Summer is making a comeback this week. It’s currently 82F (28C) and will get a few degrees warmer before the day is done. Tomorrow though, tomorrow we are expecting 90F (32C) and more of the same or close to it the rest of the week. The humidity will be going up too. I can’t say I am personally happy about that but my garden will be. The tiny bell peppers might actually have a chance at growing into something bigger than my thumb. And the marble-sized cantaloupes just might have a chance too. And the tomatoes, might there be a few of those? I picked one small ripe tomato earlier in the week. It was a long time in getting red. So maybe, just maybe with a week or two of hot weather and no frost until sometime in early to mid October, these late to get going warm weather veggies will have a chance.

The beans are still going strong as are the zucchini. And one of the kohlrabi is big enough to pick but we’ll save it for later in the week when it will be part of dinner. Keeping it fresh!

cumin seed pods

cumin seed pods

We planted three black cumin plants in the herb spiral in the spring. They grew big and had beautiful purple flowers on them. The plants reached dried out crispy stage so I snipped off all the dried flower heads and Bookman and I have been working off and on all week to get all the seeds out. We finally did it and got a good amount of them. We really like cumin in this house so I am not sure how long it will take us to use it all up, but it will be fun to use our own for at least a little while. Some recipes call for seeds, but most call for powdered. We need a spice grinder.

I swear we bought one a few weeks ago at Target. Bookman says if we did he doesn’t know where it is because it isn’t to be found in the kitchen. He says we must have just looked at it but didn’t buy one. I said we’ve been talking about needing one for awhile, why would we just look at it and not buy it? I am sure we bought it. Then where is it, Bookman wants to know? How am I supposed to know? I retort, it’s your kitchen. We’ve gone round and round like this for a couple of days and have gotten nowhere. So we will have to buy another spice grinder and save the receipt because, you know, as soon as we buy one, the one I know we already bought will turn up. With my luck though it won’t turn up for a very long time and Bookman will be gloating about how he was right. Then suddenly in April next year one of us will open a cabinet and there will be two spice grinders sitting there side by side. Then I will get to gloat but by then it won’t be as fun.

We went on an adventure today to Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply in St. Paul. Our mission: canning supplies. I did my research to find out what sort of canning equipment we need for beans and pumpkin and non-acidic foods. Research meant reading my Ball canning book, but it had everything in it I needed to know. We weren’t sure what to expect and when we got there the place is quite small, as in the size of a house sitting on a house-sized lot. The back had a little nursery with garden plants and big outdoor items. Out front was a four-foot tall metalwork rooster that I want so very badly but $195 is out of my price range at the moment.

let the canning begin!

let the canning begin!

Inside was packed wall-to-wall with gardening stuff. Oh my goodness, it was a little paradise. One entire wall was nothing but canning supplies and everything you could ever imagine you might need, they had. We got ourselves a 16-quart pressure canner, a package of 12 wide-mouth quart jars and a pack of 12 wide-mouth pint jars and a box of lids for jars we already have. Bookman also found a hand fork like he’s been looking for all summer since he broke the handle on his old one early in the season. And everything was very reasonably priced too.

There was a big rack of heirloom vegetable seeds I would have loved to paw through but I refrained. And gardening gloves. In small sizes. So I don’t have to worry about not having good gloves ever again. Happiness! They also have worm composting supplies, something we might try one of these days, and all kinds of organic gardening goodness. I believe they also have row covers and other season-extending supplies. One day, perhaps. The people who work there were quite nice and the people shopping there were nice too. I will definitely be going back. Also, I’m going to start saving my pennies. I want a metalwork rooster! Oh, look, here he is outside the store. Totally dorky, but he makes me laugh.

Curious, I wanted to know more about urban farming. I mean, what’s the difference between a vegetable garden and an urban farm? Urban farming in Minneapolis is a big deal. That’s why the city allows people to have chickens and bees. But it goes even further than that. Urban farming is the business side of gardening it seems. I might be doing the same thing in my garden as an urban farmer is doing, but the difference is that I am not selling my produce and the urban farmer is. There are actually a number of urban farms like Stone’s Throw, made up of several micro-farms — vacant city lots — that have been converted to growing food. Some of the farms are CSAs, some sell to local restaurants and at farmer’s markets. These farms also do things like work share, meaning you work so many hours a week on the farm and in return you get a certain amount of produce. And they employ high school kids and provide educational opportunities. An all-around worthy thing.

Minneapolis isn’t the only city where urban agriculture is thriving and growing. National Geographic has a nice article with lots of photos of farms in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities. According to Wikipedia there are 800 million people world-wide involved in urban agriculture. The big ideas behind urban farming are food security and food safety as well as fresh, local and sustainable. You really can’t argue with that.

You know, I used to daydream about owning a small farm of five to ten acres. I imagined I’d grow almost all my own food, create wildlife habitat, and have a pasture with a few alpacas. I seriously doubt I will ever have a small farm like that, but I already have an urban farm and didn’t know it. I’ve got the food and the wildlife habitat. No alpacas, but just as well really. I may not sell my produce but I don’t think that makes me any less a farmer than someone who does. And soon I will have cans of beans, pumpkin, apple butter and apple sauce from my own “farm” to prove it. I believe my farming comes under the umbrella of urban homesteading. It encompasses more then growing food, it seems. Something to investigate further!

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