The urban farmer

IMG_3970.JPGI have been growing veggies for about 8 or so years – flowers for as long as I have had a house with land to plant. I am not the full fledged urban farmer with chickens and other animals. I have have thought about it but am reluctant to be that tied down to my yard. So my energy goes into the plants – testing and trying new things.

(photo of Aconites last year on April 6th)

I use the science I learned while teaching kids. Expect that this year I realized I am a lousy scientist. I know that when experimenting you need to change one variable at a time. You need to have a control group so you can tell what is making the difference in your work.  Well, that is all well and good until you are dealing with old man weather! The variable that I have no control over.

Last year my little seedlings struggled. My pepper and tomato plants just did not grow. I worried over them. I watered them carefully and kept them on a heat mat. I transplanted them hoping the soil mix would help them. They did grow oh so slowly and we did get to plant them late in May. The ground was ready for planting in early May.

This year I decided I would experiment to see what could improve this growing issue. Step one I got new grow light bulbs thinking mine were several years old and may have lost some power. Step two I planted them a bit earlier hoping to give them a head start so they would be ready by May 15th. Step three I kept them on the heat mats much longer.

Well, it worked but now I have a bit of a tomato plant jungle in my basement. It is my daily dose of green since out side there is still that white stuff – that we are not talking about any more. The green is wonderful but I have transplanted some ofIMG_5519.JPGplants twice already. I am running out of room under the lights. Two flats of small pansy plants are now taking over the house plants upstairs in bay window. The peppers need to be transplanted soon and I have no place to put all those larger pots. IMG_5517.JPG

I also have no idea what made the difference. Why do I have a tomato jungle this year?  Was it the lights I changed out? Was it that I started them early or that I used more heat?  The only think I did not change was the water and the seeds. I goofed – to many variable to tell what happened.  Plus we have old man weather who is extending the winter season. There is no way my soil will be warm enough to plant tomatoes by May 15th. To be honest these plants are going to be ready by the beginning of May – to early for sure. Our last frost date is May 15th and this year my guess it it will be even later in May.

I don’t think I will worry about why they are growing like weeds I just need to find another window with light because my outdoor garden beds are still under that stuff and more is expected this weekend.

Urban farming or any farming is a risk – there are lots of variable – some you have control over and many you do not. Weather being a big one that we have no control over. Little animals is another one where there is little control but we will save that for a time when we actually can talk about plants that are outside. For now I need to go and re arrange my house so I can put these plants some place where there is light.


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to The urban farmer

  1. I enjoyed reading this! It gives me hope for the chance we will eventually be able to plant something underneath this white stuff!

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