Sow: education & expansion

Despite having a cold and the weather being gray and kind of misty, I had an action-packed Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm weekend.

Saturday afternoon, Bruce and I attended Terrific Tomatoes — a three-hour long class on how to grow better tomatoes in North Texas. Well, I certainly know a few more things that I did wrong with both the spring and fall crops. I now know that I have to plant the transplants a lot deeper. I know how to fertilize correctly. I know when to plant (very soon) and that I’m going to have to cover them whenever the temperature threatens to get below 40° F. We learned about the best varieties to plant, pests, watering, and pretty much everything you might need to know about tomatoes.There’s even a new kind of grafted tomatoes which may be more tolerant of our rapid weather swings and crazy heat. We’re excited to get planting. But we need to wait until mid-February.

A green zebra from our spring 2012 crop

A green zebra from our spring 2012 crop

Like I said this was an outdoor weekend. I harvested the last of the carrots and bok choi this morning and puttered about the garden first thing this morning.Then we got down to business. After taking the 3G Network for an extra long walk, we all jumped in the pickup and headed out to the country to pick up the first amendment for the spring 2013 Urban Farm season. Our closest Tractor Supply Company is in Mesquite which is about 25 minutes from our house in North Dallas—it’s not really that country but it’s where the rodeo takes place.

All of the dogs enjoy riding in the truck (we have a crew cab with flip up seats in the back which makes it a perfect canine transporter). Godiva loves to surf the console and perch between the front and the back so she can see where we’re going. Guinness and George are tall enough to look out the windows. Luckily they’re all good passengers.

stock tank

example of the type of stock tanks we have, they are normally used as water containers for livestock

Once we got to the Tractor Supply, Bruce picked up our 3rd stock tank and some landscape cloth (more about that in a few paragraphs). They’re great for growing lots of stuff but I think this spring, we’ll focus on growing root veggies like carrots and beets in them. Right now the two that we have are full of spinach, red romaine and kale.


the Urban Farm under construction today

the Urban Farm under construction today

Next, we dropped the stock tank and the dogs off at home and headed back to North Haven Gardens for another raised bed kit, earthworm casings and a truck bed full of bags of soil, composted cow manure, compost, and top soil. We headed back home to get super dirty assembling the raised bed, moving what seemed like hundreds of bags of stuff, and filling up the new stock tank and the new raised bed. We scattered worm castings amongst all the raised beds—something we learned from Saturday’s class. Supposedly not only will we get richer and more active soil (which will hopefully lead to bigger, tastier veggies), we’ll also get earthworms since there are earthworm eggs in the castings. What we learned in the class is that preparing the beds while ahead of planting lets beneficial microbes get active in the soil. That doesn’t matter to the 3G Network—they just enjoyed sniffing at the fresh dirt. Hopefully we don’t find George-sized body divots or Godiva sized holes dug in the middle of the new bed…

the new raised bed and stock tank plus the 3G Network

Then we began making the Urban Farm look nicer. Bruce put the farm sign back up on the fence.

Next, we put down landscaping cloth amongst the 3 stock tanks and the 4 raised beds to help kill off the weeds around them. Next weekend (or maybe this week if we’re ambitious and work cooperates), we’ll be adding some pine straw mulch—something else we learned about during the class—which will make it a lot nicer to walk around everything. It will also help to make the yard look nicer and more finished.

I folded up the frost cloths. This week’s temperatures are going to be in the 60°s so unless something changes, we won’t need them.

Finally, I picked a bunch of kale, collards, mixed salad greens and spinach for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. Have to say that after all of this, I’m a lot tired and my cold will probably not keep me up tonight!