Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Update from Our Fall Laboratory

One of our goals at Over the Fence is to find ways to produce fresh food throughout the year. To this end, we consulted the first name in North American season extension, Eliot Coleman. After traveling to Europe to research year-round crop production and conducting experiments on his own land in Maine, he developed a variety of techniques for covering crops, overwintering seedbeds, and winter harvesting. Anytime you speak with someone who is trying harness Mother Nature’s more subtle powers, you’re likely to hear his name. We’d love to visit his aptly named Four Season Farm. Someday… In the meantime, we’ve seem some of his ideas in action around Columbus at Swainway Urban Farm, Harmonious Homestead, and Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm.

After reading as much of Coleman as we could get our hands on, we purchased 20 – 10 foot lengths of 1/2″ EMT and borrowed a bending tool to make our first low tunnel hoops last winter. You can read about that process here. We experimented with them a bit in the spring for an early harvest, but didn’t have much luck. We needed to start earlier, producing a fall garden that could evolve over-winter. This year we were ready.

In late August, we got a variety of cold-hardy seeds into the ground and sprouting – kale, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, scallions, beets, carrots, tatsoi, and a variety of mustards. We tried corn salad, or mache, a Coleman favorite for winter harvest but after two rounds of planting saw no germination and gave up. For now. By September we had two full rows of greens going just as strong as we had in the spring. We’re eating from them everyday, occasionally sharing with CSA friends though at this point we are selfishly relishing the fruits of our experiment.

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A mid-Octover harvest.

Last week, in anticipation of our first overnight frost, we covered the beds with our low tunnel hoops and 6-mil greenhouse plastic. The plastic is secured with clamps and, for the time being, held down on the ground with burlap coffee sacks. Something a bit heavier will likely be in order as it gets colder and windier.

A corner of the tunnel. Note the moisture dripping down the sides!

A corner of the tunnel. Note the moisture dripping down the sides!

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Outside

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Inside

A quick temperature experiment showed that on a partly sunny day in the mid-forties, inside the tunnel was just above sixty. Yesterday was unseasonably warm, in the low sixties. We didn’t measure the temperature inside the hoop, but it felt warm and smelled of rich, damp earth. A true joy to behold in early November.

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It’s like the tropics in here!

Hope to keep these going at least through our Thanksgiving feast! We’ll let you know how it goes.

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Fall Cleaning and Gleaning

We had another productive happy hour this past Sunday. Got all the tomatoes and tomatillos cleaned out as well as the peppers. Harvested a nice selection of greens for folks to take with them as well as some rosemary plants for overwintering. Thanks again for the help you guys!

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Happy Hour on the Farm

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It’s official. Over the Fence has our first tradition. Happy Hour on the Farm. Sunday afternoon. One hour of intense working followed by (more working) and a beer. It’s a high energy event that generates really good vibes and gets a lot of stuff off our perennial “to do” list.

Yesterday was about 90% harvesting, 10% pruning/composting. Next week will be all about planting garlic. Here are a few shots from the day.

DSC_0054I took a shot like this in June. Need to find that for a comparison post…

IMG_7909LOVE, love, love to have people working side-by-side.

DSC_0035So long irrigation.

DSC_0063Finally, we were awash in green beans.

DSC_0019Those beans don’t pick themselves…

IMG_7905Sneak preview. We’ll be harvesting the bulk of these babies next week. It’s gonna be sweet!

DSC_0033Not a bad haul for the first week of October. (Note to self: Fall CSA 2015)