Ahem, may I have your attention please? I just want to fess up here. I’m a long way off from being self-sustaining. The city garden did not produce as much as I had hoped. So for those of you who were looking to be fed a harvest dinner, with Henry and the Hens begging at your feet, I’m sorry to disappoint, maybe next year?
So here’s a list of what I need to remember for next year:
- Don’t order so many seeds. There’s just not enough room for everyone, which leads to point #2.
- Leave more room for growing. And thin out seedlings like the package direction says.
- Start seeds much earlier in the greenhouse. Our trip to China set me back a month.
- Label and throughly mark all plants so they don’t get mixed up. Leeks, green onions & chinese chives all come up looking the same, as do various squashes, melons, beans & tomatoes.
- Check-in more often and keep it tidy. I was plagued by what I thought was beans. By the time I realized it was a weed (bur cucumber), it had overgown and choked out most of my garden and fruit trees. Next year, I will definitely pay attention to points 1. & 4.
This is the dreaded bur cucumber, a very invasive weed that grows fast and will climb over trees and plants choking it of sunlight. I honestly thought it was one of the many varieties of beans, squash or melon that I had planted.
This was taken when the vines of the bur cucumber just started to overtake the garden. After two weeks away at the cottage, I came back to find everything completely buried in this vine. I still left it, thinking that it would grow into something edible.
When the pretty little white flowers on the vine started to form this ugly seed pod, I knew it wasn’t a bean. I had to act fast and pull everything down before the seeds ripened and dispersed everywhere. As a result, many plants in it’s path suffered.
Baby Blue Jade Corn next to a regular size ear of corn.
But my corn did not suffer. I was most excited to try Baby Blue Jade Corn. This miniature heirloom can be grown successfully in containers and reaches only about 2-3 feet high, a perfect small size for the urban farm. They are sweet and the colour is so pretty in a salsa, salad or Zucchini Corn Relish.
Late summer in a jar. Visit Eat Boutique for the full post and recipe for this sweet & savoury relish.
Most of the harvest from July and August were just one or two items. Enough for a meal here and there, but not enough to freeze or squirrel away for the winter.
This is True Red Cranberry Bean. A rare heirloom that was rediscovered by a bean collector after an 11-year search. It is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste. The whole pod can be eaten young as a snap bean, or it can be left to mature and dried for storage.
Bok choy ready for wontons.
Strawberries in the aquaponics bed & salad bar in an urn.
Buttercup and butternut squash, and an unidentified yellow melon.
My backyard orchard which I first told you about in March did okay. Not an abundant supply of fruit, but it’s only the first year. The netting did a pretty good job of keeping out the squirrels, but not Mario, our painter who helped himself here and there to our tomatoes and plums while he worked.
The multi-fruited asian pear tree, suffered from rust. None of the fruit matured.
The greenhouse produced some pretty great english cucumbers. They would grow an inch a day right out of the aquaponics bed. Though I didn’t have a huge amount of prawn poop to power this grow bed, it did surprisingly well. I’m pleased to report that having the tanks in the ground made a huge difference in water temperature. It never got too hot, even with the record-breaking July heat.
The Malaysian Freshwater Prawns that I first posted about in June are alive and well, even though there seems to be 1,000 missing. They haven’t reached a good eating size yet. From what I can see, there might only be about 50 left. Kind of sad when we originally started out with 1,100 juveniles. Maybe Mario was here.
What’s puzzling, is that some are really big, while others are still quite small. This past month, I raised the temperatures in the tank closer to 85•F. It must be working as there seems to be more growth and activity in the tanks. In the southern U.S. where the prawns are farmed commercially, they are grown in outdoor ponds and harvest is typically October when the water temperature drops. Hopefully, we can maintain a warm environment in the greenhouse to let them get twice as big.
To get a sense of their size, each square in the netting is just under one inch.
Prawns molt as they grow, leaving them vulnerable to cannibalism before their new shells harden. Imagine just slipping out of this?
So there you have it. A constant work in progress. More updates soon including, “Living With a Pig”.