Went out to the farm for the first time in 2 weeks. Mowed the yard and watered the apple trees which were looking pretty dry. The lone watermelon is getting bigger and the mint plant is growing like mad and starting to flower. The green beans are growing up the extended trellis and starting to bud. potato plants are about 6-8 inches high now; will add another layer of dirt next time. The tomato plants are not really getting enough water to thrive- they’re about 18″ compared to the ones on my patio planted at the same which are now 6′ tall. I did however harvest these 2 pristine tomatoes:
I went out to the farm yesterday and filled up the water tank. The drip irrigation seems to be working great for the mint plant, watermelon, and some of the peppers, but the cucumbers were dead and the beans were looking pretty dry. Now that it’s getting really hot you can tell where the drippers are working by where the weeds and grass infiltrating the beds are green and flourishing. I need to take some time to plan/redo some of the beds and drip irrigation supply instead of continuing an ad hoc approach. Free time is hard to come by! I’m quickly developing an appreciation for how much work is involved in farming. Defintely more complex than 1)plant seed 2)watch it grow 3)pick and eat. Farming = fighting/shaping entropy. Here are some pics of the extended green bean trellis and developing watermelon:
About a week ago I built a potato box for the farm. When I went out there today the potatoes sprouts had started growing leaves, so hopefully it will work.
The leaves on the apple trees looked less wilted, but I gave them a good watering anyway.
There were also a few more ripe raspberries, so I got a nice snack out of those.
Sprouts from a few carrots seem to be poking up and there are a few green tomatoes. Overall the beds are getting pretty overgrown with weeds and the beans need another layer of supports to climb. Looks like I need to have a work day pretty soon!
The lot as it looked when I first purchased it in the fall of 2009:
It’s hard to grow vegetables without water, so the water source was a key consideration in planning the garden. The site has city water, but getting it turned on is tied up with getting a building plan approved, so until the City of Dallas gets around to changing its zoning laws to support gardens my options are rain water catchment or getting water from my neighbors. I’m fortunate to have good neighbors on both sides, so for now I’m using my neighbor’s faucet to fill up the 330 gallon tank.
I got the tank from a feed store for about $100. It originally held 80x Hawaiian Punch concentrate- enough to make over 26,000 gallons of punch!
Since I don’t have time to go out and water the plants everyday, the next step was to set up some kind of automatic watering system. I initially tried plastic spikes that hold a 2 liter bottle, but I found they drained too quickly in the sandy soil (<1 hr). Next I tried soaker hoses, but they were too unruly to lay out where I wanted them in the beds. I think the water pressure going through the automatic watering device was also too low for them to be effective. I'm currently experimenting with dip irrigation which seems to be working OK and then going out about once a week to water the apple trees and anything else that looks dry. I used the Drip Irrigation for Dummies Kit to get started and am adding on components from Home Depot as I go along.
Another view of an automatic watering device and drip irrigation from a fact finding trip to another garden:
I got an email from a friend yesterday telling me about a site called shared earth that connects people who want to garden with people who have land available for gardening. Check it out if you’re interested. I just listed the mini farm on their site, we’ll see how it develops. I’m not sure how long the site has been up, but so far it looks like there’s just 2 gardeners listed in Dallas and now 1 garden. This one!
What is the Metropolitan Mini Farm? There will be more info and context in the future, but for now let’s call it a work in progress for exploring urban farming/community gardening in Dallas. Here are some initial pictures of the farm showing the fence built over spring break last week and some of the first plantings.