Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

I need to learn how to fish.  Because if you teach a man to fish he can fish in the canals. I know fishing in the canals sounds disgusting, but fish make for good and cheap fertilizer, especially for corn.

Here and here is the info I have found about fishing in the canals.

Short version, you can fish pretty much all the canals except the CAP.

Cut and pasted…..

Can I fish in the canals?

Yes, unless posted “no trespassing.” Anglers must have a valid fishing license in possession for state waters (not an urban fishing license) as per ARS 17-331. Learn more about fishing regulations in Arizona by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at azgfd.gov/fish.

Below:  Not a Phoenix Canal.

Canal Milan Italy

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I got the idea of making compost tea from the Grow  House as well as the book Gardening When it Counts.    It is also my first experiment with solar energy.  The solar panel pictured above hooks up to a tiny little air pump.  This system is supposed to be used in backyard ponds.   I bought it years ago, for around $120, when I was thinking about making a little pond in the back yard, which I finally decided against because of my irrational paranoia over West Nile Virus.

In some old socks I stuffed store-bought compost.  I let the compost soak in the water bucket, and the solar pump keeps the water gently moving.   I believe this is going to let me water less and help me deal more effectively with the heavy clay soil of Phoenix.

Update: The pump is dead. Oh sad day. I think I probably should have put a sock around it or something, because my guess is the crap floating around in the water junked it up. My other guess of what happened is the cats pulled the pump out of the bucket because they are like that, and then the pump blew a gasket when it was spraying air without the resistance of water. I went to Fry’s to see if they had another pump I could use, not luck. So I guess I got to buy one from siliconsolar.com, where I originally got the whole system.

Update to Update: I wrote the good people at siliconsolar.com to get there opinion of why the pump might have died.  They were very quick with response, which I like.  They said the pump being out of water would kill it,  which now is what I think happened.  I think the feral cats took the pump out of the water.  The siliconsolar folks also sent me a link to some trouble shooting videos, which I also like.

I am trying an experiment, based on what I think I read in Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon.

I filled bottles with compost tea and put the bottle upside down “above” the plants. The tomatillo seems to be doing the best.

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The rest of the plants still look a little thirsty, especially the squash.

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Also, after seeing what my friend Karina has done with growing plants in pots, I planted some plants in containers. Hopefully, I will be more succesful than in the straight soil. I planted tomatillo, tomato, and creosote. The seeds from the creosote I gathered myself in the desert. Creosote is truly the pharmacy of desert plants.

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I been reading Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon and frankly it just overwhelms me. 

After reading the watering section I am not sure if he is telling me to water more or water less.  I suppose one needs a little bit of a mathematical mind to follow his recommendations,  maybe having a mathematical mind is part of  a green thumb?     I wasn’t sure what he was talking about in the watering section, much less the composting or fertigation sections.

I believe my soil in Phoenix is Clay, and he doesn’t seem to think it is worth growing in clay.  This makes me sad.  The reviews on Amazon.com for the book are mixed, some feel as I do, while others strongly recommend reading the book a second time in order to get everything to sink in. 

I did like the idea of making a compost-tea and then use a drip method on the plants.   That might be a good project for the weekend.

Below: A less-than succesful experiment of using an old pallet to make a slightly raised bed.

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Before leaving for 9 days I asked my neighbor to water my garden once while I was gone. I can tell from the exact position where I left the hose that he did not. Despite that everything (except the gopher attacked agave) looks good. In fact, I am glad the garden did not get any grid-fed water for a week. The plants look healthier than when I left, which leads me to think I was over-watering, which is bad for two reasons, 1: Overwatering is bad and 2: Overwatering will be near impossible when the grid falls.  By then I should have an idea of how to grow with the least water possible.
The plants I am growing all have been specifically selected because they are Southwest friendly, meaning they don’t need a lot of water (for example, like celery would.) I have planted bush beans, pole beans, winter squash, summer squash, tomatillos, and habanero peppers.The return of seeds and/or seedlings producing actual plants though seems very low. The first batch of seeds went into the ground on Feb 22. I then planted another round three weeks later, thinking I don’t want all the veggies to come in at once.
I seem to be getting about 2 plants for every 10 or so seeds planted. I am not sure why the low yield.

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Above: From Front to Back, tomatillo, bush beans, summer squash, more bush beans, and winter squash. About 12 sees planted to each row, but each row is only producing 2 to 3 plants each, but those plants look strong.

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Above: I have had no luck with the Habanero peppers, not even a single weed, much less an actual wanted plant has grown in the elevated garden. The elevated garden was made from a discarded baby bed I found in the alleyway. I think my mix of manure, compost, and soil in the backyard has too much of the backyard soil.

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Above: On a positive note, the Blue Palo Verde I planted a week and have ago seems to have survivied the shock of transplanting.

One of the rules or expressions among the preppers is “eat what you store and store what you eat.”  Another sentiment is “practice is better than just reading,” which I totally agree with.  With those two sentiments in mind the Survival Mom is challenging her readers this month to cook rice and beans seven days in a row.

So, I bought some dried black beans (instead of the canned ones) to see what I could do with them.  I soaked them for three and a half days, instead of overnight, because I read somewhere that will help cut down on the cooking time, which will be helpful when wood is scarce.   I did replace the water they were soaking in every day.  The water would be dyed a little less black with each replacement of water.

Soaking them so long led to a funky smell, and some scum-like stuff floating on the top of the water.  I am not sure if this would make them unsafe to eat.    An internet search gives a unclonclusive answer.

Some say that I have fermented the beans and this is good, because it makes it easier to digest the nutrients while others say that I should throw them out.

I ate them.  They tasted very bland.

Lesson learned: Stockpile spices for the apocalypse.  Because who doesn’t like a little flavor once life has become dreary!

While I was trimming the mesquite trees this weekend I was stung by a bee. I have always been nervous about bees since I was stung as child and swelled up like Charlie Sheen’s head.   Also, once in Oaxacca I ate a bunch of grasshoppers and woke up that night covered in hives, and sweating bullets. I figure if you are allergic to one type of insects, you should best avoid the whole bunch. But I did not swell after this bee sting, I did flick versus slap the bee at first hint of sting, which helped (thank you survivorman). 

I debated using creosote to clean my wound. I decided against this as I wanted to see what happened with just the bee sting.  I did, however, use creosote for another purpose.  After prepping soil and getting seeds in the ground for tomatillos, squash, bush beans and the pole beans, the backyard had a lot of insects flying around.  My guess is the liked the manure.  So I started a smoky little fire with paper, cardboard, and creosote to run them off.  It worked amazingly well and smelled kind of nice too.

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