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Monday, August 30, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! We finally had almost a full day yesterday of "off and on" rain which we badly needed. But we still need much more really. It has and will help finish off the summer gardening, helping some tomatoes linger a bit longer here at the urban farm. The bell peppers and eggplant hopefully will get another surge of production I hope from this rain. I am almost ready to put in fall greens over at the community garden, hopefully later this very week.
I was out today here at the urban farm, gathering what few tomatoes there are now, even though they are very small. While out, I also picked some hot Cayenne peppers and two eggplant. I gave most of the tomatoes and Cayenne peppers to a neighbor to share what I had but I was also able to harvest some pretty good Basil for this time of year I feel. It has not been a good year here for me as usual in the Basil and herb area. I think the tremendously long heat wave we had along with the humidity just harmed so much of the entire plan and attempt here to have the usual over abundant garden I normally have had in years past. The Basil was a bit small where usually the leaves have been really huge and it did not take many to make a very nice Basil and Tomato salad, which I love greatly, adding some red onion and either Greek or Italian dressing or just vinegar and olive oil or other sort of vinaigrette-type dressing as well as some Feta cheese and maybe some good olives. But I got enough I plan to let it dry a little more after washing and have laid between some paper towels to take up more water then I will put in the food processor, add a little drizzle of olive oil and about 2-tablespoons of lemon juice (this acts as a preservative actually) and then put in small containers and freeze. You can do most any herb this way that you would normally put in cooked, hot dishes. If you plan to use it for anything other than as in a cooked dish it is better to dry it first, store in airtight containers and then crush just before using it. This is very similar to a pesto sauce but not really. I will leave the Basil in oil in rather larger pieces, not making it completely blended to the point of a paste, but more of a chunkier if you please type of cooking additive for sauces, soups or other such winter time feasting. This can even be thawed and added to a cut up baguette with a tomato slice and some cheese and then either toasted under the broiler or eaten with some paper thin smoked Salmon or with something you like for your own taste and recipe mix.
I leave you then this lite-harvesting day, steeping a pot of afternoon hot Black Indian tea, with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind & waiting on the next egg(s): "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, August 28, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! WHAT A GREAT SURPRISE today when I got home from my short overnight run to Nashville, TN. I went out to the chicken coop to check on the pullets and give them a little treat for the day around 2pm this afternoon. As usual, I walked into the coop and then into the hen house. I have been looking into the nest boxes for so many weeks now, only to walk back out with nothing but my head shaking, "No Eggs Yet". But today...TODAY...I found most all of the plastic golf balls I had put into the nest boxes (to give the little girls the idea of where to do the laying deed) kicked out of all but about two nest boxes and in one of the upper boxes I found this little pullet egg...AN EGG! I just about screamed loud enough to scare any neighbor who might have been outside. I felt like a grandfather who just saw his first grandchild nearly, even though on that front I am still waiting and my daughter turned 31 years old TODAY, by the way! I took it across the street to show my neighbors who were out on their porch and one of the ladies said she heard the biggest cackling going on over here at the urban farm today and that was the reason why I told her.
I am so thrilled to know that all these months of work and worry and trying to keep little newly hatched chicks warm in the spring and keep them from drowning rains and floods we had in early May this year...all this has and is about to pay off. It was a pretty little dark brownish-pink egg, about the size of or almost the size of if you remember those little "Silly Putty" eggs, about that size. All the grass clippings, melon rinds, chicken scratch, grower feed and layer mash, along with crushed oyster shells and crushed granite...all the planning and BEGGING has now come to fruition.
Now am I glad I have been saving egg cartons for months and months as soon I should be getting some 15 +/- eggs per day I am guessing. But of course that will take some time. All the birds will not start laying at the same time but at various stages of development just as humans develope at different levels. And of course they will not lay regularly at first but hit and miss. It might be a week before that same little pullet lays again. But hard to say with all the nutrition and protein I give them as they are well fed and basically spoiled. I have been trying to figure out who laid that egg but you cannot really tell except for looking at the vent of each bird. I am NOT doing that at this stage. I know it was NOT one of the 4-Ameraucanas, as they lay pale blue or greenish eggs.
But a good day overall and glad to finally get some hope for things to come. I will leave you late in the day this Saturday afternoon with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind for REAL this time: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!" FINALLY!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! We are finally getting a little break from the tremendous heat wave we have had this summer. It is around 90-degrees and even down to 89-degrees for some daytime heat. It has dropped down to the 60's for night time temps even. On that, things here at the urban farm have already gone down hill as far as gardening is concerned. The massive heat has either burned up most every thing or kept it so dry I could never have watered enough to keep it going. Things are finishing up here. I am trying to keep the tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplant going for as long as possible along with the hot peppers and banana peppers with watering every few days. We have needed rain for weeks and with the exception of a very few afternoon pop up showers we have not really had the summer we had last year.
But I am heading over to talk about the community garden. I have really concentrated so much time on that site this year, almost to the detriment of my own garden. That is because that garden is feeding a lot of folks. We have taken right at 175-lbs of produce to the RIFA Soup Kitchen here in Jackson, TN. this summer. That garden got a very late planting and start but has ended up helping feed a bunch of folks from it. I have gone through over-heating, hard bone crushing work and the only thought I have had was the end result. My plan all along with my limited gardener of ONE really from the community was to give the bulk to the soup kitchen. But the community "AT LARGE" has been helping themselves to a lot of the produce as well. I have heard from all the neighbors around the garden that some folks even come in during the dark with flashlights to get vegetables from the garden. Now some of you might think this would be considered as "theft" but I see it as a "neighborhood in need" helping themselves to much needed fresh produce. If I am around when someone does a "walk-in" to pick off the street I try to chat with them about the chance of them gardening with the project in an official capacity, signing up to garden a plot, invest their time and energy and be a part of the process as a whole. That way they are part of the solution and not continue the cycle as part of the problem.
A community garden is not to be designed to be a "hand out" or "give-away" project. The Chinese proverb goes: "GIVE A MAN A FISH AND HE WILL EAT FOR A DAY. TEACH A MAN TO FISH AND HE WILL EAT FOR A LIFETIME." For me and my gardening house, I say "KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEST CHARITY" and if in my UT Master Gardener way I can share my gardening knowledge with others and teach someone how to garden and feed themselves and this space can give the satisfaction that they themselves have not only put food on their table but added some sense of pride and accomplishment to their lives then my goal as a Master Gardener and as a man has been met. Not blowing my own "shofar" but is that not our goal as human-kind toward each other? Man helping man to help themselves.

OK, enough "hot air" and on to other topics here at the urban farm. The bulk of the pullets turned 20-weeks old on Monday this week and the remainder are between 17 & 18 weeks old. I recently gave two of the four of my Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets to my brother to go with the other birds I already gave him that I picked up at one of the local chicken swaps. That brought my flock down to 20-birds. They have developed very nicely and are looking like real chickens now. Combs, wattles and that dinstinct cackle have come into play now and the golf balls are in the nest boxes to give a hint and the layer feed and fresh waster and greens are given and their little lives are full of good eats and I am waiting...waiting...waiting on that first egg! Any day I keep saying and hopefully that is truly the case from all I have learned in this process. Truly any day!
I will leave you then with our ongoing gardening affirmation in mind: "URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Saturday, August 14, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! An interesting morning here at the urban farm where my best friend, who is visiting to see after aging parents, and I strolled the local farmers market and found the wonderful "Peaches & Cream" corn selling from one local farmer for only $3.00/dozen ears. Well, we both got one dozen, mine for the freezer here at the garden home and the other dozen was processed for my friend's parents at their retirement community.
I shucked and silked my corn, cut off any bad and of course can you guess where it all went? You get the prize if you guessed it all went into the chicken coop, including the cobs after I cut the corn off the cob and milked it for the good juices. I will leave it in the coop for a day or two then go rake it out and add it to the compost bin. If I were on my (hopefully) future mini farm, I would be adding it all to the pigsty where everything would be eaten and adding to the more natural feed I hope to give them.
I dream of the day I sign this house off to new owners in a few years when I hope the market returns to some normalcy and I can find that perfect little "farmette" to start what I know in my own mind I can do and enjoy the very essence of a self perpetuating, self sustaining life. But I will catch you up to date in a few days and let you know how things are going in the gardens and here with garden home rehab, etc. STILL NO EGGS YET...any day now though!
So I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: URBAN FARMING: ONE EGG AT A TIME!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


HELLO & welcome to Garden Daddy here at the urban farm! NEWSFLASH: Massive heat wave blankets the Mid-South like a turkey roasting under aluminum foil for Thanksgiving dinner. it ever hot and miserable. I have continued to do my lawn maintenance daily here and at the Jackson Community Garden Site #4 where I work as the Master Gardener coordinator for that site. The heat is really bad but after being in it daily for months now I realize how built up to a tolerance of it I am. So as bad as it is, I stay hydrated by keeping 32oz bottles of frozen water handy, melting slowly for continued cooling water. I take several of these with me daily on my gardening duties around town and that is really a good idea for those of you out in this heat a lot. I take sports drink bottle and wash out and then fill with water and freeze every day and then take them out as needed or on the go, etc.
I am also keeping a box fan on the pullets at the interior wire door of the chicken coop. They are also getting fresh, cooling water daily. Those girls are really growing now and both combs and wattles are showing well and some starting to go red, meaning laying COULD start any day now on some of the early maturing birds. I so look forward to the first little pullet eggs. A good friend says I should take the first one and blow it out, clean it good and then put it in a shadow box frame and hang in the kitchen. I might just do that very thing! But the continue to eat a good, healthy diet of grass clippings, rinds, kitchen scraps and garden discards. They are particularly fond of damaged tomatoes or split ones I cannot use.
I have pulled up all the squash plants from the vegetable garden as the squash bugs completely decimated the main stems and thus the plants have died off. Not to mention again this heat wave. The tomatoes are also suffering as the heat I fear is causing them to burst and rot in place on the stems. I do not see how they are taking this 98, 99, 100+ temperatures like they have been. I have not been over watering so I know the splits are not from too much water as last summer with our cooler, wet year we had. So not much of a harvest has taken place this year compared to years past. I froze many-many gallon bags of tomato sauce/soup mix last year along with giving away many pounds almost daily as well as eating my fill at will. NOT THIS YEAR. I have not had near enough red balls of delicious acid nectar. My pullets have eaten more bad ones than I have any good ones. I could eat one now if I could find one decent enough to slice, salt and pepper and then tell you how great it is/was! But not in this climate this year. I might could find one or two for today. But it might be a little on the green side. I think I might have to start harvesting early, before they reach full ripeness to stop the sudden splitting upon that moment when they reach their peak. That might work and I will let you know in a day or two how that plan works out.
I continue work at the Jackson Community Garden Site #4 here in Jackson. I would like to report that as of last week that site has donated some 80-lbs of squash (plus some tomatoes form my home garden) to RIFA, our local soup kitchen. I am proud of that and the fact I have my only real gardener who is enjoying so much watching her very first garden give her fresh vegetables as well as her enjoying the flowers I added to her plot. I feel good that basically alone I took 2-vacant lots, donated to the JCG project by the First United Methodist Church of Jackson, and have turned it into a good space for gardening that is both productive, enhances the community and teaches others how to garden. That is the premise of what being a Master Gardener is all about and what I went through all the course training and study for and to boost up what I already knew. KUDOS to the UT Extension Service & the Madison County Master Gardeners and to all those who taught and directed the course for Fall 2009. I will graduate in February 2011 and should have over 150-volunteer hours to put me in good standing with my fellow graduating interns.
One more thing to share with you who have been with me for some time during last fall when I was doing some rehab on the old garden home. I have replace my old, solid wood back door that was sagging on the hinges and difficult to both open and close. I put in a new 15-pane steel door like I did on the front last fall. I also found the very same door handle set on sale at Home Depot and added that to make the front and back match, even though the set was a little over kill but with the back door being in the master bedroom, I wanted it to be a little nicer. I have really enjoyed having it in even for this one week alone. I no longer have to pick up on the door to open and close it and it closes with one finger really and the lock works for a nice change as well.

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