Posts tagged Gardening

Guess who’s out of hibernation?!

*Yawn*  What have I missed?  A lot of potential opportunities to post here, for one.  Now, I’m a cold weather person, I tolerate hot and humid days because my tomatoes love them; but let me join millions of people across the country in saying “Go home winter, you’re not welcome here anymore”.  Partly the reason I haven’t posted lately (months??) is that there isn’t much to talk about in the winter, the other reason being it’s hard to write when you’re depressed and cold.  However, the days are getting longer, and I’ve started my tomato and pepper seedlings so there’s something to talk about.  Indoor greenhouse

I’ve rebuilt my “greenhouse” in my basement, and that’s good enough until I can get a real one outside.  I was able to reuse the solo cups from last year, so hooray for frugality.  To start the seeds, as I’ve done in the past, is to put them on the little Jiffy peat tabs in the covered greenhouse tray.  I put the heating mat under that, and while some heat escapes through the bottom, it’s warm enough to germinate the seeds (one rather spry tomato popped up in two days).  If you wanted to, you could cut a thick piece of packing Styrofoam and put it under the heating mat to hold the heat better.  Once the seedlings get bigger, usually when they hit the top of the cover or the roots start poking out of the peat pot, I transfer them to the solo cup to continue growing under the grow lamp.

Let’s see, what else?  I suppose in another post I can talk about my food storage plans and progress.  I’m working on cleaning up a mess of a pantry in the basement.  I can’t seem to get out of Sam’s Club without spending at least $400 and coming home with a 50 lb bag of something….Last time it was sugar, the time before that, flour.  I’m not sure if I’ve shared in the past my organizational goals, so I’ll post them again.  Eventually I’d like to have a good long term storage and short-term rotational plan.  I’m not a crazy end-of-the-world prepper or extreme hoarder, I just believe in the old boy scout motto “Always prepared”.  After losing power for a week after hurricane Irene came up the east coast, I’ve learned that it’s good to have some non-perishable food on hand; candles/oil lamps in the closet; and even a generator if you can afford one.  Non-perishable food isn’t totally necesary if you lose power, since your first priority would be eating yourself through your frig/freezer anyways.  Having a gas range is good, since I’ve never had the gas go out on us.  Things would have to be pretty bad to lose that supply.  Anyways, there are plenty of examples in the recent past where events have shown us the only one you can really rely on is yourself.  I trust the Government to go to war often, fix the roads eventually, and at the very least fund itself and keep the lights on….mostly.  But my blog isn’t about the Government or politics, it’s about growing food and finding peace in your own backyard.  So, here’s my pantry plan, I’ll get there some day, the best way to build up an emergency food supply is gradually, it takes the pressure off the wallet, so to speak.

Shelf_Reliance Jug_Storage_6_months

I’ve already started gathering the jugs, not exactly like the picture though.  I really liked the idea of the handles to make it easy to grab, but after searching for weeks/months I couldn’t find ones I liked.  I found half gallon and gallon sized jugs, but I didn’t like that the plastic was PP (polypropylene or number 5 on the bottom of the jug), PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride or number 3), or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene or number 2).  HDPE has BPA and phthalate , and can leach endocrine disruptors (which is basically a fancy way of saying it can mess with your hormones in high enough quantities).  PVC also leaches phthalates , which studies have shown can be bad.  PP is one of the safer plastics to use in long-term storage, but it’s not clear, so it doesn’t look as nice on the shelves.  I know, silly excuse not to use it, but hey, if you don’t mind translucent jugs, go for it.  Eventually I went with PET (or PETE, plastic number 1), it is the type of plastic used in water bottles and soda bottles.  It too can leach chemicals (plastic is basically a bunch of chemicals anyways, somethings bound to breakdown in it eventually), but I’m only using it for dry food, so I figure it’s the best of the 7 plastics.  The safest material of all to use?  Glass, naturally.  Glass doesn’t survive falls or clanking together though, so while I could have used half-gallon or gallon mason jars, I opted for plastic in the end.  Hell, glass is heavy too, I’m a guy, so it wouldn’t be too bad for me, but a gallon of salt in a mason jar would be a heck of a workout bringing upstairs.

Finding PET jugs with the handles proved fruitless, GallonJugI tried 4 different plastic companies and couldn’t find any.  So eventually as I was walking the aisle in Walmart I came across these jugs, and they won by default.  They’re gallon sized, PET plastic, and they have an easy-grip side, so it’s dang close enough.  You can’t buy them online, so you’ll have to troll the aisles over the course of several weeks to get a large supply of them.  At my Walmart they’re $2.97 each, so not too expensive, but considering these things probably cost 30 cents to make (if even that), that’s a pretty hefty profit margin for the Waltons.  I’d love to find their supplier, but since I’m not about to buy a pallet of them (as most plastic suppliers require as I’ve found) and pay the freight for said pallet, I believe I’m getting a deal at Walmart.  Below is what it looks like all happy and full of egg noodles.  I printed out some 2×4″ labels and they fit nicely.  My only complaint is that the way I put the labels on.  As you can see, the label wouldn’t fit on the grippy side, so to look pretty on the shelves, you can’t easily grab the jugs.  But I’ve found it’s not that hard to turn around the jugs to get to the grippy side.  They have little ridges on them too, so it really is easy to pick up.

gallonjug1 gallonjug2

Okay, I tend to get carried away when I finally get around to blogging, so I’ll wrap it up for now.  I’ll be back again soon to post my raised-bed garden expansion plans and more pictures of the seedlings.  I’ll leave you with my recent purchase from Burpee.  I’m going to try growing some lemongrass, lemon balm and spearmint.  I drink a ton of tea in the winter, so I’ll let them grow nice and big this summer to give my tea a nice herbal minty/lemon taste.  New seeds 2015

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Much needed update. Or “where has the summer gone?”

So, first off, I found out that at least one person reads my blog!  I’d give a shout-out, but I’ll leave that to later if they want to be recognized.  Second, I do want to say that comments are welcome on this blog, it might help keep me honest, and deligent with posting more than once every 2-3 months.  Needless to say, the summer months are busy.  Busy will mowing the law, swatting away bugs, dying from the heat, and staying inside whenever one can (all the time).  That being said, I have a sad update from the suburban farm.  No, it’s not dead, but surely it’s not thriving.

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Yes, unfortunately, that’s my garden.  Well, nobody…including me…thought that this year would be a bumper harvest.  But truly, I think that this is year zero, not one.  This was the control,”What would happen without fertilizer, without rules, without a plan, and without any real idea what I was doing.”  Besides that, I think in a few weeks/months, I will have a few vegetables to show for my “hard(?)” work.  I see some green tomatoes clawing their way through the weeds,  I beat back the grass and weeds to give the eggplant a change (and LOTS of Sevin), but the organic garden will have to wait until there’s a garden with a bit of time for organic gardening (when I have 5-7 kids that love to listen to me….HAH!!)

So, what does the garden look like right now?  Guff, you really don’t want to know.  I haven’t had much time to do anything with it, and with the lack of rain in the last week, I’m sad to say I’ve lost at least two squash plants.  I’ll post the pictures of it now, so I can look back at this in years-future and hopefully think to myself how I let that ever happen.

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Now, the good news is that a few things are actually growing.  the sunflowers have survived despite my many attempts to step on them (inadvertently) and the tomatoes are growing around the weeds and without any support with stakes as commonly done.  If I’m adept at growing anything, it would apparently be grass and those little things that look like mini corn-dogs.

My wife is very patient, and to that end, she’s allowed me to continue to grow weeds and a mess of green things next year.  However, I’ve decided to make some changes.  I thought that raised bed gardening would be pointless with so much room to grow things, but with the grass-creep, I’ve decided to try separating my valuables from the less-desirable’s that grow all around them.  Just because I have land to grow vegetables on, doesn’t mean I have to just toss seeds out onto it right?  (At this point, my family, neighbors and readers are probably screaming “no duh!”), but I wanted to give the “natural” planting a try.  Not to say in the least that it can’t or wouldn’t work, but with a full-time job, newborn baby, and a house that I’m moving into to deal with….it’s just not the time to try that.  So, to that end, this is what I’d like to try, and I’ll be sure to keep updating this blog all throughout the process, so you’ll have many data points to compare and analyze for your own gardening.  I promise I won’t ever sell out if I get popular and hawk gardening products, but if I get anything that works, I will be sure to pass along what I have found that works, so you all can benefit.

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First World Problems here on the Suburban Farm

First World Problems

First World Problems

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