Archive for the Horticulture Category

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)

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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.

 

Horoscope – 2013.01.19

Posted in Blogging, Economy, Food, Gardening, Health, Home, Horticulture, Nature, Spirituality, Wordpress with tags , , , on 2013/01/19 by rmolby
Bottled Water

Bottled Water (Photo credit: EasyEcoBlog)

CANCER Jan, 19, 2013

If you’re having trouble figuring out how you will make it through a difficult situation, then just resolve to take it one day at a time. If that doesn’t seen doable, then take it one hour at a time. You are in a stressful phase right now, Moonchild, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even so, you need to realize that the light is there. You may be standing in the shadows and unable to see the light, but as soon as you get through a lesson the universe is now guiding you through, you will see the light in all its dazzling glory. Meanwhile, persevere.

This is more or less how I live my life, one day or one hour at a time, but I always keep the future in mind.

I hate living my life not preparing in any form or fashion for the future. I don’t prepare for disaster, because no one knows what kind of disasters will come your way, rather  I prepare so I can live in the near future the same way I live in the present. I stock up on some food and supplies, when something is on sale or I break something, I buy one or two extras of whatever I need, that way I have spares on hand, at least for some things, like flashlights, batteries, matches, tinder, etc.

People that purely put their faith into their God, hoping and praying he will provide for them just for believing in him are clueless and don’t know their own faith. You will be judged on your actions, not on your faith. I don’t care what religion you believe in, your actions are what you need to look out for, your God already knows your faith. And it may surprise some readers of my blog that I even went there, as I have stated before that I am not religious, more spiritual than anything.

Anyway, living your life you can really do in many intervals.

For general living and existing, the hour by hour way is best, especially at work, and you might actually live minute by minute to get your work projects done.

Next would be the day by day living, here you plan for the next few days, such as for upcoming doctors appointments and such, as well as planning family meals. You look at your supplies and figure out what you are short of, you may only one can of beans or corn to fix a meal, or maybe you have all the boxed or canned items, and just the need the fresh ones, like meat or fresh vegetables.

But while you are checking your boxed or canned items, you might discover you only have one can of something left. So you get one or two extra cans of the item on your shopping trip.

Next are the longer term preparations.

Weekly, where you look ahead two or three months, you should check to see if you need to order birthday presents online or through a catalog, to take inventory of such things as bottled water, extra propane tanks for your grill, if the spares are empty, you set them out so you see them every day, and when the extra funds are available to fill one or two, you do so.

You also check your garden and wee what all is about to ripen up, and plan meals around your harvest, you check for store sales and stock up on end-of-season items for next year. Maybe some more winter gloves or summer flip-flops while they are on sale.

Finally, for the Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly, and longer term cycles, you set goals, such as increasing your stored food and water reserves from a 3 day supply to a 7 or 30 day supply.

By planning for these increases in supplies you keep on hand, you are reducing your dependence on central authorities, and if you never need the supplies for yourself, you can use them to help others, maybe in your family or your neighborhood. Or, by not having to purchase groceries or propane this month, you can help someone financially or donate to your charity or buy that bigger birthday gift without upsetting your household status quo.

Horoscope – 2013.01.12

Posted in Blogging, Computer Hardware, Economy, Food, Gardening, Health, Horticulture, Nature, Technology, Wordpress with tags , , , , on 2013/01/12 by rmolby
English: RepRap v.2 'Mendel' open-source FDM 3...

English: RepRap v.2 ‘Mendel’ open-source FDM 3D printer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CANCER Jan, 12, 2013

Are you feeling lucky, Moonchild? Since you’ve suffered more than your fair share of difficulties lately, you may be feeling more unlucky than lucky, but events of the next few hours or days should change all that. The universe is working in your favor, and you must also have a guardian angel or two summoning up bright blessings for you, because your world is about to get so much better! Think in terms of greater prosperity, creative fulfillment, and even a bit of fame, perhaps. It may seem too good to be true – but it’s true!

Well, this plays on my previous horoscope. I really would like to get into 3D printing so I can make things for around the house, replace broken parts all over the house and maybe on my old 1988 Jeep, but most of all, making things for my garden experiments.

I have some ideas how I could improve the functioning of my vegetable garden to increase the productivity of the plants, giving me better harvests and more healthy, more naturally grown food to nourish my body.

And I suppose, if those gadgets could be mass produced, maybe I could make a living from the income?

Riparian Buffer Nations

Posted in Gardening, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2012/08/13 by rmolby
Riparian strip, Putnam County, Ohio, Lake Erie...

Riparian strip, Putnam County, Ohio, Lake Erie tributary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alright, I’m returning to a subject I am very interested in, and I have covered in a previous post.

Riparian buffers are a protective area along water features such as rivers, lakes and ponds that provide protection of the water habitat from off-site pollution, as well as providing habitat for plants and animals that require clean sources of water and food.

In the previous post I talked about acquiring property along riparian zones, and finding people to live on, and manage those riparian buffer lands.

Maybe we need to take this one step further, maybe those of us that believe in such an endeavor should form a union, gather as a folk, or nation, write a constitution, and take possession of riparian buffer lands through legal means, including using angel investors that believe in protecting the environment for future generations.

I could envision contiguous buffer zone lands to become small tribal areas, with multiple families assisting each other with the protection management of the riparian buffers they own and control, and these tribes could then cooperate in each bio-regional area to become riparian buffer nations comprising that area, yet all the bio-regional buffer zone nations could also be members of a continental and/or global Riparian Buffer Nation (RBN) that transcend nationalities and all cooperate for the common good of the planet.

I envision the tribes to conduct their business a lot like Native American Indians conduct their tribal business. Since these Indian tribes are very connected to their land(s), they already have very well established ways to manage and protect the land and a life style that is connected to the land, and water, and biota on the land, and we can learn a lot from them how to conduct ourselves.

So I propose to write a constitution that will focus on protecting the land that provides to us our own life in the form of clean water and uncontaminated food grown in a biota protecting manner so future generations are not stripped of their means of supporting their own and their children.

I would venture to say that a few, if not many Native American Indian tribes would welcome such a project, and help us new tribes by teaching us what it means to live in harmony with nature, and maybe become members of the greater Riparian Buffer Nation.

Being that I currently live in the USA, but was born in Germany, I have two diverse lifestyles I have lived. Both societies have their good and bad, and it is difficult not the be biased, but I can say the founders of the USA thought far ahead when they wrote the Constitution of the United States of America, so I will make an attempt at writing the first few article of constitution for the Riparian Buffer Nation (RBN) using the US Constitution as my model.

So, in future posts I will write up each article of constitution, and if anyone, especially lawyers would like to chime in and make suggestions and/or corrections, I will welcome comments to those posts and if I deem the comments valuable I will incorporate it into the applicable article.

Well, it is time to move on and get back to real life here in working land and time 😦

Hidatsa Shield Beans

Posted in Food, Gardening, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , , , on 2012/07/08 by rmolby
Beans

Beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hidatsa Shield Beans – Sustainable Seed Co.

I have ordered these beans from Seed Savers but have not tried to sow them yet, maybe next year, but I want to record the description from Sustainable Seed Co. since it describes the Three Sisters planting method really well.

From the above linked site:

Seed package contains 1 oz. or about 50 beans.

Deep in the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota the Hidatsa Indians grew this pole type drying bean in their corn fields.  The Indians were masters of growing plants that were helpful to each other such as the “Three Sisters”.

How the Three Sisters work…Beans/Corn/Squash
The Indians planted the corn first, once it was a few inches in height, they planted the hidatsa beans at the base of each corn stalks.  Normally 3-4 hidatsa seeds per corn stalk.  Then they planted squash.

This is how that works out…the corn gives the beans something to grow on.  Thehidatsa beans fix nitrogen at the base of the corn, helping this hungry veggie grow.  And last but not least the large squash leaves take over the ground crowding out the weeds and shading the ground as well saving precious moisture.

Hidatsa beans are very prolific and make a great crop of dried beans to put away for the winter.  You need to figure on planting a number of them if you want pounds put away for your pantry.  Try the Three Sisters method in the corn patch!

TIP  Let your beans dry on the vine unless weather threatens, then pull and hang the entire plant upside down in the barn/garage to dry.  Now take a clean garbage can or burlap bag and put your hidatsa beans in it.  Now, the fun part.  Beat he heck out of the beans.  If you are using a burlap bag you can beat it on the floor or stomp on it.  The idea is to get all the hidatsa beans free of their shells.  Now take this combination of beans and shells to winnow.  That means, by either using a fan or the wind let the shells blow away.  I use two big rubbermaid containers.  One empty on the ground and the other full of beans I slowly dump into the empty one letting the chaff blow out (fan or wind).  That is it!  Now you have your own 100% organic dry beans ready to feed your family anytime you want!  Not to mention all the money you will save.

Sustainable Seed Co.

Posted in Blogging, Food, Gardening, Horticulture, Nature with tags , , , , , on 2012/07/08 by rmolby
Wheat, rye and triticale, montage of pictures ...

Wheat, rye and triticale, montage of pictures from the USDA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alright, the first website I bookmarked from my podcast show notes is for the Sustainable Seed Company.

The actual link I followed is to the quinoa page. This link is in relation to some seed varieties mentioned on the podcast. So when I decided to read the rest of the site’s seed varieties, I discovered several useful pieces of information, about the seed varieties as well as discovering additional valuable information.

Wit this post I will be chronicling my discoveries.

Moving back on the site by one level, took me to the Heirloom Grains page. The page lists Amaranth, Barley, Bread Poppy, Buckwheat, Flax, Millet, Oat, Quinoa, Rye, Sorghum, Spelt, Triticale, and Wheat. Many of the categories list almost extinct varieties, and I plan on ordering a few of them since this seed grower is in souther California which has similar harsh climate as I do here at my urban home stead.

After reading about the grains a bit, I moved on to the vegetables. They carry Artichoke, Asparagus, among others. On the asparagus page I noticed an old seed catalog page thumbnail was used to enhance the page content. This intrigued me, but it was too small to make out much useful information. I moved on to the Bean page, which also showed a thumbnail image. Moving on to the Beet page the thumbnail was of an old, old seed packets of beet seed. It was by a seed company called Maule, the seed packet said Maule’s Blood Turnip Beet, so I reached via Google for Maule’s seed, and I get a hit with the Internet Archive for a PDF of a 1946 catalog, which I promptly downloaded.

This spurred me on to continue to look at all the categories on the site to find more references to old catalogs. I moved on to the Broccoli pagem and the thumbnail there showed Johnson E. Stokes Garden and Farm Manuals, and one of the Google search results points me to the USDA’s NAL Image Collection of old catalogs. This page mentions that all the images are from the Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection. This second page lists 4 PDFs of old seed catalogs.

Moving on to the remaining main pages of the site I am researching all thumbnails and see if I can find any more PDFs of the catalogs and will list them below.

Lastly, I noticed some useful information regarding techniques or seed information I didn’t know, and will document in separate posts.

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