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?