Monday, March 29, 2010

What To Do On A Rainy Day?!?

Well, I had two cool ones pass of late... but I know warmer, sunnier ones are a-comin'!!! So, I been a mite busy...

With Spring about to show true face, and many of the seedlings I started a few weeks ago put out perhaps a bit ahead of Momma Nature's Ideal, I wasted no rainy day moping; I got ground to make up!!!

Well, I did some of that, too, right before the weather went semi-sour...
but I started, day one, lazing about... whittlin' big sticks to make trellises The next few are supposed to bring sunshine and ever-warming temps, and I have miles to go before I eat, and miles to go before...

So I spent a night (yes, the log above says beginning 2230 hrs... the session ran six...) using the tomato, strawberry, gods-know-what plastic containers as planters, sowing seeds in my new Swanmix...

Just joking, folks! It's an easy mixture of 40# good potting soil [trust me and spent the extra three dollars here], 8 quarts of perlite for aeration, and 8 quarts of peat moss for moisture retention. Throw in some worm poop and about four minutes of elbow grease, and you have a really, really nice, nursery-quality medium for direct seeding.

At this stage, I suggest going straight to solo cups ( we found them @ the local Mart, 50x18 oz. for $2.99). Peat pots themselves dry out too fast and often compact, and dixie cups are too-soon root bounding.

I need to finish double-digging my out-back garden space-- another day and a half should see the labor-intensive procedure finis... I look forward to the sun, the exersize... the knowing verk will pay off in massive root developmend downward, allowing me closer placing of plants, so more plants in less space above ground... more utilisation of available footspace, less mulching... less water...
Just glad that the weather is starting to turn in earnest, and more planting here will show what it's supposed to-- more produce...

Slainte, folks!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Compost, Burn, Reuse, Recycle

It's Not So Much A Matter Of A Conscious Green Footprint...

As, it turns out, a 'marching along with what [color] you have' one.

{an onion that never made it-- to the compost! She got burried, and decided to produce. [Pun intended...]}

[Ashes of junk mail-- a burnt offering kind enough to amend my soil rather than junk a landfill...]

[Ready-to-make tomato cages, or pea trellises, or light-sabres...]

[Even the peat pots are in on the action: No sprout until a second veggie were added. Et VIOLA!!! A plethora!!!}

[Who needs nursery pots!??!]

I'd nearly DIE to have a greenhouse-- a place where I could start all variety of cool-weather stuffs a bit earlier; y'know-- to harvest, consume, sell...

But... the house I'm residing in doesn't have one, nor do I the the fundage to provide the necessity. And yet I cannot abide my patience and wait until mid-April to get stuffs going...


So... what's a GREENHOUSE??

Too many variations for me to try and define here, but essentially you want to provide a place for plants to retain heat and moisture whilst utilizing every available amount of sunlight.

{Looks open, the busted corner, oui? Ahh... you missed the sandwich baggie, taped thereon for thermal conductivity!!!}

Ain't got a spare 10' x 12' concrete slab driveway, extry four-by-fours, and reams of clear poly plastic lounging about your garage, but drink soda by the 2-litre?

Umn... you have sandwich baggies? Some plastic or styrofoam cups cups?!? Scotch tape???

Well, then--you've got a mini-greenhouse. Or can make several...

The out-of-doors temperature will only climb to about 55 F. today. Sunlight will abound, but the ambient temperature, as well as the breeze, will keep everything on the cool side for any real out-of-door transplantings.

GREENHOUSES solve the problem, foot-space and materials-wise. Some scotch tape and several solo cups and ziplock baggies later... and all so easily transportable!!!

Really, folks, I'm a simple man. I don't have the capitol to invest in my 'dream scape'.
I don't need to.
I have a vision, some spirituality, and a big-big love of food and the processes involved in self-providence.

And I gots stuff lying around that, utilized, provideth mayhap more than I needs can can or freeze this year.

[Um...I seem to have hundreds of tomato seedlings... Anyone wanna lend me a canning book?!? HA!!!]

[Empty take-out containers and storage bins make GREAT impromptu hot-houses...]
[and dixie and solo cups function as wonderful, inexpensive seedling starters:]

This residence now puts out to curb less than ONE BAG of landfill per week. Everything possible is composted-- to help build soil for future growth; burned-- to amend the compost and save landfill space; re-used-- so we aren't spending dollars on designated planters etcetera; or recycled-- merely because it makes sense.

Look around to see if there are ways you can save over both short- and long-terms.

Slainte, folks!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Gardening, Casa de Crazy Style

Spring is being coy here at Casa de Crazy, showing us glimpses of her color and warmth and then withdrawing, only to tease us again another day. We've had our fill of Winter and decided to try starting some plants. You can read about some of that here.

We're trying to be as green as possible around here, and we've gotten pretty good at it in our own way - we make less than one bag of trash a week. The rest we recycle, re-purpose, compost or burn.

We worry about another kind of green, too - money is tight, the economy sucks, and everything we can do to save the Endangered Greenback around here is important.

We checked out little peat-pot greenhouses...but at six and seven bucks a pop, they were well beyond what we wanted to spend...after all, that's six or seven packs of seeds if you know where to shop! The refills for those greenhouses run about two dollars for twenty or so...much better. Now we needed to find a way to get 'em warm and keep 'em moist.

Hey, wait...didn't Someone see some empty Sterlite bins in the garage?

And we have some Chinese take-out containers hanging around, too.

Nifty - they fit nicely in our available window space, help contain heat and moisture (especially with a borrowed heating pad underneath) and they're portable, so we can put them out on the front stoop when the weather's fine, bring 'em in at night.

They work quite well, I think.

What we have in the Sterlites are cucumbers, eggplant, and one or two million tomatoes. We put several seeds in each peat pot, and wouldn't you know most of 'em Someone use some leftover potting soil and Dixie cups to spread 'em out a bit.

In the take-out container are some catnip seeds...have to take care of the furbabies, too! The sort of upper left one is actually sprouting, and you can see it if you look closely.

Because we'll need somewhere to put all these little darling when they're grown, we spent some time preparing a garden bed out front, today.

First, Someone cut sod squares. Rather than just throw them in the compost heap or the woods, I moved most of them to the other side of the driveway, where rain, cars, and a dearth of sunlight made ruts and mud and a sad state of affairs over the Winter.

The sod clods have a chance to take root and amend all that.

I used the opportunity to talk to Bird about sod houses and whatnot...but I think he found the worms more interesting.

Oh, yeah, worms. Lots of them. We rescued as many as we could, because we knew there'd be tilling going on in a bit, and figured the squirmy fellows would rather be transplanted than pureed.

Later, if we want, we can always take up worm farming - the worms are wonderful for the soil and make fine bait, too, for an afternoon's fishing.

Once the grass was removed, Someone had to chop out a few roots before tilling.

It's not all that easy when you mostly have trusty old hand tools to work with.

Luckily, a kind-hearted ex-mother-in-law loaned us her tiller a while back, so the turning of the soil went well enough.

Someone got to thinking about what else we might plant out here...and melons came to mind.

Now why would melons make a man smile?

We all had a hand in the new bed...even Bird got dirty, not that getting dirty is a chore for a seven-year-old.
We're red clay all the way, here... we'll need to till in some soil amendment to get the best growing conditions...compost sure does come in handy!

After tilling, Someone raked the loose soil to even the bed a little.
Now we just have to wait for those seedlings to grow a bit more before putting them out - we don't plant before Ostara/Easter around here because that's right around when we have last frost.

In another post, I'll show you some more of our garden fun - we have things growing indoors, too, both to help feed us and as a sort of science project for Bird!

Have you started your garden, yet? How's it going?