Updates at Last

I’ve put off writing this hoping that I would have a real answer but that’s taking too long so I’m spilling the beans now. We’ve made it past the first hurdle and have a negotiator assigned so I’m hoping the offer we made on 10 acres goes through. What that means is we are getting ready to put our house on the market (as if I don’t have enough going on right now!) SO if anyone is truly interested in a fairly dialed in urban farm in an off the beaten neighborhood please let me know.

Some years ago, while living in a tricked out Greenlake house with 3 toilets (two of which were in the same bathroom the size of a bedroom) we watched a documentary on the Lost Boys from Africa. It moved us deeply watching them progress from boys coming to America who wanted nothing more than to attend school and live peaceably to boys who were lured by the dream of commercialism and material goods. In the end many of the boys the crew followed dropped out of school to get jobs in order to buy cars and clothes and toys. We decided to sell our crazy house and buy one with a smaller footprint, not to fill it with things but instead to do more with less.

We insulated the walls and attic, replaced the old single pane windows (which had been painted shut so many times they would not pry open), replaced the old oil furnace and all the other appliances (some of which were from the ’40′s), took the bathroom down to the studs, finished the basement and made cosmetic improvements. Then when that was done we set about turning the overgrown canopy of ivy and legacy shrubbery into an edible oasis. Our little 1/5 of an acre now sports 22 fruits and nut trees, a chicken forage bed, and intensive orchard, extensive raised vegetable beds with drip irrigation on a timer, in-ground compost cans, and a chicken run and coop.

There is also a large grass playfield, fort with sandbox for kids and a cedar shed. If the fort were removed there would be room for mini dairy goats, honeybees and there is room in the chicken run for a rabbit setup.

End house sell here…

In other news we are moving on to final edits on the book this week so I’ll probably be hiding again until 4/15. I’ll try to post but it’s been really hard convincing myself to write blog posts this winter while forcing myself to meet this aggressive book deadline too.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with the planting schedule I would be following if I knew we were going to be here all summer. This year I had intended to plant by the moon phases so these dates follow that line of thought:

Beans 4/15 – 4/17; 7/1 – 7/14
Beets 3/20 – 4/2; 8/15 – 8/27
Broccoli 3/7-3/19; 8/1 – 8/13 (start indoors)
Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/15 (start indoors)
Cauliflower 3/7 – 3/19; 7/30- 8/7 (start indoors)
Carrots 3/20 – 3/31; 7/15 – 7/29
Collards 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/7
Corn, early varieties 4/3 – 4/17; 7/7 – 7/14
Cucumbers, Melons 4/7 – 4/17;5/2 – 5/15
Eggplant (minis) 4/7 – 4/17; 5/2-5/15 (start indoors, plant out under tunnel with tomatoes and basil)
Kale 3/7 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/7; 8/28 – 8/31
Lettuce 3/4 – 3/19
Peas 3/7 – 3-19; 8/7 – 8/13; 8/28-8/31
Pumpkins 5/2 – 5/15
Spinach 3/15 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/17; 3/1 – 8/13; 8/28 – 9/12
Squash 4/15 – 4/17
Chard 3/15 – 3/19; 4/3 – 4/15
Tomatoes 4/7 – 4/17 (started indoors in January, would plant out under tunnel at this time)
Watermelon, early varieties 4/15 – 4/17; 5/2 – 5/7 (under tunnel with melons)

The farmer’s almanac is predicting 3/10 as the last frost date for us, with some rain/snow next week and overall a drier and warmer March and April but a MUCH cooler May than normal so use your best judgment when planting things out. Using frost-protective Reemay or milk jug cloches will get you a few more degrees and the Reemay will help prevent your seeds from washing away in April showers. Just be sure everything is anchored down because April tends to be blustery! Happy gardening!

15 Responses to Updates at Last

  1. So many exciting things going on. You must be exhausted! Make sure you give yourself some good breaks so that you can enjoy things. I’m looking forward to more updates.

  2. So, so excited for you guys :0) Here’s hoping the magic of the internets will find the perfect buyer for your home…and I’m going to go and google what Reemay is, because goodness knows you have enough to do :)

  3. Thanks Ladies. I just spent a few hours out there clearing away straw and supervising duck slug hunts and everything is just about to pop. It made me sad thinking about how perfect everything will be in another month! Flowers and fruits and lovage straws for Mother’s Day bloody marys. And man that soil is good and dark and ready for lovin’ after it’s winter compost and green manure spa!

    Myrnie Reemay is just a floating row cover. You can get it in different thicknesses but it helps keep things warmer until plants can get established. I noticed green caterpillars have hatched so there were a few in the soil that would have been trapped under reemay with your seedlings though so you really need to be careful! The ducks took care of all that for me today though. ;p

  4. My mom taught me to love the earth no matter where I was and how long I was there. That’s what you’ve done, and I trust and believe that the person moved to buy your home will see your dream and feel grateful and humble to start with such a wonderful farm. But it still must be hard as well as happy. I’m so excited for you and have all my fingers crossed on the final paperwork.

  5. Thanks Sarah. I’m going to miss pea season and not sure I can get things planted in time to have much of a garden if we do get it but boy do I have big plans for that place! I will be sitting under grape and kiwi arbors in no time!

  6. Ten acres! That’s awesome!

    I didn’t know about the book either. Congrats on that as well.

  7. Thanks Sandy! I’ve been looking for a year now and it’s amazing how difficult it is to find 10 acres of fertile farmland!

  8. That is so exciting, best of luck!

  9. Wow, I go and bury my head in the garden dirt for several months and upon sneaking back here find all sorts of fun news. 10 acres! Amazing. And a book.

  10. Thanks Justine – I think you gave me your cold! I hope you feel better now. And can’t wait for that new Tilth book to come out – it looks awesome!
    Katie, I sent you an email dear. I hope you are back in the land of high speed internet soon – I’ve missed you!

  11. So much going on! I hope the buy deal goes through and I hope you find a good (qualified) buyer promptly for your current place. I did not remember you mentioning the 10 acres had a house situated on it? Or are you building?

  12. This is so exciting! I’m on the SURF listserve and had noticed that you haven’t been around on there much. Saw your posting for the house and thought, What??? So I came to check on you via your website and can’t believe it! Annette, the COA sounds so amazing. I remember you putting the word out last fall. We had a newish baby and I wasn’t getting a thing done, much less filling out a survey or going to meetings. So excited to see how far you’ve gotten. Now that life has settled a bit, I would love to be involved in some way. I’m a newbie gardener, two young kids, no expendable/extra money to give, but I can give time, thought, and research! Willing to learn so much! I’ll be watching your page for updates and will send my email to Lawren.
    Good luck!!!

  13. Thanks Gretchen! I’ve been trying not to say anything until it’s finalized so it might yet fall through. I especially LOVE the idea of folks with younger kids who can’t do much without community coming to help! There will be ample opportunity for kids to play in the dirt while you help out. I’ve been thinking about that pond though, somehow we need to fence that off or require little, little ones to wear life jackets while we are working. But we’ll figure it out!

  14. Laura there is a house there which is even smaller than this one but there is an outside building my husband can take over for lairish activities. I’m actually welcoming the thought that I can kick the kids out of the house and it will be so small there is no opportunity for a lego table in my living room! Houses are the new purse for me. Over the years I have whittled my purse down to a pocketbook and now I am doing the same with the house!

  15. Wow Annette, congrats!! I can’t wait to hear about your newest venture living on 10 acres!!

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