Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hello All!

 I've been busy as a bee making all the plans for my garden this summer.

I am not a planner.  planning makes my head hurt, and in general I prefer to act and behave spontaneously, but effective gardening does require a bit more consistency than this scatter-brained human is usually willing to put forth.  This is why, even though I enjoy being out in the dirt and watching the plants grow, I cannot in truth say that i have a green thumb.

by trade, I am much more of a forager than a a gardener.  foraging is much more opportunistic, and jives better with my capricious nature; you go out into the woods, or fields, and see what you can find.  if you find something tasty, Hooray!  if not, keep looking.  The level of personal investment in foraging is low, but it is labor intensive, since everything grows without any input from you, but commuting to a fruitful patch of nature and then walking for hours to find a bellyful of leaves and roots is tiresome.

Gardening is tiresome up front, but hard work is rewarded justly with bountiful harvests and very cheap (but not technically free!) meals.

My intention is to plan things to the point that I don't have to do quite so much labor to keep everything green and growing in my little garden plot.

at first I was thinking of creating a "raised bed" from old 5 gallon buckets.  Each plant would have its own little patch of soil and the buckets would be stacked together grid-wise to create a facsimile of a raised bed without actually having to build anything.

Food-grade plastic 5 gallon buckets can be gotten from places like restaurants and bakeries who get certain ingredients delivered in them only to be tossed when the ingredient is used up (although this is not always the case and i will expand upon this in a later post).

Contrary to what the internet would have you believe getting 5 gallon buckets en masse is not as easy as it sounds.  Sure you get a few now and again if you catch the baker on the right time on the right day, but I simply wasn't finding the quantity that i needed.  So i began to look for alternate methods

while sniffing around on youtube, i found some people using reusable shopping bags from walmart as a grow bag.  the bags not only wick up water, but also help keep the soil aerated which prevents the plants from becoming rootbound and generally healthier.  check it out! 

the only problem is that while these bags are inexpensive, they still cost money, which is not good.  so i hung my head and continued to sulk about my lack of either grow bags or buckets until i came across this amazing video:

now granted, laundry baskets and landscaping cloth costs money too, but I used to work at a hotel and I used to sneak home discarded linens all the time because of all the project purposes they could be used for. 
of course while i was working at a hotel, i never had time to actually do any projects because all i did was work and sleep (and I barely got any sleep), which is not good for the human. 
so my stash of old discarded linens have been sitting around for years collecting dust and now I think i can do something similar but line the baskets in a double layer of old sheets to achieve the same effect!

and what's better, is that i also have dozens of discarded pillowcases  which i could use to make something very similar to the grow bags in larry hall's videos out of something that is completely free and theoretically just as easy to set up. my only concern, is that the bags might not be sturdy enough on their own and might need some kind of internal, or external support to keep them upright, so i will have to play around with the concept between now and planting season. 

As always, thanks for reading :)

Found Object Friday

I never did buy those pants
Do I dare make another day-of-the-week recurring topic?  Possibly. This shouldn't be too hard provided I manage to find something cool that week (which is very likely) and also manage to remember to write about that cool thing (which is less likely).  At any rate, it will help to keep this blog anchored and consistent, and  after all, finding cool stuff is the intended purpose of this blog isn't it?

I did not find this cool object this week.  I found it almost 2 weeks ago, but it has launched me into a new field of research that I've been contemplating, but neglecting getting into......Aquaponics!

while on a thrift store foray for a new pair of pants, i stumbled upon a complete aquarium set for only $20.  10 gallon Tank, hood, gravel, working lights, filter and aerator and even a cabinet!

unfortunately, fish husbandry is not my strong suit.  I have never had pet fish before, with the exception of Saskatoona
poor saskatoona :(

Saskatoona was a cute little goldfish that was given to me as a high-school graduation present.  I had never taken care of a fish before and as hard as i tried with my minimal knowledge, the poor little guy only lasted about 2 weeks and out of guilt I have never tried keeping a pet fish since.

Anyway, Ive been doing my research about fishkeeping and I'm a lot more confident.
Im not running down to the pet store yet, for now I'm just playing around with the pumps and filters and learning the equipment, while reviewing different aquaponic set ups, what plant species/fish species to stock the system with and all that good stuff. I'm also contemplating growing spirulina.

I really like this miniponics set up, so i think im going to build something like this (possibly several so i can separate fish if i need to) and then i can practice my aquaponics skills on this small scale before building a larger set-up, possible next year.   I'm currently weighing my options between Bettas, Paradisefish or African Dwarf Frogs, all of which are adorable easy keepers that tolerate small tanks.  the downside is none of those critters produce much manure, ie not enough fertilizer for the plant.  but at this point i'm more concerned about not killing fish/frogs than i am killing plants.   Once i feel confident in my aquaponics skills, im thinking about raising crayfish in the fish tanks and growing a year round supply of greens indoors.  I can't wait! 
As always, thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Potatoes are not a Recyclable

Hello all!

its been a long time since I last posted anything, and for that i apologize.  I have several forthcoming posts in my drafts, but in the meantime I figured I'd share this:

while out on trash night looking for useful things to re-purpose in my various garden projects, I discovered a bag of a recycling bin.  granted they have eyes, but they are perfectly firm and edible potatoes and really have no business being discarded, but since I am a living example of "one man's trash is another man's treasure"  I gladly accepted them.

I will probably use these as seed potatoes for my garden this year.  bag weighs a hair under 3.5 pounds and since they are russets I can expect to harvest around 70 pounds, provided this summer doesn't get too hot, and since we are having such a mild winter, I feel it will.

Thank you for reading :)