on a little land

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dragon's Tongue

dragon's tongue

Dragon's Tongue beans are a favorite at home and at work for their amazing purple patterns and sweet crunchiness. They're as easy to grow as any other bush bean, with a good steady yield.
I like to get ours from Seeds Savers Exchange, where you can order in bulk.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring Crops

last of the summer broccoli


The last of the spring crops will be harvested before the weekend--a little late, but the weather cooled last week and has allowed us one more broccoli cutting. Surprisingly, this has been one of our best broccoli years ever, even with the very high temps a few weeks ago. The kohlrabi always seems to do well. We'll probably grow quite a bit more this fall when we have more time to clear out the extra beds. We finally even found a few fava beans ready to pick. I'd never grown them before or had them fresh. They were so sweet and delicious! We'll definitely be growing loads of them next season, at work as well as home.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bee Day

the queen

We're finally going to have a hive at work! We've been waiting all year for the right time to order bees and they finally arrived yesterday via our intern from last summer, Mike. He drove down from school, picked them up from a mildly disgruntled postal worker, and installed them in our newly reconditioned hive yesterday afternoon. It was a perfect day for it--partly sunny and around 70F. Mike is going to be coming out to help us learn all about bees and how to keep them happy this year. Fascinating creatures!

bee day



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dwarf Tomato Update

dwarf tomato update

The dwarf tomato seedlings are doing really well. Most are a few inches high and starting to fill out now. The example above is a Beauty King F4, a line with a goal of red fruit with gold stripes. These are being grown in the same mix as all of our seedlings at work (and at home): 3 parts coconut coir, 1 part vermiculite, and 1 part worm castings. We'll be spraying with a weakened solution of Drammatic K (OMRI certified) fish emulsion with kelp next week.

All of the tomatoes and peppers are loving the weather lately--bright, sunny days and temps in the greenhouse between 70-95 degrees last week. Though, it looks like we'll be getting some rain this week.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Dwarf Tomato Project

starting dwarf tomatoes

We'll be participating in the Dwarf Tomato Project again this season, hopefully with a bit more success than last year. Only 2 of 13 of our 2011 batch of seeds germinated. One lost out to the giant flea beetle attack and I babied the other all through the hideous summer heat only to see it freeze less than a week after it finally began to flower.

This year, we'll be growing them at work. There will be more room, more attention, more protection, and better irrigation, so I'm excited to see what will result. We started all 73 seeds (7 different vials from 4 different lines) yesterday and put them on the heated sand last night. I'm going to keep them at home until it's time to pot up, then I'll move them back to the greenhouse and, eventually, to a little roped off area outside. I think that it's a great way for our visitors to learn more about seed saving and breeding, as well as collaborative citizen science.

You can read more about the project here.

By the way, I bought seven of the DTP releases to grow at home this year. You can get them from a few different sources now--I bought mine from Tatiana's Seed Catalog because she has a great selection and runs the incredibly useful TOMATObase, a wiki of heirloom and OP tomato information.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Southern SAWG Conference


This year, Mason and I attended the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference for the first time. It was a relatively short trip to Little Rock, AR, but we'll absolutely be willing to drive as far as needed to make it in the future.

We signed up for two pre-conference courses. The first was an intensive short course on hoop houses/high tunnels taught by Paul and Alison Wiediger from Au Naturel Farm in Kentucky. It was an eight hour session the first day with a four hour session the second, and it was packed with information! We received a copy of their book, Walking to Spring, which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in setting up a high tunnel or learning more about high tunnel growing. They were excellent presenters who allowed plenty of time for questions and discussion while still covering everything I wanted to know and more. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of their workshops or presentations, do it!

The second was a mini-course in vermiculture taught by Will Allen of (obviously) Growing Power. It was amazing to meet Will and be able to ask him questions about the specific methods they use for their vermicomposting operation, though I'd still love to see it in person. The course was off-site at Mabelvale Magnet Middle School, which has an impressive school garden program.

For us, the rest of the conference consisted of sessions on large scale composting, soil health, community food systems, and educational gardening. We also met several amazing people, work-related and otherwise, that I hope to keep in touch with and see again next year. The weekend ended with an excellent Taste of Arkansas dinner that completely changed my opinion of sweet potato pie. I wish I'd thought to take more photos. We are already sincerely ecstatic about attending next year. Thanks, SAWG!

will allen

growing power

Side note: While we were in Little Rock, we got a chance to eat at The Root, a cafe that offers (by far) the most local foods focused menu I've seen. Oh, and it was delicious--especially the shiitake burger.

shiitake mushroom burger

sweet potato fries


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Six Months Later...

Things have been going non-stop with both of us working full time. I feel as though we are just beginning to get into a rhythm that includes anything other than work, food, bed, work, food, bed. I'm hoping to keep up with posting here as we grow some fascinating new plants this spring, but good intentions, etc...

Some recent (and not so recent) photos:

Work and Gardens

SSAWG 2012
(Southern SAWG deserves a separate post!)


nicer weather




taking photos

water hyacinth

Trips and Get-Togethers


new years lunch


glass slag



Friday, August 26, 2011

Elephant Garlic

elephant garlic clove

This has been our worst growing season ever. In addition to Mason taking a new position and me beginning work full time, the weather here has made it exhausting to work in the garden at home. Because we've both been working outside, it has been difficult to muster the energy to go back out in the 100+ degree heat to work in our own garden at night. Though we have kept up with the watering, it hasn't seemed to matter. Last year, we harvested over two hundred pounds of tomatoes--this year, around ten pounds.

Our only respectable harvest has been our garlic. This clove makes me feel a tiny bit better about the other issues we've had.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Toronto Film

For posterity's sake, though they're nearly 4 months late...

flower market

honest ed's




on the streetcar

lily fruits



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Catching Up

after naps

So many things have happened since my last post that I'm not even going to attempt to accurately document them. I am typing this while listening to Prince Charles' speech streaming live from The Future of Food Conference at Georgetown, so I may be a little distracted by that as well.

In my last post, I mentioned seeding buckwheat in one of the (supposedly) fallow beds. Unfortunately, I ran out of room in the tomato garden and needed a place for my Sub-Arctic Plenty plants, along with the tomatillos and ground cherries. So, the buckwheat is now sprouting up all around these plants. I haven't read anything about using buckwheat as a living mulch, so I'll have to do some research to see if they will be able to grow in harmony.

We arrived home from our Toronto trip late Thursday evening and spent most of the weekend recovering. I waited for as long as possible before we left the Friday before to get the tomato plants into the ground. Mason was working with no time to spare, so I spent from sun up to sun down that day getting all 113 tomatoes, 6 ground cherries and 5 tomatillos into the garden.

It was still quite cool during our trip and even for the last few days, but they seem to be handling the cold well enough. It is supposed to be nice and warm for the foreseeable future, so I'm officially declaring it "almost summer". We'll be planting seeds and warm weather transplants over the next week or so.

I'm sure that I am forgetting many, many things, but I think that I'll leave it at that for now. I will try to make a post (with several photos) on our trip soon. We had an amazing time in Toronto and exhausted ourselves exploring the multiple neighborhoods that make up the city.