Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Composter

I went to Sam's and bought a composter for less than $40 American dollars. I want to find out if I can fulfill all my compost needs on my own without resorting to store-bought compost. If I can, I will be one step closer to my goal of affordable produce. Yes, I am of the mind that the vegetables I grow are more expensive, albeit freer of nasty stuff, than the vegetables I get from the supermarket. But I am intent on changing that. In fact, I want to grow vegetables and produce them at the same price as the big agribusiness farms. Call me crazy but I have a tiny itty bitty sense deep inside of me that this can be done even if I lack agribusiness' economies of scale.

Another new thing in my vegetable garden is The Cage. Below is a picture of the almost completed cage that will contain some of my Sub-Irrigated Planters (SIPs). I took this idea from the Inside Urban Green blog. I don't know why they use these cages in their roof gardens but I know why I will use mine:
  1. My 1 yr old puppy Lexie.
  2. The murderously hot slab of cement that covers the sunniest part of my yard.
There will be wooden slats across the bottom of the cage that will keep the buckets from touching the hot cement and overheating from below and I will surround the cage with chicken wire to keep my dog from snacking on the plastic five gallon buckets. I needed to build additional holding places for my buckets because this year I have too many and they won't all fit inside the protected garden area.

I planted the Kennebec potatoes today. As planned, I used the empty potting soil bag as a grow bag. I was also going to use a five gallon bucket to grow potatoes this year but I changed my mind at the last minute because I want to use all my buckets for tomatoes. Instead of a bucket, I reused the tops of the 18 gallon totes I made SIPs out of two years ago. Last year I used these tops as mini-raised beds that held cherry tomato plants. They worked great for that. This year, however, I decided to try them as potato containers. This is how they will stack by the end of the season:

Right now however, I only need the bottom part:

Last, I put together the 8x4 bed that I bought at Sam's and filled it with compost-amended soil. I planted Apache salad onions, Arugula, red cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and mesclun.

Next, tackle the fruit trees.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Emergency Post

Due to bad weather conditions in their wintering sites in Mexico, the Monarch butterfly population has declined dramatically.To learn more, head over to MonachWatch. Meanwhile, maybe you could plant some Milkweed (Asclepias) for the Monarch caterpillar to feed on as they migrate north.

Pass it on.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tomato Food

Thus far, I have learned that you can put the following things in the hole before you put your tomato plant in the ground:

  • Fish heads
  • Aspirin
  • Garlic
  • Banana peels

All these things, when decomposed by the beasties in the dirt, give nutrients to the tomato plant. Actually, you could probably put these things under any plant as the nutrients provided are useful to all plants.
I think the important thing is to break down the stuff into small bits so that the decomposition process happens faster.
You can also add these items to your compost pile/barrel (although probably not the aspirin).
I wonder, however, if there are enough microorganisms in potting soil to breakdown these things in a container...mmmmm....

Briefly, this is what each thing does;
  • Bananas add Potassium, Calcium, Nitrogen and Manganese.
  • Aspirin works to protect the plant from some diseases and pests.
  • Garlic does the same as the aspirin.
  • Fish heads provide calcium and nitrogen.
Sure, you can just buy something at the store in convenient powder or liquid form but then, what would be the fun on that?