Tag Archives: garden

Preparing for winter-too much to do!

I am taking advantage of the nice-but cool weather today to start preparing the suburban homestead for winter. Bees, chickens, rabbits, fish, the greenhouse, the aquaponics systems the garden, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and I am sure there are a few other things that will need my attention over the coming weeks.

This morning started at 5:30, fixing breakfast for the little woman. Yes she still works outside the home, which is why I became here “Homestead Hero”, as she calls me. Hero I am not, but it is a full time job to take care of a homestead-even a small 1/5 acre suburban homestead.

After getting her off to work, its time to gather food scraps and greens (grow in the garden and greenhouse) to feed the chickens. Taking food and water to the chickens is not as easy as walking out the back door since we can not legally keep fowl on our property. (In Baltimore County-must have 1 acre for any chickens) So I have to take a short drive of about 1 1/2 miles to get to the chicken coop on our friends property. This isn’t so bad and I really do not have to go every day since we installed the solar electric door to let them in and lock them up at night. But it’s nice to feed them greens and scraps to keep our feed bill low.

Once back from the coop, I focused on getting the bees wrapped all warm and toasty. We have had a few nights now at 30 degrees, so why wait until the last minute.

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I start the wrap with a layer of 2″ foam board around three sides. This is held tight with a metal plumbing strap. Then I can surround the hive with straw bales. These serve as a great wind break and an insulator for the cold weather accompanied by high winds that we usually have here on the east coast.

In the third picture, many of the bees came out to see what was going on, almost looks as if they are getting ready to swarm, but they quickly settled back inside to their routine.  I was going to start feeding them today, but with the activity I will just wait until tomorrow before I disturb them again.

While I was outside, I just checked on the rabbits. We have a mating pair of Florida Whites, of which our female is currently pregnant. She is due on the 27th, so I just added some straw in the cage so she could build a nice comfy warm nest to deliver the litter. I have the plastic wrap put up but have not surrounded the hutches with it yet. That only takes a few minutes to unroll and attached to the outside of the hutch, so I can wait until later this month.

Our buck-Columbus
Our buck-Columbus
Our female-Sweet Pea, Just 7 more days to delivery!
Our female-Sweet Pea, Just 7 more days to delivery!
Plastic ready to wrap
Plastic ready to wrap

 

 

 

 

 

Chickens, bees, and rabbits-check, check, and check. So on to the greenhouse. I have not been real active in the greenhouse over the summer, since all of my attention has been devoted to the outside garden projects.

Of course the last few weeks have been filled with canning, freezing and dehydrating our spring and summer crops. “crops” that makes it sound like we have so many acres, but we have just enough for one little homestead hero to handle.  You would be amazed at how much can be grown on a 1/5 acre!

Anyway, back to the greenhouse. I wrote a couple of months ago about our cherry tomato plant in the aquaponic grow bed. I figured today was a good day to say goodbye to it-after 11 months of growing and fruiting. Yes it was still delivering cherry tomatoes, but the growth had taken over the greenhouse and the vines had rooted in several places throughout 2 grow beds.

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winter 008It took some time to clean out the remains of the tomato plant, along with some lettuce, spinach, and mint that the growth had been hiding from me. But now that the grow beds are empty, except for a thriving mint plant in one corner, I can start to plant for winter growth.

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Our outside Bean Tower during season

While working outside I found some bean plants that had sprouted around my outside grow tower. I guess when I let some stay on the vine to dry for use as seeds next year, they must have fallen off and germinated in the ground around the barrel.  There were six small plants that seemed to be thriving, even after the frost we encountered the last two nights.  I thought this would be a perfect time to try green beans in our aquaponics system.

I installed one of our larger tomato cages into the center of the grow bed. Then I dug up the 6 bean plants and cleaned the roots for transplanting. This will be a first for me trying green beans so I am excited to see how well they do.

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The other grow bed, with the mint in the corner is now planted with seed for lettuce, mescaline, spinach, and arugula. It is nice to be able in the winter to feed our chickens and rabbits fresh greens.

Part of preparing for winter is also thinking ahead to spring, so today I had a full load of wood chips delivered. I use these to spread on paths and walkways between the raised beds, as well as around fruit trees to keep roots warm in the winter.

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Anyone like pumpkins this time of year? I did not plant pumpkins this year because it absolutely took over our garden beds last year. But I guess God had other plans for the garden this year as I have a great amount of pumpkins that grew. I think it fascinating that they are hanging from my tomato cages and green bean tunnel.

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winter 003While working around the homestead today, I had an engineer here all morning checking, measuring, taking pictures and asking questions, readying our house for a solar panel installation. We are really looking forward to adding solar to our property, hopefully to help get our utility costs reduced and be more in line with our belief in sustainability and eco-friendly.

I think this is the first time I have ever written over 1000 words for one post. I hope I did not bore you, but there is always a lot going on at the little suburban homestead this time of year. This hero, although tired, really enjoys the activity.

 

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Organic, Food Safety & GMO’s

usda-certified-organic How do you know if the food you are purchasing is genuinely free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and genetically engineered food? How can the consumer rely on the fact that a farmer says his produce is “organic”?  The only way to be sure that it is really an organic product is to purchase certified organic products that have the label USDA/Certified Organic.

In 1990, the Organic Foods Production Act established national standards for labeling found on the USDA website. Businesses cannot claim they are organic without having the USDA certification or they risk a heavy fine.  Farmers apply for “organic” certification. Diligent records must be kept. The land must meet certain standards. The farmland must remain dormant for three years. During this time synthetic chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, or fungicides cannot be utilized. Third party inspectors check the fields, and complete stringent soil and water tests.

The USDA/Certified Organic seal may be found on products like meats, milk, eggs, cheese, and vegetables. What do the labels on these products mean?

  • 100% Organic- on the product means 100% organic ingredients. Packaging can display the USDA/Certified Organic seal.
  • Organic on the product means that the ingredients are 95-99% organic ingredients. Product can bear the USDA/Certified Organic seal.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients means that the item contains 70-94% organic ingredients. They cannot display the certified organic label.
  • Other- on the packaging contains less than 70% organic ingredients and cannot bear the certified seal.
  • Natural- should be interpreted as no artificial colors or flavors

Organic vegetables and fruits can be more expensive to buy than traditionally grown produce. If you are not able to grow your own fruits and veggies use this simple trick to decrease your family’s health risk. If you are concerned about the synthetic pesticides that have been used on produce but can’t afford to buy all organic food then consider buying only the organic fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide exposure. Typically, the following produce have the most exposure to synthetic chemicals so consider buying them in “organic.”

  • Green beans
  • Winter Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Red Raspberries
  • Potatoes
  • Peaches
  • Imported Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines

What about GMO’s?

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered through ggmo-1enetic engineering. DNA molecules from different sources are combined into a molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism. This may give the new organism desired traits, such as better disease resistance or withstanding cold temperatures better.

Genes are spliced into the host like tumors invade cells. Scientists can alter an organism by manipulating DNA with cancer causing pesticides in the cells of the plant to produce plants that can withstand greater amounts of pesticide without wilting or dying. Scientists have also crossed tomato plants with fish genes so that tomato plants will become more resistant to cold weather.

These genetically modified organisms contain pollen with the new genetically altered traits. The pollen can be eaten by birds or insects and travel through the wind to pollinate other organisms that have not been genetically altered. The natural species can not survive with the GMO one.   Thus, all of the pollinated plants will produce genetically altered seeds/plants/organisms.

Food labels in the US do not have to inform the consumer that the product has been genetically engineered. But if an item is marked “certified organic” that means the produce is free from genetically modified organisms. Five of the top hosts of GMO are corn and corn products, soy/soy products, rice, wheat, canola and cottonseed oil.

How safe are the new GMO’s that we eat? How long were the GMO’s studied? There are some groups that think that a complete ban on all GM food would be necessary until studied further. Still, others want a least a mandatory labeling of GM food until the long term health effects of eating these foods are known. These products still have some environmental safety issues: possible destruction of entire food chains if the GMO is unleashed to pollinate non GMO produce. Some countries around the world are banning production of any GMO’s.   Some counties in California are putting bans on producing genetically modified food at this time until some of these issues are resolved.

What options do we have? Of course, first and foremost if you have the land, or enough area for a container garden, grow your own. (At least until the genetically engineered foods have been studied longer.)   Growing your own food gives you the knowledge of where your food came from and how it was grown. You can feel comfortable feeding your family and know that you are not eating genetically modified foods.

Secondly, you the consumer can shop at grocery retailers that sell certified organic foods. This segment of foods is growing quickly as more and more consumers turn to a healthier lifestyle. At the time of this writing, these foods are approximately 5-8% higher in price, but as with anything, as demand grows the price will drop.

Personally,  I feel that the consumer should be informed about any foods that contain GMO. That we, the consumer,  should have the  right to decide whether we want to or eat these foods or not.

Suburban Homesteading-A New Way of Life?

Urban and suburban homesteading have grown beyond belief in the last decade. Many living in the city or near a city have chosen to be more self-sustainable through gardening, beekeeping, aquaponics, permaculture, and raising/breeding meat animals (rabbits, chicken). Not all inclusive, this list is considered by many, a new way to be more self-sustainable, more “green” in today’s world.

Planted Garden
Ready and planted garden beds for 2014 growing season.

Being a part of suburban homesteading, doing all I can to make the best of our little 1/5 acre, has taught me many lessons. Among those is that this trend is not a new lifestyle- it is a reversion to the lifestyle of our ancestors. Our ancestors being self-sustainable out of necessity were really living a “green” lifestyle before green was cool!

Our trip into homesteading began with two major forces driving our decisions, beginning with the economy, on to the need to house and feed more people under our roof. Economic conditions over the last decade have not been all the best, of course coming to a head in 2007-8 with the collapse of the housing market. This is when we truly became serious about be more self-sustainable.

We have always gardened, but the amount of land dedicated to gardening grew substantially as more relatives (children and siblings) began to move back in with us due to lost jobs, lost homes, and health issues. As our population grew, the need to produce more of our own food grew. We quickly went from one main garden bed in our back yard to over 30 raised beds throughout the property.

Growing our own food became a necessity, but we found that we had some much more control over what was going into our bodies. We chose to never again use any type of pesticide or herbicide within our property limits, determining that using natural substances made better sense and in many cases was more effective. Enter the chickens!

Chicken manure is among the best “natural” fertilizers available, but having the actual chicken made so much more sense with the added value they bring to any yard and garden. The pecking, natural soil aeration, eliminating bugs and other pests, the eggs, and not to mention the shear joy of just watching them run and play in the yard made having them a no-brainer. Of course the County did not have the same opinion and took our chickens after a year because of local zoning regulations. More on this in other posts.

Bee package
First 3# Bee Package

So without chickens, we moved to rabbits. Choosing to raise meat rabbits at least gave us another great fertilizer source, but also another source of meat. There were no regulations on growing personal use rabbits, as well as we did not sell any, nor could we butcher any in public view. So at least we could still accomplish some of our goals without the County constantly in our business.

As our garden grew, we felt a need to expand our ability to insure a good crop each year by adding bees to our little homestead. Seemed like a natural jump and fortunately we live in a county that has no regulations concerning beekeeping. Bees are an interesting lot and require little effort on the part of humans. If we provide proper housing for them, they are very attentive to their own needs to survive. This was a great step into our expanding homestead.

First Aquaponics bed
First AP Tank/bed

Extending our growing season for some fresh vegetables became a project last year, opting to try indoor aquaponics. Although this process had a huge learning curve for me, since I had no knowledge of fish or gardening without soil, we ventured forward. This has been one of the most enjoyable ventures so far and one that I was able to actually help fill a need to others in perfecting a “portable” AP system for other local enthusiast’s.

Greenhouse
Completed Greenhouse side view

This year was a major project year, deciding to build a 10′ x 20′ greenhouse to expand our growing season to year round and move our aquaponics into a larger area outside our basement. Again comes the County! This fight through multiple hearings, petitions, emails and phone calls finally came to an end in our favor after about 8 months. So we have been able to move forward and complete the structure, we are still very much in the set up phase of the interior.

Of course how could I get through this post without thanking my parents and grand-parents for teaching me many of the skills I never thought I would use in  my life. Canning, freezing, and dehydrating have become commonplace to extend our ability to use our own fresh crops, which I learned from my mother and grand-mother. Planting, growing, and harvesting knowledge are an extension of my father’s passed down skills. My grand-father taught me about chickens, cows, and horses-although our land could never accommodate large animals, I understood the value of chickens on our property.

Every day is a joy to be able to get out of bed and do something I love that is a benefit to my family, my budget, and my community since we always have enough to spare to our elderly and disabled neighbors and our friends. Although my initial reasoning for our lifestyle had nothing to do with being more “green” I have found that many of the skills handed down to me are just that-a greener lifestyle. Self-sustainable and green can go hand in hand, but a” new” lifestyle it is not. Our ancestors understood a green lifestyle out of necessity, and passed down the knowledge and skills so future generations could enjoy the benefits of a self-sustaining lifestyle!

Go Green and Save in 2016-Part 2

SaveMoney

There were far too many ideas to put in the first post on saving in 2016, so here are a few more simple things you can do to save money while being eco-friendly. If you have a limited budget, start with the free ones and then try and add another step as you can afford them. In the long run, the savings will far outweigh the initial cost!  

Go Green to Save Green in 2016!

 
Money Saving Gardening Ideas

  • ·Plant a vegetable, herb, or container garden. This will save lots of green and is a very green thing to do!
  • ·        Plant deciduous trees on the east and west side of your house to keep sun out of house, thereby reducing AC bills. In the winter, the leaves will fall off the trees and allow the sun to come into the windows to provide warmth.
  • ·        A cheaper, quicker way to provide shade now is to grow an annual vine in front of windows to provide shade in summer months. Hyacinth beans grow quickly and are beautiful where I live. (And a bonus, the hummingbird visited the vines.)
  • ·        Shred paper (to protect against identity theft) and use it in the compost pile.
  • ·        Start a worm bin with your kitchen scraps (vermicomposting) for use around flowers, herbs and vegetables. Save money not spending money on expensive chemical fertilizers that are not environmentally friendly any way.
  • ·        Mulch, mulch, mulch. You can use things like leaves, grass clippings, straw and compost.
  • ·        Collect rain in rain barrels to water the gardens.
  • ·        Use the boiled egg water, water from the dehumidifier, or water that ran off your vegetables when cleaning them, to water plants.
  • ·        Plant native plants for your area, they may need to be watered less.
  • ·        Choose plants that can thrive with other plants with similar needs.
  • ·        Plant for wildlife. Planting the right plant can attract birds, butterflies and bees.
  • ·        Build healthy soil with the use of organic matter. Compost with things that you may have on hand such as grass clippings, leaves, and old kitchen scraps such as lettuce leaves, old banana peels, etc. (No meat or dairy)
  • ·        Check out what the neighbor is putting in his trash too but check to see if they use synthetic chemicals.
  • ·        Compost healthy garden wastes.
  • ·        Composting for fertilizer and increasing soil health is not expensive and very eco-friendly.
  • ·        Composting attracts earthworms, so let them aerate and fertilize your soil. No need for tilling, the earthworms will do it for you.
  • ·        Join a garden club for seed swapping or plant exchanging.
  • ·        Control disease and pests through natural cures first. Last year I used the Cornell recipe for powdery mildew on my roses and it worked!
  • ·        Water during the early morning to prevent diseases that spread when leaves are wet and to prevent evaporation during the heat of the day.
  • ·        Mulch to suppress weeds and hold in moisture.
  • ·        Use newspapers in your compost and also as mulch. Don’t use the shiny kind of papers just the dull paper.
  • ·        Use cardboard for composting and also can be used before laying down the mulch. (Make sure their isn’t any tape on the box it won’t break down.)
  • ·        Check with places like Craigslist or FreeCycle for things you need for the garden or other projects. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Remember to rethink, remake, reuse and recycle. Recently, I found things that I had been looking for the coming garden season. Of course my price had to be free and close to where I live. In the winter, people don’t want to get out because of the cold so the odds are greater that you can actually pick some of this unwanted stuff up. One neighbor saves coffee grounds and filters for my worm bin. The other neighbor redid her windows-so now I have old windows for some cold frames. On Craigslist.com I found bags of old leaves, old stakes and chicken wire for my peas, and 5 dozen Ball canning jars. Last year I picked up a bunch of old bricks for walkways for free. You can also find plants and flowers. I went and dug about 9 currant bushes for free. Also, picked up around the corner from where I live enough rocks to use around my new pond that I am building to encourage wildlife. All of these things were free, eco-friendly and will be reused or remade into something!!!!

Automobile (Transportation)

  • Bicycle or walk short distances instead of driving.  
  • Change your automobiles air filter every 10,000 miles can reduce gas mileage as much as 10%.  
  • Check your tire pressure once monthly.  
  • Drive the speed limit, the faster you drive the more gas your vehicle guzzles.  
  • Don’t accelerate and break swiftly, uses more gas.  
  • Remove luggage rack and bike racks.
  • Don’t need to use premium fuel unless automobile manual states to use it.
  • Turn off engine if you are idling for more than 30 minutes or more.
  • Get a tune up and oil change as manual states.
  • Change your fuel and air filter on your automobile as the manufacturer states for optimum efficiency.

Save on Groceries

  • Use coupons for items that you would normally use. Some stores offer double or triple coupons. Be sure that the item you would have bought wouldn’t have been cheaper.
  • Calculate savings using the price per smallest possible unit. Usually found below shelf item on tag-calculated ounce, pound, etc.
  • Read grocery circulars.
  • Write up menu for the entire week before shopping. Stick to the menu and what you need for each meal. You can use items that were on sale that week for some of the meals.
  • Don’t buy prepackaged foods, such as pre-cut lettuce. You will pay premium price for this.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. This can save you lots of money and give you the assurance of how the food was grown.
  • Plant fruit trees, and bushes.
  • If you plant a garden, an economical way to preserve produce for all year would be to can, freeze, or dehydrate your food for later usage.

 General Money Saving Tips

  • Don’t buy your coffee out every morning, make your java at home- serve in a coffee travel mug.
  • Pack your lunch for work.
  • Recycle your printer cartridges. Many places like Staples Office Supplies will give you credit when you recycle your printer cartridges through them.
  • Use the correct size pan on the stove for the cooking job, use lids when cooking.
  • Make your own safe cleaners using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. See our home section for some of these cleaning ideas.
  • Don’t buy bottled water, buy a reusable bottle and fill at home. If you are concerned with water contaminants purchase a water filtration system.

If you can think of ideas-feel free to add them in the comments!

Aquaponic Basics Classes September 12, 2015

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It is time!

If you are thinking about joining the great world of aquaponics-Here is your chance!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Because of the uncertainty of getting IBC totes for class-at this time we are ONLY OFFERING THE AQUAPONICS BASICS CLASS ON THIS DATE! If I have the ability to get totes-I will open up the tank building class and those who have signed up for the basics class will be given first option for the class.

There will be three options for the class that day:

Aquaponics Basics, Aquaponics System Building, Full class which includes both options

Be prepared to get your hands dirty! The day will start with a tour and explanation of our suburban greenhouse. We will discuss:

  • Aquaponic Basics
    • What is aquaponics?
    • How does it differ from hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaculture?
    • Is it cost effective to grow this way?
  • Is aquaponics legal in residential areas
    • What about more commercial applications
    • Do you need permits for vegetable/fish sales?
  • What are your goals with aquaponics
    • What are you wanting to grow? flowers, vegetables, herbs
    • NOTE: for Washington, DC residents: since Marijuana is not legal in MD, I cannot teach to that specific plant, but will answer any questions as best I can.
    • Personal consumption only or larger scale
    • Outside system or in a garage, shed, or greenhouse.
  • Types of aquaponic systems
    • Fill & Drain, Constant Height, Vertical, Gutter
    • Pro’s and Con’s of  systems
    • Which system is best for you?
    • Types of plants best for your system
  • Different types of Grow Media or floating rafts
    • Pro’s & Con’s
    • Cost factor
  • Raising and breeding Tilapia fish (This is our fish of choice)
    • Pro’s and Con’s of Tilapia
    • What other fish lend well to an aquaponics system
      • Are you wanting to harvest fish for food, for sale,  or just have fish for the system
  • Receive tracking logs for maintenance and monitoring of your system

We will also be covering topics about: cycling your tanks, grow media, heating, lighting and covering any questions that you may have leading a good understanding of aquaponics and how to start.  After attending the basics class, you will have the knowledge to successfully start your aquaponics adventure.

Once completed in the greenhouse, you will roll your sleeves up to be  completing your own IBC tote tank system. Be sure to bring your truck or trailer. We sold almost 100 of these last year at $299 each and you will take yours home with you the day of class!

I will take you through step-by-step in building your tank and the importance of measurements, heights, and clearances to insure your tank will function properly. Although we will have the majority of the parts pre-cut, please have knowledge of basic hand tools and drills. If you have a battery operated drill, feel free to bring it.

With any system there is some basic maintenance. As we complete the tank systems, I will cover basic maintenance and common causes of malfunctions,  as well as the necessary steps to solve and prevent future issues.

If you bring pictures of the area where you want to install your tank and a simple drawing , I will help you determine the best setup for positioning lines and filters. We can also make small modifications on the spot that would make your system very user friendly for your location.

Simple drawing example. Can just hand draw layout as well.
Simple drawing example. Can just hand draw layout as well.

When you complete this class, you will walk away with the knowledge you need set-up and run your new aquaponics system successfully. Not to mention that you will have your tank system built and ready to set and function as soon as you get home!

All class participants will receive the book and DVD from the foremost expert in Aquaponics in the United States: Sylvia Bernstein.

Aquaponic Gardening: A step-by-step guide to raising vegetables and fish together. This book is the first and best book I have read in starting my aquaponics adventure: a $30 Value

Aquaponics Explained Video: full-length aquaponics course taught by Sylvia Bernstein in her warm, approachable style in June, 2012 at the Denver Botanic Gardens: a $30 Value

Just choose the option that best fits your needs. If you just need the knowledge right now and a better understanding of the aquaponic system, then the Aquaponic Basics Class is for you.

9:00 am Aquaponics Basics-This will include everything listed above in the “Greenhouse Tour” plus the book and video to take home.

$99 per person.                    Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

If you understand the basics of aquaponic gardening and are ready to get your system set up[ and going, with the knowledge of building and maintaining the system, then the AP Tank Class is for you.

11:30am Tank Only Class-This class will be spent hands-on in building your own tank system to take home right after class*. It will include all instruction on the mechanics and maintenance of the IBC tank system. You will be able to leave the class with the knowledge to build more tanks or variations to fit your needs in your own space. This class will include Sylvia Bernstein’s book & video to take home.

*Does not include Grow Media or fish

$349 per person                  Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

If you want to combine the knowledge of aquaponic gardening and starting your system, then come for the complete 1/2 day training!

 FULL CLASS-Best Value. Save $50 from the cost of both classes   for a packed 1/2 day of training and education about aquaponics; leaving with all the information and material you need to get started with your own aquaponics system when you get home!* Includes everything in both of the above classes at a $50 savings, but as an added bonus full paid tuition will include ONE guest FREE. So bring an interested friend, neighbor, or relative and they can participate with you.

$399 for 2 people**                 Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

*Does not include Grow Media or fish
**Includes only ONE book and DVD per paid tuition

Every class will have door prize drawings and giveaways throughout the class, so come prepared to make it a day of learning and fun!

Classes held in Southeast Baltimore County in Dundalk. Times and exact address of class will be sent on your payment confirmation page.

 

 

Cherry tomatoes all year long

When I was in the greenhouse today cleaning out the filters on the aquaponics tanks, I realized that my 1 cherry tomato plant has taken over both of the grow beds.

I planted 1(one) cherry tomato plant in January of 2015 and it is grown phenomenally. Not only has it grown, but it still flowers and produces great red cherry tomatoes. I am so happy that we decided to move forward with the greenhouse so I can extend my grow season and my aquaponics adventure!

Let me emphasize this is one plant that has taken over more than  a 4′ X 8′ section of the greenhouse-yet still producing after 8 months! I wonder if I can keep growing it as “permaculture”?

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Guest Post: Non-Toxic Pest Control Methods for the Organic Gardener

Great organic ways to control pests. I use the canola oil but I mix with it dawn dish soap instead of the ivory soap. I think it works just the same myself.

I never knew about the “milky spores” but I will try that as grub season is in full swing. Thanks, enjoy the post.

Homesteading NJ

A very special shout out and thank you to Patricia Cornwell of HomeMates Gardener who was kind enough to write and send us this post!

Pests are a real nightmare for all gardeners because they can be very persistent. The market offers a big variety of special products which can help with the removing of the stubborn intruders from your garde but the only problem is that some pesticides and herbicides can be extremely dangerous for the human health.

Relying on organic pest control instead of the usual toxic products will save you from a lot of troubles and in addition to protecting the structure of your crops, you will also protect your health and the health of your family from potentially unpleasant complications in the future.
It can be a challenge to battle the pests in your garden, while trying to protect your health and the plant’s health at…

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Aquaponics Australia and Solar Energy

This is awesome and works well. The only issue is if you grow a fish which must be in an environmentally controlled tank. Growing tilapia I must heat the tanks which takes too much energy to run from a small display of solar panels.

Hydroponic Xpress and Aquaponics Perth, WA

Trevor from the Garden Gurus shows us how to expand an exisiting aquaponics system to grow fish using solar panel energy to run the electrics.

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Excited about this harvest season already

Took a walk yesterday around our little suburban fifth acre. It was extremely hot and humid, so did not dawdle much, but I did get to survey our season so far.

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The front permaculture garden (more of a food forest) is doing well in the front yard. We utilize most of this greenery to feed the chickens daily and they seem to love the fresh greens everyday.

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The fruit trees are 2-4 years old and they are beginning this year to bear some nice fruit. I look forward to the fresh pears, apples, and peaches.

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Oh, the grapes. I am amazed at the amount of growth and fruiting that my grape vines are giving. This is the third year on the grape arbor and I think they are taking to it well.

garden 007 garden 006 garden 005 garden 004A friend of mine built and gave me two grow barrels which I really like. In a two foot by 2 foot area I can grow up to 35 plants. I have grown strawberries, green beans, tomatoes, and peppers very successfully in these.

For the first time since I can remember, this year we ran out of canned green beans before this years crop came in. So I added several more areas for pole beans this year, along with the bush beans in the grow barrel. I hate running out of any vegetables that we regularly eat.

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This coming harvest should be an awesome time!