Growing SPUDS at Home by Artisan Farm Co. - Portland

Growing Potatoes at home is easy, and rewarding.

Growing Potatoes at home is easy, and rewarding.

This month we are going to talk about the potato? WHAT? Yes… our best friend, and worst enemy… “THE SPUD”. Why they are important, why they get a bad wrap; hanging out with those no good carbs… and how you can do, some amazing things with a potato. 

Potatoes were originally discovered; surprisingly in The Andes Mountains, and were spread around the globe by Europeans, exploring, and searching the world. Now I know what you are thinking… Potatoes… are these not the food of ‘Merica? Well shockingly, our friend is mostly produced, for global consumption in India, and China. 

What makes the potato so special, that I would spend time writing about it? Well potatoes are calorie crammed (making them great for if you are starving, and providing you plenty of energy), packed with vitamins, and minerals (Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin B6, and Fiber), and they are crazy easy to grow. Oh… I forgot to mention… DELICIOUS! 

Some examples of the simplest potato boxes.

Some examples of the simplest potato boxes.

So… there is you science lesson for the day… You are welcome! Lets talk about planting, and growing potatoes. Potatoes can be planted two different types of ways: tubers, and by seed. The first being the easiest way, so we are going to stick with tuber growing today. 

“Hey… look at my eyes!” Those eyes you see on potatoes are actually a start of a potato plant. And when you left potatoes in the fridge for too long, you will noticed they will sprout. That is the beginning of a new potato plant. But be advised, while you MAY use a potato from the supermarket, there are special potato starts, available from your local nursery. These are grown specifically for starting new potato plants. And thus are less susceptible to disease, fungus!

Okay… enough already dude. Lets grow. The best way to grow your potatoes are in something called a potato box. This is a designated planter, just for potatoes. This is as easy as four square feet. A 2’x2’ box, that will yield you over 100 pounds of potatoes. Spuds are a cool weather crop… which means we are giving you this information JUST IN TIME! Build you a 2’x2’ wood square, made out of untreated wood. And plant nutrient rich, loose soil. For potatoes I like to do mine in 50% Potting Mix; which is well draining, loose, and fluffy. And the other 50% in pure compost (animal manure free). Providing plenty of nutrients for our starchy friends. Once you have obtained some starter tubers. Plant these bad boys in your fertile soil, and water. That is it… OH NO IT IS NOT! As your potato plants grow they will get taller. As all plants do. Once they have grown taller than the top op your box shape… You need to add a second tier to your box. And add more soil mixture. And so, on, and so on. Additionally adding layers to your boxes, as the plants grow taller. You will not see it, but deep in this tower, are wonderful potatoes, that are waiting for you. I never let my boxes get higher than chest high or 5’ tall. Once you have reached this height… It is time to harvest!

So… lets talk about harvesting… so we can move on to eating! Once the plant has started to die back… start removing layers of your potato box, one layer at a time. As long as your potatoes are not green, they are ready for consumption. (Green potatoes means the presence of poisonous solanine). When you discover your spuds, in the soil, place them gently in a bucket for cleaning, making sure not to break the skin. If you break the skin, you need to eat them soon. Next… clean them off with warm water, and set them out to dry. Potatoes will keep for a very long time. Now you may store them. Potatoes like cool, dark, and humid locations. I like to store mine in a bin in the garage. Some potatoes will keep up to 200 days. All you need to do is be checking on them frequently, to make sure they have not gone bad. About every three days.

You did it… you now have all the skills to grow your own potatoes. Comment below, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Let us know how your potatoes turned out. Or if you have any questions… Keep urban farming friends. All the best. 

- ARTISAN FARM COMPANY | PORTLAND

 

Oven French Fries

Golden homemade french fries

Golden homemade french fries

Ingredients: 

  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray

  • Several Large Potatoes

Procedure:

Wash, and dry the potatoes. And pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees (fahrenheit). Cut the potatoes into 1/4" strips. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray, and season with sea salt. Place on a flat baking sheet in the oven. Cook for 25 minutes, turning them over after the first 10 minutes, for an evening browning. ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

GROW. NO LAND NEEDED. by Artisan Farm Co. - San Diego

New to gardening? Do not worry. Gardens have been around since the dawn of humanity. There is always a fancy new tech toy coming out, but one thing that has always stayed tried, and true... A GARDEN. In this week's post, we are going to walk you through the foundation of every garden. Most of us connect gardening with having space to do it in, but from a window sill, to acres of land, we are going to spell out the simple steps to growing where YOU live. 

Lets take a look at some of Mother Nature's Rules:

Solar Flare - Artisan Farm Co

1. Sun

The first step to growing where you reside is sun. The sun is the main principle to growing. All plants require sun, water, nutrients, and care. But some plants require less water, nutrients, and care... But the one thing they cannot live without is sun. 

Plants need the sun for a number of reasons; but the two main reasons are: 

  • Germination 
  • Photosynthesis

*Now... a quick note: Do not confuse direct sunlight, for daylight. Most plant's require a certain amount of daylight, but NOT necessarily direct sun. 

The sun is an abundant resource, one that does not require acres of space to use. So, as long as you have the sun, we can proceed to the next step of having a garden. 

lawn_mix.jpg
Lettuce Pot - Artisan Farm Co

2. Soil

Now that we have gone outside, and seen that the Sun is still there, we can move on to our next rule.

Do you have soil? Well... if you an apartment dweller, that answer may be NO! But, have no fear. We can still grow. If you happen to live in a house, condo, or have acreage, you more than likely have soil. But our city dwelling friends, may not. The most important thing here is: IS YOUR SOIL HEALTHY? If you have an apartment, or land, you actually are at an advantage. You can control the quality of your soil. Those with land to grow on, must take extra steps to controlling the quality of their soil. If you are apartment living, your soil will come in the form of container gardening. This can be an old milk jug, to an elaborate system of pots, and containers. No matter what you choose, anything that contains soil will do. 

If you happen to have land to grow on, again, healthy soil is key. Just throwing seeds in the ground will work, but you may not be happy with your yield. The Earth is teeming with tiny microbes, constantly feeding on organic material, turning out a Carbon rich environment for healthy vegetables, fruits, and herbs to grow. This rich environment that is produced, helps create optimal growing environments for these bounties to grow. So make sure you have healthy soil, by adding compost to your soil. You can find a previous blog post on compost here: Our Proprietor explains Compost

ONWARD!!!

Child Waterer - Artisan Farm Co

3. Water

We are going to all assume you know what water is. There are a few quick keys to cover, when explaining water. First, we want to conserve water. So at Artisan Farm Company, we suggest harvesting rainwater. More importantly, when watering, you want to water infrequently. Overwatering can create an environment for root rot, and a host of all other diseases. So it is best that you water when needed. This helps your edibles root system "Dive", and grow healthy, disease free root systems. We know you have access to daylight, and we are positive you can find a container to grow in, but water is becoming more scarce these days. So if you have access to water, we advise being smart with it. By taking one less shower per week, you can save all the water you would need for your month of gardening. We can save the debate of city tap water, versus filtered water for another day. Assuming you have water, we move forward. 

4. Food (Nutrients)

$18.00

You wouldn't workout without putting food back in your body? Your plants have the exact same needs as you. There are many ways to feed your plants. 

  • Organic Fertilizers
  • Compost Tea
  • Vermicomposting

But the easiest way to give your plants their much needed boost of energy is by using compost in your soil. This is as easy as buying a bag of compost, and adding it to your soil. To keep you informed, we will cover all types of composting in the near future. But, to make it easy, and correlate with the ease of city growing, just add compost to your soil, that is rich in organic material. For our apartment friends, do not fret; good compost is odorless. So if you are growing on a window sill, there is no need to fear of the "farm" smell. 


And that is it. You have now completed Garden's 101. We have been growing since the beginning of time, so do not worry. It is in your D.N.A. to grow. Just put your hands in the Earth. Your intuition will help you the rest of the way. We are here for any questions you may have. And we look forward to sharing more with you next week. You can find great resources on our social media sites, and do not forget to sign up for our newsletter, which covers great tips, and secrets to having a flourishing "FARM-SCAPE"™

- ARTISAN FARM COMPANY | SAN DIEGO

September - Regeneration Time... by Artisan Farm Co. - Seattle

September is the month of regeneration for your garden...

The blue skies, summer temperatures, and juice of your tomatoes, are slowly trailing off. But have no fear... The crisp air, also brings crunch of your frost tolerant crops. Lettuce will soon be abundant, and root vegetables will bring your kitchen comfort.

Planting in the fall can bring new life to your garden. This week we will look at the preparation, to bring a regenerative spirit to your bountiful beds.

September.jpg

This September, make sure you are cataloging how your Summer yield was. Jot down some notes about what worked for you this 2014. Also... do not forget to write out what was troublesome for you, to make your 2015 Summer yield, the most fruitful. Weather conditions, plant performance, insect troubles, and your favorite varieties of plants, can be useful when getting ready for next year.

Transplant or Direct Sow (Early in Month)

  • Chard (Varieties)
  • Arugula
  • Rapini
  • Asian Greens
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuces (Varieties)
  • Salad Greens (Varieties)
  • Kohlrabi
Early Crops.jpg
Late September Crops.jpg

Transplant or Direct Sow (Late in Month)

  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Hardy Fava Beans

Preparation, and Maintenance 

As you hit September in the Pacific Northwest, remember these final steps in preparing your garden. Now is a good time to start collecting, drying, labeling, and packaging your favorite seeds from this Summer crops. Mulching beds that will not be used for overwintering crops is a great idea. Checking your compost pile, and making sure you have plenty of microbial activity. And finally, test your soil pH as you get ready for late fall crops, and apply lime as needed. 

Wishing you a happy September, 

- Artisan Farm Company | Seattle

What about BEE's??? by Matthew Mullins

United States Honey Bee population are declining at an annual rate of thirty percent (30%) every year.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

Bees pollinate more than one-hundred (100) types of crops in the United States, including produce, and crops that you are growing at home: berries, peppers, melons, squash, avocados, lettuces, and all things goodness. 

The Future of food depends on healthy bees.

Beehive.jpg

As stated before, we are going to be introducing you to backyard beekeeping soon, but I want to give you some resources if you have an interest in keeping bees. For all of Artisan Farm Company serving cities, here are some great groups to get connected with.

Portland: Portland Urban Beekeepers
www.portlandurbanbeekeepers.org

Seattle: Puget Sound Beekeepers 
www.pugetsoundbees.org

Phoenix: Beekeepers of Central Arizona
www.azbaca.org

San Diego: San Diego Beekeeping Society
www.sandiegobeekeepingsociety.com

Los Angeles: Honey Love Urban Beekeeping
www.honeylove.org

Vancouver: Strathcona Beekeepers
www.strathconabeekeepers.blogspot.com

 
By Michael Bush

Experts believe that multiple factors - Including parasites, pesticides, and loss of habitat are contributing to decline of bees.

Ways you can help:

  1. Plant Flowers: Growing a mixture of native flowers, with different colors, shapes, and bloom times, will help steady the decline of the Honey Bee. Remember to grow Organically, and do not use pesticides, as they have been to show up in pollen, and honey production.
  2. Make Space: Leave brush piles, and bare patches of soil to help native bees dig nests. We will cover backyard beekeeping at another time, but remember Mason Bees, can be a great way to start beekeeping, and help preserve our pollinators.
  3. Go ORGANIC: To help promote healthy ecosystems, and healthy bees, choose Organic foods, Organic seeds, and Organic transplants for your garden.

We are spending some time this week in Seattle, Washington; looking at all the great things urban farm. I encourage all of you to take interest in bees. They go hand-in-hand with urban gardening. Beehive set-up is one of our services at Artisan Farm Company, and anything you can do is a service to us all, and our honey making friends.

- Matthew Mullins | Proprietor

  Artisan Farm Company

 
 

Cold Frames - Preparing for Brrrrrr! by Artisan Farm Co. - Vancouver

We all want to get the most out of the growing season...

One of the most crucial ways we can squeeze one more harvest out of our veggies, is by using a cold frame. 

Now I know what you are saying. "IT IS JULY!!!" But the most important thing about using cold frames, is being prepared. So we are encouraging all to start building them now, so you can get a few more kale harvests come October/November.  So let us talk about cold frames.

A cold frame is a transparent-roofed enclosure, built low to the ground, used to protect plants from adverse weather, primarily excessive cold or wet. The transparent top admits sunlight and prevents heat escape via convection that would otherwise occur, particularly at night. Essentially, a cold frame functions as a miniature greenhouse to extend the growing season.

How To:

Cold frame construction is a common home or farm building project, although kits and commercial systems are available. A traditional plan makes use of old glass windows: a wooden frame is built, about one to two feet tall, and the window placed on top. The roof is often sloped towards the winter sun to capture more light, and to improve runoff of water, and hinged for easy access. Clear plastic, rigid or sheeting, can be used in place of glass. An electric heating cable, available for this purpose, can be placed in the soil to provide additional heat.

Cold Frames can be made out of any type of material for the frame, and whatever transparent material you can come across for the lid. We like to use old windows. And it is a great way to Up-Cycle old worn out materials. Your frames need not be all alike, though having two of the same size makes it possible to stack them for added height. I like frames I can move around by myself without straining, so size and weight are important considerations.

- Artisan Farm Company | Vancouver

Water - Part I by Artisan Farm Co. - Phoenix

The most important thing you can start doing is collecting rain water. But whether you live in the damp Pacific Northwest, the arid Mojave desert, the thunderstorm Midwest, or beyond, we almost all depend on problematic water infrastructures.

Rain barrels are the quickest, and easiest way to save your rain water. Setting up a gutter system on your home, or apartment can collect more rainwater than you might believe. 

Your roof accounts for a large surface-area, and when it rains, this water is typically routed through a system of gutters and pipes and dumped unceremoniously into your yard, where it washes away valuable topsoil. Roof catchment systems, which are the most common type for residential applications, collect this water by routing it through a system of gutters and pipes into a cistern, usually located on the ground level.

There are numerous ways to save your water. Today, we want to cover the easiest. Stay tuned for more ways to save water. Including street runoff, grey water management, composting toilets, and shower water management.

- Artisan Farm Company | Phoenix

For those growing in desert climates, water can be the number one cause for lack of growth. Using water wisely, is key, to a healthy, flourishing garden. 

While rain is hard to come by in growing zone 8-10, there are some wonderful ways you can save water, to help offset the lack of rainfall in your area. 

tumblr_n8s866CcNH1s5extzo1_1280.jpg

www.watershedmg.org

A great resource for saving water.


 


Guerrilla Gardening by Artisan Farm Co. - Los Angeles

Have you ever wanted to be gangster? Maybe saw some graffiti on a train, or building, and though: "Hey! That might be cool to do"?

Well I want to make a call to action. This is a form of non-violent, and non-destructive form of graffiti. Its called: 

Guerrilla Gardening

Here is how to get gangster with your shovel, and your garden. First you need to find an empty space, lot, or run down property... and from there... PLANT SOMETHING. There is nothing stopping you. Too many times in our cities we see broken down lots, abandoned properties, and places that just need some beautification. 

What we are suggesting is nothing short of revolution. But... Let us be clear, we are not advocating acts of violence, or destruction. 


Take some seeds, maybe even something you got out of your latest meal. Take those seeds, and send them back into the Earth. Maybe the food isn't even for you. Maybe a very hungry person will come by, and be thankful that there was something to eat. Paint your town with plants. Get gangster with a garden. Keep it real Holmes.

Artisan Farm Company | Los Angeles

Compost - A How To by Matthew Mullins

We all have heard it. We all have wanted to do it. 

Today we make it easy...

You need more that just a green thumb, to grow a garden full of goodness. Today I want to talk about composting.

First! What is it?

Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. It is key in organic farming, and growing your at home veggies. There are several types of composting:

  • Aerobic
  • Anaerobic

  • Vermicompost

These three are at the top of the list. But today we will focus on:

Aerobic Composting


For Aerobic composting you need three things. Green (Living Material), Brown (Dead Material), and Blue (Water). It is that simple. Do not be fooled, you do not need a fancy bin, tumbler, or can. Just start collecting these items, and placing them, in a nice sunny spot. A suggestion I have, is keeping a 3 to 1 ratio. 3 parts Brown to 1 part Green. Some helpful tips:

Brown: Dead leaves, newsprint, dried grass

Green: Food scraps, grass clippings

Make sure you are keeping your pile moist, and about 1 time a week, make sure you turn your pile. This can be done with a shovel, or a good bow rake. 

That is it. You are a "composter"!

This garden gold, will provide amazing nutrients, and bio-activity to your plants. Creating well fed, happy, organic veggies. 

Happy Composting, 

-Matthew | Proprietor 
Artisan Farm Company 

Make sure you follow us on you favorite social media network. And reach out to us sometime. At Artisan Farm Company, we are always here to help.

Compost needs to stay hot. So place your pile, or bin, in a sunny spot.

Compost needs to stay hot. So place your pile, or bin, in a sunny spot.

A wonderful read, and a recommendation of mine, for all you urban farmers.

By Brett L. Markham