutrients – these mature trees are probably drawing most of their water from much deeper underground than the root zones of your vegetables. Nutrients that leach deep enough for those trees would not be available to the vegetables anyways, again due to the limited depth of the root zone (my thinking). But shade is definitely a problem.

    • Anais says:

      @Jogesh Yogi: Thanks for the pointers.

  12. Dog Island Farm says:

    I love before and after photos! Got some myself. Though this year, everything is starting to grow in so I can’t get the same location to show as much area.

    Our first issue was with water. We thought that our well would be perfect. Turns out it has salt intrusion thanks to the vineyards upvalley pulling all the water out of the aquifer.

    We ar now dealing with wonky weather. I’m sure we’ll eventually have the city bugging us about the animals sooner or later.

  13. V Schoenwald says:

    I live in a trailer park with the typical trailer park inhabitants. I have predators, the 2 legged kind that steal from my garden. I not going to mention how I got this stopped by anyone who has an imagination and lives in the country on how you take care of varmits…
    I have an even smaller space to work with. I am not sure of size but I have to have some raised beds and large containers as I have no space to dig in the ground. The weather last year and this year were bizarre to say the least, but I did get through it, I had to use hoop houses, and a few cold frames to get what I needed to grow, and it worked but I had some failures due to cold weather and wet weather.
    I produced 60% of my food this year,I have no scale in which to weigh my produce but for me it was pretty good. Some of my other produce that didn’t make it or I didn’t grow I had to get from my farmer’s market and I mostly bartered for what I needed as I had a vendor stall for my herbs, so it balanced out just fine.
    I have sun, but just not enough ground to grow what I would like to. Maybe someday, a lot of my own!

    • Anais says:

      @V Schoenwald: Hi there! Love hearing from you, thanks for adding to the urban farming conversation. It’s great to see how other folks, like yourself and doing what they can with what they have. Sorry to hear about the two legged varmits. They are the worst kind … animals don’t know any better!
      Speaking of animals, hope all your critters are doing well. Sending hugs and love to all those at your homestead.

  14. Jace says:

    Could you use a guinea hen to take care of the harlequin bugs?

  15. j walker says:

    With all the hard work your family has put into this property it becomes “one of the family”. As with all family they grow and sometimes move on. Your property has faired better then most value wise and would make a wonderful investment for someone just joining the self sufficiency, sustainability mindset. Just imagine what you could do with several acres maybe a bit further away from the city. I for one have learned a lot from your family and would love to see what you could paint on a larger canvas.

    • CJ says:

      Living in Central Florida, everything is sand and it is 95 degrees for 9 straight months. I have learned to combat the conditions by using a raised bed system. I compost and make about 20 gallons per month to ammend the soil in my beds and I’m thinking about vermicomposting to add even more. I brought in all the soil and manure for the beds. Maintain it organically and use soaker hoses and collected rainwater for irrigation. I also have 11 self watering containers (Earthgro boxes)for veggies that I can keep out of direct sun. I spray organic insecticidal soap and use row covers to protect my brassicas…..if I can grow brocolli, cabbage, sprouts and collards from Sept through April, I’m sure you guys can too. I’ve learned the secrets to growing lettuce and cool weather crops in the hot weather. I have boc choy, chard and lettuce most of the year…..maybe taking July and August off. You just have to be resourceful and take things as they come. Desptie the heat though, I can’t grow a decent crop of squash or beefsteak tomatoes. Plum tomatoes and cherries, no problem though.

    • Anais says:

      @j walker: You are right, we are looking to move on. In fact, we’ve been wanting to move for quite some time just not sure if we should stay in CA. Know of any farms for sale… and single farmers too? 😉

      • Stacy says:

        @Anais, Why Anais, you sound as though you’ve never heard of Iowa, land of inexpensive farms and single farmers! Sure won’t be the same climate you’re accustomed to though! But that might be the fun of it!

  16. Roger Gray says:

    Just down the road from you folks in Pasadena, the wet spring and cool summer saw lots more pests then usual, and some we’d not seen before. Most of our apples went south. We lost all our grapes to mildew – again due to the wet spring and cool summer and not having had to watch for and treat it before.

    We have a neighbor who covers his furniture in plastic and pays commerical poisoners to spray his yard . . . sometimes even reaching over the short fence and extending the spray to our critter habitat. Sometimes his sprays cover food we have growing too close to the fence. :-/

    No part of our yard is far enough away from a dwelling for us to legally consider chickens.

    For all that, we grow a lot and eat well all spring and summer!

    • Eloise Martindale says:

      @Roger Gray, I wonder if you could ask to be notified when the spraying will take place, so you could cover your food with a tarp or something.

    • Anais says:

      @Roger Gray: Yep, it’s been a tough year with all sorts of factors thrown in the mix. Ms Summer never showed so the summer veggies really never took off… Yuck, that’s no fun having a neighbor that’s so inconsiderate. Ah the joys of city life. HA!

  17. Dree says:

    #1 problem: fog, fog, fog.
    #2 problem: as soon as it warms up in the fall (say…this week, for example), there is also <12 hours/sun per day, as the days get shorter and shorter!
    #3 neighbors' trees. The renters to our south have no control over the loquat planted 2 feet from the fence. The squirrels sit in it, pits out on loquats we can't reach, and throw the pits into our yard. The crazy lady behind us has an unpruned coral tree. I hate that thing, and the evil thorny babies that constantly come up in our yard. When we moved here, her parents owned the house. They were very nice, and had the tree topped yearly. They have both passed, and she inherited. Her property is also the local termite-infested nightmare. We have moved our veggie plots (ack the work!) due to these trees–and are considering adding a brewing lean-to back there. Or chickens.

    • Anais says:

      @Dree: Et tu? Good luck with your moving the veg plot, sounds like a lot of hard work – not to mention frustration!

  18. Debbie in Alabama says:

    The location I chose for my veggie garden got plenty of sun when I built it. Now, 8 years later, the trees have grown and I, too, have a shade problem. My backyard is on the north side of the house so it’s not the best to begin with. I plan to relocate all of the beds over this winter. Ugh. Lots of backbreaking work. My house faces south and the front yard would be the best solution, but my husband draws the line at growing veggies in the front yard. Have to keep it pretty for the neighbors to view! I have also had critter problems this year that have not occurred in the past. I blame it on the weird weather – too hot and dry forcing the deer and armadillos into my fenced backyard. They loved my trombocino squash, the parsley & the comfrey best. Harlequin bugs and squash bugs wreaked their special kind of terror – it gives me great pleasure to squish them! Lots of trials, but the great food is worth it!!!

    • Anais says:

      @Debbie in Alabama: Sounds like have the same problems… cept for the critters (thankfully!) Ah the trials and tribulations of growing food in the city. Sure helps to commiserate. Don’t know what we can do about the wacky weather that just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Guess it’s going to be an interesting ride.

  19. TamaraG says:

    I love your garden, and what you are doing. I appreciate your efforts at keeping up this blog and your other sites as well.

    My problem is a lack of time. My day job still takes precedence.

    Last year I had more tomatoes than I could deal with. I canned, gave away, and took extra to work for anyone who would take the surplus off my hands.

    This year I thought that I would only plant two tomato plants and with the weather weirding in the central valley, I was lucky to have some to eat at all! My carrots however did fantastic. I don’t keep track of how many pounds I grow like you do. Most of the produce is lucky to make it to the kitchen.

    So I’m planting dwarf citrus against my south facing fence. The first lemons my meyer tree produced were outstanding in flavor,(11 total) and we were eating them straight off the tree. I can’t wait for the trees to mature and reach full production. Yum

    • Anais says:

      @TamaraG: Having a job and gardening is a tough lot to juggle. I think those like yourself should be applauded even more. Every little bit counts and it’s wonderful that you are committed to do your part.

  20. Charles says:

    Pecan is a nice hardwood favored by woodworkers. It sounds as if your neighbor’s tree is mature. There may be a tempting financial incentive for your neighbor in harvesting & milling the tree into lumber, or in offering the tree to a local company for the purpose. (I’m not familiar with pecan prices but, for example, 1-inch thick cherry hardwood costs typically about $9 per board-foot (a board-foot = 1 ft by 1 ft by 1 inch) where I live.)

  21. Lindie says:

    My main problem is so much shade! I hae 8 huge trees in the yard which make cooling the house very easy but make growing vegetables and herbs almost impossible. I rent the house so can’t cut down any trees! I can grow lots of tomatoes and peppers in containers, plus an herb garden. I grow cucumbers up a tree in the courtyard but that’s about it. Fortunately I have an organic farm nearby where I can buy other things.

  22. Rachel P. says:

    I garden share with my mother who lives in a small town while I live in a larger, more urban area. My apartment doesn’t really have the green space for gardening. So we have been battling a giant black walnut tree from the neighbors property, the awful drainage problems (Oregon weather will do that) and the fact that when my parents had a new house put on their property the foundation workers put the dirt, complete with gravel, into their garden space. The bugs were particularly bad this year and we know it is because the local grass seed farmers were recently banned from burning their fields. The bugs have increased horribly and are predicted to simply get worse. We hardly had any zucchini and barely any tomatoes thanks to the bugs and the slugs. I garden to help feed my children though and all the struggles are worth it with that in mind.

  23. Linda says:

    I’m expecting a new set of problems any day now, but for the moment I’ve revelling in the improvements I’ve made over last year. Most were from my own lack of knowledge or initiative, so I buckled down and did the work: successive planting, irrigation and bug maintenance. I’m very much of a “oh, it will all work out” personality, ignoring problems instead of dealing with them. This year, I was annoyingly proactive. Irrigation was checked and fixed weekly as needed, bugs were check and sprayed for daily (as I could). My successive planting is in progress, and my transitional gardening seems to be doing better this year than last. I think the post-summer transition is the killer for me – who wants to get that work done and that ground ready for fall plants when it’s 110 out? But, I did OK this year, and haven’t had a measley 10 pound harvest month like I did last year (30+ pounds a month is my goal).

    I am continuing to grow the soil – my composting is really coming into it’s own, and I had enough compost to load up my fall growing areas this year. That, plus some organic fertilizer and amendments, and I was in business. The worms are everywhere in the garden, the soil is crumbly and loose, and things are growing pretty darn well. My last set back was from my loving dogs trampling a newly dug and seeded area – what, didn’t I soften it up just for them to lie down in? Sigh. So a taller and sturdier fence was required. That is now up, and they haven’t gotten into it yet, so I’ll reseed this week.

    I pruned my fruit trees in the hopes of getting my very first harvest this year – we’ll see. I have plans for the next set of fruit trees in January, too. And if my husband fixes the fence, I’ll plant some blackberries, too! Within 5 years, my fruit production should overwhelm my harvest numbers – my current, year to date harvest total (all veggies) is 430 pounds. Not bad! With fruit production, I’m guessing my numbers will double. Exciting!

    This is also my first year of moving my potted plants around to extend production. I moved my basil to the warmest corner in the hopes that I will still get some of that fresh come December, and moved my blueberries out in front of the fruit trees for more sunshine and more “weather”. They do need some chill to set up.

    Now is my time to ponder what I did right this summer and what I need to improve. I already have some ideas on shade cloth to extend our cool seasons for lettuce and greens, and I know I don’t need to grow tomatillos again. I’m going to try and trim back some more weed trees (Tree of Heaven – little bastards) and see if I can’t create a sunnier growing area in the back of my lot, and work on breaking up some concrete back there for more growing area. It’s a fun, and never-ending project!

  24. Jennifer says:

    Snails Snails and more SNAILS!!!! I have feed my chickens so many I think they are ready to run from me. Now that the farmers have cut all the alafa the cabbage moths have laid their eggs on my kale and califlower, at least there is some variaty for the chickens!!! Keep smiling, it makes people wonder what your thinking…

  25. Alice says:

    I am a mile from the city limits in NW Montana. I have a very short growing season. Frost and or snow can show up at any time of the year. I have deer and other critters that want to eat what I plant. Being alone it is not easy to get fences built or housing for chickens. My soil is very poor, clay and rocks. I have a neighbor that for each year since my husband passed away is saying the property line is moving over my way each year. I am having to spend money I do not have to survey the line this week. This same neighbor has allowed trees to grow and grow. Now they are invested with bettles and fall over in wind storms. There is no way to be asured that they will fall on his house not mine.
    My well will not allow my to water things as much as needed. People seem to think that my place is the place to drop all there unwanted animals. I have trapped over 30 cats that were dropped here. And their cars seem to show up on my place and other junk. I go to work and things happen when I am gone. I have to pay to dispose of them. I had a deer die trying to give birth, I could not find anyone to haul her off. I was told to load her up and take her to the dump. I could not lift her and had no truck to haul her off.
    I don’t have the muscle to do alot of the work that needs to be done. Or the money to pay someone to do it.

  26. Joyce says:

    Hi, I was wondering what your zone is for having goats, chickens and ducks in your home. My hushand and I found that we are only zone to have chickens if we have 50 feet between our neighbors and our own home to have chickens. We are thinking of talking to the mayor about getting a permit or something? What do you think?

    We really love how you guys have helped us with posting your experience. Thank you so much!!

    I am a resident manager and take care of 6 people with disabilities and we also have 3 kids. We have just started learning how to grow things at our home. My residents love it. They help me plant and they harvest the veggies. I have showed them your site many times and they love seeing all the stuff you grow.

    I am hoping that we can come and visit your place on of these days. Do you guys have hours that you guys are available for people to visit your home?

    Thank you,
    Joyce

  27. Amy Sirk says:

    Thanks for your sharing your thoughts on shade. Its important to think of the effect our actions will have on our neighbor’s ability to plant. Big additions and even bigger garages can block a lot of sunlight, making it hard to grow anything. I live in a small town so people here are very self conscious about their lawns. There is a real desire to emphasize the fact that they live “in town”, if a population of 720 can really be called “in town”. So they were not happy when I put in the garden. Every time I expand it they are even less happy. Farmers around here work thousands of acres so calling this a farm usually gets a sneer or two. I keep plugging away. I can’t wait to hear the comments when I finally get to planting the front yard.

    • Anais says:

      @Amy Sirk: Thanks for sharing, we look forward to hearing updates of your “town farm” Perhaps your neighbors will change their minds once they taste some of your homegrown goodies. 😉

  28. Jane says:

    Our greatest frustration has been, gophers and moles! My husband and I are building new garden beds! I am 66 yrs. old and have some back issues but am serious to garden! Raised beds are helpful!

  29. The Zany Housewife says:

    I have actually yet to start my garden (I just discovered your website and LOVE it!). I currently live in an apartment (N. California) with a tiny patio. Unfortunately we never seem to have direct sunlight for longer than 30 minutes at a time (our patio has trees around 50% of the area). I’m at the point right now of trying to narrow down what my options might be and learning when I’m supposed to start (I’m incredibly anxious).

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