Every semester Howdy Farmers are happy to be back at the farm and look forward to what each new season brings. 2015 is going to be a great year for Howdy Farm as we implement new projects, plant a variety of heirloom vegetables and less heard of edible plants, and expand our student organization’s membership to include more creative, passionate, hardworking students propelled to better the farm.
The Howdy farmers walked the farm together and went over visions, dreams and projects to expand and revamp the farm. Some are ideas and some are definite plans in the works! Below are the details of what Howdy Farmers hope to begin this semester.
Raised beds in the Heritage Garden will soon be planted with perennials while vegetable production moves to our new field.
Our two-dozen or so raised beds in the heritage garden will become full of perennials, meaning plants that live for many years rather than annuals or biennials that have a shorter life span. We would like to do perennials because the raised beds are designed and set-up to be planted with a more permanent design. This will reduce the constant foot traffic and soil disturbance caused by growing annual vegetables in the beds.
Creeping thyme surrounding our keyhole garden.
This land will be used to grow a fruit tree garden.
An area of land around our chalkboard message board will be a walk-able fruit tree garden. Pathways can be lined in herbs so with each step, the smell are released. For example, creeping thyme makes a beautiful green carpet and smells wonderful! We will build up our soil so the fruit trees sit above ground level for excellent drainage. Maybe we’ll plant every fruit that starts with P for a P Tree garden: pomegranate, peach, pear, plum, persimmon, etc.
Example of a Zen garden or Japanese rock garden, photo courtesy of Live Outside Blog
Nearby are two existing trees. We’ve wanted to incorporate a Zen garden using lush greenery and various textures of rock and sand. A Zen garden incorporates a rake used to rake the sand into beautiful designs as a therapeutic exercise.
Howdy Farmers recently transplanted greens to a section of our field.
In the field, we are still building up the soil with cover crops. The cover crops we are using right now include hairy vetch, crimson clover, dwarf essex rape (that’s what it’s called!), oats and a combination of all four. The whole field should be in production by April. For now, we will plant a small section of the field to start producing vegetables! The reason we will plant vegetables in the field rather than the raised beds from now on is because the field is better suited for growing veggies. It is easier to work with the tractor, it lends itself better to cover crops and crop rotation, and it provides more space for larger vegetables like winter squash, melons, pumpkins, etc.
Black Triefel Tomatoes, photo courtesy of Seed Savers. Copia tomatoes, photo courtesy of Tomato Growers.
Next to the field is a plot of land we will use to grow tomatoes and peppers in a hoop house. We will be planting many more unique varieties of tomatoes including: Black Triefel, Copia, Sioux, Super Sioux, Super Sweet 100’s, Sunburst, and more! We will have a wide variety of cherry, grape, plum, slicing, and beefsteak types. Most of them are heirlooms, but not all of them.
Howdy Farm will trellis plants up the wooden structures and plant vegetables alongside the curb where the grass is.
In the existing wooden raised beds by our gazebo, we want to incorporate new edible plants and interesting designs. Up the patio structure we can trellis plants to form an edible wall. We also can use the extra grass alongside the road for more raised beds because in every plot of bare land we see room to grow more food!
Wicking bed design, photo courtesy of Gardening Australia
An existing wood-lined bed will be made into a wicking bed, inspired by Food is Free Project in Austin. A wicking bed lines the floor of a boxed bed structure with a pond liner to create an aquifer. The pond liner is place at the bottom to prevent water loss. Then, the bottom of the bed is lined with gravel and covered with landscape fabric. On top, the bed will be full of soil and plants will be seeded as usual. A pipe is inserted to reach down into the aquifer and protrude from the soil to be used as a filling chamber. The water fills the bottom of the bed where the gravel is and then wicks upward into the bottom layers of the soil forcing the plants to send roots down to access it. Wicking beds grow strong roots!
Greens nursed in our greenhouse and ready to be transplanted into the field.
In the greenhouse, we will prep seedlings. Like a nursery, students can go to the greenhouse, grab transplants, and plant them on the farm. Our greenhouse space currently houses many greens, which we can harvest young to sell as micro greens. We also have two fruit trees stored in there!
This year, we have bought many new seeds and heirloom varieties. We will plant dwarf bok choy only 2 to 3 inches tall. We’ll experiment with edible weeds like clover, sorrel, and purslane. Interns will plant more tea herb varieties for dehydrating and making herbal drinks. The farm will use amaranth, which provides a beautiful maroon and purple color, and is completely edible. A sister of cilantro, papalo will make an appearance on our farm and markets! This is just a glimpse of the unique plants we have to offer. Wait until you taste these surprising vegetables!
By Jessica Newman and Corey Wahl