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Wednesday
Sep142011

Cool Season Gardening 

Your garden is beginning to look like  the bread isle on a snow day, as waves of exhausted summer vegetable plants find their way into the compost pile. The days are becoming shorter, and open windows welcome crisp morning air into the house. It’s time to plant for fall!

Cold hardy vegetable varieties like cabbage, broccoli, kale, and chard prefer cool temperatures and thrive in the mild spring and fall climates of the Southeastern United States. As you remove spent summer plants, and prepare your garden for fall crops, remember these important steps that will help ensure a successful harvest :

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Thursday
Sep012011

So What Exactly is a Microfarm?


Simply put, a microfarm is a small amount of land - an acre or less to be exact- that is devoted to the production of food.  The term often applies to tiny farms operating in dense urban settings, but can just as easily describe a small area used for food production in a suburban or rural setting .  The idea is to utilize available space for raising food, and harvest the property’s natural resources, like rainwater and leaves, and recycle them back into the farm. For example, a series of sturdy raised beds installed in a tiny but sunny back yard near Uptown Charlotte, would provide a year round supply of seasonal produce for a family. Well placed fruit and nut trees on the property would complement the vegetables and herbs grown in the beds. Rainwater would be harvested with a series of rain barrels or a cistern, and recycled back into the garden to improve crop yields. A high capacity compost system would be built on site, to convert every bit of unused organic material like vegetable scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds and leaves, into organic humus for the garden.

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Monday
Aug082011

Tackling the Problem of Food Deserts



There are parts of the Charlotte area that have been deemed deserts. Don’t spend too much time looking for camels or sand dunes, though, because these are food deserts : typically low income urban and rural areas where residents don’t have  access to healthy foods, largely because of the distance to well stocked supermarkets and  grocery stores. Much of this problem can be attributed to the shift of large chain food stores away from urban areas and into higher income suburban areas. Food retailers are discouraged from opening chains in low-income urban communities because of high crime rates, transportation costs and low return on investment, as the poor have less money to spend on healthy food. This leaves residents of these areas to purchase food from convenience stores or corner shops that stock mainly cheap, processed foods or foods high in fats and sugars.

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Friday
Jul292011

Microfarming in Plaza-Midwood



Meet Colleen and Dr. Jason Sperati- two of Plaza Midwood's newest  organic gardeners . Jason is a pediatric dentist who's just as talented with a saw and hammer as he is with a drill. He used untreated yellow pine to build two burly raised garden beds measuring 5' by 10' for growing vegetables, and a 4' b y 4' bed nearby for herbs. They filled their  beds with a premium soil and amendment blend created by Microfarm Organic Gardens, and also planted an assortment of our organically grown heirloom vegetable seedlings.

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Saturday
Jul232011

Planting for a Fall Harvest

Here in the midst of Summer’s furnace, It’s hard to imagine a row of cold hardy vegetables like Cabbage, Beets, and Kale swaying in a crisp October breeze. The heat loving varieties you planted this Spring, like tomatoes and okra, may just now be hitting their stride, and  you’ve likely tried every possible way to serve beans and squash this Summer. Leafy greens like spinach, and root vegetables like beets and carrots, prefer the cooler temperatures of early Spring and Autumn, and while it’s still just a bit early to plant most cool weather varieties for a Fall/Winter harvest, now is the time to begin thinking about how you'll arrange them in those newly vacated spaces in your garden. The idea is to get cold hardy plants in the ground about a month or two before the first frost date of Autumn, so that they’ll be nice and strong when really cold weather sets in.

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