Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 23rd Garden update (Corn, beans, Melons, and Peppers)

I posted last week here, the progress on the Tomatoes, Corn, Beans, Melons and other fruits and vegetables. Within 10 days, the corn grew a foot as well as the Beans. The Tomato fruits are growing larger; The Cucumber, peppers, and Melons are blooming.

I am continuing to Harvest lettuce, strawberries, and blueberries. Today I picked the first Yellow Squash of the season. Soon I will be harvesting the first Tomatoes and Grapes, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Cucumbers.

It's a possibility I will be Transplanting 100+ Tomato and pepper plants in the Gardens. It's also a possibility I will be tilling a spot for Beans and Cold weather crops (Lettuces, spinach, carrot, Brussels, Broccoli) in the following days. 
Here are some photos from the last couple of days...

Figurines are keeping birds away from strawberries

Harvesting strawberries
Birds are finally staying away from strawberries

Cantaloupe growing in strawberry bed

cantaloupe plants

Nearly 300 Tomato plants putting off Fruits

Corn, 2-3 feet
9 rows of Corn
Black eyed peas / Lima beans

One of my other gardens, at my Cousins, contains a second crop of Corn and Beans, Cucumbers.

In the photos here are Corn, Beans, and Melons growing in the same Garden, at my Grandparents.
Row of Melons in the garden
100 Melon plants

Other  Watermelon plants (approx 15) are growing alongside my Tomato and Pepper garden. We purchased these because one plant was already blooming.

The watermelon in the photos below are the Yellow Watermelon variety. I haven't tasted this variety before, and it would surely be a treat to try it for the first time from my own garden!


Row of Watermelon mounds

Peppers were purchased last week. The Cowhorn and Jalapeno peppers are already fruiting. The other Green peppers are blooming. When I transplanted these peppers, I added some compost as well.

row of peppers with cantaloupe growing

rows of peppers

Pepper garden

Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13th Garden update (Still transplanting & still harvesting)

I have had lettuce, spinach, kale, and peas sown since the beginning of April, so towards the middle of May I began harvesting ]varieties of lettuce. Below are recent photos of lettuce harvests. I expect to harvest from my lettuce garden for another month. I will plant more greens at the end of the Summer to harvest a Fall crop.

Around the middle of May, we transplanted 60 Tomato plants in one of our gardens. Recently, we have added over 100 Tomato plants from our compost bins/Strawberry beds. As of now we're growing over 200 Tomato plants in the garden (below).

160+ Tomato Plants

Finally fruiting!

Several days ago I tilled, hoed, and transplanted 50 Cantaloupe plants in the second garden at my Grandparents. As you may be able to see in the photos below, I have 9 rows of Corn and three rows of Beans, and 8 rows dedicated to Cantaloupe.
I have 50+ other Cantaloupe plants as well-- I relocated over 20 Cantaloupe plants near the Tomato garden; and intend to Transplant the remaining Cantaloupe plants at my Melon/Bean/Corn patch.

8 rows of 50 Cantaloupe plants
8 rows of 50 Cantaloupe plants
Cantaloupe removed from the patch, Transplanted to Tomato garden
20+ Cantaloupe plants near Tomato garden


As I relocated the Cantaloupe plants, I replaced them with Sweet Potato plants (in the photo below). Our neighbors happened to have over 60 Sweet Potato plants, so we're experimenting to see if they'll produce this year.

Relocated Cantaloupes to sunnier spot, then replaced with Sweet potatoes
Here are pictures of one of my Strawberry beds filled with the Unidentified Squash or Melon plants. From all three of my Strawberry beds, I made time today to take out the Tomato sprouts and put them in water (till I find another spot for them).

Unidentified Squash or Melon plants between Strawberry plants

Unidentified Squash or Melon plants
Below are the Tomato sprouts I dug out of the Strawberry beds. The Sweet Potato Sprouts were in the ALE8 box, and the Cantaloupe sprouts were in the green container in the right side of the photo below.

Tomato, Sweet Potato, and Cantaloupe sprouts
The Zucchini and Yellow Squash plants have grown much larger, as well as the Cucumber, Pumpkin and Butternut Squash plants. The Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Cucumbers, Pumpkin, and Cushaw plants are in my main Garden, at my Grandparents, while other  Squash plants are growing around my Mother's yard.

Yellow Squash bloom

4 rows of Zucchini & 4 rows of Yellow Squash plants

4 rows of Yellow Squash

4 rows of Zucchini plants


Row of 200+ Cucumber
Row of Butternut Squash

Row of Pumpkin
Some Squash plants or Cantaloupe are growing in my Strawberry beds, so I will be Transplanting these into my Cantaloupe bed at my Grandparents.
One Butternut Squash plant is growing outside of the Strawberry beds, while others are growing in the Compost bin, as you can see below.

Butternut Squash outside of the Strawberry beds
Squash plant in Compost bin

Below you see what I have left to Transplant to the gardens. Much of that is Pepper and Tomato plants. I will use the rest of the Tomato plants to grow in pots, and eventually transplant the Pepper plants near the Tomato Garden.
I had assumed the Pepper plants would be big enough to transplant several weeks ago, but I have refrained. Last year I made the mistake of Transplanting the Pepper plants too early, at a smaller size. Beside my Tomato garden and row of Cantaloupe, I have a double row for the largest Pepper plants. So far I have Transplanted 10 Pepper plants to the garden.

100+ Pepper plants

Pepper plant
Pepper plants

Monday, June 2, 2014

Construct a Greenhouse using Free supplies

On top of planning the construction of our Cob home, we are planning to construct a Greenhouse using readily available recycled materials.  
Greenhouses allow you to extend your growing season up into the Winter, and grow your starter plants earlier in the season. Plants like Tomatoes, peppers, and melons have a long growing season, which is why it is crucial to begin these plants as early as the beginning of February. 
I have the fortunate opportunity to use my home (Mother's house) as a greenhouse. I started many vegetables indoors at the beginning of March, and had to keep these plants indoors up until April till I could sit them out during the day. Even then, I had to bring my starter plants back in every night until the beginning of May. You can imagine my Mother was shocked to have so many trays of growing plants taking up half the living room, utility room, and our bedroom. 

Finally, at the beginning of May I started leaving the starter plants on the front porch at night. For two months, my morning ritual began by taking all of my starter trays outside on the porch, and at night I would bring them all back in the house. 

The perfect Greenhouse would be large enough to house hundreds of starter plants, and even fruit bushes and fruit trees. I would even like to construct a greenhouse that was half underground and half exposed for growing tropical fruits. For now I would start small.

We have thought of many different designs, for example a recycled bottle greenhouse (like in the picture below). For a step-by-step tutorial on constructing a bottle greenhouse, click the link here for the PDF.

picture source: Khakibos
Another cheap Greenhouse option is using transparent plastic with recycled wood, see below. Considering I do not drink water from plastic bottles, and because constructing with plastic bottles would take longer-- a 6'X10' greenhouse with recycled wood would also be a simple, cheap construction. You can easily find wood pallets (for free) at sawmills, factories, and behind other stores. Wood pallets can be deconstructed in order to use the wood to create the structure of the Greenhouse. I have posts on how we constructed raised beds out of wood pallets here and here.

picture source: Bepa's Garden
A third option are polytunnel designs using PVC pipes. Polytunnel designs are equivalent in efficiency and cost, it simply depends on the materials you can scavenge for free or have around your house. Piping is easy to come across, as you can ask many people if they have any around, or go dumpster diving.

picture source: Home design
There are of course simpler Greenhouse methods that need no construction, for example in the picture below, you can purchase a small, pre-fabricated Greenhouse at many store outlets. However these come at a higher cost. Even a mini pre-fab Greenhouse as the one in the picture below may cost as much as $40, the same cost for all the Transparent plastic you would need to construct a much larger Greenhouse.

The cost of a 8-ft L x 6-ft W x 6-ft H Metal Polycarbonate Greenhouse at Lowe's is up to $800. Similarly, Palram 6-ft L x 4-ft W x 6-ft H Metal Polycarbonate Greenhouse at Lowe's cost up $500. Much larger Greenhouses, Palram 16-ft L x 8-ft W x 8-ft H Polycarbonate Greenhouses at Lowe's cost more than $2200! What would possess people to pay that much money when they could construct the same size Greenhouse for a 1/20 of the cost?

This isn't the only project people pay 1/20 of the cost for. As I have mentioned before, cob homes made out of clay soil, straw, and sand are virtually no to little cost because of their availability. Actually the only cost when constructing a home out of all natural materials is the cost of gas in transporting these materials. However, if you're obtaining these materials on your own land without the need of transporting materials, then you will be constructing your own at a cheaper price. Even growing Winter Wheat to dry out to use for straw will allow you to save money.

My perspective of our world is this: with all the waste and trash our society produces, we can feed, house, and clothe our nation's poor. Much food, supplies, clothes goes to waste because of the mass production in America. We simply discard food that we barely touch, and yet it is illegal to dumpster dive. What makes sense in this? (Recently I heard of volunteers get fined by the government from feeding the homeless/poor). 
Not only that, but America demands clothes and supplies from other countries instead of producing our own. Why are we raising cows in India, have them shipped, then stripped of their skin in order to be shipped to America to use for "leather", "suede", "fur". As of now, we could end mass producing clothes with all the clothes in second hand stores.

National Geographic, from their article "Feeding 9 billion" states "A bumper crop of corn piles up outside full silos in Brazil's Mato Grosso state, which sends much of its grain to China and South Korea to feed pigs and chickens. The demand for more crops to feed livestock is one reason experts say we'll need to double crop production by 2050". And what makes sense that America destroys forests and land in order to raise cattle when we could raise crops for feeding our poor?
We hear often that other countries grow grains that get shipped to America which could have fed them instead, in other words, they ship more food than they are able to eat! These imported grains also feed our nation's livestock.
On a final note, this post is to be focused on using Free resources to construct Greenhouses in order to produce free food, which is exactly why I bring up the "idiocracy" of our America's corporations and industries waste. We can easily build greenhouses and our homes with free, readily available, all natural materials or free, discarded trash.