Thursday, March 13, 2008

Enter the Backyard Farmer!

This evening as I was weed-eating my minuscule patches of grass in the backyard, at 7:30pm I might add, I was struck by agricultural epiphany-let's call it an agriphany. I am a self proclaimed backyard farmer. To make myself a little more clear, the patches of grass I was destroying with one of the pieces of my farm equipment, my electric weed eater, surround my meager 10 x 8 piece of farmland. Can't say its much, but my pride can still match that of any 70 year old farm pro.
Last fall, my girlfriend and I decided to make something of our humble 30 x 30 postage stamp of a backyard. We wanted to combine function with beauty and so agreed to create a garden surrounded by flowers. Living in a new townhouse development in Brentwood, I knew the soil was gonna be a challenge. Weeds tend to be the only creatures which inhabit an untreated patch of ground around here. After being in the landscape and garden center business for almost 6 years now, I now know this is all too common for new homeowners. For those unaware, before foundations are poured, the housing contractors will scrape off all of the natural topsoil. This most likely was previously the result of thousands of years of forest decay, full of rich loamy soil. Although great for growing things, not great for building thousand pound homes on. The contractor needs firm ground to build on, hence scraping until bedrock or churt, packed clay, is reached. Other than the standard landscaping, which often struggles to live, homeowners are left to fend for themselves when it comes to gardening and landscaping. They soon find that digging in clay and rock is no picnic, neither on their back nor on their tomato plants. Whether a home was built within the last year or within the last 10 years, the soil result remains the same, since soil structure and biology can take years to improve. That's where the backyard farmer comes in.
I will now periodically update my progress, beginning from last fall, of transforming crap for soil and space into an organic flower and produce garden. I hope to cover a broad range of topics from composting to cover cropping. Once we find the memory card for my girlfriend's camera, I will be photo equipped. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Local Food and Farmers

Nowadays you can't escape it. Sustainability has become a hot topic. Local foods and farms are the foundation of this green movement. If people eat less food that is raised by the life of the soil, the are less willing to have compassion for the earth that nourishes then. Just today the Tennessean published a great article ex planing local food and CSA's. Community Supported Agriculture programs
Check out the link below. If only the farmers could produce enough. With demand ever increasing, it'll be a couple years before they're able to produce enough. This is a good thing!

Tennessean on CSA's.

Enclave: Downtown and Greenway Snow

Lovely having a blanket of snow in March. We we're blessed to get one last hurrah from the snow gods! For some great pictures of downtown Nashville covered in sheet of white stuff, check out S-Town Mikes' Enclave.

Enclave: Downtown and Greenway Snow

Soil, the foundation of all life!

To many it's only dirt. Black and muddy, gooey and brown smearing on your skin and lodging itself under your nails.
Many overlook its capacity to give life. We all are given life by the soil. Everything we eat comes from the soil, but often we don't realize it. Because most of the time its flavored in the form of vegetables, grains, and even more so, burgers and fries. Think of the plant kingdom as a sweetener. The sugars produced from photosynthesis allow for a tastier flavor. Without the sun the soil is not able to come alive.
Stop for a moment and think what goes through your body during the day. It has all been cultivated by the brown crumblies most call dirt. There is a symphony of life below our feet that is so often overlooked. Billions of life forms that form an enormously complex, dynamically synergistic organism. Our fast paced lives have helped us forget this.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bring on the Rain!

Being in the horticultural industry, part of our livelihood depends on the ebb and flow of mother nature. Last year was a rough one for many in the green industry, from growers ( food or flower ), to retailers, to landscapers, and even your home gardener. Despite the freak spring freeze followed by a severe drought across the Southeast, I believe there still remains a few patches of bright side growing somewhere around us. Those patches, which I will appropriately name "appreciation for our resources", are sprouting up more and more it seems. Whether locally or nationally, our weather patterns along with other environmental occurrences have begun to promote a greater sense of appreciation for our resources. This, I believe, cannot help but bring a greater sense of responsibility and attention, which in the long run may just be little dose of some good medicine. However, these troubles which are being experienced by workers in the green industry can be extremely tough to stomach. From scorched crops to dead Japanese Maples, anyone whose livelihood and/ or hobby depends on natural elements has been distraught given the recent weather patterns. Despite these hard times, however, I remain one of those optimists which notices the bright ray of sunshine further down our path. These little wake up calls will inadvertently help to promote a greater desire for change. New products and techniques will emerge and become embraced as we as a people become a little bit more appreciative of the corn that continues to grow or the water to flow.
Although the details of change can often be slow and arduous, I will currently forgo any personal opinions and will end simply with a formal thank you to the rain which falls outside my kitchen window.