We’ve known Curtis for over 4 years now. He is a good friend and we’ve always admired his entrepreneurial approach to urban farming. Now, although I’m not even remotely interested in growing food for other people, I’ve always been interested in productivity, and maximizing output for effort in. So despite not being an urban farmer, I still found some great nuggets (as shown by the post-it notes throughout his book in the image):
- First off, I’m motivated again to keep much better records. Seeing what Curtis is able to do from a planning perspective because of his diligent use of record-keeping has me really inspired. No doubt I’ll be revamping & building some planning spreadsheets based on the crop data & yield data he provides, and updated it go-forward with my own.
- I like how he categorizes his crops as Quick Crops (grow & harvest under 60 days) or Steady (harvest continually or take more than 60 days). Next, for farm planning he has High-rotation beds (planted up to 4x per season) and Bi-Rotation (planted only 2x per season) beds. I’m definitely going to incorporate some of this thinking & planning into my garden this year. Perhaps not to the full extent of trying to get 4 crops from a bed, but certainly to time stack more effectively.
- Curtis makes a good argument for 30 inch wide beds… and after gardening for five years in double-arm reach style beds (i.e. closer to 60 inch), I have to agree. It can really, really hard on the back. In my next garden, I’ll attempt to design any high production areas with 30 inch wide production rows, for sure.
- He provides some great tips on irrigation, and how (and when & for what crops: steady vs quick) to set up both drop irrigation & overhead systems. Again, useful thinking that I suspect I’ll apply.
- There’s a full chapter on growing microgreens – which I have been doing extensively for our family for the last two winters. I based my initial set up on a little .pdf doc that Curtis wrote and shared with me two years ago. I was happy to see an updated version as a full chapter in his book, including some tips about growing microgreens outdoors – which I’m sure to try this year.
I don’t use a rototiller like Curtis does, because my primary motivation is growing nutrient-dense food for my family, but I could see myself using a power harrow. That & a Jung Seeder are on my list of early purchases when we get onto a larger piece of land!
Curtis’ new book is a wealth of information and I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone thinking of entering the urban farming business. Information such as pricing tips, business & market models, planning worksheets, packing tips, etc would be immensely valuable. There is no question that you would find value for the $30 price of the book. In fact, you are likely to save thousands of dollars in mistakes and hundreds of hours in research and/or labour savings.
You can find this book in the free COG Lending Library here. Free shipping across Canada!