Farming on a Tenth of an Acre in Town

Reader Contribution by Deanna Tworivers
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“Bloom where you are planted.” Yes, we have heard this over and over. Once I settled into this idea it seems to work.

At 62 years of age and after a life threatening injury I quit “messing about with plants” and became serious about using what I have to the best of my ability. A 10th of an acre is enough and on some days more than I can handle. I am getting a bit stronger every day and am applying myself to blossoming right here.

This year we are growing tomatoes, all from seed, most of which we had saved from last year’s favorites.

We purchased Berkeley Tie Dyed and Red Currant seeds from Territorial Seeds and acquired a Striped Roman Tomato at a plant swap. Our seed planting went better than expected and we soon had 150 plants in our living room, dining room and spare room. We sold a few, gave many away and planted 40 in our garden. As I planted I unfortunately broke the stems of a few plants. In hope I brought them in the house and put them in water glasses on a North facing window sill and added fresh, filtered water every day. Two weeks later they all had roots and went into pots for a bit longer.

Growing in the garden are: Costoluto Genovese, Roma, Striped Roman, Black Prince, Green Grape, Arkansas Traveler, Mortgage Lifter, Orange Ox Heart, Rutgers, Pink Brandy Wine, Berkeley Tie Dyed, and Red Currant. After the little seedl ings on the window sill went out we have a total of 50 plants in the ground.

We tend toward paste or sauce tomatoes because my husband Eric is a Master Food Preserver and makes and cans wonderful roasted tomato soup as well pasta sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, pizza sauce and salsa. Lucky me!!

Do we grow anything other than tomatoes? Oh, yes. We have strawberries, black currants, blue berries, huckleberries, apple and cherry trees, hazelnut bushes, a bed of mixed salad greens and sugar pod peas, Anaheim peppers, sweet red peppers, Sun chokes, an artichoke, and a newly cleared area for Glass Gem corn, Amaranth, flax, Anasazi beans, slept and pumpkins. Late summer we will plant spinach, more salad greens and Swiss Chard to winter over.

Herbs, culinary and medicinal, are very important here. We have Rosemary, Chervil, Fennel, Dill, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint, Tarragon, Savory, Bay, Yarrow, Comfrey, Chives and Lavender. Lots of Lavender. North Bank Urban Farm is Washington State’s only urban lavender farm. We, at the latest count have 45 plants in the ground most of which are blooming.

We are adding a 100 square foot greenhouse which will make plant propagation and wintering over much easier and have two large compost bins for kitchen scraps, leaves, garden detritus, etc. It is wonderful compost and, I think, the real secret of our abundant harvests. That and lots of wood chip mulch.

This spring we have started selling at a local farmers market. It is slow going but we are making lots of friends and selling lavender products from our urban farm.

The first Sunday in August we will have an couple of “Open House” Sunday to share our little farm and enjoy the late summer days.

My point is, you do not have to have “land” to farm. You can farm where ever you are. Make the best use of your space, care for your soil, be thrifty with water and enjoy the garden and the fruits of your labor.

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