Urban Farming at Home – Part 3: The first harvest

by Stefmanovic

Urban Farming at Home - The first harvestMy apologies for the long silence. Stuff has been a little hectic, a lot has been happening lately. I’m planning on becoming a freelancer, which for some reason means all sorts of bureaucratic fun in this country. There have also been some musical developments of which I can hopefully tell you more about soon (it’s semi-classified and involves a local Rotterdam hero on guitar). However, that doesn’t mean life in our balcony garden has stopped (spoiler: some has). And since I didn’t really want to deprive you, my dearest reader, of what’s going on here, I give you this little (but also kind of big) update.

Running into a bit of death

Urban Farming at home - failed beer cans

As you can see the lettuce is staying rather small.

Transplanting the cucumbers and zucchinis outside wasn’t as successful as we hoped. The cucumbers have been unable to adapt to the other climate and it pretty quickly became clear that they weren’t going to make it. More bad luck happened to our ‘plants in a beer can’ project. The rucola is turning red and staying rather small, whilst the lettuce has been slowly falling apart. The main problem of the beer cans isn’t the fact that they’re made from metal, or that rust might have affected the crops, the problem is space; the beer cans simply do no provide enough room from the crops to spread their roots and absorb their needed water and nutrients, hence they still small and will eventually die.

Urban farming, but farming in general, is a matter of learning I guess. Trying out new stuff, some of it works, some of it doesn’t.

The new replaces the old

Urban Farming at home - more rucola!

The crops are dead! Long live the crops! (rucola on the right)

So whilst the cucumbers died, it did provide us with new opportunities. For some reason it makes me think of that cliche (I wonder if it’s actually true) that the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is the same as for ‘opportunity’. The cucumber is dead, long live the new rucola!

My mom gave us some rucola to grow and whilst it had been waiting in its plastic little incubator for weeks, we finally had the space to put it in a planter. Too bad the photos here aren’t too recent. The rucola has been growing like crazy!

Speaking of stuff that has been growing like crazy, the zucchini has been adapting rather well. At first we thought it would have died alongside the cucumbers, but they’ve been growing and growing and growing. The same goes for the lettuce that was growing in the planters…

The first harvest…

Urban Farming at Home - Salad!

The result of our first harvest!

Finally! And yes, for some reason that title does remind me of an Invader Zim episode (there, I said it!).

After weeks of watering, watching, worrying and scaring away magpies we finally get to enjoy the fruits (or should I say vegetables) of our labours. The lettuce and some of the onions became too big, so we had to harvest them. It’s really cool to do that sort of thing. The last time I harvested crops was when I was in the Ocucaje region in Peru, researching the irrigation techniques used by the farmers there. We would go into the fields and hit mangos out of trees with sticks whilst drinking vast quantities of pisco. Fun times in the name of science!

But this time no drunk farmers and no deep conversations about water laws. This time we had a lovely salad!

Final thoughts…

I apologize for not having more up to date photos at this time. It’s very cool to see how some of the crops have been growing. The pees are growing towards the light, which looks very strange. They kind of move as if they’re a giant swarm of fishes or something. The bell peppers and cauliflowers are also growing like mad, wonder when we can harvest them.

So I’ll do my best to write a new update soon with a lot of photos! Also apologies for not giving you more updates on the whole food crisis/Monsanto story, haven’t been paying that much attention to it since time hasn’t been on my side. Expect more ranting on that in the future!

On a totally random note, an anthropological blog has been writing about my little endeavours. Be warned, it’s in Dutch, and it’s mostly about anthropology.

If you’ve been growing your own food as well, let me know by posting a comment. I’m very curious to see what you’ve been doing!