Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nature provides

I have been blown away by all the things edible and useful that have been growing around me but unnoticed due to my ignorance. I found a product called Soapnuts at the healthfood store and desperately wanted to find a Soapberry tree so I could grow my own. After long searches on the internet, I had almost given up. That is when I noticed a few trees out at my land that I had ignored previously. I HAD SOAPBERRIES GROWING ON MY LAND!!! I couldnt believe it. I could wash my clothes with berries.

I will take some pics soon but until then just use this link.

I was frustrated with all the Mesquite out at the land until I found out that the pods and seeds could be eaten or made into flour.

I hated the Hackberries at the house until I found out that the little berries were edible and tasted pretty good. Some had a very hard seed and others had seeds like M&Ms.

Today I was pulling up weeds to give to the chickens but I wanted to ID them first. To my delight, the weed I had been battling for the last few years was Chickweed. It is completely edible and unlike other wild plants, it had a nice mellow taste to it. I made sure to id the leaves, flowers and hairy stems before taking the plunge. I also posted pictures on a gardening site to get multiple confirmations.

I have been desperately trying to grow an edible groundcover in the yard for years and it turns out I had been trying to kill what I wanted the whole time. Here are some pics of the cute little guy.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Trees! Trees! Trees!

We received our shipment of trees for the orchard but had to wait a day before planting them. They were all bareroot so we lined them up in the yard and covered them with wet blankets.

Here are some of the root systems on these beauties.

I have some 3n1 Apples, Shinko and Hosui Asian Pears, SugarCane Jujube, Black Mission Fig, Plums and Angel Red Pomegranates.

The first thing I did was go plant five at my neighbors house down the street so she could start on her home orchard. I also picked through the trees to find the best additions to my house and one Plum for my mother-in-law next door. I still have two Black Mission figs that might find a home around town.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Urban Harvest Fruit Sale

I convinced the wife to come with me to Houston for this big sale. Last year they sold about 8000 trees in a few hours. We showed up about 15 minutes early but the line was already about 1/4 mile long. We purchased two Avocado (one for my dentist), three Kumquat and one Persimmon. I wasnt able to get one of the low chill Cherries as they sold out asap.

The line to get out was just as long and twice as slow. It snaked around in circles and through a stadium at the University of Houston.

Finally we got out of there and Katinka was happy it was done.

Little did I know I would be taken around town hitting craft stores and estate sales. We ended up in small towns trying to get deals on junk and treasure. We also stopped at the Matt Family Orchard and had a nice personal tour of the place. It was a nice day even with the rain.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just plain weird

Have you ever had a picture, symbol or word that you draw over and over when you are bored. I did when I was younger and I got it tattooed on my foot about 16 years ago. As far as I know, the symbol has no meaning. I was looking at it the other night and noticed that it spelled out UF. Now it is my official Urban Farming symbol. Feel free to draw it on any Monsanto product or fast food establishment. It will make me sleep better at night.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Clay Pot Effect

If you are not cursed/blessed with heavy clay soil, you can skip this entry.

I have mentioned the "clay pot effect" a few times on my blog. This is when you dig into clay soil an create a slick edge with the shovel that impaires the roots from growing. Once the slick edge hardens, the roots are unable to penetrate it. This will force the roots to turn back into themselves and the plant becomes rootbound. Either the roots eventually penetrate the hard edge in two to three years or the plant dies. It also hinders drainage around the plant and it can drown after heavy rains.

Today we went out to the orchard to dig holes for trees coming in this winter. We used a Bobcat with an 18 inch auger bit to drill out the holes. You easily get a large hole about 2-3 feet deep but it creates a very hard slick edge in the clay. To fix this problem, I use a fork to penetrate the slick surface and pop the soil out. You can use this same method when planting with a shovel in the backyard. Dig it out with a shovel first and then use a fork to pop the edges.

Wife in the Bobcat. She handles it like a pro.

Here is the hole with very slick hard edges. Digging with a shovel can create this same problem to a less extent. The shade is making it hard to really see how bad it really is.

Buy a really good fork for this job. None of the cheapo forks will last long if you have a lot of holes to pop.

The end result is a hole with rough edges that allow roots to more easily penetrate into the outside soil. I only worked the top 18 inches of the hole and the bottom. Most of the roots will grow laterally in the top 14 inches of clay and slowly work down since the aeration of clay is so poor. In addition, there will also be a larger taproot that goes straight down on many of my fruit trees. It provides water to the tree in times of drought.