Growing your own

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Ben
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Growing your own

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:58 am

As a matter of interest, does anyone else here grow their own food?

I'm establishing a very large permaculture garden with vegetables and chickens. For the record, I am not killing or eating the chickens nor their eggs. Their utility is in the fact that they help to condition the soil and...some people eat their eggs. Today was the warmest day we've had and I've put in approx 25 borlotti bean seedlings on a tripod and approx 50 pea seedlings on a growing frame. The kitchen in the flat I am in is an impromptu nursery and its where I have nurturing plants I've been growing from seed and those that I purchased as seedlings from the hardware store.

Anyway, if anyone else is growing their food, it might be useful to know what and how you are doing it.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Growing your own

Postby lojong1 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:14 pm

We have the tiniest little plant pen to work with, since neighbors don't want to see food in surrounding unused lawns of the strata. The cutest little potatoes are coming out of our compost, which is dug straight into the dirt after every meal. There are all kinds of sprouted surprises through the warmer months.
We're not supposed to compost outside, I'm told because it attracts rats, yet we're the only unit composting and the only unit with no rats (they were here before we moved in, very here). How to make sense of that?

Spring onions in one corner taste like the last tenant's kitty piss n litter, same expected from the pumpkin but we saw that coming. Big Golden Purslane is a favorite, and nasturtiums and Russian kale. I've never grown anything indoors; maybe I'll try keeping chives going this winter. Gathered a year's supply of hazels. Stevia is thigh-high and looking strong despite chilly nights and a month of rain, and I'm about to try it as tea for the first time...

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Re: Growing your own

Postby poto » Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:25 pm

Most years I put out a decent sized garden patch. This year I did a 30x40ft patch. This year I grew tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, peas, beans, sweet corn, peppers, cabbage, strawberries, spinach, watermelon, carrots and a few other things. Where I live right now also has some fruit trees, apple and pear, as well as some nut trees, almond and hazelnut. If I had more land and time I would probably put out a 2-3 acre garden patch.

I've also gathered some black walnuts from relatives property and the woods. They have thicker shells than English walnuts, so they are harder to crack, but they are much more tasty than English walnuts.

This year I gathered some amaranth from the woods. Am just storing the seed for now, but should I need it I can grind it into flour. Plan to grow some next year.

I would like to have some chickens and goats, mainly for eggs and milk, but the local authorities won't let me keep livestock here. :(
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: Growing your own

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:10 pm

If you want to maximize the space (and minimize waste of resources), I recommend "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. Creating farm-style rows for small uses is extremely wasteful... you actually can grow a lot of things within a foot square (which I guess is 30 centimeter per side).

The method that Bartholomew uses is to set up the gardening block in 4 ft. square (120 centimeters) each, which would be small enough for easy access from all sides, without stepping on the soil (which would compress it down and isn't good for growing things). If you never step on this soil, take care of the weeding and mulching, within a couple years it will turn into a very nice soil, because the roots will do all the work of tilling. No hoeing at all!

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Re: Growing your own

Postby poto » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:32 pm

I have raised beds and do the square ft. gardening thing. You still have to turn the soil every year, and there is a lot of weeding too. I do compost, but honestly I'd prefer to use manure. Compost is kind of a PITA cuz you have to keep turning the compost pile. I have 3 decent sized compost piles now, which started out as 1 pile, but has grown. I have more compost than I can use at this point, so most of it stays in the piles for now.

I have 4ft. wide raised beds that run the length of the garden. If I was to build new or additional raised beds I would probably build them 3 or 3.5ft. wide. Since I have noticed that getting to the weeds in the very middle of the beds puts a little strain on my back. I think a slightly narrower bed would be easier to weed.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: Growing your own

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:17 pm

I don't think raised beds are necessary, unless the soil is really poor. I don't have a garden right now... I broke my leg two summers ago (August '09) and now live at my mom's house. There is a woodchuck living in her backyard.

At the last place I lived, in the Valley (L.A. area)... the soil was hard and dry. It's typical for the area. I started growing some native plants (Ceanothus, a couple types of Salvia plants (Hummingbird Sage, Cleveland Sage, Chia Sage, and White Sage), Sagebrush, Lemonadeberry Bush, California wildflowers, etc.; all of those do great with this type of soil and climate), and while I was at it... I thought I would experiment with Sq Ft. gardening and see how this would affect this type of soil.

I didn't even dig at all. I just hoed off the weeds, laid down some papers (just a regular roll of brown, wrapping paper) to prevent the new weeds from sprouting, covered it with a layer of compost. I put in the seeds (in the compost), or put in the transplants (through the paper). I made three plots of these, I think they were 3' deep and 4' wide each. I wanted to see what would happen to the soil after few years of this. They seemed to do fine the first year (or a season, really).

I also dug out a plot of 1' deep and 6' wide for the tomatoes... and since my area also had the ideal climate for the melons (long hot summer), I did the same for those... several varieties of melons that you don't find in supermarkets, like this nice cantaloupe (I forgot what it was called), etc. I put up a wooden frame behind them with some strings for them to climb around. The tomatoes were great, but unfortunately I had to move out before I could try out the melons.

Too bad I couldn't stay at that place to see if the soil would end up transformed with this method... that would've been cool to see. :tongue:

I live in NJ, now... maybe this year I'll see what I can do in my mom's backyard, with the woodchuck living there. I'll also do some research what the NJ native plants are.

I wish I still lived in CA... they have some really cool plants. Their season is the opposite compared to what people are generally familar with... their growth is in winter (the rainy season), and their dormancy is in the summer (when it's hot and dry). They die when you don't follow this pattern.

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Re: Growing your own

Postby lojong1 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:26 am

Stevia tea was pretty lame flavorwise, little better than drinking water leftover from steamed veggies or something--Liquorice mint tea is far superior. Stevia's effects...I'd have to try it again to be sure.

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Rui Sousa » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:07 pm

In the past 4 years I have made a lot of experiments:

- Growing lettuces works out very well, and I can grow them from March to November.
- Garlic grew very well last year, but I harvested too soon and they were small and very acid.
- Onions work out really well, and they taste very good.
- Broccoli was a complete failure for two years in row :(
- Tomatoes never grew, I believe last couples of years were too cold on spring/summer.
- Carrots were too small and tasted really bad, for the last two years :tongue:

- I have parsley and cilantro outdoors, basilisk and thyme indoors.

- Lemon tree has lemons all year long
- Tangerines tree has not had a single fruit in three years
- Peach tree produced 7 Kg on its third year :D

I produce my own fertilizer from vegetable waste, it works fine.
With Metta

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:29 pm

Hi Rui Sousa

I never had much luck with tomatoes either. However, I hope to have some luck this year. I purchased six seedlings from a hardware store and some of those I've kept indoors for about a month while the weather warms a little. I've also got about 100 seeds in a germination tray, but I'm concerned that it might be a bit late for them. The main issue I've had with tomatoes have been insects which have had a feast of the leaves or the crop. I'm not inclined to use pesticide.
Some years ago when i was living in Melboune, I had a vegetable garden in my backyard. I grew some 'heirloom' varieties of carrots which were great. Lots of unusual shapes and different coloured carrots from white to purple. Lots of flavour. Some were more woody then others - though that could have been the poor soil and trying to grow vegetables during a drought!
Yesterday I planted approx 32 potato seeds (kipfler and desiree), 3 golden nugget pumpkin seedlings, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and bok choi.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Growing your own

Postby octathlon » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:28 pm

Ben wrote:For the record, I am not killing or eating the chickens nor their eggs.

Hi Ben,
Are there any ethical issues with eating unfertilized chicken eggs? I have always assumed not, no killing involved.

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:57 am

octathlon wrote:
Ben wrote:For the record, I am not killing or eating the chickens nor their eggs.

Hi Ben,
Are there any ethical issues with eating unfertilized chicken eggs? I have always assumed not, no killing involved.


Hi octathlon,

Absolutely not. And if they were unfertilized eggs I wouldn't have a problem with eating them. However, there are two roosters in with the chickens and when they're not eating (and they don't spend much time doing that), they're making whoopee with the hens. Our next door neighbour collects the eggs when she comes around to feed the chickens when I;m not there.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Dan74 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:49 am

Interesting thread! Thank you!

My wife is a very good gardener and I help her very occasionally. Thinking of really getting my hands dirty come next spring!

(BTW tomatoes grow pretty well in Melbourne. We grow the cherry kind which come like grapes, in huge quantities. Only last year's Black Saturday's heat wave killed them, the dry limpid stems stayed a small reminder of the devastation it wrought until their joined the soil in compost. Now the charred trees in the forest around Kinglake have sprouted full of green branches too).
_/|\_

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Anicca » Fri Oct 08, 2010 3:55 am

Have three raised beds each 40ft x 4ft - organic intensive - this year was broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, squash, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and hot peppers. Multiple varieties of everything. We compost. I'll put the garden to bed for the winter soon with a cover crop of austrian peas.

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Rui Sousa » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:51 pm

Hi Ben,

The soil in my garden was very poor 4 years ago when I moved in, but with compost and lots of ash I managed to make it productive, but maybe not enough for some of the cultures. I don't use any pesticides at all, three years ago I least a very nice mellons crop because of an odium infestation :( The carrots I seeded were of the Nantes variety, which should be sweet and big, but they tasted like rotten wood and are tiny :D

Right now I have nothing on the garden, but I want to plant some garlic in the next weeks. They will start growing by Christmas and be ready to harvest and left to dry on the Sun by the end of Spring.
With Metta

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Re: Growing your own

Postby poto » Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:03 am

I gathered a few more black walnuts today.

Image

They sell for $14/pound at the grocery store. For me these were free. Just takes time to remove the hulls and crack em open. I'm planning to make use of the hulls and spread them along my fence line and sidewalks to help kill back some of the weeds. That way I won't have to do as much weeding along the fence and nothing is wasted. Can't compost the hulls cuz black walnuts have a chemical in them that would kill my garden plants.

We have heavy clay soil here in Ohio. It's not the best soil, but not the worst either. It does need to be enriched if you want decent yields though. The raised beds also help keep the good soil in the garden and help keep the grass from overgrowing it too. While they aren't necessary they are helpful. I've done a lot of gardening in years past with rows, patches and containers. I'd like to get greenhouse some day. It would be nice to be able to extend the growing season.

In my experience, carrots do better in lighter and looser soil. They seem to have a harder time growing in heavier and compacted soils. If you're getting stunted carrots, I'd say try a lighter soil mix. I'd try adding some perlite to your soil and see if that helps.

If you're having problems with bugs eating your tomatoes, there are some organic options to deal with that. Personally, I like using dish soap and hot peppers. You have to reapply it after every time it rains though.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:39 am

Good thread, Ben!
Just a few random comments:
We don't put much effort into growing food (too lazy :tongue: ) but do compost our garden and kitchen waste. Compost won't attract rodents if you don't put meat scraps into it (no problem there if you're a veggo household, of course). We get tomatoes popping up in the garden from our compost, and look after them when and where they grow; pumpkin and melons occasionally, but they take up so much space we often have to pull them out.
We do grow herbs. Lemongrass is low-maintenance and makes my favourite herbal tea.
We also grow bananas. It's very easy here but not practical unless you have the right climate.
Poto: congratulations on a great gardening effort! Yes, narrower beds are easier on your back. No, you don't need to turn your compost, but it does take longer to 'work' if you don't turn it. There are books on different ways of making compost; could be worth investigating.
Ben: Basil grows well with tomatoes and discourages pests. It goes well with tomatoes in food, too, so you get a double bonus. You might like to look up 'companion planting' if you haven't come across the idea already.
:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Growing your own

Postby poto » Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:13 am

Thanks Kim. If I leave my compost sit too long it gets some kinda funky gray/white powdery mold stuff in the middle. I think it's from heat or dryness or both. Anyway, as long as I keep turning it and add some water it doesn't get the moldy stuff. This was not really much of an issue when I only had 1 pile, but the more piles I get the more work it is.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis

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Re: Growing your own

Postby lojong1 » Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:15 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Compost won't attract rodents if you don't put meat scraps into it.
Wouldn't they love all the extra worms and snakes and insects and such?

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Oct 10, 2010 3:38 am

lojong1 wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Compost won't attract rodents if you don't put meat scraps into it.
Wouldn't they love all the extra worms and snakes and insects and such?

Apparently not.
We let some of our compost break down aerobically (just pile it up and leave it alone) and some anaerobically (in lidded bottomless plastic bins, with added water). We get few insects the first way and lots of cockroaches but not much else the second way. Never any snakes, never any rats. Maybe our neighbours have better places for them to set up house?
:shrug:
Kim

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Re: Growing your own

Postby Rui Sousa » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:29 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Apparently not.
We let some of our compost break down aerobically (just pile it up and leave it alone) and some anaerobically (in lidded bottomless plastic bins, with added water). We get few insects the first way and lots of cockroaches but not much else the second way. Never any snakes, never any rats. Maybe our neighbours have better places for them to set up house?
:shrug:
Kim


I pile my compost on the garden soil, in a corner, and move twice a year. I have a few worms and other little insects. No rats or snakes, but my two dogs and my neighbour's 1o.ooo cats probably demote such animals from approaching the compost pile.

I had a hedgehog in the garden last year, but it was after my tulip bulbs :D
With Metta


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