Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteaders' Action Day

As many have already documented in thorough detail, the phrases "urban homestead" and "urban homesteading" have recently been trademarked by a certain family (whose name I refuse to use in tandem with those phrases anymore, lest they somehow think I'm crediting them). I remember coming across their website 6 or 7 years ago. They have certainly been an inspiration, and this turn of events hurts. I don't believe it will stand up in court, and I'm not worried about them coming after me for using those words or anything like that, but the betrayal stings.

What a beautiful coming together of the community of those of us striving toward self-reliance has happened in response, though! I was lamenting the other day that I only wanted to read gardening/farming/homesteading blogs anymore and couldn't find good ones. Now I have somewhere close to 100 new ones (as gathered by the awesome Crunchy Chicken) to peruse thanks to this action day! And although I've been on a personally-imposed Facebook hiatus for the past week, I did sneak on to add my support to the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) group (shhh, don't tell!)

Funnily enough, thanks to one of the blogs I found in all this mess, Grow and Resist, I've reconsidered whether I even *want* to identify as a "homesteader." I think I'll stick with "urban farmer." So what happened at the farm this evening?
  • groomed Theo, my brand new Jersey Woolly rabbit, and collected a nice handful of wool
  • checked the seedlings under lights -- spilanthes, Tom Thumb lettuce, and leeks are up!
  • transplanted broccoli raab, spinach, and an unknown lettuce (from a mixed packet) into indoor windowbox
  • made granola (flavor of the week: dried cherry, coconut, agave)
  • made do chua (daikon-carrot pickle) for future bahn mi
  • made spicy pickled carrots (I plan to eat with lentils and rice)
  • purchased materials for new sub-irrigated tub experiment
  • started soaking the seed-starting mix for tomorrow's planting of eggplants, peppers, parsley, and basil
  • fed the worms a nice handful of daikon and carrot trimmings and discovered that although I've only had them for about a month, there is a definite stratum of rich castings! Go worms, go!
My apartment is small and so is the amount I can do while working 45+ hours a week outside of the house. But I'm absolutely honored to be part of this group of folks doing what they can to aim for self-sufficiency. Whatever we choose to call ourselves, we rock!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Garden planning, seed starting

Hallelujah! Seed starting time is officially here! Next weekend marks 12 weeks until our last frost date, but I went ahead and started a few things today for several reasons:

1. I believe that my balcony microclimate gives me a little edge over the Boston airport.
2. Having only a few plants of each type means that I can easily manage the needs of my seedlings -- if I put them out too early and we get a cold snap, I can bring them in for a few nights, for example.
3. I am very very stingy with my heat, so my apartment hovers at just below 60 F during the winter. I figure it can't hurt to give my seedlings a little extra time to make up for any cold-induced slow growth.
4. I'll be honest -- my Fedco order came in and I was pretty eager to plant!

Today I started leeks, lettuce, cutting celery, and spilanthes, (an herb that makes your mouth numb!). This weekend I will start parsley, spinach, maybe some other greens, and eggplant. I don't have a heat mat and don't intend to invest in one this year, so I may not have success with eggplant. Last year I saw no signs of life. This year I'll try them out on top of the radiator so their feet can get nice and toasty.

In the meantime, I've been making some serious decisions and doing some serious planning. I have HIGH hopes for my little balcony this year, and I intend to be ready. So I have to decide exactly how many of each plant I want to start and what they're going to be planted into when the time comes. This involves making graph-paper maps of my space, lists of what items need what size container, etc.

I'll share a tentative sketch soon. I do know this: I need a LOT more 5-gallon buckets in the next few months...!