Did You Know?
Conventional farmers use around 300 different pesticides to grow foods that are sold in supermarkets everyday.
This was my second year of renting an allotment plot at a community garden - this time at a different(closer) location. This garden was a lot larger - it had 100 plots - so sometimes you'd have to wait a while to use the shared resources, like water. The size of the plot was similar to the one I had last year - about 200 sq. ft. It gets a lot of sun here, so I grew stuff that don't normally grow well in my partially-shaded backyard, such as tomatoes, zucchinis and okra. Also planted a lot of black beans and beets too (more on that later).
This was how my plot looked like. Lots of weeds and grass :-(
After 4 hours of back-breaking digging with a shovel... It was a hard clay-type soil, so it was tougher than you'd think.
Another 4 or 5 hours later... (did this on another day, by the way; I'm not Super Man). Starting to look like decent raised beds.
The garden - in full swing.
My arsenal of garden tools seems to grow every year. This year, I've acquired a new tool called the ho-mi digger. This tool was first made in Korea and has been in use for thousands of years. The unique shape of the head allows you to perform many different tasks. I've mostly used it for weeding (the flat side is good for removing shallow-rooted weeds and the pointy end lets you dig up deep-rooted weeds) and for hilling up soil around plants.
I made a soil sieve to sift compost, using scrap wood and a piece of metal screen I had lying around in my garage. It filters out anything bigger than 1/4". I've wanted/needed one for a while, but was too frugal to pick one up at Lee Valley for like $20. Besides, why buy when you can make your own using scrap? :-)
I've always wanted to try growing potatoes. By chance, I found some seed potatoes ("Red Pontiac" - red skinned, white flesh) at my local hardware store (Canadian Tire). I started these really early, in March, because I've heard it takes a while for them to grow/harvest. You need a lot of space for them as the plant can get quite large. They have pretty purple flowers.
Freshly dug potatoes! These were dug up early in July.
Used the fresh potatoes to bake some potato bread - these were super fluffy!
I like beets, a lot. I often fantasize about having a field full of sweet, fresh beets.
How I envisioned it, in Farming Simulator 2013.
In real life.
Had a major infestation of cucumber beetles this year. These guys can do serious damage to your melon/squash crops in a very short period of time. The only effective way I've found to deal with them was to painstakingly pick them off (and crush them!).
Despite the damage done to my zucchini plants early in the season, they still turned out okay. Take that, beetles!
I saved some seeds from the okra I harvested last year. I've discovered that they need warm weather to germinate. Once the weather gets hot, these grow fast!
Eggplants - they do well in hot weather. It took a while for them to get going.
Grew two types to tomatoes this year. This one is called 'Black Cherry'. Probably the best cherry-type tomato that I've tasted.
...and its bigger brother - the cherokee purple. These are a staple for me.
Tried growing honeydew melons again this year. Only had one plant and harvested a single melon :-). They taste awesome but I don't know if it was worth the space/time/effort...
Planted a few rows of black beans. These are harvested when the pods/beans are dried - you can't eat the pods.
I love adzuki (red) beans; tried growing them this year. I think you need a LOT of plants to get a decent harvest. These were also dried after harvesting.
Beans being dried.
I'll probably use these in soups. Maybe as a sweet black bean paste filling in buns/pastries?
I'll probably use these to make anko (a sweet red bean paste, commonly used in Chinese/Japanese desserts)