Garden

How to Grow Super Healthy Tomatoes in Containers: Using Organic Techniques

I have always used banana peels with my roses but never thought of using them for tomatoes! What she says about the egg shells, I have always done this. There have been times when it looks like it snowed around my tomato plants because of all the egg shells I’ve crushed up and worked into the soil.

Garden, Supplies

PVC Pipe Soaker “Hose” Systems

This will save us tons of water while watering deep enough to keep the plants in the raised beds we’re going to build happy throughout our hot summers.

And this video lays out how to do this for raised beds!

This guy did this setup but for his containers:

Food Storage, Garden, Health And Wellness, Supplies

Have a Small Space? Grow Vertical!

A friend mentioned that she has a tiny little area to grow any food, so I suggested she grow vertically. I don’t really do this now but may have to since I will be using raised beds this year. I’ve seen so many neat ideas over the past few months that I’m trying to find all the links to share with you (and her). Well, I was going to find a single picture to post here but when I did my Google search (“vertical gardening”) and clicked images I was in awe! There are so many creative ideas out there that I just can’t list them all (so check out the photos yourself here).

This is pretty much what I did when I was growing in containers (I posted pictures of my truck garden in 2011).

This one demonstrates how to build a growing “wall” (I love links with pictures or video) AND it’s Popular Mechanics!

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to-plans/how-to-start-a-vertical-garden#slide-1

Here are two ways to reuse soda bottles:

DIY Vertical Gardening

Here is one made with shoe hangers:

VERTICAL VEGETABLES: “Grow up” in a small garden and confound the cats!

And one with pallets:

diy project: recycled pallet vertical garden

This one has a lot of different ideas (and if you look at the bottom of the second link, she has a few more articles about vertical gardening:

How to Design Creative Vertical Gardens Part 1

How to Design Creative Vertical Gardens Part 2

There are several projects on the DIY Network’s website but this one I particularly like, since you can change it around easier:

How to Grow a Vertical Vegetable Garden

Food Storage, Garden, Health And Wellness, Supplies

Water Storage

I can’t believe I never made a post about water storage (unless I did and just can’t find it).  I will include several links from various sources describing the various methods of water storage and how to ensure the safety of the water.   Of everything we think we “need” to survive in the event of some sort of event, too many do not include water as their number 1 priority.  It’s always food, shelter, clothing, etc. but with all of that, if we do not have access to water (either already clean or have the ability to clean it) we will not survive long enough to enjoy that food and the other supplies we have stored.

The first link I will share is to a water filter that looks like it is by far the best one out there.  It’s to a forum (disclosure here) that I am a moderator/administrator for (you can view this post without being a member) and my dear friend has researched the heck out of this filter. It’s for the water filters made by www.justwater.me.

And here’s how to make a *Home Made Berkey Water Filter* which is helpful for those people like me (if there are any others out there because California is so whacky) who are unable to purchase the Big Berkeys due to state regulations. I don’t see why, if you account for flow rate, this setup can’t be used for other brands of large water filters.

Here’s an article from the CDC:

Personal Preparation and Storage of Safe Water

And here’s an even more basic article from the LDS church:

Drinking Water Guidelines

Now, for cisterns, which I think is ultimately be best way to go, if you have the space for them:

This first article is from the University of Florida extension (there’s a link to a .pdf of this article on the upper left side of their web page):

Cisterns To Collect Non-Potable Water For Domestic Use

And this one, by far, is my favorite, since I truly love Mother Earth News:

The Homestead Cistern

So, if you haven’t already begun you water storage project, you have some reading to do. It’s never too late to get started, even if the positive results may not be seen this year (since I do not expect California to get anywhere near the rain that is needed this year).

Food Storage, Garden

How Anyone Can Be More Self Sufficient

I have always felt this way. As much as I dream about it, you don’t have to live completely off-grid and make all of your own items, to be self sufficient (or live a sustainable life). Just do whatever you can to not HAVE to rely so much on the outside world.

http://www.littlehouseliving.com/how-anyone-can-be-more-self-sufficient.html

Garden, Supplies

Unusual and Everyday Plants for Food Hedges (Fedges) – Survival Podcast

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/plants-for-food-hedges-fedges

Hedge laying is an ancient practice and at one time many “productive plants” were part of the plant.  Sometimes this was done with fruit tree grafted together, hazelnuts or even old cottage roses that provided thorns and huge hips as a crop.  Other times the “productivity” took on a different bent like using willow and gaining material for weaving or making charcoal (specifically artist charcoal).

Hedges were seen as a permanent fence that required only a little maintenance and largely took care of themselves.  In the 1600s one didn’t run down to Home Depot and order delivery of say 25 6 foot tall, 8 food wide cedar fence panels and some posts if they needed two hundred feet of fencing.  They established a hedge.  This hedge would serve their great grandchildren and feed both the family and animals during all those generations.

In this modern era a hedge has become a bunch of unproductive “Red Tips”, the grow fast and hide the busy street or block out your neighbors but they tend to just die one day (usually at 6-12 years of age) and then you  have to cut them down and start over.  They provide nothing but a requirement that you trim them and clean up after them.  There has to be a better way!  Today we discuss that.

Join me today as we discuss…

  • What is a hedge vs. a fedge
  • Can you put layers into a hedge system
  • Do hedges have to be continuous to be effective
  • Why is a hedge a good idea even if you have a fence
  • How to select plants for your hedge system
  • 14 Forgotten or Unusual Plants for Fedge Systems
    • Chilean and Pineapple Guava
    • Filberts
    • Nanking Cherry
    • Goumi
    • Medlar
    • Mulberry
    • Pomegranate
    • Roses
    • Sea Berries
    • Aronia
    • Currants
    • Elderberries
    • Goji Berry
    • Gooseberries
  • Old standbys that make great fedges
    • Blueberry
    • Blackberry
    • Raspberry
    • Semi Dwarf Fruit Trees
    • Chinese Chestnut
  • Thoughts on some unique ideas
    • Food forests with a fedge as the herbaceous layer
    • A food forest system of multitiered fedges
    • Hugulkulture based fedge systems
    • Managing animals in hedge/fedge systems
    • The fedge based paddock system (padfeging?)
Garden

More young people see opportunity in farming

http://news.yahoo.com/more-young-people-see-opportunity-farming-080319604.html

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin factory worker worried about layoffs became a dairy farmer. An employee at a Minnesota nonprofit found an escape from her cubicle by buying a vegetable farm. A nuclear engineer tired of office bureaucracy decided to get into cattle ranching in Texas.

While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won’t be available until after the next agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.

Young people are turning up at farmers markets and are blogging, tweeting and promoting their agricultural endeavors through other social media.

The young entrepreneurs typically cite two reasons for going into farming: Many find the corporate world stifling and see no point in sticking it out when there’s little job security; and demand for locally grown and organic foods has been strong enough that even in the downturn they feel confident they can sell their products.

Laura Frerichs, 31, of Hutchinson, Minn., discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree. She planned to work in economic development in Latin America and thought she ought to get some experience working on a farm.

She did stints on five farms, mostly vegetable farms, and fell in love with the work. Frerichs and her husband now have their own organic farm, and while she doesn’t expect it to make them rich, she’s confident they’ll be able to earn a living.
“There’s just this growing consciousness around locally grown foods, around organic foods,” she said. “Where we are in the Twin Cities there’s been great demand for that.”

Farming is inherently risky: Drought, flooding, wind and other weather extremes can all destroy a year’s work. And with farmland averaging $2,140 per acre across the U.S. but two to four times that much in the Midwest and California, the start-up costs can be daunting.

Still, agriculture fared better than many parts of the economy during the recession, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts record profits for farmers as a whole this year.

“People are looking at farm income, especially the increase in asset values, and seeing a really positive story about our economy,” said USDA senior economist Mary Clare Ahearn, citing preliminary statistics. “Young people are viewing agriculture as a great opportunity and saying they want to be a part of it.”

That’s welcome news to the government. More than 60 percent of farmers are over the age of 55, and without young farmers to replace them when they retire the nation’s food supply would depend on fewer and fewer people.

“We’d be vulnerable to local economic disruptions, tariffs, attacks on the food supply, really, any disaster you can think of,” said Poppy Davis, who coordinates the USDA’s programs for beginning farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has called for 100,000 new farmers within the next few years, and Congress has responded with proposals that would provide young farmers with improved access to USDA support and loan programs.

One beginning farmer is Gabrielle Rojas, 34, from the central Wisconsin town of Hewitt. As a rebellious teen all she wanted to do was leave her family’s farm and find a career that didn’t involve cows. But she changed her mind after spending years in dead-end jobs in a factory and restaurant.

“In those jobs I’m just a number, just a time-clock number,” Rojas said. “But now I’m doing what I love to do. If I’m having a rough day or I’m a little sad because the sun’s not shining or my tractor’s broken, I can always go out and be by the cattle. That always makes me feel better.”

Rojas got help in changing careers from an apprenticeship program paid for by the USDA, which began giving money in 2009 to universities and nonprofit groups that help train beginning farmers. The grants helped train about 5,000 people the first year. This year, the USDA estimates more than twice as many benefited.

One of the groups that received a grant is Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, or MOSES. The Spring Valley, Wis., chapter teaches farming entrepreneurs how to cope with price swings and what to do in cases of catastrophic weather.
MOSES also organizes field days, where would-be farmers tour the operations of successful farms to learn and share tips. Attendance is up 20 percent this year, director Faye Jones said, and some outings that used to attract 30 or 40 people have drawn as many as 100, most between the ages of 18 and 30.

“I think for many people, farming has been a lifelong dream, and now the timing is right,” she said. Among the reasons she cited: the lifestyle, working in the fresh air and being one’s own boss.

If farming is beginning to sound like an appealing career, there are downsides. The work involves tough physical labor, and vacations create problems when there are crops to be harvested and cows to be milked.

In addition, many farmers need second jobs to get health insurance or make ends meet. As the USDA notes, three-fifths of farms have sales of less than $10,000 a year, although some may be growing fruit trees or other crops that take a few years to develop.
None of those factors dissuaded 27-year-old Paul Mews. He left a high-paying job as a nuclear engineer last year to become a cattle rancher in Menard, Texas. His wife’s family has been ranching for generations, and Mews decided he’d much rather join his in-laws and be his own boss than continue shuffling paperwork at the plant.

“When you’re self-employed it’s so much more fulfilling. You get paid what you’re worth,” he said. “It’s really nice that what you put into it is what you’re going to get back out.”
___
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.

Garden, Supplies

New Crop Growth with Ancient Seeds

http://www.azpm.org/news/story/2011/12/19/1830-new-growth-with-ancient-seeds/

An increasing number of Americans are paying closer attention to the source of the food they eat, and experts say it’s a trend that’s growing globally.

Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit in Southern Arizona that encourages the use and protection of local, organic seeds versus industrially produced hybrid seeds and genetically modified seeds.

Native Seeds Executive Director Bill McDorman says he’s noticing a growing interest from consumers who are taking the time to connect the dots between food, health and environment.

“I think they say overall since 1903 we’ve lost maybe up to 96 percent of the genetic diversity that forms the foundation for our agriculture,” McDorman says. “That means 96 percent of the varieties that were around for farmers to grow aren’t around any more.”

Native Seeds, founded nearly 30 years ago, is inaugurating a new program in January, launching the first seed library in Arizona. Deputy Director Belle Starr says it’s an opportunity for people to learn more about growing local food, its history and nature.
Participants are encouraged to write and share information about which plants do best in their areas and bring seeds to the library so that others can try them out. It’s a way of propagating knowledge and harvesting the benefits.

“And this really, really supports and enhances the local genetic diversity, especially neighborhood by neighborhood,” Starr says.

The seed library will be at the Native Seeds retail story at 3061 N. Campbell Ave. in Tucson. Native Seeds/SEARCH’s offices are at 3584 E. River Road in Tucson and its farm is in Patagonia.