Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Virtual Home

Come see the new incarnation of Erie's Edge blog and website at eriesedgefarm.com !

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

sowing and growing

Planting, especially direct seeding, is probably the most romantic part of growing. Some seeds are finer than a grain of sand and others are bigger than a thumb nail; they are all packets of perfect chemistry that come to life when the right conditions are present. So to take a handful of these out to a bed of prepared soil, tuck them just deep enough that their enclosed energy will be able to send seed leaves out into the sun is a magical moment. With a drink of water and a poem or song for good luck, they are ready to go. In a few short days tiny seed leaves begin to breach the surface. In the past couple of weeks I’ve sown fava beans, peas (snow, shelling and sugar snap, hyacinth), radishes (daikon and black) and carrots (yellow, orange, red and purple). The radishes come up the quickest, followed by the carrots and then the legumes.

The favas are biggest by now, big enough that I mulched them with hay to keep the weeds down around their area. Some of the peas did not germinate, so I reseeded them and I gave those seeds a head start by soaking them in cool water overnight. I try to keep areas that are direct seeded really well watered especially for the first couple of days so that the tough protective hull of the seed stays soft and so that the germinating process to stays active. I wonder if the first pea seeds I planted got too dry under the ground, especially since my nice sandy soil drains really well and there were some sunny days around that time.

I also went out on a limb a couple of weeks ago and planted my tomatoes and cucumbers well before the May 20th frost date. What really prompted me to make the choice was that my cucumbers were getting so stressed out in their little 36-tray boxes that they had started to flower. Also, some of the tomatoes in the middle of the tray had gotten really leggy, fighting for sunlight like trees in the middle of the forest. Checking the 10-day weather forecast, it seemed the temperature wouldn’t go below freezing, so I decided to go for it. Since then, some of the plants died from exposure (we had a hail storm and 60mph wind) and there is sunburn on a lot of them. So I learned my lesson: let the plants acclimate for to outside weather, bringing them in and out day and night, giving them a shady spot for first day or so. I was in too much of a rush. So that’s what my other trays of tomatoes, peppers and onions are doing at this point.

Bok choi is doing really well. I might have enough to sell at market this weekend.

I am still trying to find a comfortable rhythm for this work as it fits into my life. Soon I’ll be organized enough to plan my work more than a day ahead of time and invite you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The digs through today

Getting started on the farm has been exciting for me. I bought the property (including my house) this past fall with the intention of planting in the yard. I spent the winter learning about urban farming in the OSU Extension Market Gardener Training Course. In addition to teaching me tons of useful material, the course helped keep me focused on planning and preparing for the spring. Plus I met a great crew of other Cleveland area farmers whose projects are totally rad. In February I poured over seed catalogs, dreaming of summer bounty as snow piled outside the windows. Someone in my class aptly described ordering seeds in the bleak midwinter as 'the definition of hope.'

By mid-March my yard was still covered in snow

but I was rearing to go. I took a day trip to Ohio Earth Food to get some quality potting soil and vermicompost (worm castings). My brother lent me his industrial grow light and I put some seeds in trays underneath it.

There are 11 tomato and 2 onion varieties in this photo. By now I've started another onion variety, dwarf pak choi, 3 cucumbers, 1 eggplant, another tray of tomatoes... I think that's it. The light is so strong that the room gets really hot during the day-- its like having a piece of California in the back of my house.

The garlic that I planted in the fall was looking great by this time as well.

The next step in getting the farm ready was to prepare the soil for planting. Through the Market Gardener course I met some friends with a rotary plow that they brought to turn over the soil. It took a few hours and left Eric flat on his back by the end, but the job was done!

Thanks Eric and Anabel!

Next I hosted a work party on what turned out to be the coldest day of the last couple of weeks. The party animals were a bunch of troopers, most of whom took the time off from their own farm projects to come help out. Attenders brought over some tools, including a tiller from Pete and Virge. We busted sod and busted ass, getting the space about 80% cleaned up and ready to go.

Todd, Sara and Matt (Central Roots represent!) Virge and Pete (Urban Growth Farms represent!)

Since then Erin, David, Mom and I put in even more hours to clean up the soil. Favas and peas are in at this point, I have a big load of hay, compost bins are built and the grow light keeps on pumping size into my starts.

A Season Begins

Erie's Edge is a small farm that I am starting in the back yard of my Cleveland home. It is a good sized area (~ 3000 square feet) with lots of sun and beautiful soil.

You may be wondering why I don't just call it a garden if it is such a small space, where I am going to sell the food I produce, how I am financing my project, if I'll be the only one working and (most excitingly) what I will be growing. I can give you short quick answers to most of these questions, but the case is that this is an evolving project and I bet a lot my answers will change as I continue to understand what I'm getting into. Here I'll be chronicling my adventures, ideas, plantings, harvests, trials and celebrations.

For those of you who are interested in helping out with work on the farm, keep checking this site. I'll post my plans for work times and you'll be more than welcome to come help out. If you need my address or my phone number, leave a message and I'll get back to you asap. Thanks for all your support!