Posts Tagged ‘apocalyptic gardening’

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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.

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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.

I wonder if the 2011 Survival conference is worth going to.

Marks against it

#1 It is in Dallas.

#2 It will be people pitching me a bunch of stuff to buy.  Much of it will seem necessary at the time.  Even putting aside the obvious thoughts on how easy it is to sell fear, it is money I don’t really have to spend.

#3 While the conference and hotel is cheap, the airfare makes it debatable.

Marks for it

#1 I would learn a ton.

#2 It is fun to window shop.

#3 Dallas can’t be all bad.  Sure it might have a tangled history with guns, but so does Tucson, and I can tell you that Tucson is a wonderful town.

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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So I planted winter squash, bush beans, and seedlings of tomatillos. It might be a little early to do so but wanted to use some of this wonderful rain. Seeds made it into the earth not 15 minutes before the skys opened.

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Above: The tomatillo seedlings, there is also a habanero in there but I forgot which pot.

I was a little worried because I was not so gentle getting the seedlings into the earth. Got to be an easier way than flipping the plant over.

So doing research on how to get garden ready, as Phoenix has two grow seasons, the first one starting in Mid – February, which is just around the corner.  A friend turned me on to a Phoenix specific planting and harvesting calendar, which led to a discovery of all other sorts of useful info, such as a nice video on how to build a raised garden.
I am planning on growing primarily crops that Native Americans grew, because I figure those would work best based on my sourroundings. Those plants are squash, pinto beans, corn.

Also debating growing tomatillo (because urban farm says it is easy), tomato (because I love a fresh tomato) and eggplant (because there is an expression in Arabic that says “A Woman who asks her husband what he wants for dinner during eggplant season is asking for a divorce.”)

I need to start the seeds indoor now for the tomatillo,

Reading about the history of Native American farming in the southwest, the most improtant thing was the harvesting of water. (Well, no duh). So I suppose I should be working on the harvesting of rain water at the same time.

So anybody got any seeds they want to spare?