April 2011

Peabody Rudd

Contain This: Starting My Home Farm

And so it begins…my home farm that is.


I was fortunate enough that in my previous house I tried to do a container garden with both flowers and herbs, so I had some containers to start with. I went and bought a few more at the nursery where I first got them. Lucky for me that day they were buy one get one free! So far the containers are certainly what cost the most in this adventure. Though they don’t need to be. If I had not already had some of the pots and was starting from scratch I would have just found random items to use. As it stands right now I also plan on trying to do a pallet farm. I am also on the lookout for a couple of dresser drawers that I can modify and plant some herbs in. I’ve been looking at the thrift stores but haven’t found one that totally works yet.  Picking your containers is very important as it will decide on what you can plant. Some veggies can grow shallow (like lettuce) but some need much more room (like my broccoli). So these are all things to consider before starting, especially if you have some veggies you really want to plant.

The next thing I had to decide on was soil. One of the great things about container farming is the fact that you just start with good soil. You don’t have to dig up your yard and assess your soil and figure out what you need to do. You just get soil and dump it in. I decided that since these veggies were hopefully going in my mouth (grow plants grow) that I would go organic. My mother wanted me to use a product that would enhance the size of my veggies and fruit, but I live in the Seattle area where we are all about local and organic produce. So I chose both an organic soil and fertilizer (which also needs to be added to your soil). But other than that you are good to plant. In case you are wondering, I used Gardner & Bloome BLUE RIBBON BLEND Premium Potting Soil: Natural & Organic Premium All-Purpose Indoor or Outdoor Container Mix and Dr. Earth Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer).


Next came figuring out what to plant. I read books, talked with my friends who grow fruits and veggies, and then talked to the experts at my local nursery (Molbak’s for those that are in the area), as well as consulted the Vegetable and Herb guide on the Triscuit Home Farming website. Given the time frame I have to work with I chose to start with small plants instead of seeds (but did you know you can get seeds for your very own farm right in your Triscuit box). I learned that leafy greens, broccoli, peas (sugar snap grown best in colder climates) would be good for my area. So I chose a variety of lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, snap peas, and broccoli for my veggies and am giving a variety of strawberries a try that I had never heard of but wanted to try. And of course I have a large variety of herbs. I still plan on adding more but have to wait until the weather warms up. I must say that weather has been the biggest obstacle so far. I’ve had snow twice this week in the morning. Now granted, it was mixed snow/rain but still, not ideal weather at all. It’s funny, I normally prefer the gray skies and rainy weather, but now that I have a farm on my patio I am always mumbling about where is the sun! :)


As you can see by the photos, I did have a couple helpers on the project, the furry one was especially helpful.  I do have more space on my patio, but not totally sure how much more I want to add. It is only sunny on part of my patio and so covering the whole patio with a farm makes little sense.


What about you? How is your planting coming? Have you joined the movement yet? If not, it’s not too late to start a home farm! The more the merrier…and well fed.


Catherine Davis

#HomeFarmingDay Challenge – Building a Raised Farm Bed

Now that we are well into April, I’m really excited to share with you my home farming updates, which include the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting. Before diving right into the construction process, I think it’s important you know that as a family, we are novices in the world of home farming. My one previous attempt at a vegetable farm was a sad, very sad attempt that resulted in very few crops to harvest and an abundance of pests. My hope is that if you are a first time home farmer, you’ll be able to learn from my experiences as I dive into this project with no more knowledge or experience than what HomeFarming.com has provided me with.

With my “big brown thumb” disclaimer out of the way, I want to share our raised bed farm. Building this with the help of my father was an amazing experience that left me feeling like I can do anything.

The tools and materials we used to build our raised bed frame to create approximately 80 cubic feet of farming space, included:

  • (3) – 2 x 12 x 8 untreated pine boards
  • (2) – 2 x 12 x 12 untreated pine boards
  • 1 box of 3 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • (6) corner wood braces
  • 1 box of 1-1/2 inch outdoor wood screws, 18 screws used
  • power drill with drill bit

Pic1_raised-bed-garden-supplies-and-tools

Being the adventurous, overachieving kind of person that I am, I chose to go outside the box so to speak and create an L-shaped raised bed farm to fit in the corner of our property. Not only does it conserve space usage but it becomes an appealing part of our landscaping.

Together, we simply pre-drilled 3 holes at the corners of each piece of lumber and used 3 screws (per corner) to join the frame, with the help of my daughters passing out screws of course.

Pic2_Raised-Bed-Garden-Toddler-Helpers

During the construction process we questioned the ability of the frame to withstand the pressure the soil would place on it so we added braces to each corner to help provide support. It’s an inexpensive addition to the raised bed frame that just may save you a disaster later on!

Pic3_Raised-Bed-Garden-Corner-Brace

One thing we quickly learned through this process is that building a raised bed farm is without a doubt, a two person job! While shopping for our lumber we noticed that it is rare to find a board that is perfectly straight. While we were finishing the last few corners, it was necessary to have one person bend and hold a board in place while the other person drilled and placed the screws. It was a relatively easy process that I think any person capable of lifting heavy boards could do!

Pic4_L-shaped-raised-bed-garden-frame

For our family, one of the best things about creating a home farm, aside from the vegetables, is the fact that it’s an educational family activity. Throughout the process my 9 year old son has learned basic tool skills, a few math and geometry lessons while building the frame and the concept of manual labor. As a parent, I understand the importance of education and more so, the importance of hands on learning, outside of the classroom.

Pic5_Family-Gardening-Project

The biggest tip I can share as part of this initial process is to search your local paper for supplies! A raised bed farm doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, we’re completing this project under $300. Our biggest money saving purchase, especially with a raised bed farm of this size, is to skip buying the bagged soil. Many contractors and farmers have premium garden soil for sale that can be purchased by the truckload at a much more reasonable price.

We reached out to D & L Contractors in the Springfield, IL area who provided us with 80 cubic feet of soil, which they delivered, for only $125. Compared to buying bagged soil, we saved over $300 and filled our raised bed with premium, black top soil. Also, with the advice from Home Farming expert, Paul James, we are adding organic matter to prepare our raised bed soil properly.

Pic6_L-Shaped-Raised-Bed-Garden

We also tested our soil to determine the PH and nutrient levels, which revealed that the Nitrogen is Medium, the Potash is Low, the PH level is Neutral and the Phosphorus is Very Low. To provide lots of nutrients for the vegetable plants, we’ll be incorporating mushroom compost. Plus we’ll add peat moss into the soil, which helps loosen up the soil.

Pic7_home-farm-soil-test-kit-colors

I have to say, the best part of this experience for me so far has been planting the seeds. I may have gone a little overboard with my selections but I really wanted a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables available to me throughout the summer. About half of our home farm was started by seeds in Peat Soil Pellets and the rest will be planted as small plants in the coming weeks.

The variety of vegetables and herbs we are growing includes:

  • Herbs – Mint, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Oregano, Lavender, Spearmint
  • Seed Veggies – Chili Peppers, a variety of Carrots, Romaine Lettuce
  • Plant Veggies – a variety of Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Garlic, Onions
  • Pic8_seeds-labeled-in-jiffy-pellets

In addition to the construction of our raised bed farm and seed planting, we also got a bit crafty with the addition of vegetable markers to not only help identify the vegetables and herbs we’re growing but to create a more visually appealing farm space.

Pic9_vegetable-garden-markers

Now that all of the construction is behind us, I’m more excited than ever to see how our farm will grow in the coming weeks. If you’d like to follow my journey and frequent updates, be sure to follow @3kidsandus and the #HomeFarmingDay hashtag on Twitter.

Home Farming Blogger Challenge Journeys

-Catherine

DisclosureThis is a compensated, sponsored post for Triscuit. All ideas, thoughts, experiences are my own. Be sure to check out my posts as well as the other bloggers participating in this challenge on Better Homes and Garden’s Home Farming Challenge page.


Katie Ketelsen

Introducing Triscuit’s Home Farming Blogger Challenge!

It’s the year to grow your own grub! And if you’ve never harvested your own vegetables, you’re in good company. We’ve recruited three bloggers for our Home Farming Triscuit Challenge to share with us their journey in gardening with vegetables for the first time.  Follow along here weekly to stay up-to-date on their gardening tricks and techniques or find advice on Better Homes and Gardens.

Meet Our Home Farming Bloggers

Catherine

Catherine Davis

Catherine Davis is a 28 year old work at home mother to three children living in the rural town of Chatham, IL – in the heart of farming country. Together, Jonathan (husband) and Catherine are raising their 9 year old son Mattison, 4 year old daughter Kaydence and 2 year old daughter Emmaleigh to enjoy small town living and experience home farming as a way to provide fresh vegetables for the family meals. Although Catherine grew up with parents that grew tomatoes every summer, she has little home farming experience herself. Catherine hopes to be able to provide fresh, organic vegetables that can be brought from the garden to the family dinner table.

As a social media mom, Catherine is the author of 3KidsandUs.com, a personal blog where she shares her love of parenting, home-style cooking and great product finds for families.

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peabody3

Peabody Rudd

Peabody Rudd has run the baking and pastry blog, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody since June 2005.

She is a former math and science teacher who now substitute teaches and runs her blog. For fun she plays ice hockey and is captain of her Men’s (yes, she plays with guys) league hockey team.

Peabody lives north of Seattle, WA in a two bedroom apartment with her lovable goofball cocker spaniel.

Peabody has a self proclaimed black thumb, even killing a cactus that someone once gave her. She has grown some herbs successfully before but is out to prove that you can have a usable garden in even the smallest of patios and spaces.

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AnnieShultz

Annie Shultz

Annie Shultz is a small town Kansas girl, living on 20 acres in the Kansas woods with her carpenter husband.  She graduated with a journalism degree and decided to stay home with her 3 young children – Lizzie (4 yrs), David (2 yrs) and Lucy (4 months).  She blogs from her small town home near Wamego, Kansas, about life with such young children so close in age.  Her passion has always been writing and connecting with others and she found the perfect marriage in her blog, Mama Dweeb.  Last year was her first year gardening and she learned quickly what pigs deer can be. This year her carpenter husband will be building a tall fence!


Peabody Rudd

Peabody Joined the Home Farming Movement

Did you know that Home Farming Day is today, April 12th? Up until a couple weeks ago, neither did I. I was asked if I had any interest in growing my own home farm. At first I chuckled to myself. I have a black thumb. And if there were a color darker than black than that would be the color of my thumb. I have successfully killed every houseplant I have ever owned with the exception of bamboo that a student once gave me. And that lived because the students were in charge of it, not me. I have even killed a cactus. I over watered it and gave it mold, who knew? Apparently not me. I have contact dermatitis to dirt and of course there is the glaring obvious part…I live in an apartment that gets little sunlight. So at first I was like….umm?

But truthfully, I have always wanted a home farm so I wrote back (I picture me in baggy overalls and a big hat). I hit send waiting for a rejection the minute I pointed out that I lived in an apartment. To my surprise, Triscuit was more than happy that they I lived in an apartment. They want to show people that you can have a farm wherever you are…even in apartments. So I will be spending my summer doing my best to turn my black thumb into a green one and turning that blank patio into a flourishing patio home farm using containers. I’m calling it Pea’s Patch. Has a nice ring to it, eh?

I have grown some herbs in the past in containers with some success and some major failures and plan to have many an herb on that patio. I also want to grow lettuce (because I love me some salad…for real) kale (because I put it in my smoothies often) and peas (because well, that’s my name).  I’m pretty much up for trying to grow anything I think will actually grow given my conditions. Right now I am doing all that I can to research what grows best here in the Pacific Northwest. What grows best with limited sun light (I only get about 4-5 hours max…if it is sunny that day)? And to find the worlds’ longest gardening gloves so I can have as little dirt contact as possible. :)

As well as using the tools that are on the homefarming.com website. The website has a great tool that is helping me plan out my plot, as well as great videos that I have been watching. Because I really don’t know what I am doing….what else is new? :P Do you want join me on my little home farming adventure? I wish you would. I think it would be more than fun to see what we can grow, especially those of you who are space challenged like me. Container home farmers of the world unite? Or maybe you are lucky and already have a home farm?

You could join too, your expertise would be greatly appreciated on the Home Farming Community Boards I’m sure. If you do join not only will you have fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs but Triscuit is having a sweepstakes so that you will have the chance to win $1000 toward building the Ultimate Home Farm. Imagine the farm you could come up with if you had $1000 to put it together! Go here to sign up! -Peabody


Annie M.

Annie Joined the Home Farming Movement

Spring time! The new buds are forming on my redbud trees and the baby birds are chirping in nests outside my window.  I look outside and get excited about digging into the earth growing my very own organic produce. Today, April 12th, is Home Farming Day so it’s the perfect time to get started on this year’s home farm.

I am joining Triscuit and Better Homes & Gardens’ Home Farming Challenge with two other bloggers. Together, we will show you 3 different ways to make your home farm grow – in containers, on a raised bed, and me – in a ground plot.  I’ll be showing in video and photographs my joys and challenges of working the ground here in Kansas and in the end I’ll show you all the food I was able to harvest!

Growing your own food has so many benefits. It can save you money, provide hands on education for your children, give stress relief and provide a boost of self-confidence as you see at the end how much you were able to grow!

Living on 20 acres, you might think I am a regular farmer. But we live in the woods. Woods means lots of trees and roots and lots of shelter for the precious (hungry) deer. This has brought challenges and last year was a huge learning experience (read: disappointment). We discovered what grows easily (peppers) and what takes more care and protection from deer (tomatoes and watermelons).

Annie Mama

This year we are going to construct a strong fence to keep Bambi’s relatives out of our home farm and I invite you to join me on my journey to grow baskets of veggies. And I have great news for you! There is an awesome sweepstakes going on at HomeFarming.com where you will have the chance to win $1,000 for the ultimate home farm! This is going on from April 12th-25th, so hurry on over and enter. As you are entering that sweepstakes, I hope you will join me in planting your own home farm. So good for you and so much fun!

-Annie Mama Dweeb


Catherine Davis

Catherine Joined the Home Farming Movement

You may or may not know that April 12th is Home Farming Day. Not only is it a day to kick off a new planting season but it’s an entire movement involving the creation of home farms across the country, including a live Plantathon in New York City and the community groundbreakings in Tampa and L.A.

To help families like my own begin the experience of growing our own herbs and vegetables, the Triscuit Home Farming website was launched. For me, this has become quite a valuable resource as I navigate the ins and outs of developing my very own raised bed vegetable home farm. During my home farming trial, I’ll be sharing my progress from the moment we created the raised bed to the day we start harvesting crops, all of which I’d love to tell you more about in the video introduction below.

Years ago, I attempted a vegetable garden that not only produced very little crop but was taken over by weeds, insects and the neighborhood herd of rabbits. The important (and expensive) lesson I learned that year was that vegetable farming requires knowledge and dedication. In an effort to truly create a vegetable farm that can produce crops to supplement and in some instances, even replace our grocery expenses; we’re relying on the expertise of Triscuit Home Farming expert, Paul James. He has created an amazing collection of home farming videos that not only tell you how to properly create and nurture a farm but show you how to.

WIN THE ULTIMATE HOME FARM

To celebrate the new planting season, the Triscuit Home Farming Sweepstakes is giving a lucky entrant $1,000 to create their own ultimate home farm. Can you even imagine how much food you could grow for your family with that kind of farm? I can! In the next few months, I’ll be sharing my own home farming journey with just a $300 budget and let me tell you that can create quite the starter vegetable home farm for even our large family of five.

-Cat