Archive for urban farmer

Compost Is Gold!

We’re learning about compost this week (What We Learned Wednesday)! What kinds of systems are there and how much work is involved in each?

What I’ve Learned So Far

You could use a tumbler. You put your compostable scraps in and turn the handle a few times. I’ve heard they’re not too bad as far as work required, but they’re small, expensive, and look to me like they would overheat easily. However, if you only have a small space to work with then they might be the perfect match.

You could make a pile and use a stick turner. There are manual ones that you turn using your muscles and also ones that attach to drills.

If you have the space and time, you could just make a new pile each year and leave the previous ones to rot into whatever state you are happy with.

You could try using worms to do your composting in a worm bin. I haven’t yet been able to quite figure mine out; my worms die and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I think I might be keeping it too wet. I have an older model of the Worm Factory.

Me, I’m a lazy gardener. I do not want to spend time every week/month/year turning compost. I want the glorious bacteria and worms to make compost for me! I like lasagna gardening for this reason. You just make layers of compostable stuff directly on your garden, put a mulch layer on top to help retain water, and let it break down in place. Easy-peasy!

For making larger amounts to amend large areas, I think I like the idea of multiple piles that are turned less frequently, such as in this video:

Regardless of the method you choose, your plants are sure to reward you with healthier plants and higher yields! Do you use a method not discussed above? Let me know about it in the comments!

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

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Every kid hears the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Like we’re all supposed to know, magically, what’s going to be really interesting to us in the next 10-15 years that’s going to stay interesting for the following 30-40 years. And let’s face it, it seems like most adults don’t know what they want to be when they grow up!

Neither did I. In college, I had been in the following majors (in order): genetics, biological resources engineering, aerospace engineering, astronomy, physics, and psychology. I’ve worked in retail, at a horse barn, in an office (hated it!), and in child care. I have been all over the map, but I’ve found out some things about myself along the way.

I’ve found out that I can think more clearly while working outside. I found out that I hate being pinned down to a desk. I found out that I really don’t mind retail horribly. Yes, some people are jerks, but you just roll along. They’re just passing through anyway. I found out that I like to build things. I found out that I like teaching. I found out that I like learning about plants. I found out that I like to see food grow in my backyard.

So how could I combine these things: outside, building stuff, gardening, teaching (at least teaching my own child, at first), and maybe a little retail? A friend of mine sent me a YouTube video called “How to Make $100,000 Farming 1/2 Acre You Don’t Own” by Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens where he interviews Curtis Stone about urban farming. Viola! An idea was born.

I have 4 acres. Sure the goats need a lot of it, but they don’t need all of it! Marketing gardening will theurbanfarmerdefinitely get me outside, gardening, and a little bit of retail. And Curtis Stone talked about making $100,000 from his small plots? Sold! I ordered his book, “The Urban Farmer“,”The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier, “Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre” by Brett L. Markham, and “Homegrown Herbs: A Complete Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying More than 100 Herbs” by Tammi Hartung.

I know there’s a farmer’s market about 20 minutes from us. My plan going forward is to go to the farmer’s market a few times before they close for the season to see what kind of things are there and then learn the heck out growing food for others!

In a country where only about 2% of the population farms and the average age of farmers is roughly 60 years old (and about 1/3 of farmers are over 65 while only 16% are under 45), seems to me there’s plenty of space for noobs in this field! Anyone else consider going into small-acreage farming? I’d love to hear of your experience!