The Sap Is Running

We tapped some of our trees for the first time today. At first, I was having trouble with the sap dripping out around the spiles, so I tore strips off a plastic grocery bag and wrapped them around the spiles like Teflon tape on a threaded pipe fitting. This caused the spile to fit snugly and created a plastic washer to keep the sap from dripping down the bark beneath the spile. Once I figured that out, I found the trees to be very productive–at least the maples, anyway. The black walnut trees I tapped are barely dripping.


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The Criminalization of Choice

The government refuses to force food manufacturers to list GMOs on their ingredient lists. But if you’re trying to avoid genetically modified food, at least you have the option of growing your own or buying from a local grower whose methods you can observe…or do you?

Writer Bonnie Kristian talks about how the same thinking that motivates governments to outlaw services like Lyft and Uber is resulting in people being prosecuted for growing food.


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native wood, treen, hand carved

To feed our wood stove, I’ve been gathering fallen limbs and trees from the forest and bucking them with a miter saw. It takes me about an hour to get enough wood to last us 2-3 days. Then I set a few logs–about enough to fill the stove twice–on top of the stove to dry out, with about another day’s worth stacked near the stove where it can get mostly dry. By the time I put it in, it’s as dry as it should be.

In doing this, I’ve accumulated several small pieces of spalted maple and black walnut. Yesterday, sitting in front of the fire, I started carving a bowl out of one of the chunks of spalted maple. That’s a picture of it up there. It’s not done. I just did some rough hacking with a hatchet and chisel while sitting in front of the fire. I still need to work a lot more on it with a curved knife (which I don’t yet have) and some sandpaper (which I also don’t have, come to think of it).

Other than bowls and knife handles. does anyone have any ideas for what I could make out of these pieces? They’re too pretty to just burn. Mayda is pushing me to do cutting boards, but I’d need a froe to split out planks for that, and I’d have to plane it by hand. I don’t have a planer, a bandsaw, a lathe, or a router, so that limits what I can do efficiently. I’d thought of spoons, but most of these pieces are such that I could only do flat ones or really short ones. Once I have a curved knife, I could probably do some little cups–basically just bowls of different proportions.

Any ideas?

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Jack’s Magic Beans


No, those aren’t giant coffee beans. It’s come to my attention that there’s a demand for pawpaw seeds and people are paying outlandish prices for them. One person out in New Albany was selling nine seeds for $4.00, and that’s considered to be the lower end of the going rate now. Some people are charging more. I guess I’ve been out of the loop. I just gave away close to a dozen overripe pawpaws to a woman who wanted the seeds. Didn’t charge her anything.

Nine seeds for $4.00! That’s more than Glass Gem corn seed goes for! That figures out to almost 45-cents a seed!

Well, I can do better than that. I still have some ripe pawpaws intact. There is no “processing” to them at this point beyond just squishing them out and rinsing them off. I’ll even stick them in the fridge so the seeds can begin stratifying for the winter.

Pawpaw seeds for sale: 3 for a dollar

That’s three bucks for nine seeds. And I’m inside the 270 loop in northeast Columbus. Come get ’em. Heck, for this price you can buy them and resell them at a profit.

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Summer’s End

The deer, having accidentally ripped through the flimsy deer netting I put up, have figured out that they’re capable of breaking through it, so it’s become useless. Many nights over the past couple weeks, I’ve had to run outside to chase deer out of the garden.

Earlier this summer, they’d torn down the netting in one corner, and I repaired it with sticks and wire.

primitive deer fence, renewable building materials, urban forest farm Columbus

After they started ripping down other parts, my first thought was to do the same there, and I spent a day working towards that.

urban pioneers, stick fence, deer fence garden

But then I thought better of it. The nights are getting cold and our wood stove isn’t hooked up yet. Before I can hook it up, there are a bunch of other things I need to do to the house. I don’t have many nice days left to do so. The garden is pretty well done for the year anyway, and deer season for archers begins September 27th. Better, I think, to focus my attention on fixing the house (and practicing my marksmanship), and let the five deer who’ve been grazing here get fattened up cleaning out the old squash and tomato vines. The ODNR says I’m allowed to kill four of them this year. If I can do so, that will probably see us through the next year and then some as far as red meat is concerned.

Mayda’s been saying I should use welded wire to fence the garden. It would be effective, but it’s also a lot more expensive. If I don’t have the money for wire fence, I can set aside sticks for making the fence as I’m cutting firewood.

Having pretty much given up on the big garden for the year (other than planting garlic, which the deer have always ignored), we’re just gathering up what we can before the deer eat it, selling some of it to Mayda’s co-workers and their friends, and preserving the rest. [I notice they seem to be ignoring the tomatillos, too. Maybe it’s because those are planted closer to the house.] Last night, Mayda rigged up a large food dehydrator with some bread racks, window screen, a box fan, a few blocks of wood (to hold it up so air can blow underneath), and some craft paper to cover the sides. In the photo below, I’ve pulled down one of the paper “walls” so you can see inside. I’m drying tomatoes, peppers, and garlic (just for our own consumption, in case you’re reading, ODA/ODH/FCPH).

cheap food preservation, urban homesteading Columbus

Fortunately, the front garden has been safe from the deer, so the Glass Gem corn and pole beans are still growing. (I did see corn smut growing on one plant earlier this year, so if anyone’s interested in huitlacoche, give me your contact info and I’ll get in touch with you if any more appears.) I’ll pull what’s left of the beets and carrots out there and plant some cool weather greens to eat through the winter.

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Our First Ripe Indigo Rose

The green part turned red on this one. There are still a lot of green and purple ones out on the vine waiting to ripen.

Indigo Rose Columbus organic tomatoes

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Acorn Squash


The whole family just picked about a bushel and a half of acorn squash. I had done a “Three Sisters” thing with my Glass Gem corn this year, planting squash and corn in alternating rows so the lush foliage of the squash vines would shade out any weeds around the corn, and planting pole beans between corn plants so they could climb the corn and feed nitrogen to it at the roots. I’ve been picking beans the past few days, and I think we’ll eat all of them ourselves. Frankly, we could probably eat all the squash ourselves, too, over the winter, but with so many, I’d be happy to sell some. I’m not sure where we’d keep so many.

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We Have Ripe Tomatoes

Nice ones:

Plenty more where that came from. We have summer squash, too–some with smooth yellow skin, some with bumpy yellow skin and crooked necks, and dark green zucchini. You can buy green tomatoes right off the vine, too, if you’re interested. Come get ’em. (614) 390-2692

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Indigo Rose


This is my first year growing Indigo Rose, and I didn’t really know anything about it other than that it’s pretty. I’m a little disappointed the fruits aren’t bigger, but I just read a really interesting article (linked below) by Oregon State University, the developer of this variety.

Indigo Rose is different from other purple varieties. More familiar purple varieties like Black Krim have the color they do as a result of green chlorophyll still being present along with the red lycopene. When you mix red and green, you get brown, and in the case of a lot of “purple” tomatoes, what you actually see is a reddish brown that passes for purple. But with Indigo Rose (and one other variety I’ve never heard of, “Purple Smudge”), the purple is from the combination of red lycopene and blue anthocyanin, an antioxidant also found in blueberries, grapes, and eggplant. Unlike those other varieties that are purplish-brown all the way through, Indigo Rose is only purple on the outside.

These are not GMO, as the University emphasizes in the article. They were created by traditional selective breeding. Eggplant and tomato both belong to the genus Solanum. Breeders were able to cross wild solanums that have the same anthrocyanin-forming genes with cultivated tomatoes until they got cultivated tomatoes with purple skin.

Only the parts that get sun turn purple, though. I have several of these plants, and the tops of the fruits turned purple while the bottoms remained green. I waited, hoping the rest of the tomato would turn eventually, but the tomatoes remained two-toned. I thought of calling them “Joker tomatoes,” after the purple-and-green Batman villain. According to Oregon State, though, if you pick the tomatoes and expose the green parts to sunlight, they should turn completely purple in about a week.

Doing an image search on Google, though, I see that when the tomatoes are ripe, the parts that aren’t purple are red. Mine aren’t. When we cut them open, they’re green on the inside, so I guess they’re still not ripe. We’ve been stir-frying them with other vegetables like this and they’ve tasted fine. According to this podcast, picking some of the green ones might even help the remaining ones ripen faster.

Purple Tomato FAQ from Oregon State’s Dept. of Horticulture

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This Week’s Harvest

organic vegetables Columbus urban farm

Here’s what I’ve harvested so far this week (minus what I kept for us to eat), displayed at the Women’s Business Center. There should be more squash in a few days. In maybe another week, we’ll have kale. In another couple of weeks, perhaps, we’ll have collards. There are lots more green tomatoes, but these are the biggest ones, picked at the request of someone who wanted them for frying. Unless someone else asks for them green, I’m going to let the rest ripen. There’s a lot more garlic, too. It’s been hanging up inside for a little over a month now. There are more beets, too, just waiting to be picked.

If you see anything there you’d like, send me an email ( ) or give me a call at 614-390-2692. Anything that doesn’t get sold today will come back home with Mayda, and even if there’s nothing left, there’s still more growing.


Here’s how the gardens look right now. This is out back:

columbus urban farm organic vegetables

…and this is the one out front:

Columbus urban farm organic vegetables

The corn has tassels now!

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