Tag Archives: urban farming

Tips from an Urban Farmer

Photo by Koen King Stokes

Koen King Stokes of Veg’d Out Urban Farms, a new urban farm just 15 minutes south of downtown San Antonio that grows using organic and sustainable practices is trying to prove that putting plants in the ground can be, not only functional, but pretty darn easy.

“If you’re wanting to connect with nature again, you don’t have to go to a park to do it. You can put the essence of nature in your yard. Not only can it be less maintenance than your turf, it can also be productive, as long as you know what to put in the ground and when,” said Koen, who offered a few easy tips.

Kill Your Grass

This might sound a little scary at first, but according to Koen, grass is the #1 weed for urban farms, and completely useless. “I know it’s radical, but I like being radical,” he said. You can kill your grass either quickly or passively. He recommends getting a digging fork or broad fork to break up and aerate the soil afterwards, so that the roots of the new plants can breathe. You want to go down about 6-8 inches.

Learn Your Landscape

This is nothing more than simple observation. Study your planting area. Where are the shady spots? Which spots get the most sun? “These are called microclimates,” said Koen. You might find a section that’s already sheltered from a northern wind. If you’re going to plant something more susceptible to frost, for example, you’ll want to put it on a Southeasterly exposure. “That’s why I have bananas and lemons over here and not over there,” he explained.

Make Mulch Your Friend

Koen encourages any interested urban farmers to fall in love with compost and mulch. “When you apply compost to any soil, it brings it back to a conducive environment for plant growth,” he noted. When you apply mulch on top of compost it helps to maintain that environment. Mulch, which can be made up of anything from leaves to wood chips, pine needles and coffee grounds, is a shelter for compost.

What & When to Plant

You know what vegetables and herbs you like to eat, right? The big questions are if the things you like to eat will grow well in a South Texas climate, and what season is best to plant in. Koen suggests starting with something simple like perennial herbs which, once established, can go virtually unattended. He likes thyme, oregano and mint varieties, although he’s currently growing about 50 different kinds of herbs. Herbs can also be as decorative as they are delicious, therefore a great introduction for a new urban farmer. Koen recommends shopping at Fanick’s or Shades of Green to get your herbs and other plants. He also suggests exploring online resources for more information, such as Texas A&M’s planting calendar.

However, if you prefer to just eat the veggies and herbs, rather than grow them, you can check out Veg’d Out Urban Farm’s delicious produce on Sundays at the Pearl Farmer’s Market. If you need a beautiful dream home to build an urban farm around, just give us a call at 210-494-5400.

How to be an Urban Farmer


Just because you live in San Antonio, and don’t have a ranch in the country, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the country lifestyle. Urban farming is growing in popularity, which means you can still enjoy owning a brand new contemporary custom home with easy access to all of the amenities of living in the city and at the same time connect to the land and animals around you.

Starting Your Micro Chicken Flock

If you’re looking to expand your farming instincts beyond just a bit of gardening, consider starting your own micro chicken flock. People all over the city are starting these mini flocks in order to enjoy farm fresh eggs in their own backyard. It’s much easier than you think, and the benefits far outweigh the hassle.

The chickens will help your lawn and garden flourish – it will look greener than ever before – because they are nature’s fertilizers. They’ll also help maintain any potential bug problems. Yes, it’s true – chickens are not naturally vegetarians. This is a good thing!

Here are some tips to help you get started:

-          If you have an HOA, check with them first to make sure you’re even allowed to have chickens.

-          Get the chickens when they’re baby chicks, especially if you have kids. They’ll love watching them grow, and if you’re only going to use them for eggs, it’s okay to name them! You can order them online or purchase them in and around town.

-          It’s important to know what you want the chickens for, because different breeds are good for different things. For example, the Orpington and the Silkie are affectionate and therefore good family pets while the Ameraucanas and Cream Legbars will lay you the most beautiful pastel blue eggs.

-          Baby chicks and grown chickens have different needs so make sure to thoroughly research before buying, but you’ll definitely need a chicken coop. If you’re super handy, build your own, or you can also buy one. You want to make sure whatever home you give them keeps them safe from predators and can facilitate a heat source on those rare occasions it freezes.

-          Save your compost and feed it to the chickens. They’ll pretty much eat everything.

-          Beware of roosters – they’re noisy!

For more information on how to make city life as country fun as life on the farm, check out the Urban Farm Magazine or a zillion other resources online.