Category Archives: Farm

Life on the super awesome urban farm

TRIMMING THE TREES

As a kid, I loved trimming shrubs. Trim a bit there, trim a bit here. Like a haircut, except no one is upset if you take a little too much off the back. Perhaps why I later went to beauty school.

Around here, autumn is a great time to trim the trees. Here are some tips and tricks to giving the trees a haircut.

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I like to use a pair of bypass loppers to cut the thicker branches. The red handles on our pair also make it easier to spot when you lay them down in the grass, and then forget where you put them.

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I start by trimming some of the too-low hanging branches. Start with just a little, because you will be surprised how much the tree will spring up once its relieved of just that little weight. For instance, if you like the way a tree hangs in front of a window, don’t go chopping a huge limb all at once, because the existing branches might spring up and not hang the same anymore.

Be sure to trim the dead branches too, and any of the growing straight up suckers that you don’t care for. You want the tree to grow in the shape of a tree, and sometimes it needs to be reminded of that.

Another big plus of trimming the trees before the leaves all fall- proactive leaf collection.

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Happy tree trimming! Don’t go crazy because there is always next year!

PORTRAIT OF A HOUSEPLANT: LIVING ROOM HANGING PLANT

We received this hanging planter as a hand-me-down gift in the spring. It is not very big, and rather shallow, so we found the smallest draping plant at the garden store, and hoped for the best. To our surprise, the plant seems to be doing pretty ok.

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He lives next to a sunny window in the living room. We don’t think he is growing very quickly, but we drilled a hole in the wall for him, so the least he can do is stay green. I water him with a couple ice cubes every week, which I hope cools him down in the hottest part of the day. He adds a touch of green sophistication to the wall, so hopefully he will stay around for awhile.

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HOW TO ADD MULCH

We’ve found that adding mulch is the quickest way to make your flower bed look extra pro. In some places of the world, the dirt is nice and soft, but here, our dirt looks like rubble rocks. If you spent the time and effort to plant some pretty flowers, let’s get our money’s worth!

First, you will need to obtain some mulch. We do this through our local garden store. This whole cart of mulch is less than $20.

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Next, you need to prepare the ground for mulching. You can level out the ground a bit with a sturdy rake or hoe. Get your plants in the dirt. If you are discouraging a particularly nasty weed, lay down some black weed control fabric.

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Finally, add your mulch! You will need to cover the ground evenly with several inches of mulch. Be sure to use gloves so you don’t get slivers!

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Not only does it add some nice contrast to make your flowers really stand out, mulch also discourages weeds and helps water control! Big fans.

FARMER GEAR

If you are going into battle, you need the proper armor. If you are going to spend a bit of time outside, you should be dressed and ready for it! Here are some basic essentials for spending a morning doing yardwork:

1. Staying well hydrated is common sense, and helps keep you cool. I like a cup with a lid and straw, so I can feel more sure a stray bug or something isn’t swimming around in there. 2. Most of the time, I wear a watch. Its easy to lose track of time, and if you need to be showered and somewhere else later, you’ll be glad you wore one.

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3. I’m a fan of hats. They keep hair out of my face, and make my crazy hair a little more manageable. I like baseball hats, or big floppy garden hats, and braids. 4. And finally, a good pair of garden gloves. My fingers still tend to get sore and I occasionally get a little cut, and I can only imagine what my hands would look like if I didn’t wear gloves.

Optional essential- bug spray. Mosquitoes can be nasty, but I kinda hate bug spray, so I try to go as long as possible without it. Wearing long pants and sleeves helps a lot.

What is your go-to garden gear?

HOW TO CLEAR AWAY A BIG PATCH OF WEED BUSHES IF YOU ARE SCARED OF BUGS AND STUFF

The unknown is one of the most terrifying things in the world. Possibly because we can’t see it. We are in the dark. Reaching your arm into a bunch of plants to clear them out is pretty scary. Who knows what is living in there. But we learn from Dumbledore: “You know happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.”

So instead of being paralyzed by the thought of weird bugs flying out at you, let’s turn on the light.

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The secret is to start on the outside, and just start cutting what you can see. It will start to thin out, and you’ll be able to see more and more.

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As you see more, you will feel a bit more comfortable with pulling and clipping, and you can work your way down to the base and roots. It will take some time, but you can do it!

BUILD A ROCK PATH

Our rock path was our first big outdoor improvement. This was once bare dirt, turning to mud in the rain, and dust in the summer. Now the path has a rustic charm that looks like its been there for centuries.

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Here’s how to make one of your own!

You will need:

  • Rocks (we got ours from a local quarry)
  • Shovels

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Our rocks are set into the dirt a little bit, so they are flatter to the ground. To lay rocks this way, you will need to clear some of the dirt away with a shovel, making the ground as even as possible. We tried to do this in large areas at a time, to be more efficient.

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Next, you can lay the rocks down in a pleasing arrangement, much like rock tetris. For each rock, you will need to customize the hole depending on any rock surface irregularities or depth differences. Add dirt in some places, or remove some in others.

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After you are satisfied, fill the area around the rock with leftover dirt, packing it around the edges.

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Repeat one million more times, and you will have a path!

VINE REMOVAL

After the great tree falling incident of April 2014, we are very aware about the health of trees. Early in the summer, we noticed a groot-like vine creeping through the trees, growing stronger by the day. Thankfully, we made some strategic cuts that were able to stop it, but it still left our tree a little funky looking in some spots. You can see the traces of its crispy dead vine body up in the leaves.

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But due to its groot abilities to re-grow, the vine creeps through our side gate, once again asserting its power, slowly trapping us inside. The vine holds on tight, the tentacles very firm in their misguided convictions.

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Super hero gate defender to the rescue. After a few snips, our freedom will be restored.

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