Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Home Organic Sustainable Mini-Farm 2007

What a title. Sounds like a lot to live up to, but actually its very simple. My backyard is approximately 30' x 100'. I am permitted to keep 3 chickens on my property, according to my city ordinance. I live in Northern California, where the weather is mild year round. I plant a cover crop in the winter with fava beans, to add nitrogen back into my soil. I have been composting and improving my soil for 10 years. I don't use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. I grow many flowers and herbs to attract beneficial insects. I don't have any disease problems.

Keeping Chickens - each chicken lays a delicious organic, free range egg daily (except during the shortest days of the year, between November and February). My chickens eat lots of insects and kitchen scraps, to produce the perfect combination of protein and fat, the healthiest food for me to eat.

Composting - decomposing kitchen and garden scraps to improve my soil, by adding nutritients back into it

Raised Beds - with copper barriers to keep snails out

Raised Beds - protected with bird netting to keep chickens out while growing vegetables

Spring Flowers 2007

Lavender, Climbing Rose, and Roman Chamomile.

Pansy - edible volunteer from last years heirloom seedlings

This bed has Stock, Cornflowers, Borage, Calendulas and Thyme in Bloom in April

This bed has Calendula and Sage in bloom in April

These Sweet Pea's were started from seed in March

These Cornflowers were started from seed last fall and over wintered inthe garden and are starting to bloom in April

These trailing nasturtium are volunteers every year.

This Rose Geranium was planted last year from a 2" seedling purchased at a nursery. It is huge now. I will be propigating this next fall, and spreding throughout the garden next year.

I don't know where this rose came from, just showed up last year in bed and I transplanted it to this container.

May 22California Poppies are finally blooming in this bed.

Fruit Tree's 2007

This Dwarf Variety Cherry tree is being protected from birds with cd's and rubber snakes this year, in hope of a decent crop.

Herbs 2007

Aloe Vera - this plant is starting to spread, yea!. Its fantastic on a sunburn, just split it open and rub directly on burn.

This dill seed was sown directly into this bed in April.

UPDATE: MAY 22The dill is filling in and seems quite happy.

Chives seeds were sown in a flat in April

CHIVES IN JULYI am so happy I was able to grow these from seed. I can't wait till next year, when I will start many more flats. I love chives. I make potato salad with only mayonaise, chives, salt and pepper. Simple and delicious. And I discovered I can eat it, without going into a flare!

Cilantro seeds were sown in this pot in April

May 22Should I transplant??

This lavender was propigated over the winter and has been transplanted into the garden and it growing quickly

This rosemary was propigated over the winter and has been transplanted into the garden and it growing quickly

This spearmint is left to spread throughout this area year after year

This in my favorite variety of Thyme

This Milk Thistle was a volunteer. They grow so huge, I usually only let one volunteer grow, the rest get pulled. This is a host plant for Monarch Butterflies.

These calendula were started from seed last fall, and overwintered in the garden

This sage was a volunteer last summer, and has grown to a beautiful specimen now.

Tomatoes 2007

Starting Tomatoes from seed is done in 3 steps:

Step #1 - germinate seeds indoors between wet coffee filters using Uncle Tom's Method.

I was not too conserned about individualy labeling all my varieties this year. I figure when they are ripe, I will be able to tell which is which. What I did was separate them according to type; cherry, early, deciduous, indeciduous - so I can decide where is the best place to plant them. I usually put cherries in containers. I'll plant deciduous ones together in one bed, and indeciduous ones in another bed. I am experimenting with early varieties this year, to see if I can plant them late, and harvet them later, as the weater starts to cool, thus extending my season.

Step #2 - transplant germinated seeds into a deep flat, spacing a few inches apart, cover lightly with soil, keep moist, in a few days the seedlings will appear above the soil.

May 11 - less then 4 weeks later

May 22 - ready to be transplanted

Step #3 - transplant into individual pots when they outgrow the flat, or directly into the ground if weather has warmed up.

This Cherry was transplanted into a wine barrel around April 15th. I also have some oregano growing, and have planted some nasturtium seeds. Over the winter I grew fava beans in this container, to bring nitrogen back into the soil. As soon as the plants start to flower, you cut the plant at soil level, leaving the roots and nitrogen in the soil, adding the green material to your compost pile to decompose.

May 18 - one month later

June 16th

These 6 determinate varieties were transplanted into a bed around April 15th, spacing 2' apart. Determinate varieties don't grow as tall as indeterminate varieties, so are easier to stake. This bed already has some thyme and oregano growing, and I directly sowed some dill and nasturtium. Interplanting vegetables, flowers and herbs in the same bed will attract beneficial insects, preventing disease.

May 18 - one month later

June 16th

July 15thThese decidious tomatoes are perfect for growing in my beds, because the hoops and bird netting prevent growing things with much height. I am amazed at all the tomatoes in clusters, on such a small plant. Fantic discovery, perfect for gardening with chickens!


Add 1/4 cup side dressing at transplanting, and continue working 1/4 cup into containers every month. I use "Down to Earth" All Purpose Fertilizer.

Another Cherry in a Basket

June 16th

A Cherry in a large container

June 16th

Lettuce 2007

This year I am growing many heirloom varieties of lettuce, including; Red Iceberg, New York Head, Bronze Arrow, Emerald Oak, Red Ridinghood, Barcarole, Butterking and Carmon Red.

Starting Lettuce from seed is done in 3 steps:

Step #1 - sow seeds directly into small flat. I use recycled food take out containers.

Step #2 - transplant on the diagional, spacing 2-3", into second larger flat. I use black plastic nursery flats, lined with newspaper.

Step #3 - transplant into permanent bed on the diagional. Planting on the diagional, allows you to fit more plants in less space, and it looks really neat and pretty when they fill in.

May 11 - The lettuce has filled in quickly, in only 2 weeks time, ready for first sping harvest. As you harvet the larger leaves, new leaves will continue to grow, for a long harvest season.

May 18 - Planted another lettuce bed this week. Red Ridinghood, Barcarole, Carmona Red and New York Head

July 15th - started some more lettuce (and Chard) seedsI am out of lettuce now in the garden. I would have started some more sooner, except I was away for 2 weeks, and had to wait till I returned to get more seeds started. They do take a little more attention.