Posts Tagged ‘garden’

I have come to the sad conculsion that I am not in any kind of physical shape for the apocalypse. I just read the pre-notes for the Survivial School I am taking this weekend. The first piece of advice he gives is to arrive to the class in shape. Apparently wandering around the desert all day looking for edible plants can wear a man out.  The improtance of being in physical shape is one of the best things one can do to get ready has popped up multiple times in prepper books and forums.

I believe I am in the worst shape of my life. The 6 mile hike I did a couple of weekends ago  zapped me for two days.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to find the build the habit of exercising on a regular bais. Lately I have been thinking that maybe a goal would help and then the warrior dash crossed my radar. I missed the one held last weekend, but perhaps I should set the goal to run the “3.4 Hellish Miles” next year. Assuming society still exists come April 2012.

In the meantime, I have been doing more of the the only type of execise I really enjoy, which is hiking.  This week I managed to go for three steep but quick hikes.

Next weekend I am taking a survival class for four days, we are going to walk a lot. I hope I am ready.

Below: Saw this tree blooming in the desert. Anybody got any idea what it is? It is pink flowers, and short stubby leaves. More photos at the flickr page, follow the link from the photo.

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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.

Salted oranges

Posted: March 1, 2011 in backyard, food, garden
Tags: , , , ,

I got about 30 oranges on my tree in the backyard this year. It is my understanding that it is about the 6th or 7th year that one actually starts to get fruit from a citrus tree. I think I am now at that point. Last year I got three oranges, and they were sweet and delicious.  The years before I had none.

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Like, I said I got 30 this year, but they are not very sweet. The have a hint of sweetness, but a bitter after taste. According to  internet research I can (hopefully) get a better crop next year by doing the following:

  • Fertilize the tree.  Fertilize this summer and again in November or October when the tree first starts producing the fruit. Fish can be used as a fertilizer. You bury the fish by the tree. Maybe I can catch a fish in the canal for this purpose?
  • Prune the tree.  The tree has never been pruned, it is best to not prune the first five or six years, so now is the time.  This will lead to less energy being spread out too thin.   When pruning remember, the best compost below a tree is debris  from that tree.  

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So the fruit is not super sweet, but I don’t want the oranges to go straight to the compost, (on a side note the internet gives mixed opinions if oranges are good in a compost pile) so I tried too experiments. 

The first is salted oranges, which is a twist from the salted lemon recipe over at stitchandboots.

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Salted oranges

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I used kosher salt. 
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The process is to cram the oranges with salt, squish them into a jar, and then let them sit for four weeks.  So I will let you know a month from know how they turned out.

The second experiment was to make Orange Jam, using this video for instructions, but the marmalade was not so good.  I think it is more my fault than the recipes, because I did not really measure anything and think I put way too little sugar in and way too much of the orange peels in.  However, my thinking was after the apocalypse one might not have access to a lot of sugar, and also the etiquette would be to waste nothing, so I used a ton of the peels.   I also just added some spices that I randomly had in my spice cabinet that I thought would make sense, which was cloves and all spice.

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Jam ingredients

Using the “jam” tonight to marinate some chicken.

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.

Book Review

Posted: January 22, 2011 in research, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Here is a down and dirty book review from my first pass by the Phoenix Library. Links provided for my favorite of the bunch.

SAS Survival Guide I like how it is pocket-size but a little hard to read because of the same reason.

How to Survive The End of the World as we Know it by James Wesley Rawles founder of survivalblog.com.  Without a doubt the best book I have come across so far in how to stockpile for the fall of society.  The man has gone a lot further down the rabbit hole than I ever will.   More of a “how to” stockpile the compound rather than how to survive without a stockpiled compound.

The Self-Sufficiency Specialist by A. & G. Bridgewater.  A good picture book to flip through for ideas but a little light on actual practical information.

Reader’s Digest Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills.  One of the best books I have come yet across to add to the bookshelf.  Probably my first Apocalyptic Book Collection purchase.

Living the country Lifestyle for Dummies not as good as Reader’s Digest Back to Basics book but not bad.

The Survival Handbook: Essential skills for outdoor adventure. Another book worth buying.  Too heavy to carry in your “Get the F out of dodge” (GTFOOD) kit but the easiest book to understand because of its ample use of color drawings.

At the risk of sounding all Bill Murray via Caddyshack, this weekend will be my first experiment with trying to snare the gophers in my backyard. Previous attempts at trying to get them to walk into a beer cooler laid on its side and nibble of some radish leaves attached by rubber ban to the prop stick failed miserably.

My two favorite Youtube videos on how to lay out the trap are John in the Forest and these two English kids.

If I am lucky enough to get one then I will have skin it and cook it. I plan to either make stew or cook them on the grill.

Maybe I should watch Caddyshack again for inspiration.

This weekend was mostly a research weekend.

First, I re-visited the Arizona Desert Botanical Garden and snapped off some more pictures of plants that I can use for food.

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I also spent a couple of hours staring at the place I plan to have my garden, and trying to figure out how I would approach it and realized I had no idea of how to start.  So I decided to swing by The Grow House in beautiful Downtown Phoenix and study what they had going on.  The Grow House is an urban farm, which means they took a regular house and are wringing as much food out of it as possible.  I ended up meeting a gentleman (whose name I think was Brandian) who gave me a quick down and dirty tour.

The most important lesson was to make sure you make good berms to catch the water.  He said when he first moved out here from New Jersey, he had a hard time with all the “good soil and space” they were wasting on making berms, but he eventually “just had to let that go.”  A good berm is the key to growing in AZ. He was not as considered about the East-West vs North-South issue.

Next step on Garden is to research a site suggested by Melinda, PBS- Victory Garden.

I also did a bunch of reading about how to snare animals and read somewhere along the way that guitar strings make for good snares.  Apparently I know a lot of people who have old guitar strings.  I thought about making a donation box at the Trunk Space but Steph, the owner, is a vegetarian  so maybe I should not do that.  She got really mad at me when I told her my story about eating monkey meat.

I am going to do my first attempt at snaring the gophers in my yard next weekend.  My plan is to then skin and eat the gopher.

On a side note, internet searching led to Urban Dictionary and according got them a berm is “One who lacks the basic hygienic and social skills to lead a productive life.”

On another side note, my first attempt at gathering manure failed.  Anybody know where I can get my hands on some poop?