Weeds, weeds and more weeds!

Yet another truckload of weeds ready to go to recycling center.

Yet another truckload of weeds ready to go to recycling center.

For the past two weeks I’ve spent at least two hours a day weeding. I’ve filled seven pick-up truckloads that I’ve hauled to the recycling center and there’s easily that amount still left to pull in the coming two weeks. For me that’s the worst aspect of organic gardening. I use mulch, I use weed-barrier cloth, I plant densely to try to crowd out weeds (but not so densely as to compromise air circulation), I use drip irrigation rather than overhead watering, I use organic pre-emergent granules. I’m sure those techniques help, and the problem would be worse if I didn’t do those things, BUT … it’s a never-ending battle.


Benji Nagel and Carys Wilkins, both 25, started Mahonia Gardens in Sisters, OR.

Benji Nagel and Carys Wilkins, both 25, started Mahonia Gardens in Sisters, OR.

One of the great things about the online world is the way its technology can bring together like-minded people who otherwise never would meet. New technologies like Kickstarter bring together would-be angel investors who lack the resources to be those angels in the usual financial sense, but enough of them can come together online to help small businesses get started — including low-tech businesses like small family farms in Central Oregon like Mahonia Gardens. Should Smith Rock Farm go this route? Would you be a supporter?

This season I was one of more than 100 local producers selling farm products through Central Oregon Locavore (http://centraloregonlocavore.com/), where customers order online, producers log in to find their orders, and fulfillment is every other Thursday. Now the organization has taken the next step and will open a retail store late this month.


Bluebird days ahead

After several days of snow — welcome moisture for plants in winter, when irrigation is turned off — the day dawned clear, cold, crystalline. More of the same is forecast the next few days.

View this post on Instagram

Frosty morning.

A post shared by Jan Even (@janeteven) on

I enjoy living in a rural area where I can grow fruits and vegetables. But I love to see what urban farmers are accomplishing using only the space of a city or suburban lot. Blogger Ro Kumar makes an interesting case for why urban farming is not merely a good thing, but the most important movement of our time. Read what he has to say.
In the same vein, this amazing video shows what one family in Los Angeles produces on their lot.

This first season of Smith Rock Farm has been an experiment on a lot of different levels: trying new (to me) techniques, new varieties, and most importantly, a new lifestyle. Results? Mixed. More successes than failures. It feels good to be able to bring my horse to my own barn and feed him hay that I grew, and to know the barn is full with enough to feed him until next summer’s cuttings. It was satisfying to be able to sell my organic produce. Surprising that I was the only vendor at Central Oregon Locavore selling tomatoes. Next year I’ll plant even more tomatoes. I look forward to serving my own potatoes, squash and carrots on Thanksgiving.
Most of all I’ve loved being in control of my own time, being able to work on my priorities rather than an employer’s. Although it’s only been three months since I quit my job, it’s been the happiest three months of the year.

Garden cloche

A garden cloche to protect frost-sensitive plants is much easier to build and far less expensive than a greenhouse. Photo courtesy of Oregon State University Extension Service.

We grow our tomatoes in cloches, so on cold nights we close up each cloche and we’re able to keep our plants several degrees warmer. You can get directions for how to build one from Oregon State University extension service.
Green tomatoes

If they are mature enough, green tomatoes can be ripened indoors. Photo by Judy Scott, OSU Extension Service.

If the overnight lows get down into the mid-20s, even a cloche is not going to save tomatoes. But you can pick them green and successfully ripen them indoors. Learn how. We do this every year and make sauce or salsa in the fall to enjoy all winter.

%d bloggers like this: