Spring is finally here! I have been waiting for spring to arrive ever since Dogpatch Urban Gardens became a business in mid October. Now is the time our vision for DUG can start becoming a reality.
After a little over a 3 month time span, we officially became the owners of the back ½ acre plot directly north of the farm. Acquiring that land was more of an endeavor than we imagined. We had to do a "lot tie agreement" which meant we bought and joined someone else's land to our current land. Anytime you change land boundaries in a county any city within two miles can have jurisdiction over the process. Based on our location that meant we had to work with Polk County, the city of Des Moines, Urbandale, and Johnston. There were not issues with the process, but working with all those entities took time. Both Eric and I were admittedly restless with the process, but all that is behind us now because the land is now in our names!
As soon as we got possession of the land Eric converted from a salesman to a lumberjack. In total he cut down 5 trees in less than one week (mind you he had lots of help from our neighbors and friends!) Taking down all those trees was not a walk-in-the-park considering they were mature and large. It is hard (both mentally and physically) to cut down beautiful trees, but it was necessary to do in order for us to build the pole barn (which will be the farm stand and my work station).
One key value at Dogpatch Urban Gardens is sustainability, yet cutting down all those trees seems far from promoting sustainability. I guarantee we will enhance the area and put in new trees/plants/hedge rows/etc. that will further enhance biodiversity and our soil quality. It will take time, but we have a very exciting vision for the back plot.
Another cool thing about removing those trees is that we had a man come and remove the major trunks and he is working to mill all that wood for us. We will have an abundance cherry, maple, and catalpa wood that we will use inside the farm stand and for other DUG projects. The rest of the wood is currently neatly piled on the plot and over time we will sell it as firewood.
Last week we acquired 3 permits from Polk County. We got the permit to build the pole barn (construction should begin this week, weather permitting). Since our fence will be 8 feet tall in most areas, we had to get a permit for that height of fence. The city wrote that permit last week and the fence installation should begin this week as well. The last permit we acquired was to add a driveway as an entry to the pole barn.
Along with all the new infrastructure things happening, I was able to get out in the soil today and get my first transplants in the ground. I planted one bed of Red Russian Kale (90 total plants) and one bed of Green Incised Salanova (200+ plants). The process was slower than I would have liked, but there is a learning curve with so many things on the farm, and the more I do it the more efficient I will be.
I also set up a poly-low tunnel over the two newly planted beds. The poly-low tunnel is essentially like a portable greenhouse. It will help to protect the plants during cold temperatures at night, but will also keep the soil warmer during the day and speed up the growth rate for the plants.
I had initially planned to direct seed some more beds today, but instead I decided to tarp a large area of beds and will shoot to get more things planted at the end of the week. The tarps are used as a means to help with weed control. Before tarping, I watered the beds, and then secured the tarps down. The tarps help to heat up the soil and promote weed germination. Once I am ready to plant in those beds I will remove the tarps and flame weed the newly emerged weeds. This method is commonly referred to as the “stale seedbed technique” and is a great tool to increase crop yield through weed control.
If you are someone who commonly commutes on Beaver Ave I’m sure you are aware of the recent bridge work and road closure. As much as we all dislike road construction, it has been wonderful for us because the detour now takes people right in front of the farm! Lucky for you, in the next month so many new things will be happening at the farm that each time you drive by there should be more things for you to see!
Your Urban Farmher, Jenny