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Wintertime on an Urban Farm

Updated on February 6, 2015

The Need for Urban Farming

How much time do you have?

I could expound on the reasons why we need more urban farming for several hours, but I suspect I might lose your attention if I rambled on that long.

I could tell you all about GMOs and their dangers. I could tell you about the high cost of food, but I’m guessing you already know about that if you’ve visited a grocery store lately.

My favorite reason, though, has nothing to do with cost or danger and everything to do with social responsibility.

You’ve all heard the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, in many ways, this country is broken, and it needs fixing. One of the reasons why this country is not firing on all cylinders (and this is most certainly a subjective opinion on my part) is that we have deserted our traditions in favor of convenience. In other words, we have strayed too far from our roots and we are now paying for it.

One of those traditions is farming. Not so very long ago, many families in this country raised their own food. Urban farms were the norm rather than the anomaly. There was a connection between soil and farmer….between the environment and the farmer….between life itself and the individual.

For the most part that is gone now. Now we are all about getting our needs taken care of as quickly as possible and damn the consequences. So what if that Big Mac is poisoned? I can be in and out of the drive-through lane in fifteen seconds. I dare anyone to grill a burger in that time. So what if the beef is filled with steroids and other ungodly chemicals? It sure grills up nice, doesn’t it? So what if those vegetables are an unnatural color? They’re cheaper than the organic crap, and money don’t grow on trees.

Besides, who has time to farm? Everyone is working two jobs just to pay the bills, and that means crazy days and crazier nights, and tending to an urban farm is the last thing a guy wants to do when the big screen television is calling him and he needs to watch four hours of boob-tube in order to be an average American.

See, I could go on for quite some time on this topic.

But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to talk to those of you who actually have an urban farm, or who are thinking of starting one.

I’m here to talk to you about wintertime on an urban farm.

It doesn't look this tidy and neat right now
It doesn't look this tidy and neat right now | Source

Out the Backdoor We Go

Thanks for joining me on this mini-tour. Let’s go through the kitchen and out the sliding backdoor, okay? Let’s see what there is to see.

Just walk around the compost pile and the rain barrel and follow me.

If you look to your left you’ll see the garden area sitting dormant during the winter. For those of you with an imagination, picture eight raised beds, one large natural bed, a total of about 600 square feet of planting area. You’ll notice the beds are covered with leaves and sawdust right now. They won’t stay that way long because I just let the chickens out, and they have free-run of the garden during the winter months. With this rain we are having they just love to scratch in the garden in search of worms, and while they are scratching they are turning over the soil and mixing the mulch and compost into the soil.

I love it when chickens do my work for me.

400 square feet of garden space will feed a family of four, so we'll be giving away produce when we harvest just like we did last year and the year before that.

Behind the gardening area you’ll notice a brush pile. We leave that there year round instead of hauling it off to the dump. Our area birds love it. That brush pile is alive with all sorts of birds right now, and I love the sound of them in the morning. That brush pile is bordered to the south by a small hill, and that hill has dead stumps under the dirt, and there is a whole lot of natural processes happening right now, so by the time spring comes there will be herbs and veggies growing there as well, and ain’t that just too cool for words?

This is Angel
This is Angel | Source

Turn Right and We Have Our Rabbits

Aren’t they beauties? These are two Angoras named Alice and Angel, and because of that lovely fur they handle being outside quite well. As long as I keep them dry they keep pooping for me, and that rabbit poop is black gold for an urban farmer.

If you want the best natural fertilizer known to man and God, check out rabbit poop. Angel and Alice can give me several pounds of poop each week, and trust me when I tell you I have no need for fertilizers and pesticides as long as Angel and Alice don’t become constipated.

I might mention that Alice and Angel are not a problem to feed. Our garden feeds them long after harvest time in the fall. Those two just love fresh greens, and it makes no difference to them if those greens are store-worthy or just the dregs of a garden in the winter. It’s all a gourmet meal to our little Angoras. By the way, that fur on their backs is Nirvana to a person who weaves and knits.

Lunchtime for the chickens
Lunchtime for the chickens | Source

Moving On

Grab those chicken eggs while we move on to the quail enclosure, will you please? Thanks! There are six hens currently and we'll be getting five or six more next month. Shhh, don't tell the city. We are only supposed to have five.

This is where we keep our quail. We currently have twenty-five with more being born daily. We love these little birds, and many hours are spent outside just watching them do their thing. Often you can find Bev inside their enclosure feeding them by hand. That, my friends, is getting back to our roots and getting in touch with the natural flow of life.

The enclosure is fourteen feet wide and nineteen feet long. We should probably just call it an aviary and be done with it. J Grab those eggs while you are in there, please. Some of them will go in the incubator and some we’ll have for breakfast. They are delicious, by the way. Small but delicious! I’m talking about the eggs and not the birds, but I’m told the birds are delicious too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

During the winter months we hatch two or three per day. We keep the ones we want and sell the ones we don’t want. During the summer we’ll be hatching twenty-five to thirty eggs each day and selling a whole lot of chicks at two bucks apiece. What you don't see in the pictures is the hatching center we have in our garage. There we have a heated lamp for all the babies, and another indoor enclosure where the chicks are weaned off the heating lamp as they prepare to move outside.

Home sweet home for the quail
Home sweet home for the quail | Source

Let’s Move to the Other Half of the Yard

This is where our next big project will take place. This will be our second aviary for more quail, and our second chicken coop for five more chickens. I have a month before I need those built, so I’d better cut this short and get busy building. By this summer we’ll have a dozen chicken eggs and three dozen quail eggs each day, and I can hardly wait for all the excitement.

But it’s winter now, so the preparations take place now so we’ll be ready in the summer.

Along the fence there? Those are raspberry bushes. We’ll get bushels of berries from those bushes this summer, and what we don’t eat the chickens will, so there is no waste here.

It’s raining so let’s not take a look at the front yard today. All you would see are the fruit trees and more berry bushes, so let’s save that for your next visit. We have more planting to do out there this spring, and by summer’s end all of our lawn will be gone, replaced by food-bearing plants and bushes.

And that means smoothies for you when you visit us!

Thanks for taking a tour with me. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it at least got you thinking about what you can do with your yard. I'm certainly not trying to sell this idea to you, but I did want to present some ideas for you to think about so your yard produces more than just grass and weeds.

Bon Appetite!

2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi billybuc I enjoyed the tour and always with a valuable message.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      You have certainly turned yourself into an impressive farmer! Seems your property is covered with future food. Lots of good ideas Bill and advice people can pick and choose from if they can't do it all. It's a menu of ways to farm!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Old Poolman profile image

      Mike 2 years ago from Rural Arizona

      Bill, you have a very impressive layout there on your mini-farm. This sort of knowledge used to be passed down from generation to generation, but someone flipped a switch and that stopped. Why and when it stopped I don't know.

      I believe I get a seed catalog from every company out there that sells seeds. I actually keep them handy and enjoy reading about all the new variations of plants new to to the market.

      But my favorites are seeds I saved from last years crop and grow again every year.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I think I will try to plant something this year!!!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      I love your passion for urban farming pretty much anytime of the year and thank you for the awesome tour today! Happy Friday and have a great weekend again, my friend :)

    • Buildreps profile image

      Buildreps 2 years ago from Europe

      This one is awesome, Bill. From what I've read just now, you understand exactly what life on earth is about, my friend.

      You've a great platform here on HP to share your experience, which is your divine task if you ask me. We have an urban farm too, in just a few weeks we start sowing again. Biological like you (of course).

      I shared this one on Twitter. I hope it might give some extra traffic!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for the tour, Bill. I love the way you walked around your yard with words. I could picture it all perfectly. The natural bed you mentioned - is it a hugelkultur bed?

      A dozen eggs a day? Wow. You can start your own farm stand with your surplus of veggies, fruit, and eggs. Set it up right in your front yard. Gives new meaning to yard sale!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 2 years ago from Arizona

      the URban Cowboy ..Oops Farmer. I love reading about this. I feel a book coming but than with you I always do. Even though we don't have the farm we never eat fast food and rarely go out for dinner...and produce makes up about 60-70 percent of our diet. However after reading your hub here I always feel very tempted.

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      Jackie 2 years ago

      You make me want to try the quail so bad...but I have two cats and they would never rest if I had caged birds....besides the chickens. The have become friends with them.

      Always a fun read!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE. I'm glad you could walk with me through our little farm.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mary. My only regret is we don't have enough land, but we'll see what the future holds.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Poolman, thanks for the visit. I love seed catalogs too...so much enjoyment from such a simple source. I don't know exactly when this country lost touch with its roots, but I think we need to get back to them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hooray, Pop! This article is an official success with that news. :) Have a great weekend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy Friday Janine. We do love our little farm. I know you don't do stuff like this, but I'll bet your girls would enjoy sitting in our aviary.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 2 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Great hub Bill. Yes, it is wise to learn how to be self sufficient, and this will do it. That is why I have started tomatoes along with more papaya and banana trees. The mango and avocado trees are doing quite well too.

      May your farm bless you my friend.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 2 years ago from Iowa

      I loved this tour of your little farm. My poor garden is buried under snow, my chickens have to be coaxed to leave the coop, and I'm ready for winter to be over. About the only thing full of life is my Christmas tree that we put out in the backyard to provide shelter for the birds, like your brush pile.

      I am wondering if you would ever consider eating your quail. I have a friend who's in to urban homesteading and she actually took a class on how to butcher poultry and then butchered her family's Thanksgiving turkey. Her philosophy is that if she is going to eat meat, she should be fully committed to the process. Don't know if I could do it, though.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Buildreps, thank you. I wish I could convince a few million people to give this a try. We all need to get in touch with the Earth so we can appreciate all that we have. I appreciate you sharing it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Sha and yes, it is a hugelkultur bed. A dozen chicken eggs, but the quail eggs taste the same, so we'll sell those as well. Great idea about the yard sale. We just might do it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, if I can tempt you then maybe one day I can convince you. Thank you my friend, for all that you have done for me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Jackie. If I was there I would set up a quail enclosure for you and the cats wouldn't touch them. Say hi to your chickens for me and Happy Friday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Greg. I love hearing that others are doing the same thing. Maybe we can change a few minds along the way. Thanks, buddy, and blessings to you and your bride.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, the day may come when we will eat the quail. There are going to be a lot of them. We'll see how well it goes selling them first. Butchering them is quite easy...fifteen minutes from start to finish. Anyway, food for thought. Thank you!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Thank's for the tour around your urban farm. I can feel the love you have for your animals, lucky little critters. I will be glad when spring arrives. I will plant again. I noticed an asparagus plant in the garden last week, funny how they multiply.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks for the tour. Your place looks and sounds great. My mouth waters every time you mention those smoothies so I'm ordering mine in advance, ok? :)

      You must be in seventh heaven - great place, great project, great message.

      Have a wonderful weekend, bill!

      Ann

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is funny how they do that, Ruby, and miraculous as well. I love the random plants we have pop up....I think birds spread seeds from yard to yard...last year we had wheat growing. ??????? Anyway, thanks for walking with me and have a great weekend.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      How lucky you are to have the space, time, and know-how to have a little farm. There is one more benefit to your farm--Entertainment. I once had friends who kept chickens--they are amazing to watch. There is so much drama in a chicken coop. (Now I have to add this to my list of things to write a hub about.)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, I do love it here. My only regret is not having more property.

      I'll put you down for a smoothie, but you'll have to come here to claim it. :)

      Have a terrific weekend, my friend, and thank you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Catherine, there is great entertainment value here. We love to sit on the deck and watch the chickens and quail cavorting. So much fun!

      Thank you for taking the time. The good news is you were not spam this morning. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very great idea. I also think like this and worry about this city cultures. I live in an apartment which hardly has any inch of space left for growing even a flower plant. But people having some space can grow plants and vegetables sufficient for their daily needs. Then it will not be so costly and scarce here that we are presently paying for these vegetables and fruits.

      Thank you for creating some awareness among public. Voted up.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hello, Bill. This sounds like a slice of heaven! I couldn't agree with you more about convenience displacing our valuable traditions of sustainable living. I am sad to see where we've come but at the same time I'm encouraged by the small steps many are taking to grow urban gardens and to teach kids how to plant and tend to them. I look forward to the day I can have chickens! Thanks for the inspiring tour of your urban farm:)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cat. I think we are seeing a new day dawning. I see the movement growing and I am encouraged. I hope your chicken day comes soon, my friend.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Thinking about you in this storm today Bill. My grapevine is half pruned out there and I am still harvesting kale from my summer garden. I had no idea that rabbit poop made such great fertilizer!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I'll be there for that smoothie as soon as I can manage it!

      Ann :))

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      I love it when you talk about your Frugal Farm. Great video, as well.

      However, I am concerned as I speak chicken and Minerva has plenty to say. Seems she is fed up with the cool and wet temperatures this winter and feels she needs a vacation to some place warm and sunny.

      She has expressed a full size photo of Foghorn Leghorn as a pin-up for the chicken coup. I am not a foulollogist, but some pent up frustrations may be to blame for that last request.

      Hey, don't blame me. I am simply the interpreter.

      Have a great weekend!

      DJ.

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      ArtDiva 2 years ago

      Your yard is what I love about Oregon and Washington...it's down and country, where Victory gardens, urban farming, chickens and quails, fruit trees and wild berry patches abound. What fun to watch it all flourish, and harvest its bounty. Those quails you have, so much fun to watch. I have a Quail run through my little mobile space. When the little babies are born, it's like little balls of fluff following mom through the "back forty." Loved the tour through your garden space. Have a great day!

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Bill, I have learned more about urban farming just from your hubs than I have in my lifetime! Your hair reminds me of Tobias! And I don't care how many women want you to cut your hair (I see in previous hub comment that Bev cut it) I have always like longer hair on a guy!

      I loved this hub, you can take ANY topic and make it interesting!

      I watched the whole video, and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and Minerva was quite the buttinsky - so cute.

      Your garden is so impressive and I love that you take a stand and be yourself...don't weed, don't feel you have to be pristine...you explained everything so very well.

      Wondering about the wheat that you have as a glad surprise in your garden. I would have no idea how to use it or eat it. And I had forgotten one can eat nasturisums (bad spelling) -the orange flowers.

      Thank you for this great inspirational and motivating hub. You live in a perfect spot for urban gardening even though you wish you had more property. I LOVE that you take care of all these quail, rabbits, chickens, and other creatures and you are even going to have goats! We need many more Bev's and Bills in this world! Voted up, awesome, interesting and useful. God bless you real good Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, it is a wet few days we are experiencing. I promise you I will not be working out in this miserable weather. :) Kale does keep growing a long time; even here.

      Have a super weekend my friend, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm looking forward to it, Ann! :)

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, Minerva isn't the only one fed up with the weather here, but I hear ya. I'll see what I can do about getting her that pin-up. LOL

      Thanks, as always, for the laugh. Have a great weekend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Diva, this is a great place to live for sure. I may complain about the rain from time to time, but we have a bounty of beauty that more than makes up for it. How cool you have a quail run through your space. They really are a delight to watch.

      Thank you for stopping by and Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It was my pleasure, Bill. Thanks for walking along with me.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Hi Billybuc, your writing just gets better and better each time you make hub! I loved your introduction to this piece and totally agree with you that losing our farming roots makes us very susceptible to capitalism (which, as we all know, is about as far from compassion and humanity as you can get).

      I didn't know rabbit poo was the best fertiliser! Having seen some little rabbit droppings before, I know they're neat and tidy, not like chicken ones so they'd make a much preferred alternative for the garden.

      I am enjoying reading about your progress with the mini farmlet, so keep up the outstanding work! Voted useful - but if there was a button for absolutely engaging I would be hitting that about now...

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi! Billybuc, I enjoyed the tour of your garden and your chickens and enjoyed listening to Minerva. Thank you. It brings back memories of my childhood when we had rabbits, chickens, pigs and dogs and cows. My parents are farmers and I also have farming blood in me. That is why I am also passionate about growing my own food. Thank you for your interesting and useful hub.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      sustain yourself, backyard farming is what our ancestors did also. Good hub

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

      If I had extra space in my yard I would love to have a garden, but in my community it's all about how many homes they could squeeze together. On the flip side, there is less lawn for me to mow each week. Best of luck with your green thumb! :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so very much, Lea. Wheat? I'm afraid we would need quite a bit more to grind it and have ourselves something, but I think it's fascinating that it just appears out of nowhere. My new mantra is leave nature alone and it will find a way.

      Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. I hope Eli doesn't keep you up at nights. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzanne, you are too kind, but thank you. That's the nice thing about rabbit poop, other than the fact it is excellent fertilizer...it is neat and tidy. I've held it in my hands and believe me, I don't do that with very much poop. LOL

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      Jamie Lee Hamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

      I just want to say that chicken poop is made of the magic stuff. This magical poop has helped to make some of our more alkaline death soil grow incredible greenery. Jamie

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lies, thank you for the visit. Anyone passionate about farming is a friend of mine.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Clive. I figure if it was good enough for my grandparents then it is good enough for me. Luckily I married a woman who agrees with this lifestyle.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, I'm all for less lawn, and I'm sorry you can't grow a garden. That's the problem with housing developments, but I also understand their appeal. Anyway, thank you as always.

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      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      I'm so happy to see one of your new articles. We all need little farms, and you don't need a lot of space, as you so nicely explained. Growing up, I remember a lot of the older people always had a home garden.

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      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Your urban farm is several levels above my backyard garden, but we do manage to get quite a bit of food from there. When we were children, we almost always had home grown veggies. Currently, we're picking apples,and a few raspberries, but it's too hot at present for most veggies, which are finished for the year. It's the end of Summer here in Australia.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Loved the tour Billy. It did cross my mind when I saw Angel and Alice that they might be persuaded to part with a little of their winter fur! Perfect for felting, perhaps! I love this way of life, yours, so similar to that which was mine in my formative years. Thanks for sharing.

      Sally

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      Richard Bivins 2 years ago from Charleston, SC

      This is a topic near and dear to me. We purchased some land and I have every intention to make it something that will sustain me and my family for years to come. I moved here to SC from Chicago 6 months ago and after living in an apartment for too many years, I can't wait to get started. It will take a while, probably another year to considering I have about 12 acres that needs clearing, but plans include a produce and herbs, chickens, goats, fruit and nut trees, and the land is bordered by a river so there will be plenty of fishing. It's a long term goal so I've enlisted my college roommate who is now an agriculture consultant to help with a layout that has room to grow... I'm hoping to get the 10 acres next to my property before I do any real development here.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Jamie. Chicken poop is good, but kind of messy for this boy. I prefer those nice, neat little pellets that rabbits give me. LOL

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ologsinquito...I have too many topics I want to write about. I'll try to write more about urban farming in the near future.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Snakesmum, we are quite fortunate living in this area. Our growing season is quite long. In fact, many farms still have kale growing. It has been a very mild winter here.

      Thank you for the visit and have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sally, I actually think of you when we are pulling the fur off of them. People around here will pay nicely for that angora fur.

      I hope your weekend is a grand one. Thank you!

      bill

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Richard, you will be living my dream. I need an infusion of cash so I can buy ten acres. If I can get that acreage I will be in urban farming heaven.

      Best wishes as you move towards your goal. I hope to hear more about it in a hub soon.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      I thought about something while reading this. I come from a mid sized town (150,000) that was a small town during my parents youth. My paternal grandmother used to have chickens in her yard. I guess zoning laws changed all that. By the way, your life style sounds idyllic.

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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great tour of a great urban farm. I feel like I know my way around it already.

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      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      I absolutely loved going on your tour of your gardens...mini farm I should say! I wish we could do this but we have too much shade and the deer, well they like just about anything that I plant. I loved your high tunnels! They look really good. You know what I will be dreaming of tonight!

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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Bill; wonderful article. I was the city cousin growing up in Indiana. Both of my parents were raised on farms and all other family still lived within 20 miles of each other, so as a child, I was kidded for my lack of knowledge. That all changed for me in the 70's. I have gardens.

      According to my children, I feed them eggplant for breakfast after a bumper crop, but don't believe it. I'm getting ready to move and excited to get another garden started. Your photos were inspirational and gave me some good ideas. Thanks. Voted up and Tweeting. ~Marilyn

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      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Bill, it's not Eli, it is the Shadow Man...gives me the creeps and Eli's feeling of being watched gives me the chills. Eli Baker is fine but I am sure worried about the people he cares for! I admire his fearlessness. If I were Elizabeth, I would leave the country and be terrified. I am SUCH a chicken...Thanks for the info on the wheat. I figured you would just admire it. Blessings, Sparklea :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Messenger, there is something philosophically wrong with a midwest city zoning out chickens. :) Thank you for stopping by.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm pretty sure, Eric, you wouldn't get lost. :) Thanks, buddy.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Debra! We actually have deer around here, in the city, but our fence keeps them out of the garden...or at least it has so far. Crossing my fingers.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Marilyn! Oddly, I'm the only one of my family that wasn't born on a farm. I guess I'm making up for lost time now. I hope your move goes well and you have that garden soon.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lea, I hope you enjoy the rest of the book. The Shadow Man isn't done yet. That's all I'll tell you.

      blessings my friend

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      Adrian Holman 2 years ago from Joliet, IL

      People will have to learn these aspects of urban farming if the wealth inequality gap continues to widen.

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      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a fantastic operation you have here. I love how everything works hand-in-hand with each other. I've always said Mother Nature had everything all worked out. Now if we humans could just stand back and let her do her thing, wouldn't we be the better for it.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Adrian, I believe that to be true. I think this is a movement that is slowly going to grow in this country out of necessity. Thanks for your thoughts.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Zulma, last year was an eye-opener for me. We just left the garden alone after planting. We didn't pull out weeds, we didn't thin out seedlings...we just let Nature do her thing, and it was the best crop we've ever grown. Go figure!

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      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Sounds like you have a great number of gardens, fruit bearing trees, berries and of course those fresh eggs and natural fertilizer to keep it all going. Wish we lived close enough to take your excess produce off of your hands. We were in that position many years ago when we lived in Wisconsin of having so much excess garden produce. We fed countless people other than just the two of us. Was fun!

      I hope our fruit trees start growing and producing so that we will be able to give away Meyers lemons and oranges to many people in the future. Up votes and sharing!

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      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Bill, you have your own slice of heaven right there where you are. Its wonderful that you are able to do all that you do on your property. Sustenance living is a rewarding lifestyle, as you well know.

      Thanks for sharing such a creative part you you.

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      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from North America

      I had a friend that used all heritage seeds in urban farming during Summer 2014 and the food tasted great! A friend with a big farm uses all heritage seeds as well. Wonderful Hub!

      I just heard of a California town in which new neighbors are gifted with a laying hen by people on the block.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Peggy. I wish you lived closer too. We would keep you in green beans for sure. :)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Colorfulone, it may not seem much to some people, but we love it. We get great joy from our backyard, and I hope others follow our lead. Thank you for stopping by.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Patty, we have used Heritage seeds and they are great, and I love the story of the California town gifting hens. What a great way to welcome new neighbors. Thanks for sharing that.

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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Bill, I am truly amazed at what you have created there. And the nice perk to all of this is no lawn to maintain. Our raised beds are currently buried under about two feet of snow with more on the way. I hope to expand the garden this year with another one, possibly two beds. We are slowly getting there. Thanks for the tour of the Holland Urban Farm. Have a great weekend.

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      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Wonderful tour, dear Bill! From your title, I was expecting to see a snow covered yard.

      Angel is a beauty no doubt. I hope that urban farming continues to catch on throughout the US and the world! I believe the day is not too far off where we will need to be truly self-sufficient in as many areas of our lives as possible.

      Peace and blessings always

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I'm convinced that this is how we were meant to live. Le Chateau de Maison Bill and Bev sounds idyllic. We did something like this in the Grenadines a few years ago, it was heavenly, the problem for me, was learning to eat the animals we raised for food, to me, they were all pets. My husband told me the trick is never give them names, needless to say, that didn't work. Thank you for the wonderful tour, I will most definitely come again. :)

      My best always.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish I can garden again. We just close our place every winter and because of our age and work travel, we now will move to a condo but with its balcony, I will definitely do some gardening.

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      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Aesta1, I have some ideas for you on my hub about gardening anywhere. I had a balcony once and put a baby pool on it and filled it up and had a vegetable garden out there. I sed soil, but I have a soiless mixture on my hub and it is also very lightweight and can be used anyplace.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. At the rate you are getting snow, you might be able to garden by June. :) Have a good weekend, buddy.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, no snow in our neck of the woods....no snow all winter. Wet, though...flooding...mudslides...a mess.

      I do believe urban farming is going to grow and grow. It has to because the middle class is still sinking.

      Blessings and thanks, my friend.

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your urban farm is certainly growing, Bill! I'm happy to meet Alice and Angel. Good luck with your upcoming projects.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Bill,

      Reading your hubs on farming reinforces my belief that eventually all of us have to get into it to be considered productive.

      Thanks for sharing a beautiful hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      wow! With all that activity in your garden, it's amazing you have found time to write about it. Thumbs up for what you are doing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I love it...Le Chateau de Maison Bill and Bev....I might make a sign for our front door with that on it. LOL Your husband is right...never name a farm animal. For us, that's a guarantee that the animal will live a long life. :)

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aesta, it's amazing how much produce you can grow on a balcony. Try a vertical bed.....perfect for beans, peas, strawberries, etc.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Debra!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. The work is never done here.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Blossom. The farm pretty much takes care of itself other than making sure the animals have water and food.

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      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Thanks for the tour Bill

      It brought floods of memories more from my childhood than from my own 'farming' days (although I do farm am not able to right now as am in transition..long story for another day :D )

      But I get it. We all need to be doing this.One reason aside from so many other obvious ones, and this one is obvious too is that eating what we grown is just plain good, best, for us, isn't it?

      (except maybe MJ but that too depends on the person you ask hee hee).

      I had to start my week with a bit of billybuc writing

      Have a lovely week Angels are on the way to you and yours....ps

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, I'm glad you visited me on this rainy morning. The rain is a bit more palatable with friends.

      Hugs and blessings coming your way

      bill

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Learned much on the tour. Fascinated by the rabbits. Your urban farm is so together; I admire your organization skills.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, thank you Dora. I'm just like a bulldog. I may not know how to do something, but that doesn't prevent me from sinking my teeth into it and chewing on it. :)

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      I love growing things and would probably have a garden again even in this small space if it weren't for my hips and osteoarthritis. We used to have rabbits and chickens and ducks (I love a parade) all having little ones several times a year. Thanks for the memories.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paintdrips, it was my pleasure. I'm sorry to hear about your ailments. Blessings to you.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      Thanks for the tour Bill. It was a pleasure reading this hub.

      A few months ago I was in my home country Philippines and made my back yard there for vegetables garden as I am fond of eating veggies and I was thinking of my brother and his family too who lives behind my house. Now they are taking care of my vegetable garden which is just beside their house and they don´t have to buy veggies again. I have planted a few Moringa trees too for me to eat when I´m there and for them as well. My father has his chicken cages near that garden and they are eating the chickens too. Have a lovely week Bill!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thelma, I love hearing stories like yours. That's great that your brother is continuing the garden. Thank you for sharing that.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

      Perhaps it is too cold there, but carrots and any cabbage family or lettuce can grow in winter. You can garden most of the time. One year I planted tomatoes and harvested them in late January when out first freeze hit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Blackspaniel. Rarely do we have a winter when things will grow past October....we had a hard freeze in November that killed everything off, but we are very close to being able to plant again.

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      I recently watched a TV show called Food Inc. I have seen programs like that before, but this time it effected me quite a bit, more than usual. If you can imagine a show about the corporate food and farming industry, you can get a pretty good idea that it was not particularly pretty. This year, although it is still too early to plant, I have been preparing for a garden. I recently saw a photograph that is a good visual illustration of what is going on, of natural foods and vegetables, that were becoming over-ripened above a photo of processed, packaged foods. The caption read something to the effect of: If your food can go bad, then it is good to eat, if your food cannot go bad it is not good to eat. This made much sense to me. This stuff we are eating, is something besides real food. Real food does not last 25 years like a twinkie, unless it is honey or salt or something.

      I was reading your story about chicken "laborers" tilling your garden soil for you. Although I currently do not have any chickens, I was thinking of a similar concept recently that might interest you as an experiment. I was thinking of building a coop, with runs for the chickens. They would have 4' wide chicken wire, 20' long that is folded over, that resemble chicken wire Quonset Huts. They would be multiple long rows of these, spaced apart and have space for garden rows between each one. That way they could catch bugs, till the soil, provide fertilizer, and stay safe from predators, all the while tending the garden without damaging the crops. I thought of doing this all on a slight, sloping hill so that rain would wash the areas intermittently. I enjoyed reading your story immensely Mr. Holland and look forward to reading more.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Celebrates, that is such a great idea. I've been doing the urban farming thing for a few years now, and it never dawned on me to do such a thing. I now have a project, and a great one, thanks to you. Well done my new friend. I love it!

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      Thanks Billybuc, I have been thinking about for it about a year. I was thinking like 5 rows of garden and 3 rows of chicken runs in the middle. My first thought was like 20-30 ft quonset shaped runs out of chicken wire but not sure how expensive that might get or if the wire would or could be molded easily and staked down, or if there was a cheaper alternative. I of course would be really interested in someone that might implement the idea and work out the kinks for me, to see how it went. :)

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      I just checked a google image search search terms- " Easy chicken run plans? They're easy to make and each section take very little time or talent to make. " - and found some things similar to what I was thinking. Only those were not as wide and needed to be much longer and in between garden rows.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Chicken wire used to be cheap, but they raised the price of it...here at least. I would like to see the results of that and the pictures too Celebrates.

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      That is what I was afraid of Lady Guinevere and I was not sure. I like the idea of chickens doing all the gardening. Scratching, tilling, eating bugs and fertilizing. I would love to see if it works.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We have a deal, Debra, with the local farm store. I write their blog for free and I get my farm supplies at cost. I'm always looking for used wire on craigslist as well. It can be pricey unless you look for great deals.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Celebrates...I just discussed that on Guinevere's comment...there are ways to cut down on costs. Our entire urban farm was done for very little money. We are always picking up free stuff or greatly discounted stuff at garage sales and barn sales.

    • Celebrates profile image

      Celebrates 2 years ago

      That's great Billybuc on the @ cost deal. I am really impressed on your hatching so many chicks during the summer and selling them. I really like the idea of chickens doing a lot of the work in a garden, if feasible. I hope to be doing something similar to what you are doing in the future.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Now that is a great deal Bill! Business to Business and all local too. That is the way things should work.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Really great hub, Bill!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Celebrates, the wire can be molded and bent easily. The cost depends on how patient you are and how frugal a shopper you are. Chicken wire is relatively inexpensive, but if you are talking about 100 feet it will still cost a pretty penny.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      They are very easy to make, Celebrates, and I know this because I have made them. LOL

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I wish you luck, Celebrates. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debra, I'm a very patient and frugal shopper when it comes to our mini farm. I can wait a long time until I find a reasonable price...or barter for a better price. Thank you!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok. i appreciate it.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, you have a wonderful farm. I enjoyed the tour and you have made full use of your farmland. Great pictures too, Angel looks very cute!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Vellur. We are happy with it, but it always seems to be growing. :)

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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      And no GMO related stuff, either.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Absolutely none, Deb, and proud of it. :) Thanks my friend.

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      Donna Brown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      What is fun is having several neighbors who are also into urban farming, and fruit trees would be a great addition to this scenario. Different people could have different types of fruit trees that produce from early season to late providing everyone in the neighborhood with fresh fruit home grown all season long.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great points, Donna. We actually have three fruit trees, and a neighbor across the street has several more. Thanks for mentioning that.

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      Donna Brown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      Synergy at its best is when the entire neighborhood works together!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Donna!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      It's so much fun seeing how your garden has grown Bill. It sounds lovely and pretty soon everything will be sprouting. Fun hub.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, we are planting kale this weekend. We use it for feed for the rabbits, who love it....and for us, of course...kale chips are delicious. :) Thank you for stopping by this weekend.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      My wife and I are trying to get our 1st garden going. This article was very helpful.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad to hear it, Larry. Good luck with that gardening, and thank you!

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