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Saturday, May 29, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I usually do not try to offer my referrals to business ventures but I have found one I think you would thoroughly enjoy and that I believe fits into today's busy world and limited outdoor space.
I would like to introduce you to a business that has been here in Jackson, TN since January 02, 2007. It called "PERPETUAL HARVEST", located at 75 Riverport Dr, Jackson, TN 38301. Perpetual Harvest is a family owned business that features the advantages of year round gardening indoors as well as out. From hydroponics to portable grow rooms, from lighting to air pumps, from liquid natural & synthetic fertilizers to soil & soil-less mixes you will find a wealth of new and exciting information that can open a new world of gardening for us all.

I went there today and had a long, enchanted visit with the owner, Emily Atkeison, who came to Jackson to open this marvelous company from Memphis, TN. Emily showed me around the store and shared a lot of her knowledge and her commitment to not only growing her own food for immediate consumption but I enjoyed the fact that she can teach one how make it work for year round use. But with the idea of her 365-days a year gardening techniques one can eat fresh vegetables and herbs all year round without the need for canning or freezing or other preserving. Her hands on type of business allows close contact with her customer base and she is quite knowledgable and helpful and I found her to be a consumer-minded person, making sure she tells you what you actually NEED rather than just selling you something.
As an "outside gardener" at heart here at the urban farm, I was jolted by the sight of the large, outside "SMART POTS". These are soft sided pots, made from fibrous recycled materials that naturally aerates and "air prunes" the plant roots to create a better root system and allow more cooling than plastic or even clay pots. I was very impressed with these and see a good use for them not only if one would be dealing with nursery stock but in the home garden as well. I can see these being used to not only stop the need for weeding all together but as a way to make your vegetable garden into a series of raised-type of specialty beds that can be used to keep certain elements from causing problems such as pets (or even pest I think) and other issues from flooding rains and the need to till or dig an "in ground" garden and create a more specific area for gardening. I was very impressed with this item seen below from the side of the entrance to "Perpetual Harvest".

I was also impressed with the truly space age item called the "Grow Lab". I did not take a photo of that on the inside of the store but you can find it "in store" or see it online at I tried to copy and paste an online photo to this posting but it is a copyright infringement to do so. But those of you close to Jackson MUST go see this indoor growing "tent" actually. I holds heat and uses LED lighting as well as fan driven fresh air to keep all elements needed for a specific growing status. Quite impressive. I spoke with Emily about the evident use in space exploration and she told me that indeed it had been used and tested on some space flights over the years. I could truly see it on the space station to grow food and create some oxygen as well, used on a larger basis of course.
I think anyone within driving distance of Jackson would greatly benefit from a visit and RETURN visits to "PERPETUAL HARVEST" and this Garden Daddy gives "PH" 2-thumbs up for a job well done! Again, I usually do not promote businesses on my postings but felt compelled to do so in this case. A truly awesome, must-see place to shop and visit! Thanks, Emily, for a tour and all the information! You can find "PERPETUAL HARVEST" on a link at the top of this site for your convenience.
Things remain constant with the addition of tomato plants going in over at my site at the Jackson Community Gardens. Almost daily tilling continues of new plots and I planted 26-tomato plants yesterday as well as some okra and several kinds of flower seeds. It seems there are problems with keeping the gardeners interested and due to the nature and area of this site it will be difficult to NOT have it become the GARDEN DADDY garden site in the long run I fear! But I made a commitment to see it through and will do just that until at least the end of October. Here is the result of this weeks work there.

This Garden Daddy will leave you then with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Friday, May 28, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! It has been a few days since I have been able to visit with you and a busy few days it has been. I have been working on the Jackson Community Garden sites, both mine and helping another coordinator till over at his site over on Glendale St. here in Jackson, TN. It has been a HUGE, time consuming and daunting task to got from bare, raw land loaded with grass roots, brick, broken glass, even broken sewer pipes and small pieces of lumber long buried after the houses have been demolished and bulldozed down and covered.
My comrade I was assisting worked his site last year and it was in pretty good, easy shape to get tilled up and we now have it looking great and he has it marked off and ready for planting this weekend. Over at my bare ground site, having NEVER been tilled, I am working many-many hours in this unseasonable heat and humidity to get it ready to plant. Then this morning I find out that some of my gardeners have said it has taken too long and have lost interest and I am having trouble finding others to replace them. I can only say that between all the problems that have arisen here over at my site, with the issue of the City of Jackson deciding NOT to be involved on property that they, the City, do not own outright has set this particular project back to almost day one back last winter in the planning stages. I do not see any way to make this work unless I go FULL-TILT myself and just make it work and then just plant it and let the "community at large " and NOT the individual gardeners go in and just harvest what ever they want.
Here are some shots of what was done over at the other site at Glendale St. and what it looks like and ready for planting. Here is your Garden Daddy out running the tiller over there and then the outcome of almost 3-hours of tilling.
After finishing up at this site I went over around the corner and worked on my site, walking distance from here around the block a little. I have several small plots tilled up so far. I am not tilling the entire site but only plots I have or had gardeners for. I cannot do it all alone as the task is just too much for me. I realize that my 56-years of age does not allow me to keep running like I was still 30 y/o any longer. It just cannot be done by myself without some added gardeners. But I will do what I can and keep the positive outlook and try to make it into something and full fill my obligation I agreed to do and make it work for this summer anyway.
The garden here at the urban farm is coming in nicely, of course, with young yellow squash and zucchini already forming and most every thing else blooming, except the purple hull peas. I have harvested the last of the snow peas this week and have them strung, tipped and cleaned and washed and in the fridge, ready to blanch and freeze. It looks like a good, productive harvest here at the urban farm this summer.
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Sunday, May 23, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! Well, I wrote yesterday I had gotten a set of banty hens and a "non-crowing" rooster from a chicken swap here in Jackson, TN at Tractor Supply. I found out there is no such thing as a NON-CROWING rooster. Believe me...he crows! At 3:05am this morning, I woke from a deep sleep and dreams to the sound of myself screaming out loud, "OH NO"! I jumped out of bed like I had been shot and realized the little roo was going to town with his crow. I know my in-town neighbors are loving me this morning. I have some tall apologies to make today..."Lucy, you got some splainin' to do" is what it will be. But they are going to a new home today. I think my youngest brother is taking them for his new retreat & get-away home he has built.
They are good birds but I just cannot have the noise here in town. I wish I could as the little hens both laid eggs yesterday after I brought them home. They are good, quiet and easily handled but that darn rooster just had to learn to crow over night, right? I think because he was around a more dominate rooster that he just didn't was not that he couldn't crow! It was not that loud but it was very evident what it was. He only crowd about 5 or 6 times this morning but it was, of course, unmistakable as to what and where it was coming from and that was my back yard here in the city center of Jackson, TN.
So, a good lesson learned, boys & girls. ALL ROOSTERS CROW. I leave you this morning here at 4:40am with our on going gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG (& NO ROOSTER) AT A TIME!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! As this posting title suggest, yes I am guilty of becoming chicken obsessed now. I attended a "chicken swap" this morning here in Jackson, TN at my local Tractor Supply, meeting up with other members of the West TN Poultry Club and again, asking many questions and soaking up information like a sponge. While there, one of the originators of the local group had several birds for sale. He and his family had some ducks, baby chicks and some grown hens and roosters for sale. I hung around for a couple of hours and some folks from a local Chinese restaurant came over and purchased some grown birds and we jokingly commented that they were heading for the buffet and "today's special"!
When all was said and done and most everything else had been sold, I kept thinking about the one black and one white Cochin hens and one lovely Silky rooster that were left. The odd thing about that little rooster was he kept trying to crow but nothing came out. He kept trying and trying and still nothing. I often commented to the owners who were selling him that he is exactly what I needed here in the city as I cannot have a "noise violation" here. And after a few hours I could stand it no longer and brought the trio home here to the urban farm.
I worked them up into my old brooder cage, turning it upside down and letting the larger openings in the top become the bottom for ease of ground foraging and then added some layer crumbles, water founts, crushed oyster shells and some grit (crushed granite). I also cut up a left over milk crate, taking one side down a little with a jig saw, added some fresh wheat straw and put a shade top on it and fixed an area where my little dog, MAX, could not access them and scare them to death with his barking. My little chicks are used to him but these new arrivals were not and made a huge noise when he approached the cage.
Then what do you think happened about 2 or so hours after getting them set up and left alone? I when out to look at them again and finish up some other projects before my shower time and early dinner and the little black hen was up in the nest box. Then I went out about 30- minutes later and there was a small egg! I was elated. I left them alone about another 30-minutes and went out to get the egg and there was a 2nd egg as well - two eggs from two little hens in their first day here. I just could not believe it. I have taken some photos for your enjoyment and even put the little eggs beside a store bought "jumbo" egg for comparison. I think they are small pullets, even though some of my little pullets are almost that size so I am starting to think they are really Bantam Cochins. These eggs are really small and that is OK in itself. But the thrill I have had today here at the urban farm out weights any "egg-sizing" one would worry about any way! Look below for the new arrivals today.
The vegetable patch here at the urban farm continues to thrive and plants are growing and giving hope for a nice harvest of much produce. My neighbors are patiently waiting for eggplant, tomatoes, squash (yellow & zucchini), cucumbers, peppers (bell, sweet banana & hot) and then the other things I am planting over at the Jackson Community Garden site as well. That has yet to be planted due to many obstacles but hopefully I have gotten most of them fixed for now.
So I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation and invite you back to visit with me again: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, May 15, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I would like to share with you something I have been growing in my perennial bed in the front-side of this garden home. It is a Penstemon digitalis "Husker Red". I think you will find this to be a true show stopper in your garden with its lovely spikes of white to pale lavender tubular flowers on top of rigid stems, reaching almost 3-feet tall . The name gives this little beauty its name of "Husker Red" in that the leaves are under shaded, along with stems, in deep maroon. The name "Penstemon" in Greek means 5-stamens, 4-fertile & 1-sterile. Penstemon is also often called "beard tongue" as the sterile stamen has a tuft of hairs on it.

With blooms from April through June, this specimen is hardy in Zones 3 to 8. This is a clump forming perennial spreading to about 2-feet and one should avoid wet, poorly drained soil. This plant is good in borders or as a single specimen like I have in my garden. I like the odd and strange items that the average home gardener does not have in their collections. I want something to draw your eye and bring on the comments like, "Have you ever seen this?" or "This is very unusual!". You should shop around and find things that are unusual and you might not see in just every ones garden. But be sure that it is a good choice in your growing zone or for your soil type. It does no good to spend your money on something just to have it either drown in a boggy area or burn up in too much sun if either is not a match for that species or variety. By the way, both of these photos were taken by this Garden Daddy here at the urban farm. I think they came out great and hope you enjoy getting to know this plant and maybe try it in your garden.
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Friday, May 14, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I wanted to share with you something I made for use here at the garden home. It is a potting bench that one can stand up and work on re-potting or planting seeds into flats or anything one must do when working on potting or seeding into containers, etc. I saw the idea, though somewhat different, on a website and took the general idea and ran on with it, making it into something I could make and use here. I got it painted today with some exterior grade glossy brown paint and have it close to my compost bay, all set and ready to use to re-pot plants or just work on general garden projects. I have hung my spade and watering sprayers and nozzles on it and have a few pots already stored in the bottom shelf area.
I hope this gives you some ideas of what you can do with usable recyclables, keeping more product from your local landfills. Here is my result and I hope you can see my vision here. I still plan to make a garden seat from two more pallets but time has not allowed that project yet. I have been overwhelmed with community garden things this week and between my yard, my vegetable garden, flower beds & chicken raising here at the urban farm and then making several trips over to Alamo, TN to retrieve some wheat straw for the Jackson Community Garden site I oversee and for another garden site that is making raised layered beds I have not had time to start anything else new this week.

Here is a load of the wet wheat straw I retrieved for the community gardens. It had to be broken up into pieces of the bales due to the additional weight from being saturated from recent flooding we had here in Tennessee. But it will certainly work on the projects we are doing where it will be used as mulch between the vegetable rows for weed prevention and moisture control. This wheat straw was donated free of charge for use in the community gardens or any garden site, private or public, just for the getting. Thanks to the folks who have given it but I am sorry your hay was ruined in the flooding but your loss is our gain for another good use and
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation here at the garden home: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, May 8, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! The little pullets have finally been turned out of their brooder and loose into their chicken house and secure run area. They have been having a wonderful time being able to run around and jump up and stretch their wings and do a little "flying" around and run and play chase with each other. The pullets have almost all their adult feathering in at now 4+ weeks of age, even though in miniature size still, they look like real hens now. I was able to put their new next boxes in the house and made them a short roosting area just their size till they are more mature and able to jump and fly up to larger roosting quarters later on when they get larger. I would like to show you some things I did in the coop and run for their better usage attached below.

I know this is not professional but it is definitely serviceable and usable and makes the chicken house seem more like a real urban farmstead...remember: reuse, reclaim, re-purpose & recycle! I still have 6 (six) 10-day old chicks in the upstairs of my place here at the urban farm. They are a little too small to mix in with the older little pullets as the older ones are too rambunctious and would run over the little ones and possibly cause injury. I will introduce them later on one night after the older ones have gone to roost and when they wake up they will not know the difference in who is who. That prevents some pecking and picking on the little ones.
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "GARDENING" ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Thursday, May 6, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! I plan to turn the little pullets loose from the brooder tomorrow, Friday, May 7th, 2010. I am trying to have most everything in the coop as I want it so no new introductions will cause any stress on their lives and their future laying abilities and to keep them as calm as possible. I made a 6-bay nest box yesterday out of recycled materials. You know your Garden Daddy...reclaim, reuse, re-purpose & recycle! I will need at least 2-more nesting spots for my "girls" due to the ratio of nest-to-hens required allotment that is often suggested for stress free and aggression free stability. That is 1-nest box for every 4-hens. As I have some hens that will be rather heavy birds and larger than others, I am making a stacked set of 2-nest out of two large plastic flower pots I am no longer using, turned on their side and a short front mounted to hold in nesting material. My Black Jersey Giant pullets could top out at around 10 or 11-lbs when mature this fall and they might like a larger space and also the Buff Orpingtons as well, might like a larger space due to their body width, feather fluff, etc.
I chose to use milk crates and recycled shipping pallets I cut up for two reasons: ONE: Milk crates are heavy plastic and can be easily cleaned up with the pressure washer in the future. TWO: Shipping pallets are FREE and can be easily cut up with a reciprocating saw and made into anything as well as keeping more trash out of the local land fill. Here is the outcome below. I thought you might like to see this to get some ideas of your own. This past week I also made a new potting bench out of a shipping pallet I have not yet painted but made it high enough one does not have to bend over to work on re-potting plants or while working on a garden project. The slots in the table top allow for dirt to just fall through and recycle back to the earth again. And cleanup is almost non existent.
You can see I added a sloped "roof" on the crates. And you often see nest boxes with sloped roofs on them in garden and farm photos. This is easy to explain. The sloped roof keeps the hens from roosting on top and manure build up on or in their laying area. Yes, I know this might not be the best looking next box set up but it will not only get the job done on a frugal budget but it will also be easy to maintain and clean up when needed. Now all I have to do is add some straw in each nest, a golf ball to each (a golf ball gives the pullets the idea what the boxes are for - an egg, a golf ball...they do not know the difference) and the hens will do the rest. In case you did not know, chickens are a little on the dumb side. Did I say "a little"? I should have said a lot! I know that might ruffle some feathers out there in backyard chicken keeping but they eat, poop and lay eggs and offer meat. They are not that smart about getting themselves in and out of trouble or trying to "think through" a problem like say a dog or cat or horse or some other of our creatures we are charged with their care. But all in all, they are such a pleasure to watch and you can definitely get a lift in your day often with watching their antics and the way they chase a bug or run from each other when one finds a real prize in the grass and others want it from them. They will cause an out loud chuckle from anyone who keeps them and you will never be sorry for taking on a flock, even if it is just a few. Remember, NEVER-NEVER have just one hen. That is why our farmstead birds are called "flocks" as they need the flock to help each other. The old saying, "Birds of a feather, flock together" holds true. Always have at least 3-hens. I think in my own mind, that being strictly my opinion, the minimum one should have. You might have breeds that do not lay every single day, and most do not anyway. So 3-hens will give you an average of about 4-5 eggs per week, and that way you will have about 12 to possibly 16 eggs per week and if you are a household of 2 or 3 that would be plenty. I am a household of 1 (one) and I easily eat 1-dozen eggs per week myself. Eggs are FULL of protein, not as much cholesterol as the "red meat" producers would like you to think and these hens of mine will have the advantage of free range, organic, non-steroid/medicated and natural Omega-3 and the best taste...I cannot wait. Eggs are a great meat substitute for those of us that DO NOT eat much meat as I myself do not, and they make a great "pot luck" item for outings and go-to dinners, where you can not only have deviled eggs but egg salad sandwiches, quiches, any number of baked goods, etc.
This is Thursday and I have a lot to do. I have my own garden to weed a little, go look in on my community garden site and some yards to mow and so this is a busy day for this Garden Daddy and I must leave you now. And I do it with our strong and ongoing farmstead affirmation in mind for you: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"