Blog : Harvesting

Redefining community gardens.

I get asked a lot about what I do – as if bartending 40+ hours a week isn’t enough.  I garden, and some could say I am a professional gardener.  But I am not about to grow you shrubs and decor.  I want you to grow something good for you! I want you to be growing so much food you are giving it away to your family, friends, and neighbors.

What a thought right? A whole community of people, neighbors, growing food and sharing in the abundance! Can you imagine if Tom next door had the best sun so he is in charge of peppers and to know everything about peppers…and dill.  And then Susan and her husband Nick who live 3 doors down have the second best sun plus 3 kids so they get tomatoes and the kids get weeding duty! Get where I am going with this?  A community garden should not be a place we go to but where we live.  Our neighbors should be our community garden and each neighborhood designed with the ability to sufficiently grow plenty of food for all!

Don’t think it’s possible.  I put possible to the test this year.  I have 60 square feet of garden space in my rental home in Interlochen.  That is 6 raised beds each have 10 square feet.  Each bed is 7.5″ raised from the soil level up.

As of today, Friday September 18th I have harvested 55.9 pounds of produce from my garden.  That is nearly 1 pound of food per foot.  1lb = 1sq/ft.  To me that’s impressive because were not growing pumpkins or large heavy set squash.

The breakdown

27.1 lbs of TOMATOES

11.9 lbs of Zucchini

6.4 lbs of Cucumbers

2.5 lbs of Acorn Squash

8 lbs misc(documented but not detailed)

1 pound for every square foot.  I have tomatoes stuffed in drawers everywhere and I’ve even given plenty away.  We made 3 loafs of Zucchini bread and 2 dinners of Zucchini boats and still….Zucchini was around!

We never measured our herbs cause well – it takes forever and I don’t have the right scale.

You don’t need the space you think you need and you don’t need the light you think you need.  I don’t recommend growing the hard things or things that are technique very hard, surprisingly this is carrots and lettuces.

Imagine communities with 3 gardens focusing in on growing one or two things in 30 square feet.  5 houses with 3 gardens each would be 15 gardens, 150 square feet – that’s 150 pounds of produce in 5 houses.  That’s only 5 houses – not hard to do! Do it with a friend and coordinate a friend network of gardens and share in the wealth! Just give me some credit when ya do it!

I had extra space too…plenty of it! Next year we’ll shoot for 2 pounds per foot…seems crazy, but it can be done. You just have to know what you are planting.  And stop planting carrots please!

Updates, news, & the good stuff!

News and updates!
We’re excited we are coming out with two new products! Based all around recycling, growing, and supporting local markets and communities.

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More exciting is that we are bringing on retail vendors to spread the word about what we do and our products! Want to get ahold of me and talk business!

The fun is not done! Starting March 21st you can find Midnight Harvest LLC at the Traverse City Farmers’ market in the Commons at the state hospital. We will be featuring home gardens transplants, our photography, and two new products!

As always we are striving to educate with each product and each sale comes with seeds or growing information so you can become an informed home gardener!  If you’re into gardening already we encourage getting seeds now!

For now I am off to read about more soil blocking and perfecting soil recipes for the best transplants!

 
 

Verification

 
Summer might be on its’ way out but your garden doesn’t have to be!

Summer might be on its’ way out but your garden doesn’t have to be!

The summer crops are ripening and you are enjoying the harvest but are hopefully planning for the fall already! Just cause the tomatoes and cucumbers have to go doesn’t mean the garden has to!

Bring that beet back again!(Corny reference to a Dave Matthews lyric) but literally!  It’s time to think about those cold weather crops again.  Lettuces, carrots, beets, kales, cilantro and many more veggies(actual veggies) love this weather!  The temps are colder where they prefer and you can plant them again.  They can withstand a frost or two and in some cases prefer a cold frost to taste better!

Garlic planting is almost here!  I planted my first garlic in October 2013.  Lets just say – this one is prob the easiest.  Garlic ‘overwinters’ because it takes so long to grow.  I harvested my first garlic in early August 2014 – you do the month math(10)

There are plenty of sources to get garlic, I do prefer using ‘seedsnow.com’ because they deliver in small quantities perfect for the home gardener or even in large quantities for those looking to test some weeding skills.  Get organic garlic for your local co-op or organic shopping center(rest assured if it’s from a local farm, it’s organic).  Separate the bulb into cloves and plant the cloves pointed end upward 2 inches down and about 8 inches apart(stagger for better spacing – their long leaves will appreciate it).   Cover or mulch heavily to make sure it has moisture through the winter months.  But don’t worry too much because garlic is a minimalist.  I covered my garlic with black tarp, never watered it, and it never saw the sun until April.  It was just fine.

IMG_0388 This is garlic after winter or no water, no light, and no help.  The leaves acted a good insulator and tape help keep too much moisture from destroying it(I think).  Either way – garlic grows, but you’ve gotta have patience.

Garlic is high in sulfur(hence why it burns your eyes likes onions when you cut into it).  It is a great companion plant to put it where you plan on planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.  The bulb and roots won’t take up much room and may help deter soil insects from taking hold on sensitive crops.  It’s not a shade blocker because it’s stalks are so skinny.  It doesn’t compete well with weeds so cucumbers, squash and broad leaf veggie families help garlic keep weeds down with their massive leaves.

I hope to plant a lot of garlic – everywhere.  It’s a great interplanting herb and easy to grow.  Just a bit of patience and planning ahead for next year and it should do just fine.

 

The roots and offshoots!

The roots and offshoots!

A little bit about the start of Midnight Harvest.

The name of the business derives from many factors actually.  The first and most dominant factor is that for years I have been a bartender and am trained and conditioned to be a night person.  I don’t do the early morning 4 or 5 am deal and am more awake at Midnight than at noon.  Hence Midnight Harvest.

And in turn in an odd way hearing about GMO’s and Monsanto and their crackdowns I kind of found it funny that organic gardening is actually being threatened by big agro and big companies wanting to monopolize our food systems, and our overall health.  It’s funny that gardening for ourselves has become such an underground movement or that it is considered slightly odd to garden.  But in fact it is the quickest and most liberating thing any one can do for themselves as a species, as an animal, as a being that lives on this planet.  We require nutrition brought to us by many factors but few are certain which is vegetables and fruits.

My passion came to me while working for a great restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.  Bistro Bella Vita owned and ran by Essence Management Group who also owns GreenWell and Grove.  Bistro’s mentality of organic and local first really inspired me to become an organic farmer but more so to show the world or those around me how to do it too! And how day that question came along “what do you mean I can grow my own food?” Like a light bulb over the head!

So thats my thing I want to grow healthy, sustainable, and organic food.

The MATH.  I look at vegetables and fruits as the only way we will ever sustain this thing we call life.  I was never good at math so let me draw you a picture.

One tomato seed will yield dozens of tomatoes.  One tomato will yield dozens of seeds.   Therefore dozens of tomatoes will yield hundreds if not thousands of seeds.  So that math could look like this 1 seed = 12+ tomatoes and 12+ tomatoes = thousands of seeds.  Can you prove my equation wrong?  Good luck.

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So here I am.  In Northern Michigan hoping to inspire the masses to turn over the grass and start a garden.  To do the math and get hooked on growing your own food – food untouched by chemicals and toxins and harvested in its prime.

Many many things to come.  We are releasing a line of ‘clothing’ and starting a ‘farmraiser’ campaign to acquire property.  Already installing gardens and continue to install gardens in the area and getting people the groundwork they need to become an informed gardener.  And we are meeting the tech age – macro photography, informative time lapse vegetables videos, and overall knowledge base for your quick reference.

Hope you enjoy, hope you get hooked, and hope you’re ready to get your hands dirty in the garden.

Just remember – the best food comes from you!

Matthew Hall