Arsenal of Tromboncino squash from FreedomSeeds.org

Rosa Bianca eggplant from FreedomSeeds.org

Red Marconi peppers from FreedomSeeds.org

Fall garden

Rouge D’Hiver Lettuce greens galore from FreedomSeeds.org

Dwarf Grey Sugar peas from FreedomSeeds.org

Cabbage and onions

The year is slowly coming to a close and with the cooler weather we enter a new growing season here on the urban homestead.

October was a busy month for us – we had a slew of work traveling and presentations (more on those later) so the harvest was slightly lower than previous years.

I don’t know about you but I kinda hate it when it gets dark at 5 pm.  I mean it’s great for getting inside work done but when there’s lots of outside work to be done it leaves you wishing for a wee bit more daylight.

Anyhow, luckily the high winds we had last week didn’t do much damage – only topple over our one and only huge banana stalk.  So no bananas again this year.  Oh well.

There’s lots to be done in the garden as we transition from summer to fall.  The guys have been building the raised beds – adding another layer of wood.   Also there’s a slew of fall plantings and last of the summer harvest and preserving needing to be done.


Produce: 382 lbs
Eggs (molting season so the poultry is on “vacation” growing a new set of duds)  26 Duck    45 Chicken

Since we are still directly and indirectly living off the land, we of course don’t eat the entire 6,000 lbs — 30% of which we sell for income.  This year we made a conscious decision to growing community and spreading the seeds of our 25 year urban homesteading journey.

Though, the garden provided us with our daily ” bread” and stock up for the winter this year the excess produce that we depend on for income took a hit.  It was a challenge this year to balance both and hope that our readers will continue to support our non profit outreach so that we continue to growing the future (learn how you can support our work).

We still aim to keep our knees on the ground and hands in the dirt so we try our best to do both as various new projects and commitments start vying for our time and efforts.

Fall Plantings & Summer Harvesting

October and even November can be mild in So Cal so we are lucky to still harvesting beans, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and even apples!  We don’t have the room for a greenhouse so we just let nature do her thing.   We really don’t have to start worrying about frost till December or even January.

Every year is a challenge – growing wise.  Even more so these last five years as climate change is becoming more apparent in wreaking havoc with growing cycles.

So what is an urban farmer to do?  The guys have been mulling over the implications of a changing climate — those closest to the soil are on the front lines of climate change!

Farmer D believes it’s all about growing soil but even then with a mediocre weather year has one eating some humble pie and scratching our heads.    What methods and practices can we add to help weather this climatic storm?  Back to the drawing board….

We have heard feedback from other gardeners about how ‘the times they are a changin!’ One story that sticks out was about one veteran So Cal gardener (85 years old) who has, in the last five years, stopped growing tomatoes because of the changing weather patterns that made it too hard to get a decent harvest.  Yikes, that doesn’t sound very hopeful.

How can we as urban farmers adapt to an changing climate that plagues our gardens with unusual bug issues the likes of which we’ve never seen before?  Or roller coaster weather patterns which have the plants all confused and not flowering and fruiting on their normal time schedule?

Growing food is hard enough, growing food with dose of climate change is going to be challenge for us all.   Heck, some days this year things looked so hopeless that throwing in the trowel and getting a “real job” looked mighty tempting (yeah, that thought only lasted about a few seconds!)  Those are the days when you pick yourself up, dust your knees off (dry a few tears) with a dose of persistence and resolve say to yourself “I NOT giving up!” (Especially with Ma, Pa and Laura Ingalls looking over your shoulders)

Our pioneer peers faced their own set of trails and tribulations and they survived.  We, too, are going to have to figure something out and fast.

So while I sit here and share with you I can overhear the guys in the other room talking about ways to improve their farming practices.

There’s lots on the table here on the urban homestead (besides food) so it will be interesting to see what 2010 (ok I just cringed writing that) has in store.  2009 flew by way to fast – for me!

As the pioneers of old looked to the west for new opportunities, we modern (urban) pioneers are forging paths in our backyards – inwards in turning ordinary homes into thriving urban homesteads what we hope will be viable for a long, long time.


  1. Janice Engelberth says:

    Some of those photos could be enlarged for artwork. especially the squah.
    I really enjoyed today’s essay.

  2. Janice Engelberth says:

    Some of these photos could be used for art work. I especially loved the gourds.
    Today’s essay was excellent.

  3. Janice Engelberth says:

    Some of these photos are excellent, Great to use for art work. Especially the squash.
    Today’s essay was excellent.

  4. Charles says:

    Interesting article. Would you explain one of the photos? You seem to be using cattle panel fencing (that’s what we call it here in CO) over a raised bed of lettuce. What is it’s function?

  5. CE says:

    Yeah I was wondering about that metal panel also. Is it to deter cats or is that a bed of peas that will need support?
    I agree that the photos are beautiful and boy am I jealous! My cold crops are doing fine but that’s it for this area.
    I was wondering if you all have ever considered “renting” your neighbors yards. Philidelphia piloted the project and now many growers use this idea. Their farm is spread out over several yards. They may pay rent but usually it is in produce. The family is pleased to get the fresh produce and no have to care for the yard. Win win. I works because of low overhead and the focus on speciality or higher value crops and premium prices for that quality.

  6. Rebecca says:

    me too, wondered the reason for the ‘hog wire’ over the crop…
    and since I paint on porcelain, yes, those pictures are worthy of subjects to be painted…I agree.
    everyone is ahead of me..
    I was also wondering about the possibility of renting other otherwise unused properties.
    I am so distressed, when driving around my area, to see so much land, just wasted..
    fields and large yards…not a thing growing…such a waste that I wasn’t aware of or paid much attention to, before finding this site.
    except to think about how many Christmas trees could be grown on a lot..lol
    I always look forward to the updates and journal.
    it’s all good and helpful.

  7. Charles says:

    A word to Rebecca: ever think of starting a community garden? They’re very popular in parts of Denver (where I live) and other cities (from what I understand).

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