Spring On My Micro-Farm, and the 2010 Tiny Garden

May 17th, 2010 - filed under: The Farm » Flora


The time has come for backyard adventures, for glorious dirt-digging and sowing seeds and dreaming of all the bounty to come. Last year I went all out, utilizing a variety of small-scale garden techniques to maximize my plantable ‘acreage’, without sacrificing the play space for the beasties. It was mostly successful and so much fun, and if you’re interested you can read all about my endeavors here, under ‘Flora’.

But this year . . . this year I’ve got my hands a little full! So I’ve had to scale it back a bit, which is very hard for me to do (but also good practice). This year I’m keeping things mini and manageable – that’s my mantra! I’m hoping the lightened load will free up some time for other outdoor activities of a more aesthetic nature.

So what am I doing then? Well, first things first I planted out my red raised beds!

IMG_2534Couldn’t get rid of my shadow, so I went with it. Peace!

And what did I include? This year I focused solely on my favorites: tomatoes and greens (and some beets for the husband) (and some winter squash because last year was such a squash fail) (okay, so maybe not *solely*, but mostly ‘matoes and greens, yum yum) Specifically:


I’m soooo excited!!! I’v been on a greens binge and pillage the Farmer’s Market each weekend, so I just can’t wait to be picking the goodies out of my own back yard! Mmm, yes yes, it’s gonna be a good summer.

And as you can see in that picture, my fragile asparagus actually [barely] survived the savage scratching of those surly hens. Just when I thought it was a goner (grrr birds!), a single shoot shot up in late spring. So it’s not dead, yay!

And the strawberry patch is also back in full effect. All my propagation really paid off. In fact, here’s the little dude that I featured in the propagation article last year:


Back in the boxes my seeds are starting to sprout. The beets keep popping up another each day, the tomatoes are just now starting to break ground, the kale and the collards are filling in nicely . . . and the pac choi already needs to be thinned!


And that’s about it for veggies this year. Mini and manageable. Of course there’s always the fruit trees and berry bushes and the herbs on the patio. But this year there’s no massive pea patch, no spiny experiments, no potato tire project. Until next year, oh yes, next year . . .

And now I leave you with the cutest of cuteness, a teeny tiny brand new pumpkin plant, still wearing his seed hat:


What about you my friends? What are you growing this year?

  • http://alternativehousewife.com Janine

    Are your chickens just pets for fun? My mom (also in Portland) has five hens and I love their fresh eggs. I know you’re vegan but I don’t really see any violence/discomfort brought about by eating the food her pets (they are named and friendly, raised from baby chicks indoors) naturally produce. Just curious what purpose your cheepies serve other than being cute!

  • http://www.chewonthisvegan.wordpress.com windycityvegan

    Hurray for micro-farms! We recently moved onto 15 acres and I am pretty much busy year-round growing something or other (zone lucky # seven b). My 3 yr old was 18 months when we moved here, and she has grown up with her hands and toes in the dirt and even has her own garden. We also have 5 chickens who absolutely love all of the space, and I’ve just begun composting their manure.

    Okay, so on to the food. Already established when we arrived: fruit trees, a few strawberries, rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, mint, blackberries and blueberries. We’ve overwintered: new and established herbs (up to about 2 dozen types now), garlic, kale, chard and microgreens. Since early spring we’ve planted: purple asparagus, rhubarb, additional fruit and nut trees (orchard is up to 39 total), 62 tomato and pepper plants, peas, beans, cukes, several varieties of squash (including pumpkins and gourds), additional strawberries, several varieties of carrots and radishes, spinach, broccoli, three additional types of chard including silverbeet, onions, shallots, a ridiculous amount of basil, cilantro, and parsley (the only herbs I haven’t been able to overwinter), five or six types of potatoes…I’m leaving a few things out, but you get the idea. I plan on building a greenhouse before this autumn. And I can’t begin to list all of the flowers we’ve planted!

    What’s really cool is that aside from a few fruit trees and the handful of things that were already established, we’ve planted everything else ourselves – and it’s flourishing!

    I can’t wait to read your farm posts as the season progresses.

  • Theresa

    Long time reader, first time commenter! Hah. Anyways, I love all your tips and tricks for greener living. As far as farming goes, we’re starting our second year with our CSA here in Michigan. This year though I finally got over my fear of killing plants and got some things growing in the back yard. I’m not brave enough to start from seed but last weekend we built a trellis on which I hug baskets of herbs (basil, cilantro, peppermint, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme and lavender). Underneath we built a raised bed ~10′x2′ where I planted a nice starting strawberry patch. So far I’ve only used about 1/3 of my bed but I need to get more compost and soil to fill in the rest. I’ve got one little patch of spinach but I’d like to add cauliflower and maybe tomatoes if I’m brave. Thanks for all the great ideas!!

  • http://matkelly.com me3

    Radishes, green beans and spinach – oh my! I’m keeping it simple with my first garden that is set in the ground instead of pots and so far everything is popping up as it should. We actually have wild strawberries that we’re trying to domesticate and I referenced your runner article with some success.

  • Callie

    Our first Spring in the new house has involved lots of experimenting. Everything will be in pots this year so we can move them around and find the best spots for sun. So far I’ve tried various herbs, and the tomatoes are struggling along – we’ve had a little too much rain and cold for them to be totally happy, but I think they’ll make it. For some reason the only herbs that have flourished are basil and lemon basil. The parsley just keeled over one day and the rosemary peeked out then disappeared. I’m not sure why. It’s not too late to try again, is it?

    For the tomatoes I tried some in plastic containers like always and some in the TP rolls that you blogged about. The ones in the TP rolls seem happy, but they’re coming up a lot slower. I haven’t transplanted them yet because they’re not quite big enough, but I’ll report back on how they do once in the ground.

    We’re in DC, do you think it’s too cold here to do a strawberry patch? Maybe if we cover it for a few months.

    Thanks as always for the inspiration! Hopefully by next year we’ll have our yard settled and we can attempt some greens!

  • http://www.renegadeyogi.com/ Eric Normand

    One of my life goals is to have an urban farm! I’d like to visit you some day to learn what you’re doing.

    Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

  • http://makeway4ducklings.blogspot.com bashtree

    Fun!! I’m so jealous of your yard! All I have is a patio. And, right now, an overflowing dining room! I am pretty new to gardening – I have been in remedial black thumb education, and this year is my first go at ‘real’ plants. So I’m growing basil, chives and parsley; yellow squash; one small tomato; and strawberries. We’ll see how it goes! Maybe this time next year I’ll have a yard. Thanks for the update!!

  • http://vicki-lou.hopto.org Vicki-Lou

    My strawberries are still growing, and I expect my first harvest in a week or two. Yay! My tulips have come and gone, but my lilies are still growing, and my rose bush (which I thought had died over the winter) is just starting to bud.
    We decided not to do a backyard garden this year as I’m carrying a “load” until July(-ish). But my hubby is planning on doing some landscaping in the front yard (irises, daffodils, bushes, other perennials and annuals, etc.) This year is promising to be a “dirty” and “green” year. :)

  • Jeannie

    This year I planted lettuce. Red leaf and green leaf. I don’t have time to tend a garden so I planted these cute tiny little lettuce plants in large containers like the Nursery guy said to do. I now have what looks like HUGE salad bowls on my patio. It is sooo cool to just go out back and clip your salad or lettuce for your sandwich. I love it. I then went to the Nursery and bought apple mint and peppermint plants (I’m a mint-aholic)and sweet basil. I want to try some zucchini, crooked neck squash and dill. All can be grown in containers. I would love to grow strawberries, but I think it’s too hot in Southern UT for much success with those.
    Thanks for your inspiration.

  • http://www.heathers-perspective.blogspot.com Heather

    Looks gorgeous!!
    We have tomatoes, bell peppers, snap peas, and lettuce.
    Very miniscule, but still exciting.

  • akeeyu

    For some reason, everything’s been dropping dead in our garden lately, so we’ve switched almost entirely to bulbs and native invasive weeds.

    I’m not entirely kidding. Most people don’t actually PURCHASE and PLANT blackberries in Puget Sound, but we pruned, lovingly trained and are now supplementing our backyard bramble with new stock.

    Also, after something slaughtered all of our morning glories, we’re planting wild potato vines, which are almost as pretty and hopefully much hardier.

  • Kelly H.

    I LOVE the growing season!

    Say…how come your dirt looks so dry? How big is your space? And…help…I’ve bought some green starters of various things and I was wondering: With the mixed lettuce greens and leeks for example (came in four sections), do I need to divide the starts up a bit? Or just plant the entire start and then thin it out? I hope this makes sense…

    I’m planting snap peas (Love those things! They are so hardy and delicious even raw and pretty when they climb), spinach, chard, collards, mixed lettuce greens, kale, leeks, onions and various tomatoes. I also have a lovely potted herbiary (I just made up that word. :o)) on the patio. Yay Seattle Tilth. They help me lots. :o)

    WindyCityVegan: I am duly impressed and envious!

  • http://twitter.com/erosan EroSan

    Well, I’m definitely giving radishes another chance (I’ll have to show you the pics from the first harvest)… and I want to try tomatoes.

    And of course I’ve got basil and yerbabuena (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_buena) going, and I might get some habaneros from my mom.

    Also, I’d love to start a long time proyect… maybe a citrus tree… lime or oranges…

    sigh, we’ll see…

  • http://thegreengeek05.wordpress.com Courtney

    Well, right now we’re still living with friends in their house, so there’s no room for gardening. We are looking at places, most of which have a patio or balcony. I’m hoping to do some container gardening. I’d at least like to get my most used herbs going (basil, oregano, dill, rosemary). I’d love to plant some roma tomatoes, lettuces, and peppers, the most used veggies around here. When I do get started, I’ll be constantly checking your old posts for help!

  • Meghan

    As we are going to be out of town for a lot of the summer we haven’t really planted anything on our balcony this year, although a tomato plant magically popped up, probably from seeds of sort of rotty tomatoes that I was too lazy to pick up last season! An ignored kale plant has also rejuvinated itself, although I keep catching Mr. Squirrel eating it. Hopefully we’ll buy a house at some point (when we’re around!) this summer so I can at least plant some fall stuff!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Janine – I don’t eat the hen’s eggs right now, though I have gone through phases where I do n the past. I’m still trying to sort out exactly how I feel about all that – I see both sides of the issue very clearly. On the one hand, the eggs are discarded and the chickens don’t seem to ‘care’ what happens to them. On the other hand, it’s very hard on their little bodies to lay an egg a day, and they enjoy eating the eggs themselves, so shouldn’t I let them ‘keep their own nutrients’? (via re-eating them)

    Besides, isn’t cuteness purpose enough?! =D

    @ windycityvegan – Oh, *swoon*. Wow, consider me envious. That sounds like my idea of heaven! Good for you for living the dream. I hope we can all get there some day. And, I’d love to hear more about your adventures in farming!

    @ Theresa – Hi! And welcome!

    Congrats, it sounds like you’re off to a great start. And no worries about the black thumb, you can get over that with a bit of diligence. I definitely think you should try for tomatoes – home grown ‘matoes are unparalleled!

    @ me3 – Oh, congrats on your first in-ground garden! That’s so exciting!! Please keep me updated on how things work out. =)

    @ Callie – Well at least your basil is still going. I always have trouble with basil! And no, it’s not too late at all to re-start. Go for it! And I think you could do a strawberry patch in DC but you’re right, you’d have to cover it with cloche during deep winter. But I bet it would work!

    Let me know how the TP roll transplants work out.

    @ Eric Normand – I hope you get your urban farm some day!

    @ bashtree – That sounds like a great go for a former black thumber. ;-) Good luck with it all, and let me know how it turns out!

    @ Vicki-Lou – yup, I’m doing a lot of landscaping this year as well. That’s great you’re getting strawberries so soon! And again, good luck with everything else you’re growing! ;-) Keep me updated!

    @ Jeannie – Mmmm, sounds like good stuff! I’ve never had apple mint before, but I adore mint and use it for sun tea every summer. YUM!

    @ Heather – Definitely exciting! Good luck with the minuscule medley! =)

    @ akeeyu – Haha, so true about the blackberries. But they are delicious, so why not cultivate them?? That’s a bummer about your yard. Have you tried some sort of hardcore soil amendment?

    @ Kelly H. – The word herbiary is AWESOME, I’m stealing it! Each of my raised beds is about 8 x 3. The dirt looks so dry because it was a HOT day, and I water in the evening (to prevent extraneous water loss)

    For your starts, I would plant each start without breaking it up, as this would risk damaging the delicate roots. So if you had a 4-pack you would plant each of the four on its own. Hope that makes sense, it’s late and I’m tiiiiired, haha.

    @ EroSan – Avocados grow in the Yucatan, don’t they? It’s my personal opinion that anybody who *could* be growing avocados and *isn’t*, is a crazy person. Ha! But seriously, maybe start an avo tree in a very large pot as your long-term project?

    And good luck with the radishes, round 2!

    @ Courtney – Good luck with the house hunting. I hope you get your patio plants this year!

    @ Meghan – Oooh, I’ll be crossing my fingers for your house-hunting!.So exciting! Make sure to get one with a BIG yard! =D

  • Rebecca

    I had to laugh “mini and manageable”…how apropos with the new baby!

    In regards to growing things..I must admit, as domestic as I am in all other regards, I have a black thumb. I recently moved from the east coast to Colorado and..after much hemming and hawing, sucked it up and laid down the money to “rent” a raised bed at my apt. complex (how sad..I know). I am wishing, hoping, and (almost) praying that raised beds coupled with CO’s dry climate (I am an over-waterer) will spell success. Unfortunately I have already killed pansies and lavender in a few days–do I get a prize for that? At least an “A” for effort I guess

  • Minna

    I have a big garden at home and we grow most of the fresh edibles (also potatos and carrots) ourselves. Well, my parents grow them :) I *know* that we have a nice large field and I do *see* it everyday from my room’s window, but I don’t really know much more :D hahaha. I guess I’ve just started to appreciate the hard work my parents are doing and realize that having your own garden is such a treasure.

    I’ve talked to my mom, given her a nice list and asked her to buy me some seeds so that I could start growing herbs and green stuff myself on my windowsill =) And have something fresh to eat every day throughout the winter! I’m a little nervous about that cause I’ve never grown anything alive before! I so hope they won’t be needing *too* much attention and that they’ll come out all cute and green to feed me =)

    ..So… I guess that’s a start, right?

    (I lovelovelove your chooks! They’re so clean and fluffy. Can’t believe my granny had chickens for sooo long and I was being such a chicken myself and never dared to go close them when I was little!)

  • saundra

    well i’ve got some mint that my aunt gave me, some broccoli that ‘bolted’ with the prettiest of yellow flowers, tomatoes (cherry, ruetgers, and cherokee purple), zucchini had to plant over at my moms lol, more zucchini for here, some beans i found growing in my sink now growing in dirt, 3 types of basil some anise, wild onions wild straw berries, mulberry trees in back yard, pear tree in nieghbors yard (hangs over fence so it’s mine too right?) and another little tomato of unknown origin sprouted up by my front porch, and i’m going to try to start a persimmon tree from a seed, and hopefully everything will grow great!

  • saundra

    oh can’t forget shelldon my little black chicken i sure hope it doesn’t turn out to be a boy :(.. and i totally count that thing as my garden, i have to feed and water just like the plants. only it will try to flap out of my hands when i bring him in for the night plants don’t do that.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Rebecca – Practice makes perfect! I’m a reformed black thumb myself – also an overwaterer. So don’t give up. And that’s awesome you rented a raised bed!

    @ Minna – That’s exciting! When are you going home?

    @ Saundra – Sounds like an awesome lot! Good luck with everything – keep me updated. =)

    And awww, Sheldon is a great name!

  • http://twitter.com/erosan EroSan

    @Sayward: Avocados are great! my grandfather used to have a huge avocado tree on his house (it fell due to a huricane), but it is such a massive tree! I don’t know if I have enough space on my backyard to grow one… T_T

    but there’s an idea…

  • Minna

    We’re leaving Melbourne on the 29th of June to go to Thailand for a two week holiday. It’s quite bad in Bangkok right now which is a bit scary, but I’ve already found an alternative – a paradise island called Koh Chang (300km from BK) and a Spa Resort with raw vegan food, meditation, yoga, cooking classes and even cleansing packages. So, can not wait =)

    So I’ll be home in mid July!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ EroSan – They’ll stay small(ish) for quite a few years, and still bear fruit. You should give it a go!

    @ Minna – AWESOME! That’s great you’re traveling a bit before heading home. Very cool. That resort sounds seriously amazing!

  • Lilminx2

    My husband I are just now moving into a new house with a backyard, a huge improvement from the apartment we had been living in. I desperately want to try my hand out at gardening as now I actually have some space to do it, but this is my first attempt. Its the beginning of June and I was wondering if it is too late to get started for this year? Any tips on what would work?? Thanks!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Lilminx2 – Not too late at all! You’ll just need to buy starts instead of going from seed. A bit more expensive but also easier. Check your local nursery for what will work best in your area. Luck!