Over the Fence Urban Farm


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Seedbed

This past fall we were on a tour at Swainway Urban Farm when our pal Milan, from Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm, asked Joseph Swain who inspires him. It was a great question and without hesitation, Joseph cited Eliot Coleman, the guru of Four Season Farming. I was somewhat familiar with Coleman’s work from articles he published in Mother Earth News, but we promptly checked a few of his books out from the library and haven’t looked back.

In Four Season Harvest (1999), Coleman offers advice on sowing seeds and raising seedlings in the coldframe. Knowing full well we are in for a few more weeks of very cold weather, we decided to give his method a try today as temperatures soared above 50. As promised, I picked up a soil thermometer and found the soil was fluctuating between 45-60 degrees for the past few days. Perfect for kale, beets, onions, chard…

With the coldframe already cleared of old growth and the soil smooth, we laid a 2-3 inch blanket (about 1 yard) of Happy Frog Potting Soil over all but the small section where we transplanted some seedlings earlier in the week. We set the seeds down in well marked rows and gave them a drink. And now, we wait.

It used to be if I heard the term “seedbed,” my thoughts turned to performance artist Vito Acconci’s (1972) work of that title. If you don’t know it, look it up. (Just be warned, this work is not appropriate for all readers.) I won’t go into it here except to say, that I have new understanding of the term. These seeds are warm and cozy and we’re going to do all we can to keep them that way.

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[Quick note on the transplants. They seem to be doing okay. We moved a few straw bales that were lying around to the west and southwest sides of the coldframe as a windbreak to help these next last few weeks of winter. The transplants aren’t growing as fast as the seedlings still sitting in the kitchen, but they are holding their own, gaining inner strength and waiting to flouirsh as soon as temperatures stabilize. As soon as the grow lights we got are installed, we’ll move some of the guys on the windowsill under there and then they will really start to take off. Can’t wait!]

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Check out our “true leaves!”

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Sowing Seeds in the Dead of Winter

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

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Like much of North America, we’ve been experiencing record cold temperatures in central Ohio this winter.  This has folks all over town dreaming of warmer days.  And gardens.  We’re doing more than just dreaming. We’re sowing seeds.

The past few years we’ve been planting things earlier and earlier, but this is definitely a new record.

The past 48 hours we’ve been priming a few spinach seeds Jodi picked up at the City Folks Farm Shop seed swap a few weeks back.  We have some nice south-facing window sills in the kitchen we’re going to try to grow them on, but if that’s not enough light, we’ll move them under the grow lights. Next week we’ll plant another round.

There are few things more magical than watching things grow up from seeds.  With the weather as cold as it’s been around here, we could all use the distraction.