A Front Yard Gardener's Tales and Adventures

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This farm journal actually started about three weeks ago. I will go ahead and sum up what I have written thus far:

December 16th, 2009 - I built a cold frame today out of mostly recycled materials I found in the alley ways. I knocked on Eric's door to see if I could liberate some discarded windows from the edge of his property. It really wasn't too hard to put together. The size is about 45" x 30" x 11" (depth).

December 17th, 2009 - Cold frame got up to 82 degrees on a sunny, 50 degree day. Put some strawberries we have growing in pots inside as a tester.

December 18th, 2009 - I outlined the dimensions of our gardens as well as the crops we hope to plant. I will do this at a later date so that I can incorporate pictures.

I started three different kinds of lettuce today in a flower box. Abbo Green Oak Leaf (2008 seeds), Abbo Forellenschluss (2008), and Mixed Greens from Renfrow (Matthews NC 2008). As an experiment, I went light on the green oak, medium on the forel., and heavy on the mixed greens.

Brief list of activities to work on
-a crop plan / planting schedule
-master list of seeds
-list of what seeds we have given to people to organize feedback
-harvest estimates / goals

One of my main goals is to grow 100 POUNDS OF TOMATOES.

Read today that Genovese and Italian Large Leaf basil are basic varieties that produces high yields and are excellent for pesto. Because I have never had luck with basil, I think it would be a good idea to stick with the basics.

December 20th, 2009 - Some of the lettuce seeds are starting to germinate already. The seeds that didn't make it under the soil (human error) are popping open.

What is my overall goal with this blog and my farming activities. Currently, as I am unemployed, it is a way to keep my mind active and, since I have time on my hands, it is a great opportunity to learn something new. How far do I want to take this newfound passion? Sure, Julia and I have plans to wwoof one day in Europe and both of us would love to one day own land where we can enjoy a large garden. But is it going to be a large garden or a small farm? Will we ever get to the point where we are actually selling our produce for profit. If so, how do we get to that point? What if I can find a part time job that pays the bills while my other part time job is to garden.

A small scale organic farm. Is that my goal? Why would it be my goal? Farming is hard work, labor intensive, and economically speaking, there is very little margin for error. It is a hard business to crack into and often depends on a large, front end capital investment. Even the cold frame which I fantasized over being created with only recycled materials ended up costing me $17. I'm not even sure I have the back for that kind of career.

What are the advantages? You are your own boss, you control your own fate (to some extent, weather permitting), and you can literally see the fruits of your labor. I am a happy man when I see new growth on a plant, the first tomatoes of the season, or the constant wave of new flowers.

When I was younger, I wanted to be the youngest stock broker, then I wanted to be the youngest real estate agent, making hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, well before I was 30. Now, I will be lucky if I make $50,ooo/yr by the time I am 30. Am I okay with it because I am accepting mediocrity or has my lifestyle changed? I don't need the money any more. I don't want to be a workaholic. Are farmers workaholics? Perhaps farming is different because it is a glorified hobby (when on a small scale), only for those who have the passion. Farming is more of a lifestyle, more so than that corporate man who works the same amount of hours. Though, one could argue that you fan make a lifestyle out of being a corporate man...

Then, what is my next step? I can continue to put in hours of labor and perfect the 400 square feet of garden that I have today. I can try to learn as much as possible about this life.

December 21st

I can't wait for spring. I am so excited about planting seeds and then watching our crops grow. I wonder how much money we can save by gardening.

Lots of lettuce seeds sprouting up, looking good. I figured out today that we probably spend about $6 on lettuce a week. I think there are about eight months in the year where we can grow and harvest lettuce. That means, we can save close to $200 a year on lettuce alone!

What if we are able to grow all of our garlic, onions, and shallots. Do we spend $2 a week on these items? If so, thats another $100 in savings.

January 4th, 2010

Back in Colorado, I am happy that our plants and house were well taken care of. Thanks Kristine and Michael. The lettuce seedlings are doing well, however, because they have been kept inside (albeit under a heat lamp), I am a little worried about how leggy they are becoming. Some of the sprouts are six inches tall but most are about three.

There is one rogue sprout: it is very thick, tall, and has two true thick leaves. It quite possibly could be lettuce (I have no idea), but why is there only one? Regardless, I am going to let it grow.

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