Category Archives: Blog

Preparing Your Garden for the End of Summer

Hello Harvesters

 

As much as we would like to deny it, the end of summer is upon us. Labor Day marks the last gasp of summer festivities, and a warning sign for gardeners to start preparing for the colder season. We still have a bit of growing season left for fall crops like potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, but it’s time to start planning ahead for how to protect and regenerate your garden over the winter.

 

By Alan Manson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alan Manson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A great way to regenerate your soil over the winter is to plant cover crops. Cover crops are planted at the end of the growing season, and then tilled into the soil at the end of winter instead of being harvested. Erosion, planting, harvesting, and foot traffic inevitably damage your garden’s soil structure. Cover crops help to reverse this process by restoring aeration and drainage to your soil, as well as preventing nutrient leaching. Some crops, like clover, also help to fix nitrogen in the soil, which is critical for growing crops like tomatoes. At the end of the winter, when the cover crops are tilled under the soil, the organic matter acts like compost, restoring more nutrients to the soil and preparing your garden for another healthy growing season. Check out these pages explaining cover crops and helping you decide which one to plant!

Blossom_(2762263328)

“Blossom (2762263328)” by Harald Hoyer from Schwerin, Germany – BlossomUploaded by russavia. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blossom_(2762263328).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Blossom_(2762263328).jpg

 

If you want to extend your growing season and get the most out of your garden, you may want to consider building a cold frame. Cold frames are small, insulated boxes with a transparent lid that act as miniature greenhouses. Most cold frames are small enough to fit on urban properties, as they are much smaller than traditional greenhouses. The lid allows heat from the sun to enter the frame, but prevents that heat from escaping by convection. It also protects the plants from the excessive moisture that we often experience in the Pacific Northwest. If you’re interested in building a frame, check out this page on how to build a good frame. This fall, try planting crops from the Brassica genus, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts, or radishes, lettuce and spinach in your cold frame. Let us know how it goes!

 

 

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Chickens at Home

As any regular farmers market shopper knows, a farm fresh egg is a wonderful thing! The taste of the yolk from an egg laid by hens who get to range freely and eat organic feed is so much better than the taste of eggs from large industrial farms, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing to a small farmer’s operation. If you’ve ever visited a farm, you know that chickens are funny little creatures that can be very entertaining to watch.

 

Did you know that if you live in Bellevue or Seattle, you can build your very own home chicken coop? In both of these cities, zoning regulations allow up to 6 birds for producing eggs at home, as long as you follow some basic rules. Here are some guidelines, tips, and tricks to keeping chickens at home.

Albertus Verhoesen, "Chickens and Park Vase", public domain

Albertus Verhoesen, “Chickens and Park Vase”, public domain

 Hens only!

A rooster crowing at sunrise is a romantic image when we think of farms in rural areas. However, a rooster blasting out an early morning alarm would not make the urban chicken-keeper very popular with her neighbors. If you want to keep chickens at home, make sure you get only female birds. Regulations prohibit keeping roosters in the city. If you discover a rooster in your home flock, it must either be slaughtered or moved somewhere where roosters are allowed, outside of the city. This can be accomplished by simply putting a listing for a free rooster on Craigslist or a similar website. Hens also make a bit of noise, but they are much more tolerable than roosters. The females sometimes squawk and cackle when they are laying eggs, but they will be completely quiet when it is dark outside, because they will be sleeping.

 Build a good coop

 

By Josh Larios from Seattle, US (DSC02753) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Josh Larios from Seattle, US (DSC02753) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Chickens can roam free in your yard with supervision, but they are not the smartest of creatures, and if you let them roam unsupervised, they will find all sorts of ways to get into trouble. From cars to dogs to raccoons, there are plenty of ways for urban chickens to meet an untimely end. Chickens should always be kept in the coop at night. When you build their coop, make sure it is well sealed to ensure that rats and other scavengers can’t get into the feed or steal the eggs. Here’s a handy page on how other people have built their coops.

Create a barter economy!

Eggs from a home coop are a very valuable item in a neighborhood food bartering economy. Maybe your neighbors have a tasty garden vegetable you covet? Trade them some eggs! Maybe you need a hand with a project that might be a bit of an imposition? Eggs to the rescue! Trades like this help you bond with your neighbors and make a friendly, positive social environment in an urban environment that can sometimes feel isolating and individualistic.

 

Send us photos of your home coop!

 

 

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