Last Saturday I helped lead a workshop at The Plant with Katie Williams of Patchwork Farms and David Henderson of City Farm Chicago. The workshop was called Scaling Up: Transitioning from Urban Gardener to Farmer. The workshop was directed towards experienced green thumbs interested in starting their own Urban Farm, and covered important information about production based growing systems. A big thanks to everyone who participated! Keep up the good work!
The plants have been keeping me pretty busy lately. Most of our Spring crops are in the ground and well under way. This lovely weather has really helped things along, not to mention all the people who have come by to volunteer! I can’t thank them enough, their work makes this all possible.
Our first share share is just around the corner and things are looking good. You can expect to see delicious beets, greens, radishes, snap peas, scallions, and more! Here are some pictures of how things are lookin’:
Planting Eggplant and Peppers
I just can’t wait to start harvesting all these goodies! If you’re interested in learning more about what we do here at Sandbox Organics or just getting your hands in the dirt and having a good time doing it, please join our mailing list for opportunities to get involved.
Even though it FEELS like Spring, we’re still not in the clear yet. Monday night brought us over an inch of snow and temperatures in the upper twenties. Luckily I was able to cover the crops we already have in the ground before the snow came. My dad and I went out before work Tuesday morning to see what the damage was.
Thankfully, everything seems to have survived. Those little guys are pretty tough!
Spring is upon us. It’s finally time to work the soil and start moving our hardier crops outdoors. Last weekend I had some friends and family over to help get the ball rolling here at Sandbox. We used a technique called double digging to incorporate amendments into the soil and prepare nice fluffy beds for the plants.
We even had time to transplant onions, scallions, parsley, kale, collards, cabbage, and direct seed our potatoes and parsnip!
It was a great start to the season, and there’s LOTS more to come. If you’re interested in joining in on any of the fun, please sign up for the mailing list (at the top right of this page, or go to the “Get Involved” page) for information on volunteer days.
Last Sunday was the very first seeding of the year. It may seem a little early, but Onions and Scallions need more time than most crops to be in the “greenhouse” (I don’t actually have a greenhouse, but that’s what I’m calling it) and will be going out on the first planting day. First I made a soil mixture of potting soil, top soil, and compost. I added a little moisture and mixed it to an even consistency. The moisture is key for the next step, which is to pack the soil into soil blocks. If there isn’t enough moisture, the blocks will crumble and fall apart.
With my soil blocks made I’m ready to seed.
Next I water them in and cover the tray with Saran Wrap to hold moisture while the seeds germinate.
Then it’s just a matter of monitoring the temperature and moisture levels, and waiting for the seeds to germinate!
My brother’s downstairs neighbor raises laying hens in their backyard. He was kind enough to let me harvest some manure to apply in the garden. Ah, nature’s fertilizer. Used wisely, manure can be a farmer’s best friend. It helps improve soil structure by adding organic matter. And, while most of its nutrients are released within the first year of being applied, the remaining nutrients become available in the second year, providing a nice extended release. Applying manure in the Fall allows plenty of time for it to break down before any crops are harvested.
I took a few soil samples last week so I could test them for levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (as well as acidity). These are the main nutrients most vegetables need to grow strong and healthy.
Samples collected from different quadrants of the garden:
The soil is mixed with water and allowed to settle:
Then the water is mixed with chemicals which cause it to change color and thus indicate the level of nutrients present in the soil:
When it comes to soil fertility, a good balance is key. Too much of one nutrient will “bind up” other nutrients and make them inaccessible to the plants. I’ll take the results from this test into consideration when adding amendments to the garden in the spring and hopefully the plants (and our tastebuds) will reap the benefit!
(Thanks to my big bro Gilad for letting me use his soil test kit)
Today was a beautiful Autumn day, perfect for being outside and getting your hands dirty. So I decided to take advantage of this opportunity by getting next years garlic planted.
Special thanks to Aba for helping out!