The City Girl Farmer

Gardening for the Incurably Lazy
June 10, 2014, 11:49 am
Filed under: Garden | Tags: , , ,
Strawberries in the east garden

Strawberries in the east garden

I am writing this post with the intent to give hope to other amateur gardeners.  This is probably the worst gardening year I have ever had.  I have completely lacked enthusiasm, the weather hasn’t been too cooperative, weeds are starting to get out of control and whatever I have planted has gone in late.

A couple of years ago, a fellow gardener donated some extra strawberries from his garden to me.  I received them in a 5 gallon bucket and dutifully put them in the ground in the garden on the east side of our property near the house.  I love fresh strawberries and I hate weeds and I thought this would be the perfect way to have my cake and eat it too.  They are thriving despite the rather brutal weather conditions we’ve had here:  wind and frigid temperatures in the winter and drought in the summer.

At the time I planted these, there were  five scraggly plants at the bottom of the bucket that I didn’t have the heart to throw away, so I threw them into our south garden in an empty spot without much hope they would survive.  Out of the five, only one made it, but here is what it looked like this morning.

Strawberries and weeds

Strawberries and weeds


Look at what that one pathetic plant has turned into!  It is now a force the weeds must reckon with!  I must confess that I share this picture with shame.  This garden has been seriously neglected.  On the other hand, it has been interesting to observe just how productive it is with absolutely no help from me.  This is the second year that we have had volunteer lettuce and chives.  I think I’ve put about an hour’s worth of weeding in this year, just to give the lettuce a little room.

Volunteer lettuce and chives

Volunteer lettuce and chives


So, I have discovered that with almost no effort, I will have lettuce and chives from my garden this year, that because the strawberries are taking over, I won’t need to weed as much, and that the weeds which used to be the bane of my garden have now yielded to a new ground cover yielding delicious surprises.  Moral of the story?  You may give up on your garden, but it may not give up on you!

Hidden surprise

Hidden surprise

Harvesting Lettuce Seed
October 21, 2010, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’m afraid my garden suffered from its usual late summer neglect as I burned out on weeding and making my children weed early in August.  Most of my lettuce did not come up or was killed by the days of hot winds we had in the spring.  Despite the awful growing conditions prevalent in my garden this year, some plants came up and actually produced.  I decided since the garden was already suffering from a great deal of neglect, that would let those plants go to seed and see if I could save the seed for next year’s garden, which will be in square foot boxes!

Lettuce that has gone to seed

When lettuce seed is ready to harvest, little tufts that are somewhat reminiscent of dandelion seed will appear at the top of the plant.   If you pluck those you will find that they are rooted in a tiny cup full of lettuce seed.

I gathered some and put them in ziploc bags for use next year.  Check back next spring to see the results of my first seed saving project.  Who needs Monsanto, eh?

Lettuce seed still on the plant

Lettuce seed

Update on the Square Foot Garden
October 21, 2010, 5:39 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

It’s working and I’m sold.  If you recall, this garden was planted sometime during the second half of August (!) just so I could try it and see.  The empty spaces you see in the picture are where the radishes that have already been harvested were planted.  Thanks to the great weather we’ve had this fall (finally WE got some of the global warming), the green beans are even producing!

First square foot garden

Green beans in October

Disposing of Summer Squash

I am having the same problem I do every year with zucchini and yellow squash—there’s TOO MUCH!!  I have wanted to try my hand at preserving vegetables without canning or freezing since you never know when you might have to, right?  Also, canning and freezing both rob us of the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. I don’t want to get off on to that topic, but it is a good thing to invest some time learning about it.

Chopped squash, garlic, chives & thyme

Anyway, I decided to use up some of my yellow squash this way to see how it worked.  I added some garlic, chives and thyme, all from the garden.  It took almost no time and all I added was salt and filtered water.  It looks pretty and I’ll update once I have a chance to taste it.

Update: Broke into the jar to taste and it was quite yummy. I could really taste the garlic and thyme. The squash itself was very reminiscent of pickles.

Vegetables in the jar

Vegetables floating in salt water

New Garden Idea
August 7, 2010, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

I’m so excited to try this and so happy to have heard about it. A gardener friend of mine turned me on to this and if half what the book promises is true, my gardening career is saved.

I love fresh produce and each year for several years I have planted a small garden. Each year in August I finally give up overcome by the weeding task. I never plant a fall garden. Each year I wonder if it’s worth it. We have such a short growing season and we are not blessed with an abundance of water.

Just as I was counting the cost once again, these were the promises I found:

  • little or no weeding
  • 50% less water
  • 5 times the harvest of the equivalent space in a traditional garden

So the boy and I put it together yesterday, mixed the soil and planted for the fall.

New square foot garden

I’m excited to see if all my gardening dreams come true.  If they do, we’ll build a bunch!

Planning to Grow Medicinal Herbs
April 21, 2010, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Garden, Herbs | Tags: ,

Medicinal herb garden site

Recently, I have become interested in medicinal herbs and decided that as long as I had the rototiller around, I’d dig up the east side of the yard and use that area.  It’s near water and I’ll also be able to see it from the kitchen window.  A lot of the plants have been started indoors already.  I plan on planting some others directly into the soil in the next few days.  Some of the herbs I will be growing include:  borage, calendula, valerian, chamomile, feverfew, lemon balm, elderberry and motherwort.  No cannabis, although there have been several requests.  🙂 I decided I don’t want El Paso County’s riff-raff paying unexpected visits to the farm.

To Till or Not to Till
April 21, 2010, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: , , , , , ,

Tilled garden with some rows ready for seeds

Last years garden was really begun in the fall of 2008, shortly after we moved.  I came across an article showing how you could use cardboard and manure in layers to build soil quickly.  Anyone who has ever moved typically has an abundance of cardboard and where we live there is also an abundance of manure so it seemed logical to try.  Actually, I was very pleased with the results.  We had enough produce for our family and others and I even sold some to the local store.

This year I decided to till  mostly because the garden had been under about two feet of snow since the end of last October, sometimes a lot more.  The fence Jon built to keep the goats out also functions as a snow fence  and the snow drifts on the leeward side of the fence.  There were a lot of  leftover weeds, too,  signs of waning enthusiasm at the end of the last growing season.

I’m sore and tired from tilling, but it was done in a day.  The no-till way requires patience and planning ahead.  I think it’s a great way to start an area for planting and I think I would do it again for that, but I probably won’t add layers to the garden area I already have.

As I was working along, I found some little surprises that struck me as somewhat miraculous.  Despite our record nasty winter weather, some of the plants came back.  I have a healthy little chive plant, some tarragon and garlic, all volunteers.  😀





October 19, 2009, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: , , ,
One of my "stealth zucchinis"

One of my "stealth zucchinis"

Of course one of the things that kept me from blogging was that the garden started to need serious attention.  This is a picture of me holding a zucchini that hid from me in order to avoid harvest.  As you can see, I finally caught it.  Considering the hail and how unseasonably wet it was, we had a great harvest.

Some carrots

Some carrots

At the high point of the harvest, I loaded up a basket to sell at the home school dance.  It was really yummy.  Looking forward to more next year.


Basket of vegetables, herbs and eggs

Hail Storm
October 19, 2009, 7:06 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,
Our neighbor's daughter holding a hail stone

Our neighbor's daughter holding a hail stone

hail stone

hail stone

I know it’s October, but I’m catching up from a very busy summer!  We had a pretty spectacular hail storm a couple of months ago that scarred up some of the tomatoes and zucchini.  We were on the very edge of it and you’ll just have to imagine what golf-ball sized hail sounds like on a metal roof.  We had some minor damage to the glare guards on our car and that was it.  A half mile up the road our neighbors are getting new roofs and new siding, not to mention having their cars fixed.

Second round of Manure for the Garden
November 7, 2008, 12:52 am
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

We have had unseasonably warm and dry weather for the most part this fall and Thomas and I have been taking advantage of the sunny days to get that garden ready for the spring.   We got our next load of alpaca manure from our friends up the road and are busy layering it along with the cardboard left over from moving.

Thomas in the garden area

Thomas in the garden area

Second layer

Second layer