Archive for the Gardening Category

Gardening – Rain Gutter Grow System

Posted in Food, Gardening, Nature with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2016/10/31 by rmolby

Some time ago, probably about two or three years ago, I discovered Larry Hall’s Self Watering Rain Gutter Grow System!

I was impressed, and it filled a concept void in my mind, where something wasn’t right for my logic when it comes to aquaponic and hydroponic systems!

So, let me touch on this last thought process real quick. I need to define a few pieces of information for context here:

  1. Hydroponics – a method of growing plants in a non-soil grow medium like rock-wool and feeding them via the water submerged roots by adding essential nutrients to the water via chemicals.
  2. Aquaculture – a method of growing fish in a man-made pond system, feeding them a commercial diet of fish pellets and cleaning the water of wastes via mechanical and chemical means.
  3. Aquaponics – combining the above methods solves several issues in both systems, and can reduce the need for outside sources of feed and chemicals dramatically, because the plants absorb some of the waste produced by the fish, and some of the kitchen waste (i.e. lettuce cuttings) can be fed to the fish.

So, the problem I have with the systems above is that the plants didn’t evolve to grow in soil-less environments!

Then I discover Larry Hall’s ingenious Self Watering Rain Gutter Grow System! Go watch the video at the link to the left or visit his YouTube channel. I will wait 15 minutes while you watch the video, and when you come back here I will expand on my thought process.

[waiting…]

Alright, you are back? Excellent!

Basically, my beef is with the missing soil food web. You might ask, what the heck is that?

The soil food web is a compilation of organisms that live in the soil in harmony with the plant roots. The organisms feed the plants by converting minerals in soil particles to a plant usable state to be absorbed by the roots, and the plants in turn release nutrients, such as sugars, into the soil via the roots which the organisms live on. You can read in more detail at WikipediA and SoilFoodWeb.

Well, in a purely water based system, this soil-food-web environment is incomplete or non-existent, as in the hydroponic system. But what if we were to put soil back into the system?

The problem I was seeing was that soil submerged as in the ebb-and-flow beds or the floating raft beds of the aqua/hydro-ponic systems is that you create a swampy environment that goes anaerobic quickly and the roots rot in no time!

This is where Larry Hall’s bucket and rain gutter system filled the void. Since the grow buckets only absorb the amount of water that can wick up from the rain gutter through the wicking cup, and the plants will only grow roots as far down as they need to reach the water, we are re-creating the natural water flow of natural, healthy, loamy soils of fields and gardens.

In such environments, water will wick up from the soil substrata as needed to gain hydrostatic equilibrium of moisture in the soil – in other words, water will wick up as needed in order to compensate for water lost at the soil surface due to evaporation and from the plants consuming the water as needed.

In natural systems, this is very efficient and inefficient at the same time.

Efficient in the fact that if the soils both at the surface level and deep soils are moist they will transfer or wick water to dryer areas.

Inefficient in the fact that if the soils get too dry, the wicking action can stop, and then it takes along time for water to reabsorb into the sub-soils, causing saturation during rain sessions where the healthy top soil washes away.

Larry’s system solved all of this by containing the growing soil in buckets, keeping it in place, as well as supplying a continuous source of water simulating the sub-soils by using rain gutters and wicking pots, and if we combine this with aquaculture, we can even get the fish waste nutrients delivered to the plants through soil, and the soil organisms will gladly convert them into nutrients the plants can use.

I really believe that this will become the defacto standard for incorporating aquaculture and horticulture into an integrated food growing system.

With this in mind, I would like to define some new terms:

SWaRGGS – (Larry Hall’s) Self Watering Rain Gutter Grow System

I had another one in my head but my memory is failing me, but once I recall the other acronyms I will come back and edit this post.

I will be doing some additional posts regarding how I am implementing this system at my home.

Since we are going into winter, I am building a leant-to greenhouse on the west side of our house. I’ve wanted to do this for some time and now have the blessing from the wife to pursue this, so I am building this greenhouse with some flavor of SWaRGGS in mind.

I am also attempting to get starter tomato plants buy making my own SWaRGGS pots from small laundry baskets and training side shoots from my in-ground tomato plants through the holes in the baskets and then filling the baskets with soil.

Some of these tomatoes are already basically 3 years old since I have done this with some success with pots the last two winters. I lost a lot of tomato plants during the high heat and now the drought, but if they were inside a SWaRGGS system I doubt they would have croaked.

Anyway, I will post a few more times about this subject; the next project will be documenting my laundry basked pot system.

Catch you later.

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David Suzuki: A Canadian Treasure

Posted in Environment, Gardening, Health, Home with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2014/08/25 by rmolby

I could not have said this any better (see image below). This is why I pick out the aluminum cans out of the trash, collect all the napkins and paper towels to compost, and collect and save food scraps to feed to my chickens.

There is no such thing as waste unless it is nuclear in nature, all outputs classified as waste in most cases can be the input for another process if you manage to catch the output before it get mixed in with a lot of dissimilar items from other systems.

Let’s not mix grey water with black water, we can use the grey water around the exterior landscape.

Let’s not mix food scraps with metals, paper and plastics. Each of these have a use or can be recycled.

I do my part, why don’t YOU do YOUR part?

Collectively we can save the planet from getting trashed even more than it already is.

roger hollander

DavidSuzukiquote

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Environment – Drought (and potential food shortages?)

Posted in Economy, Food, Gardening, Health, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , on 2013/12/27 by rmolby

So I come across this article on HuffPost Green about the Rainbow Mountains in China, a great article with amazingly beautiful pictures, but I decided to click on the HuffPost Green link to visit, since I had never been to the web site,  and right there on the front page is a a link in bold letter proclaiming “DRIEST YEAR EVER.”

In the article on USA Today, mentions that

California is enduring its driest calendar year on record, with no signs of relief coming anytime soon. In San Francisco, the city is seeing its driest year since records began during the Gold Rush year of 1849.

Although a drought emergency has not yet been officially declared, a lack of rain and snow this winter could bring catastrophic losses to California agriculture, as water allotments are slashed by state agencies.

Further down the article it states:

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 94.25% of the state is enduring some level of drought conditions and that most of the prime agriculture area of the Central Valley is in extreme drought, the second-worst category.

When you look at the Drought Monitor web site, you can see the extreme drought conditions, and this should really make us think. How many people know that a large percentage of fresh vegetables have traditionally come from California?

For some vegetables, only three states, California, Florida, and a few states like Texas and Washington grow a large portion of some vegetables for the entire USA grocery market.

Due to the vast size of the produce industry, minor problems with the distribution chain, such as the 2006 E. coli contamination problems in pre-cut spinach shipped from California, can cause ripple effects throughout the nation’s food system.

The same will hold true for drought conditions, which also exist in Texas and Washington at the current time. So where does this leave us for fresh fruit and vegetables? I think we will be very vulnerable to shortages starting as of this Summer (2013), and going forward until this drought subsides or we get alternative production online.

This situation should reinforce our need to grow more of our fresh produce as close to home as possible. I am ever more encouraged to have a vegetable garden ready to sow into by spring. I hope to be able to grow at least 10% of my vegetable needs right in my own back yard.

Part of this will involve traditional organic vegetable gardening in raised beds, but in time I am also hoping to get an aquaponics system established that will be part of my winter time lean-to greenhouse attached to my backyard shed. This would allow me to not only grow vegetables in the winter, but also supplement my diet with fresh protein in the form of fresh fish.

If all goes well, I will start with a grid powered circulation pump, which will be supplemented in the future with a solar powered unit, probably the same pump running of an inverter and a large battery bank that will be charged from solar and wind.

Until such time, though, I am fully expecting there to be both physical shortages of fresh vegetables, as well major price increases for those imported from out of state, causing shortage in the household budgets or personal health of millions.

The Central Valley of California, with the San...

The Central Valley of California, with the San Joaquin Valley in the southern sub-region, and the Sacramento Valley in the northern sub-region. © 2004 Matthew Trump (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Horoscope – 2013.11.14

Posted in Blogging, Economy, Food, Gardening, Health, Home, LifeStyle, Spirituality, Wordpress with tags , , , , on 2013/11/14 by rmolby
Horoscope, Astrology

Horoscope, Astrology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CANCER Nov 14 2013

Today is an excellent day to start something new or to blaze a trail. Moonchildren are especially gifted at thinking outside the box because you have a very creative and innovative mind. if some new idea has been knocking at your door for a while now, it is time to give it its due attention. Whether this is related to an idea that will help you make progress at work, or if it’s something that you think will improve your personal life in some way, now is the time to take the first steps. Whatever you begin during the next few weeks will have enhanced possibilities for success.

Well, over the last few months I have had quite a few encouraging Horoscopes that I have to post retroactively, just as I am posting this one day retroactively. However, this one stood out, actually smacked me in the head and yelling at me, “You see?” and “Go do something!”

Alright, some back ground info so you can understand where I am coming from:

Due to some unfortunate circumstances that I cannot mention due to confidentiality, I have been on administrate leave from work, and it doesn’t look like they can make up their mind when I am supposed to come back, but they have not officially let me go, either. Since I am stuck in limbo, like this, I have decided to polish up my resumé on Monster.com and I have been actively been promoting myself, but it has been a long road (about 10 working day) with few results and not very encouraging outcomes, so far.

Add to this depression, stress, lack of sleep, and you can see why I might be a little down and lackluster in my life. So when I saw this Horoscope, it was like a wake-up call, framing timber over the head smack in the face realization that only I can pull myself out of this mess, and only I can make ME feel better.

I must do something!

So, I am going to try to post on this blog once a day, and I am also looking at setting up a more professional blog, and relegate this one to my ramblings, while all my constructive posts will go on the professionally hosted blog.

Having followed several bloggers over the years, and recently bloggers such Mike Elgan on Google+, the idea of working from anywhere, any time, as long as I have some sort of internet connection, sounds really appealing.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to make a living on this platform, this lifestyle, and I don’t know if I can ever be like Mike Elgan and the few nomadic bloggers I am currently following, but it would be nice if I could go out of town, for vacation or for work, and still be able to put in an hour and produce content, like I am doing now.

I have always been a fairly early riser, and I cannot go back to sleep once I am up and going, whereas the wife can go back to sleep effectively just about any time of the day. Like this morning, this gives me a little quiet time to contemplate my future and work on this post.

I have been living without any major, set goal for quite some time now, and I don’t do well when my future is wishy-washy because I don’t know where to go at the next fork in the road.

So, I am trying to think of some goals I want to reach these next few months, regardless of me getting a regular job and trying to cram in some time on the blog, or if I have to work at McDonalds or Home Depot for a few months until I can earn a living from this new lifestyle I am trying out, but this “new idea has been knocking on my door” for a while now. Now is the time for me to take those first baby steps; and hopefully, as the above Horoscope claims, whatever I “begin during the next few weeks will have enhanced possibilities for success.”

Alright, so then I fired up the next Horoscope app on my phone, and I got this:

Daily ChineseScopes for Sheep – November 14, 2013

Concern yourself with your future retirement, and process your mail that is piling up. You’ll be brimming with imagination and creativeness, and you will be in a position to hatch out very original projects. An increase of your material gains through pure luck should not be ruled out. Your health will be good to your liking. In your home, try to impose discipline, otherwise you’ll be the first to regret your free-and-easy attitude.

Alright, so the only way I can take this, is that by me starting this new blogging lifestyle, that it will pay off in the future when I am ready to retire. Of course, I am thinking, the way the local, regional, and global economy is going, retirement as we currently know it is pretty much a historical artifact. I am more thinking along the lines of retiring from actively pushing my ideas and projects as I get old enough to not want to do such things, but I don’t think I will ever retire from wanting to grow things in my garden, or to retire from blogging or at least sharing my thoughts here and there on whatever medium is current at the time.

As for my “imagination and creativeness,” that is something that is always with me, but turning some of these ideas into a reality project, that is a different matter. That is why I am going to try to blog several times a week to see if I can do it. If so, I will try to make a living at it.

So, I fire up the third & fourth app, and I get:

  1. You face an unusual situation. Things could get pretty ugly today if you allow conflict to evolve. Try to ensure that you’re keeping the peace as much as you can, especially at work, though pretty much everywhere you go. Don’t worry things will turn out fine.
  2. You feel rather agitated and under stress today. You probably had a restless night and were not able to get enough sleep. This will only be a problem at work only if you need to be part of a team and are supposed to be taking a leading role. If so, do not hesitate to assign responsibility to somebody else. It’s more import that the outcome is successful rather than how it’s achieved.

Wow, this one didn’t make sense to me until after I tried to go shopping at WalMart. I got there, and the MurphyUSA station had gasoline at decent prices, so I topped off the tank, then went to find a parking spot. I almost got hit twice by people backing out without looking. That should have been an omen!

So I get inside, and some of the food items I needed from the produce department were not the best of quality, but after some picking through the produce, I found some usable items. I go get some breakfast cereal, milk, butter, Vitamin C supplements to help me boost my immune system while I am fighting inflamed lungs, then try to find some plain Keebler Sandies, but all they have are the pecan style ones my wife doesn’t like. I’m getting ticket off by now. I give up and try to go check out and almost get run over by a overzealous shopper at the front cross aisle. Yowser!

So I stand in the self-checkout lane, and bless her heart, this disabled lady on her scooter slowly unloaded her basket onto the conveyer, and after scanning the first item the checkout machine breaks! Everyone has to move over to the other one functioning self-checkout lane or a regular cashier lane, while an associate helped her get loaded back up to go to the customer service checkout… SIGH!

So I now wait with 6 more people in front of me, and this damn checkout machine acts up as well! I am so pissed by now, that I push my cart down an aisle and walk out. I went to Crest instead – no problems, great produce, shoppers are friendly, lots of register open, and I found everything I needed.

I REALLY needed to keep it together at Wally World… I will avoid that place if I can from now on… and I need more sleep!

For the next app, I find:

Thursday, November 14, 2013 (Cancer – First Decanate) Solve problems 

You’re exceptionally sharp and seem to have the right instincts for good decision making. With a confident approach to difficult problems, the chances are you solve them, or at least find a way to live with them. Get these problem-solving strategies down on paper as clearly structured notes are extremely helpful later, when everything doesn’t seem so clear.

That last idea, getting things down on paper, as they say, in my case, post about it here on my blog, is what I decided to do. My short term memory has been horrible lately, add to this my hearing in my right ear especially is down to less than 50% and the left to about 75% of normal, especially with background noise, and it’s a mixed bag of trying to remember and get anything accomplished with all the stress and emotions thrown in. Just another reason to blog as much as possible, this blog can also act as my journal. And better than paper, I can search it – LOL 😀

The next app I fired up told me:

Increased physical courage and a strong sense of adventure combine to make this a very interesting time. You need to do something innovative, daring, unusual, liberating, exciting, and challenging. You are inclined to act on some of the wilder impulses and desires you feel from time to time. If you have an inventive streak, you could make a startling discovery or breakthrough now.

Deciding to get back to blogging, and do it on an almost daily basis, should prove to be “something innovative, daring, unusual, liberating, exciting, and challenging.” The wild “impulses and desires you feel from time to time” stem from the fact that in many ways I am a home body, home maker, my western and Chinese general horoscope confirm this, but at the same time I am also intrigued by traveling the world, seeing new cultures, finding interesting food and people… new natural environments to enjoy… those are all things I also would like to do.

So starting to blog on a more regular, consistent basis, is different, “innovative, daring, unusual, liberating, exciting, and challenging.

Let me explore these words a little more:

  1. Different – I have never done anything like blogging to earn a living. This is about as different compared to working all my life for some flavor of the government as a wage slave, as it is for a fly to go diving in the ocean. However, I also feel I am a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, and have a lot to contribute on subjects I know about, because I have either done it or failed at it.
  2. Innovative – I will have to reinvent myself, I am not one to voluntarily go out and get on a soap box, and talk to strangers about whatever I want. Speaking to a crowd makes me very uneasy. But thanks to this medium, I can just say what I want, when I want, how I want, without getting into the emotional turmoil of being confronted by someone that hates what I have to say – you can just move on and not read my blog as far as I am concerned. For that matter, when I am done writing this post, I will update my about page and put a disclaimer on it stating the above.
  3. Daring – This endeavor is a little daring, it’s almost like my family is already daring me to do this and fail, without so much a saying a word. I realize this is my subconsciousness doubting I can do this, so I need to keep working on it, I need to keep pushing myself to proceed and dare myself to do this. It should make me a stronger, better person.
  4. Unusual – In many ways, this is unusual for me, to put myself out there, on a pedestal, an emperor without clothes, emperor of my own fantasy, this new lifestyle I am trying to create for myself. Will I succeed?
  5. Liberating – Ah, Liberty, some people call it freedom, but those are two words resonating similarly with people while they mean different things. I will do more research on this subject, but let’s just say that the reason by doing, what I am doing here on this blog starting today, is liberating because of how WikiPedia puts it: “Classical liberal conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion, also known as negative liberty. This conception of liberty, which coincides with the libertarian point-of-view, suggests that people should, must, and ought to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions, while in contrast, Social liberal conceptions of (positive liberty) liberty place an emphasis upon social structure and agency and is therefore directed toward ensuring egalitarianism. In feudal societies, a “liberty” was an area of allodial land where the rights of the ruler or monarch were waived.” With that said, it feels scary, but also liberating to take the first baby steps to take charge of my life, to do what I think is right for ME, and by extension, my immediate family.
  6. Exciting – I am definitely excited about doing this! Why, because it is new, for all the above reasons. The possibility that I may end up able to travel while making a living at the same time is exciting. Making a living while visiting exotic new locations, or even old world places of interest, like Rome, Italy, Nürnberg, Germany, or Nepal and Norway, getting to see these places is very exciting. Meeting people and eating local food in these locations is exciting. What else can I say?
  7. Challenging – this is going to be the most difficult part. The challenge of getting to where I want to be will be a big challenge, maybe the biggest one I have taken so far in my life. It was a big challenge when I left home, in Germany, leaving my parents and sister behind, and joining the United States Air Force. Different society, different culture, different food, different customs, those were all challenges I had to overcome. None of them were easy, really. I still feel challenged by some of them, today.

So, having started the day with all of these thoughts, I figured, but not use this as my entry point to starting my blogging effort, helping me get to where I want to be in the future, whether it takes me 6 months or 6 years to get where I want to be, I will try this. I have listen to Jack Spirko and is Survival Podcast since almost the beginning, watching him grow his rant podcast into a business. If he can do it, so can I. I am not Jack, I can”t do what he does, but I can do my own thing, and now is the time to do it!

Ramblings for 2013.07.20

Posted in Blogging, Food, Gardening, Liberty, Nature, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2013/07/20 by rmolby
English: Baked loaf from Bread Machine

English: Baked loaf from Bread Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, today I got the bread machine that my dad ordered for me. I am really excited to be making my first loaf of bread. I already have a few of the ingredients, but I am lacking instant yeast, organic sugar, and dry milk to try the basic recipes, so I will have to get those on one of our next shopping trips.

In the mean time, I cleaned the machine’s bread bowl with dish soap and warm water, and it is drying right now, and I am studying the manual to make myself familiar with the machine. There doesnt seem to be that much to it, really. There is even a sourdough recipe, but it still calls for active dry yeast… I will have to try that, and slowly reduce the amount of active dry yeast over time… I bet I can let the dough rise over night on starter alone and then let it run like a normal basic loaf… something to try later once I’m comfortable with the bread maker.

Ramblings for 2013.07.14

Posted in Blogging, Food, Gardening, Liberty, Nature, Technology with tags , , , , , , on 2013/07/14 by rmolby
Sourdough spelt loaf

Sourdough spelt loaf (Photo credit: GabeD)

I had a really nice conversation with my father via Skype.

We spoke at length about making our own bread using a bread machine, using non-wheat flour, sourdough starter using seed starters from Sourdoughs International, and a variety of other tangential subjects.

We also discussed pizza crust and how to use your grill to do some baking, such as portrayed on Breadtopia. This website is an amazing resource, and I need to order a few things from them so I can grill pizza and bread – I need a good peel for the pizza, and a cloche and proofing basked for the bread.

Dad said that he had wanted to get me a bread machine for some time, and asked me what brand and model I would like, so I looked up the bread machine that Steven Harris uses and mentioned on several of The Survival Podcast episodes he has been on. My dad promptly ordered it. Wow! I love my parents.

We also discussed capturing rain water and storing it, using collapsible rain barrels I ordered from Amazon, here and here.

So we had a good time discussing the above and I am very grateful to have such caring parents, as I see so many families struggle with their internal relations and many families get torn apart in the process.

Garden – plans for this year of 2013

Posted in Blogging, Food, Gardening, Home, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , , , on 2013/02/10 by rmolby
Chickens

Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

I am getting into backyard farming this year, out of necessity because my pay is not keeping up with inflation and the health care premiums are going up, leaving us short in our household budget.

So I am hoping to make up for it somewhat by growing at least 2-3% of my food this year, and hopefully 3-5% next year, after I expand the vegetable garden, and get the raised bed chicken tractor built.

I am designing the raised beds around 4 foot long planks cut from 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 by 8 foot or 16 foot boards, and using 3.5 inch long deck screws to screw the beds into 4×4 foot squares.

I arrange the beds so there is just a little less than 2 feet of space between them for walkways, and I use 12 inch square pavers to line the walkways. This way the beds sit on top of the pavers for leveling and less contact with the soil. I treat the wood of the raised beds with linseed oil and let it absorb and dry completely, then line the raised bed with one or two layers of corrugated cardboard  and fill them with compost/soil mixture.

When I build the wooden frames, I also attach a piece of 2×2 on the inside corners, but offset so they stick out the bottom about one inch. This way I can stack multiple beds for extra depth for veggies such as carrots, as well as stacking the chicken tractor on top of the beds as well.

As the chickens clean up the bed(s) they have access to, by churning the soil and eating every last seed, bug, and plant until there is nothing but soil, I move their tractor house to the next bed, and their run as well, and let them continue to clean the newly accessible bed(s).

The raised bed I move the tractor house from, now is well composted, has nitrogen and nutrient rich soil, that I will plant heavy feeders into the first season, and then alternate with low demand plants, followed by fallow or cover-crop, and then several other crops before I run the chicken tractor over it again.

I have part of this system in place, but I still need to built the 4×4 chicken tractor and 4×4 chicken run that will go on top of two beds, and a connector between the two so the chickens can get to the run.

I will also build a few beds that will be either 4×6 or 4×10 foot and pull the walkway pavers they would straddle, and have some bigger beds to work with for such plants as garlic and cabbages, etc, where I either need lots of plants or lots of room for a small number of large to huge plants that will require a lot of growing space.

I know, this sounds quite ambitious, but that is what I have been working towards for the last three years since I have moved into this house.

I will try to keep blogging about my garden endeavors as I find time to record my efforts. Hopefully I can get some pictures added as well to add tot he documentation of what I accomplish this year.

 

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