Multicropping The Urban Farm

This year we’re multicropping the 1/4 acre garden plot at our home in downtown Longmont, Colorado. That’s to say we are growing multiple crops on the land within a single growing season. Our goal is to plant all the beds two or three times this year. And now, with spring arugula and spinach done, were laying in our second plantings. ¬†Multicropping complicates rotations and puts a lot of pressure on the land. But we have no choice. It’s something we have to do at Longmont this year.

Regular readers may know we are working two pieces of land this season. The first is the urban 1/4 acre. The second is a two acre parcel in Gunbarrel, Colorado; about twenty minutes from our home. It sounds fantastic and we are very grateful but it’s not perfect. The problem is that we have¬†a very serious weed issues at Gunbarrel that prevent us from direct seeding there. We’re okay transplanting that land because the transplants, being relatively large when they go in, have a leg up on the weeds. But when we seed directly the weeds rise ahead of the crops and shade them out. We can’t even hand weed the seeded bed because the disruptions caused by weeding are enough to foil germination.

This means that the direct seeded crops (carrot, radish, beet, turnips, salad mix, arugula…..) all have to be planted at the small Longmont plot. This leaves us needing to use the land very efficiently. It means we need to multicrop. So, the same day a crop finishes we pull the irrigation and till the bed. A few days later (to allow some of the residues to break down) we reinstall the drip tape and seed with the next crop. We’ll have to over winter with a green manure and compost in the spring to recover the soil. But for now multicropping is the only way we can stay in the direct seeded crops that are so important to our tiny farm.

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