The Home Growers Circle: Real people with a passion to grow real food

Ethel & Bill Robert Charmaine & Brian Brandon Nancy Lewis & Tara Malika & Donny Andy & Susanna Craig & Gary Warren & Lovejoy

Andy & Susanna / North Hollywood

Fair Avenue farm update

Andy & Susanna

Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 7:30PM

Since our last update, our garden has gone through lots of changes. Let's start with what is new:

More new beds... well, technically only one new bed. This new bed is housing four Long Island Cheese Squash plants, three varieties of sweet peppers (Alma Paprika, Tequila Sunrise, and Mini Chocolate Bell) and four cantaloupes.

Potato towers

Tomato plants

Squash plants

Zuccino rampicante, a.k.a. Tromba D'Albenga

Tomatoes and cucumbers

We're also trying to grow three varieties of potato, but we are growing them vertically. We ordered seed potatoes from Seed Savers Exchange which arrived at the end of March. After planting them, we have continued to add soil to bury the plant stalks every time they have grown 12 inches over the soil. Each variety is grown in its own "tower," which is contained by some remesh and bamboo screen to hold the soil in. We have no idea how successful we'll be with the vertical method, but some people say that its possible to get 100 pounds from each of the three potato towers we're growing. We'd be really happy with anything more than 30 pounds.

The plants that went into the beds at the beginning of March are now really starting to take off. Our 25 tomato plants seem to be REALLY happy. Most of them are over 7 feet tall. It has been very cool this spring, so even though we've got a ton of fruit on vines, until this week only the sun golds have seemed to ripen. Now that we've finally got some warm weather, I think we'll soon be up to our ears in tomatoes.

The squash we're growing seem to also be very very happy. One of the varieties we are growing the seed packet calls Zucchino Rampicante, but we've since learned the actual name of the squash is Tromba D'Albenga. Right now these squash are sort of like a slightly sweeter version of a regular zucchini, but we've read that if you let them mature till the end of the season they develop a flavor closer to butternut squash. We read about someone else's experiences with this variety, and they said they grew two plants that yielded 217 squash over a season, and we've got five of them planted. Needless to say, they seem to be taking over our front yard and we're going to have a ton of these to give away to Forage. Which leads me to our most exciting news in the garden ...

About a week ago we contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Weights and Measures so that we could be inspected to receive our Certified Producer Certificate. We were a little nervous at first, and the first call to the Department didn't inspire a lot of confidence because a couple of people told me that if I as selling to a restaurant I didn't need to be inspected. However, after leaving my name and number I got a call back from a field inspector within an hour, and she scheduled out inspection for the next day. Two inspectors showed up on Friday afternoon, and we gave them a tour of everything growing in our front and back yard. We provided a list of all our varieties (just putting together that list made us realize how much more we're growing this year than we ever have in the past). The whole inspection lasted about 45 minutes, and was really pleasant.

So we're now ready to start bringing in our surplus crop to Forage. It looks like our first drop might be exclusively squash, but the tomatoes won't be far behind.

Ways to support
urban farming
in Los Angeles

Community partners have stepped forward with ways you can support local growers:

We know how much everyone in this city loves the movies. Have you seen this one? The Garden is an Academy Award nominated documentary that tells the story of urban farmers who struggle against land developers to keep their community farm in South Central Los Angeles alive. This film offers a revealing look at the challenges of urban farming in a megacity once known for its agricultural output. The director of the film, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, is a Silver Lake resident and he has offered to not only sell DVDs of the film at a 10% discount, but also grant 10% of proceeds to support the certification fees of future participants of the Home Growers Circle. Buy a DVD and help us build support for an eleventh urban microfarmer. Maybe we'll have to ask one of the microfarmers to raise some corn so that we can make some home-grown movie popcorn. Click here to order a DVD and support the Home Growers Circle. Remember to use promotional code FORAGE.