Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2012

Not mine. I downloaded this pic.

Have mercy on my soul, have you seen the price of greenhouse and hoop house kits?  Don’t these people know we’re in a down economy?  Holy Hamburgers, Batman, those prices are steep.

Here’s the deal; I need want a large greenhouse.  I want a 60′ x 30′ place to house my aquaponics units along with some self watering planters and to be able to grow fish and vegetables all year round.  I want to be able to finally get this CSA and  Aquaponics business up and running.  The clock is ticking.  I’ve seen several designs I like (the picture on the left, for example), but the prices are out of this world.  I’m on a budget.  Actually, I’m not.  A budget implies there is some money available for the project.

This post is an appeal to all the engineer and handyman (women) types out there.  Architects and draftsmen(persons) are welcome to join in too.  Dave Ramsey, if you’re reading, feel free to chime in, also.  How am I going to do this on a shoestring?  I’m going to have to skip the kit thing and get a design that is scalable to the size I need.  I will need some people to help me frame it, run the plastic, water lines and electricity.  All suggestions are welcome.  All volunteers are welcome.

Alternatively:

Dear Santa…….

Read Full Post »

I was sure he was gone. I mean I did everything short of calling out the National Guard to make sure the beast and his kind were eliminated from our little piece of the burb.  Ok, I didn’t call in a priest either, but I considered it, so that has to count for something.  I set out traps. I flooded the dens. I even used poison.  I picked up carcass after carcass. In early March, my garden area looked like ratmageddon.  The battle was over and the human spirit had prevailed. Hail to the victor.

Could I have been more wrong?  Yesterday, when I went to water the garden, I noticed that something had nibbled on many of my green bean plants. I thought that was odd, because we’ve never had that happen until later in the season.  Bugs will be bugs, I thought. Or, I mused, it could be rabbits.

Tonight I learned the bitter truth. The Zilla was not dead; not dead by a long shot. He has returned and he is not alone.

I stepped into the garden, picked up my garden hose and turned towards the beans.  Something was amiss. The plants looked…shorter. Some even appeared to be missing.

As I pondered the mystery, the chilling truth revealed itself, first as a rustle in the bean patch, then as a full scale stampede. Rats ran in every direction. There were ten or maybe a dozen.  My heart sank.

It was in that moment, when I thought the terror was at it’s peak, he showed himself in all his demonic splendor. He raised himself up to his full height, then turned in his blood lust to face me down.

It couldn’t be, but there he stood, in full battle array, gore and venom dripping off his gruesome fangs as he snarled his warning. I blinked and he was gone. Did he vanish? Are his reflexes that fast? Is this some kind on Ninja rodent king?

Though our encounter was brief, much was communicated in that single instant. We both understood the terms. This time, there can be only one.  This time there will be resolution.  This time, I’m getting a bloody shotgun.  That freaking rat has got to die.  There will be no prisoners.  There will be no mercy.  There will be no quarter. I am the human.  I am the apex species. It’s my garden, darn it.  And that stupid Disney character ate ALL my beans.  There will be no early bean harvest this year.  I have to start over.  But I will start over knowing that the RATZILLA lies cold beneath my compost heap, even as his soul burns in the darkest, hottest corner of hell.

Was that over the top?  Nah, I think I nailed it.

 

Read Full Post »

EarthBox Self Watering Containers

I don’t know why I have to learn everything the hard way.  I have a PhD from the University of Hard Knocks.  Mostly it’s my own fault.  I read a lot. I study the gardening and farming methods of the ultra successful, and then I go out and make a mess of everything.

Eventually, I get things right and can pass on what I’ve learned to others, but bow howdy, does my learning curve have some steep drops.

For the last two years, we’ve played with the idea of a CSA (community supported agriculture).  We’ve even had a couple of people sign up.  Each year, I have made some terrible planting and timing mistakes that have prevented me from implementing a fully operational CSA.

Finally, though, I have a plan that will work.  In fact, by incorporating my Aquaponics systems and a couple of greenhouses, we could offer a few 10 to 12 month shares.

My biggest mistake has been a failure to utilize a wise system of succession planting. I’ve finally figured that out.  I just had to start thinking like a customer.  I’d much rather have 4 tomatoes a week, with one or two big weeks to can some tomatoes than have 25 lbs one week and no more the rest of the year.  The same with beets and lettuce.  Everyone likes a head of lettuce from time to time, but who wants 11 heads of the stuff one week then have to wait a year to get more.  It was a real d’oh moment.

It’s probably too late for me to salvage the situation this season, but going forward we should be good to go.  I’m sure things won’t work out perfectly, but I think I’m on to something.

Speaking of going forward, we are in the process of creating a new business plan and direction for East of Eden Farms and Our Edible Suburb.  We believe that a more narrow focus will allow a better experience for our customers and us, and will set a better example for what is truly possible in maximum production from small spaces.

Finally, at long last I have begun writing the book version of Our Edible Suburb.  I’m still undecided about whether or not I will go a traditional paperback route or if I’ll stick with electronic versions.  Your thoughts would be appreciated.  If you were to buy a book about growing mountains of food and becoming self sufficient in small spaces, would you prefer an electronic version that could go with you anywhere and have live links to other helpful information, or would you  like a hard copy that you can reference from the comfort of your recliner?  Let me know.

Read Full Post »

As usual, the Tilapia in my floating raft, deep water culture, Aquaponics system, devoured their dinner with enthusiasm.  I’ve been using a floating/sinking commercial feed that they truly adore.  Now that they are getting to a reasonable size, some are a little bigger than an iphone, I’m starting some duckweed tanks to begin their transition to a more homegrown diet. Last night, I got my first clue that it will work just fine.

It started innocently enough; I was planting some new seeds for both the Aquaponics system and my summer/fall traditional soil garden.  The seedling trays had a couple dozen Buttercrunch lettuce seedlings that had stretched and weren’t useful for the garden.  I pulled them out of their coco coir homes and set them aside to throw away.  Each had 4 leaves, with the longest leaf about three inches.

After I planted some more Buttercrunch, Romaine, tomatillo and pepper seeds, I was on my way to throw out the seedlings or put them in a compost pile. At the last minute I tossed them into a fish tank that houses about 30 Tilapia.

The minute I threw them in I had regrets.  I feared that there was so much plant material that it would sink to the bottom, start to rot and create an ammonia problem for me.  My fears increased when I didn’t see instant activity from the little fishies.

For reasons I can’t recall, I resisted the temptation to grab the net and remove the lettuce plants.  Instead, I took Lucy the Mastiff out for a potty trip.  When I returned to check on the tank, about 20 minutes later, the only indication I had ever been there, was some coconut coir floating on the surface.

With some concern, I peered into the tank to see if the lettuce and found its way to the bottom already, but no, there was not a trace of the plants to be seen.  The always ravenous Tilapia had found their first salad bar much to their liking.  That is great news.  I’m thinking that over time they will be growing much of their own food.  How cool is that?

My only regret is that I didn’t have the foresight to capture any of it in pictures.  Maybe next time.

Read Full Post »

Spud 1

The garden is starting to look like one.  I’ve captured a pic of the season’s first potato, “Spud 1” and of a golden Patty Pan squash.  It appears that the bee activity from Brittan’s bee boxes, yes, it’s B’s Bees, are going to have the desired effect on our production.

I have also included a photo of my barrel Aquaponics unit that is currently under construction.  What a disaster that has been.  I am photographing and filming some it and will call my adventures, “Aquaponic Gardening With The Village Idiot.  Watch for updates.

 

 

Read Full Post »