Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Blog Has A New Home!

Seeds At City Urban Farm Blog continues at its new address: http://seedsatcityurbanfarm.blogspot.com/

We'll see you there!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Berry Uprising Leads to Improved Conditions

With summer fast approaching, the continuing growth of the berry population at Seeds Farm demanded that some changes be made to the conditions of the fruiting plants. In response to these demands, improvements have been made at the Farm in order to assist the wondrous sweet morsels reach perfection.

Blackberries were one of the fruits to receive an upgrade of growing space. Previously, Seeds Farm's blackberry canes were growing on a short trellis and were largely unsupported. Located off of the main path, they were easily overlooked by the casual observer. Now, not only are they trained on a tall and sturdy trellis, but a sign proclaims their presence to all!

A more dramatic improvement has been made in strawberry accommodations. Initially housed in stacks of small, square, unfinished wood boxes, the growing space was adequate for the strawberries to survive and produce a few yummy fruits. However, the plants were clearly cramped and space and soil volume was not ample enough to help the strawberries reach their full potential.

Last Friday, Paul Maschka and his Agriculture 110 class met the demand of the existing strawberry plants by moving them (along with some younger friends) to newly constructed digs. Closer to luxury condos than the modest wooden shacks they were housed in formerly, the new boxes are not only larger to provide more soil for strawberry roots, they are also tapered toward the bottom which allows for more growing space for the plants one level below. Each box is painted to help the wood better withstand the elements and all of the boxes are vertically stacked in order to save space and keep the pillbugs, slugs and snails at bay.

Currently, the strawberries are adjusting to their new, more prominent residence. Before long, we will see (and taste) the delicious fruits of our labor!

More Fabulous Pictures from the semester!

Students from Cool Season Organic Production, clearing, amending, and planting our many biointensive beds!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Propagating organic edibles!

Claudia, Jamie, and Stacy are weeding in the greenhouse. They helped our cool-season vegetables grow happily in the cooler months of February and March.

Jake is sowing warm season flowers such as zinnias and cosmos for our summer flower bouquets. Clearly an artist at work!

Sowing the Seeds of future farmers at City College!

As the Spring Semester winds down. I thought I'd share some pictures from the farm- with both
apprentices and students from the Cool Season Organic Production class.
Enjoy the abundance!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do Baked Potatoes Grow on Trees?

If you've taken a close look at Seeds Farm lately you may have noticed some shiny "decorations" on some of the trees. A number of our trees--mulberry, fig, guava and pomegranate--have what appear to be foil-wrapped baked potatoes skewered onto their branches. In actuality, these trees are being propagated by a technique known as air layering.

As part of Paul Maschka's Organic Fruit Tree Care class offered here at City College, students have had the opportunity to practice pruning, grafting and propagation techniques on the Seeds Farm fruit trees. While many students in the class were familiar with the concept of grafting trees, air layering proved to be a new technique for most.

Air layering is typically started in Spring on a pencil-sized diameter branch, which has grown within the last year. From this branch a clone of the mother tree will be created.

The first step in the air layering process is to girdle or wound a 1 to 1 1/2 inch wide section of the branch, cutting through and removing its outer layers of bark, cambium, and phloem. One has to be careful not to cut too deeply because the xylem layer which transports water and nutrients to the future clone must be left intact.

The girdled area is then wrapped in a series of layers that act somewhat like an aerial pot. The first layer consists of very damp sphagnum moss--the medium in which the clone's roots will grow. The next layer is plastic wrap which holds the moss in place, retains moisture and serves as a window to view whether the clone is successfully rooting. Aluminum foil, the final layer, reflects sunlight and keeps the moss packet a cool and inviting place for new root growth. Snuggled in an optimal environment--dark, moist and mossy--the girdled area of the branch is stimulated to form a callus from which grow buds are able to develop new roots.

The rooting process requires patience on the part of the propagator since it can take from a few months to a year before the branch grows a hearty enough root system that allows it to be removed safely from the parent plant, potted and eventually thrive on its own.

If the students' endeavors prove successful, Seeds Farm will eventually have a number of new baby trees that are genetic clones of their parents. Because so little material is required, air layering promises to be a cost-effective way of propagating trees.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poppy on fire!
de-rooting our soon-to-be new garden space
Daikon Suza... aka Suza w/ some daikons.