Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dig For Victory

My sister just sent me a link to this video.

Dig it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fava Beans

I planted fava beans as a cover crop in the fall. I couldn't wait for beans to mature before turning under 2/3 of the plants, but I left a patch to keep growing. They have been blooming for a long time now, but not beaning.  Finally beans are forming. Not sure how long it will take before we can eat them. We have been eating the greens, which are pretty tasty.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Compost Tea 2.0 Solar Powered

Years ago I bought a small solar panel and charge controller but they sat around and I never put them to use. I want to make compost tea on a regular basis and I don't want extension cord to a fish tank air pump for the 48 hours or so you need to bubble it. So I went to an auto parts sore and got a deep cycle battery and a battery box. I found a device called "Power Bubbles" for keeping fish alive on your boat when you are fishing, It runs on 12 V DC and uses very little electricity. I hooked up the solar panel to the charge controller and the charge controller to the battery. Power Bubbles came with clamps to connect to the battery terminals. Everything fits in or on the battery box. Power Bubbles can drive two tubes with air stones, so I was able to use two 5- gallon buckets.

The picture at the top shows some compost tied into a piece of cheesecloth but I also have recently made a worm bin. My neighbor told me that the CVS sells red wigglers as bait so I went over there and found the fridge that contained containers of red wigglers. I had an old plastic storage bin and some nylon screen and drilled holes in the bin, lined it with screen and fillied it with compost from the regular compost bin, rice hulls and worms.

The worm bin sits on top of a 5 gallon bucket.

When you water the bin to keep it moist, it drains worm compost tea. I added that to my solar powered compost tea bubbler along with some molasses and kelp.

Solar powered compost tea. I have made one batch and am working on the next. The bubbler has been going 24 hours a day for several days now.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good News?

Attorney General Eric Holder abd USDA chief, Tom Vilsack have announced that their agencies are working together to enforce antitrust laws in the agriculture sector.  I hope this is good news. They will be going after companies like Monsanto who monopolize the seed and chemical business. Pretty soon generic biotech seeds will become available as patents expire for things like Round Up Ready corn. Does this mean that we can see the percentage of biotech crops grown in the US increase from where they are now? I can't wait. Generic GMOs.

Of course, this quaint step towards enforcing the law will mean nothing if we do not amend the Constitution to reverse the "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision. Chris Dodd introduced an amendment but I think it is too narrow. It focuses on the ability of Congress to pass laws restricting campaign spending. I prefer the Move to Amend approach, which is to say that money is not speech and corporations are not persons.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Last Kabocha

The other day I noticed that we still had one kabocha squash that we harvested last fall. We have been growing this variety from saved seed from a squash a friend gave us. Since it had been sitting around for so many months we were not so sure it was still good. So I cut it open and it smelled fresh and delicious.

I used half the squash to make a coconut curry with greens, pea shoots and snow peas.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Close Call

It is a little hard to see in this blurry picture but the lighter sections on the mulch on the ground is frost. It wasn't supposed to be that cold. Spring is here and everything is growing new tender growth including frost damaged plants like avocado and citruses. Fortunately the rain must have protected the plants and there was no damage.  In case you don't live here, the coldest winter night time temperatures are in the low to mid twenties. Daytime temps never stay below freezing beyond the early morning. More rain tonight and 46 degrees right now, so I am crossing my fingers and not covering trees out there.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Broccoli

Before this gets too boring...
I harvested this romanesco broccoli head last week after it fell over during a rain storm. It was over 4 and a half pounds. I gave some of it to my neighbors and we had at least three meals with it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hoop House Folly

OK, it is not a hoop house, it is more like a rectangle. I thought I was really smart, making this mostly out of  scrap PVC pipes. I covered it with Agribon fabric and put my starts in there. It was noticeably warmer inside immediately.

But then the rain and wind came and it all came crashing down.


I have switched back to a tented garden shelf for my tomatoes and eggplants. 

And inside, things are growing and staying warmer.