urban homesteads

Today I weeded 1000 plants. Not just any plants, but 1000 tomato plants. 

To be clear, I didn’t weed around 1000 tomato plants, but rather the tomato plants were the weeds, and I pulled out over a thousand of them.

Impossible, you say. Try me, I reply.

How could this happen? Well, I have tiny tomatoes growing in the aquaponic grow beds. This particular tomato is hardy, prolific and opportunistic. Every time a tomato drops, this is what happens:

One dropped tomato equals a dozen tomato seedlings. Neat, right?

Unfortunately, if not managed, the bed will look like this:

So thus a modern homesteader dilemma; Nothing is supposed to go to waste. Everything should be used to it’s utmost potential. Taken to extreme, each tomato plant should find a home. And really, little tomatoes shouldn’t have been forgotten to drop into the bed in the first place.

I know I can’t be the only one that frets about this. My extreme weeding event allowed me to meditate on this dilemma for the good of gardeners everywhere. Weeding, thinning and forgotten fruit are unavoidable. I am choosing to look at this as a reminder of life’s abundance.  Nature is full of redundancies, and it’s my job to make the most of it. 

Sometimes that means I’m going to have too many tomato plants, and sometimes that means tomatoes are going to be my afternoon snack for three weeks straight. And sometimes that means I’m going to have to pull out 1000 tomato plants before they have a chance to flourish, just so basil can flourish instead.

It’s not just about nothing going to waste, it’s about balance. :-)

Inoculating mushroom logs

Birthday Shiitake!  My present this year was 100 spawn plugs (how romantic).

The whitish stuff means they’re ready to grow.

I used three oak logs felled from Hurricane Irma, drilling holes about 3-4 inches apart.  Then I made another staggered line next to it.  It’s a 5/16″ drill bit, drilled 1 ¼ inch deep. 

The instructions say to pound the plugs in with a rubber mallet, but I used a readily available hammer,  

After all the plugs were hammered in flush with the holes, I melted some beeswax (you can use food-grade wax, too, but beeswax is free for me, so, Yay) and just covered the plugs with a smear of wax.  This helps keep competing fungus out of the hole until the shiitake can establish itself.

I finished one log a week for three weeks. The theory is the mushrooms will flush out in a staggered pattern, making a continual mushroom harvest.  I have my doubts, but it’s worth a shot.

This is the third mushroom tripod in the Fairy Garden.  I think I have room for a few more. :-)


The garden is juuust starting to produce for us. We got to try the first of our snow peas and I couldn’t help but check the progress of our carrots. They were too small but still tasty. The golden raspberries I planted have stayed pretty small and it looks like we’ll only get a handful but theyre so delicious. I managed to find a whole cache of the snails that have been attacking my peas. I wish I had chickens as these freeloaders would at least contribute as chicken treats. The tomatoes peppers and corn are all still quietly making subtle progress but i think were still weeks away before they start producing anything.

Not a great picture but i still wanted to post it. Ive been wanting to have rain barrels for years. Theyre pretty pricy online but I never once considered making my own. I plan to do it right. Ill have a diverter and cut the excess screen off. Put in overflow and a spigot for filling watering cans. I’ll make a stand and elevate it. But I’ve put it off for so long and its been pouring rain these last few days. So today I bought a trashcan, screen, and a bungee cord, put this together in less than a minute, and stuck it under a messed up part of our gutter. Trying to do what i can with what I have, when i have it. Instead of waiting for “ideal” conditions which never happen.


Week 19 of the 2018 growing season.

It’s the start of blackberry and plum season now, and the tomato plants are reliably producing every week. Still waiting on the sweet peppers but after that there should be the full range of crops available. The wicking box salad successions are coming along nicely too.

2.9kg of cucumbers (about half of which were massive ones that won’t fit in the selling boxes - I think I’ll try and find a smaller Persian cucumber variety next year), 2.4kg of tomatoes (half sellable, half were splitting from the weather), 2.3kg of courgettes and 400g of mixed lettuce. Plenty to sell in the salad stall, but I hadn’t counted on them resurfacing the road outside all day, which looks like it massively lowered foot traffic and resulted in only £2 of sales (a box of tomatoes).