Monday, April 5, 2010

Turnip Update 2010

As you no doubt remember from the epic blog post last year about Turnips (see "Turnips" 2/3/09)...we are growing a mysterious variety of very large heirloom turnips in the garden.

Last season the turnips grew well and were delicious. I left about 6 plants in the ground over winter so that they would flower and set seed this year (a biennial cycle). It is early April and the plants have begun to push up their flower stalks. This is good. I just need to make sure that no other Brassicas in the garden (overwintered kale, etc.) are allowed to flower or they may cross-pollinate and then the resulting seeds won't breed true to the heirloom turnip variety....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


There are a lot of things that can be said about bees...most of them are good things (unless one flies into your mouth) is an article from Take Part about the rise in city beekeeping. On the local front, we are working with Corky Luster at Ballard Bee Company getting hives set up this spring on the roof of Bastille restaurant and up at our headquarters...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I thought Seattle had "mild" winters...

Although this surely constitutes old news, I can't stop thinking about the two week cold snap that we had during December. As you probably remember, starting on 12/3 and lasting through 12/13, the nighttime temperatures were below freezing. A few nights saw temperatures in the low 20's and teens. 11 days in a row of below freezing nighttime temperatures completely wrecked our chances at having decent winter harvests. In a "typical" Seattle winter, cold spells would not last this long. Most "winter hardy" plants can easily recover from a night or two of freezing temperatures. 11 days of cold, dry winds effectively stripped all of the moisture from uncovered plants. Garden beds planted with winter crops like romaine lettuce and broccoli look like civil war battlefields. So much destruction, hardly anything has survived.
The amazing thing is that a simple row cover can make a big difference. Aside from the actual temperature, one of the principal reasons a crop will die in the winter is due to the desiccating effect of the wind

dead, uncovered "winter crops" (sprouting broccoli)

living, covered "winter crops" (scotch kale)

Of course some crops are just more hardy than others
and of course, there are many crops that simply won't tolerate freezing temperatures...

this used to be mizuna...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rooftop Garden Part XXVI

I am still slacking on my blog posts...had to set up a facebook page for SUFCo. and then link it to a Twitter account (what?). Hopefully I will have a chance to catch up on actual useful gardening info. is a link to an article from the Seattle Times on the Bastille rooftop garden.
Mostly, I am spending all my time advocating for more rooftop gardens around here. Gotta take advantage of the space we have, right? We just have to convince all of the restaurant, office building, and condominium owners...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Use Your Fruit!

As you have probably noticed, some of your summer crops have started to throw in the towel. Nighttime temperatures have been in the low 30's and a hard frost is imminent. All of our basil has already bitten the dust as well as the squash, and tomatoes are no doubt next. What this means is: harvest the living daylights out of your garden. Here is a short list of the most temperature sensitive plants: basil, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These crops will certainly be finished soon, so keep your eyes on everything so your final harvest isn't totally frost damaged.
If you end up with more food than you can handle, think about preservation. Nearly everything can be preserved either through canning or freezing.

Ball Canning is a great resource (they make great jars and the website has a lot of trustworthy recipes)

Another great resource is our upcoming canning class at Carkeek Park (details below): it will be a little late in the season, but...we will be making and canning some applesauce. It is nice to have somebody walk you through it the first time so you can see how easy it actually is...I don't have any idea why it is rated 18 and older (I'll try to watch my language).

Use Your Fruit!

Ages 18 and older

Do you have a fruit tree in your backyard? Curious about the best ways to keep that fruit through the winter? Come to Carkeek for a fun, hands-on tutorial and learn creative ways to preserve your fruit. Colin McCrate and Brad Halm from the Seattle Urban Farm Company host this great event. Email Colin at to register.

Location: Carkeek ELC

10/24 Sat Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Here is a link to an article from Newsweek about the recent rise of urban agriculture across the country...Urban Gardens Grow

Friday, July 3, 2009

Prune Yo Tomatoes

You may have noticed that your tomato plants have finally gotten the clue and started to grow a little bit. You may have also noticed that, once they start to grow, they can get out of control pretty quickly...thus the need for trellising and...pruning. Believe it or not, but cutting out some of the branches of your plant will actually result in more, better tasting fruit (and your tomatoes will be less prone to problems such as fungus, mold, drunk driving, etc.). Brad found this article which explains it all very well:
Pruning Tomatoes - Fine Gardening Article