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Beached Male
05-13-2009, 06:32 PM
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, you had better plant a garden soon before it is too late. My advice - commit extra money to seeds not just for this season, but for next year also. Many vegetable seeds have extended half-lives and can germinate beyond the next planting season, especially if you keep them in a pantry-like setting (dry/cool).

Why am I posting this in Sign of Fire? I believe we will begin to hit food shortages within a few years. I can't prove statistically it will happen in any given year, but it is coming. In order to be prepared, get used to gardening and preserving your own food. Now is the time to grow and experiment, and become more proficient in taking care of yourself.

For example, winter squash was just that - a means to provide food through the winter, via tough skinned/rind squash that keep well most all winter in a cool/dry place. "Canning" - well worth learning about and knowing how to preserve your own harvest. Start perennials that will provide food year after year, such as strawberry varieties that yield throughout the summer. Even if you're planting late, many perennials are an option. Do you have room for a fruit or nut tree, or even a Maple to tap for sap (syrup)? Think about the space on your land and how you could better provide sustenance in years ahead if you dedicate space to a small orchard, vineyard, and/or garden.

I am no expert on this subject, and am relearning many things myself. I look forward to discussion on this subject, if you're interested.
BM

Carrie
05-14-2009, 07:00 PM
I decided to do a little experimenting with vegetable plants instead of flowers this year, inspired in no small part by Cy encouraging me to grow some food of my own. Little does he know that my gardens are a 2' X 8' strip on either side of an apartment building walkway, though! Still, I put in some leaf lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, onion, and miniature tomatoes. I desperately wanted squash, but the plants would grow too big. I'll be proud to get one sprig of broccoli or one strawberry! I joked with Dan that I could end up with the opposite scenario, too, though - more lettuce than I know what to do with. I told him I hoped he likes salad!

Then there's the other problem of neighbors who, judging by their past record of picking the tulips I take care of, will likely help themselves to the veggie harvest as well. Oh well, at least someone'll get to enjoy it!

Beached Male
05-29-2009, 02:15 AM
Carrie,
Sorry I didn't respond sooner. There are some squash plants out now that are able to grow upwards and bear their 'fruit' near the ground. Look for "space saving" seeds from Burpee, as those squash don't sprawl. Yes, they're probably "modified" in some ways, if you're concerned about having only natural seeds.

If you're tight on space, the American Indian "3 sisters" method can work also. Corn, beans, and squash. The beans get planted right in with the corn and use the corn stalk to climb up, and the squash fills in the open space between the corn. You can find example garden patches (and pictures) online.

Although pricey, there are contained garden kits you can buy like the Backyard Botanicals sets, http://www.swingsetsonline.com/t-backyard-botanical.aspx . I heard the price on them is dropping at Sam's Club, much lower than the online prices, probably since planting season is almost up.

Those hanging tomato plant things are interesting also -- have not met anyone yet or seen them in action myself. You could put those up like a hanging plant if you have a balcony/porch.
BM

Carrie
05-30-2009, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the tips! I haven't killed everything yet, and my lettuce is doing well enough that the resident rabbit(s) are looking well-fed :p

Beached Male
06-09-2009, 06:29 PM
Carrie,
Odd you mentioned that. I just read "Of Mice and Men" by Steinbeck and all that talk about raising rabbits... Great book to pick up and read just to get a slight sense of the Great Depression.

Well, that's one thing you could do in a tight space especially if you have the veggie/leaf rubbish that would otherwise be thrown away -- feed it to rabbits and raise them for food. If you're concerned about how animals are raised before you eat them, well what better way to ensure your meat is well taken care of than to raise it yourself? While your animals live, they would be well cared for, and in their death they provide a need for the family and their successive generations provide as well.

That's my view on meat and animals, just to give you something to think about since I remember you posting at one time (was it you?) about concerns for animal care. I do think of meat as a side dish, but I won't eliminate it from my diet. God gave us all these things to help provide for us, and man has the ability to cull excess animals and raise animals as well. I wouldn't give up on all meat just because some men have poor practices in how they raise them.
BM

Carrie
06-09-2009, 09:56 PM
Yup, it was me, and reasoning like yours was the way I came to accept that Cy is now a member of the meat industry (although, the least abhorrent part of it). However, I'd still be unable to kill animals I raised myself, because I'd get too close to them (unless they could be euthanized just before illness/painful old age sets in and still be edible?), so I feel I can't ask anyone else to do it for me. I do eat meat when someone else feeds it to me, though, or when I get lazy on the road, so I end up eating it a few meals a week on average. Better than not thinking about what I'm eating at all, I guess. And the "resident rabbits" are wild - should have mentioned that - and the apartment complex wouldn't let me raise any, even if I did have a taste for wabbit stew ;)

Back to veggies - I've had three small strawberries so far, but don't know that I'll get many (or any) more - the plants aren't looking well. They were tasty, though! The broccoli has a teeny floret starting, some lettuce looks good, and my miniature tomatoes are popping out, but still green, so unless I want fried green tomatoes, I'll have to be patient!

Beached Male
06-10-2009, 03:38 PM
Carrie,
Try putting some potting soil or topsoil right around your strawberries, and are you regularly watering them (or overwatering them)?

Also, do you compost? Google composting and get to know the subject -- very important gardening helper and it's free fertilizer from things you would otherwise throw in the trash. There are even units that work in a portable/sealed way to reduce odor if that matters. Your strawberries would spring to life with a bit of compost and regular watering, trust me, but potting soil or top soil would be a close second alternative.

There's other factors of course - whether these strawberries need well drained soil, and placement for the right amount of sun per day.
BM

Carrie
06-10-2009, 06:54 PM
I think just about everything you mentioned is a factor in why they're not doing well. They never got any new growth, and what leaves they had have all died. I think I have one plant still alive, and it won't be for long. I had thought that composting was pretty much out because I have to be careful not to gross out the steady stream of neighbors walking through the door where my plants are. What I really need is my own home, but that comes with its share of problems as well as solutions.

Right now, I just need to weed...need to get out from behind the computer!

Forgot another thing about my reluctance to eat meat until I was long gone from here last night, and that is the knowledge of how environmentally taxing raising meat is as opposed to vegetables. Everyone harps on about how vehicles and industry spew out greenhouse gases, etc., but the truth is, the meat industry is a far, far worse culprit. Now, true, if everyone were eating meat in very limited quantities, this would be much less of an issue, but too many people want to keep feeding their faces with it constantly. Now why the meat industry can escape attention on the pollution issue, but the auto industry can't, I don't know - are the meat people really that much more powerful, is it that we eat far more meat than we drive our cars, or is it that we'd give up our cars before we'd give up our burgers? Dunno.

Beached Male
06-10-2009, 07:26 PM
Carrie,
You raise a good point but there is some error in that argument, in stating that the meat industry as a whole has that problem. Let me explain. For much of the "developed" world that raises cattle herds primarily for beef, what you say is accurate. Especially when it is European type cattle raised on ranches where the local grasses don't suit them and then the land must be more intensely worked to raise grain and special grasses to feed them. Simply using all this machinery is fuel and cost intensive.

However, not all the world does it this way. There are two options:

1. Eliminate the need to raise food by changing the breed of the cattle. For example, raise Buffalo in the midwest to western plains because their stomach digests the plains grass just fine and they thrive on that grass, whereas a European cow won't digest plains grass (did you know?). This may take more land and sturdier fencing (or very large free range), but the larger land requirement is a tradeoff in comparison to other capital expenditures, especially fuel and machinery to raise grain or compatible grasses.

2. Shift to New Zealand grazing methods. Simply put, the New Zealand farmers/ranchers are better than us. NZ farmers are more wealthy and have more recreation time than most all other farmers in the world. Here's how they do it. They focus on three things: livestock quality (and type), land quality/upkeep, and fencing. They don't buy machinery and they generally don't build barns and buildings. To them those are unnecessary capital expenditures. Instead, they ensure the type of cattle they raise are well suited for outdoor life year round, and they provide necessary land upkeep to ensure enough shade balance and trees exist on the land. They rotate the cattle on their land with flexible/movable fencing to keep their cattle fed off the land, not by machinery. As result, there is not as much intensive machinery work required, but there are a select few companies who do own machinery who turn a profit cutting hay or such for a large number of farmers. Americans are too concerned about each having their own toys, their own tractors and combines. Rather, it's more efficient to have the machinery owned and operated in a centralized manner in NZ.

There's much more to this, but right now the NZ folks are teaching the U.S. how to farm their way (not the other way around). I think Wisconsin is taking a serious look at this.

Again, you make a point, but it is isolated to the wasteful way American farms have been run to this point. When it comes to transportation, your argument actually takes a turn for the worse -- if a truckload/trainload of beef is compared in calories to a truckload/trainload of grain, there is more calories in the beef than grain by space/volume, so it is cheaper to move beef than grain. Having said that, I don't think that fact should inspire anyone to take on a predominantly meat diet, as meat is best consumed as a side dish in moderation.

Try Googling "New Zealand grazing methods" for some interesting reads on this subject. I plan to use these exact methods when I buy a farm in the future. As the NZ farmers say, "Retirement is a process, not an event." And they plan well for it.

Carrie
06-10-2009, 08:02 PM
Hmmm...interesting. I hope you're right that the U.S. could make such a sweeping change, but I have little faith in it - the American way is all about resisting change at every turn. I don't know that the fat cats would believe they'd actually make more profits with more humane methods (even if they would), making them not want to switch. But maybe things will get SO bad here (and for them) that we'll be forced to do something as a society...that's probably the ONLY way it'll happen. The economic situation may even have at its heart a push-back by nature for our having asked too much of it, and taken more than our share, for too long. Personally, I think humans need to stop thinking that they can just take advantage of whatever (and whoever, and by whoever, I include other animals) they want without consequence, then b**** and moan when nature evens things out. They aren't just here for our consumption - life and the universe is far more interconnected than that. We deserve what we get - wasn't it Cy who said nature's spanking our asses? :devil:

Beached Male
06-10-2009, 08:50 PM
Carrie, it's not always "We" but "They" who are to blame. In some cases, we simply need to lay blame where it should be placed. This is one reason I put this thread in Sign of Fire, because I hope to inform folks here of the dirty business of food and who specifically to blame and question.

Monsanto. Purveyors of Agent Orange and Agent Blue. Always been a corporation that we should give pause and consider if they hold our collective good interest in mind or simply their bottom line. Think about this - do farm subsidies really exist for farmers, or are farmers simply conduits for capital expenditures that benefit both industry (machinery/fuel) and agri-chemical/supply (Monsanto)? Monsanto probably controls nearly 90% or more of their type business now. Did you know that as result of the safe food bills being proposed in Congress, Monsanto could effectively sue farmers for using their patented genetically altered seeds beyond one year? So, a 2009 seed can't be planted in 2010, convenient for the Monsanto bottom line, eh? Yet another reason to get non-GM seeds in your stores and put away for years of potential production. But the current administration just loves Monsanto (as did all other partisan administrations). Former Monsanto exec's are now heading up posts that all relate to Agri-Policy. They're not worried about organics, they make big money off synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified (and patented) seeds. Sure, you can grow big crops with their products, for a price. However, what "cost" will we reap in the future from Monsanto? I would refer back to Agent Orange for a clue...

Oh, there's much more on this subject, will have to wait for another day. All those loans farmers take out for this Monsanto product, and for the machinery they perceive they need, and there's bankers more than happy to give them the loan for well below normal market interest rates --- why??? Oh, the land..the land, it is worth it, and it can be seized if you choose not to fully participate in the game, then another sucker or corporate farm will take your seat at the table, and help this insidious financial churn continue.

Now let's go down the rabbit hole. What substance does Monsanto also make that is proven to cause humans to crave calories? Convenient isn't it, a chemical that makes you want to eat more? After all, they're in the food business so why not fill the masses with a substance that encourages more eating. What is this magic substance? Aspartame, also called NutriSweet. So, you don't like Agent Orange. In the future, you will like NutraSweet even less. Ah, the convenience of chemical engineering, we didn't even have to harvest a thing to get this artificial sweetener.

BM

Carrie
06-10-2009, 10:07 PM
Ohhh, you'll get no argument from me about the evils of those folks! And you're right, the average person is just "a pawn in this great scheme", and not the core of the problem. I get so angry at the complacency and lack of questioning by my fellow humans, but I do need to stop and think how difficult, scary, and expensive (which really hits home in these times) Big Brother makes it to resist. But we must do what we can...maybe get sneaky while we wait for Nature/God to bite the right culprits in the bee-hind? And lead by example and hope that our success is inspiring enough? Agreed. But it takes more patience than this hot-head oftentimes has...I think Cy's perception of my "overactive mind" reveals my frustration and wish to compensate for people who just don't think. Either that, or my conjuring up Orwellian scenarios come from "hittin' the DVD's too hard", as that one commercial says! :p

Yeah, my strawberries may have been small and not plentiful, but they were mine...and tasty! Better luck next time!

Beached Male
06-22-2009, 07:40 PM
A good day for the local garden/orchard -- I just sprouted another Date Palm, but this was the first one to sprout directly from the soil outside rather than in a pot. I'd planted well over 20 seeds outside, and this was the first to spring up, even though it has been 100+ degrees over here. These are some tough trees and I continue to be amazed at them. Like the Buffalo - a staple to fulfill needs.

Anyone else have gardening success stories? Keep at it, these are the grueling months where weeding and the wait set in.
BM

Carrie
06-22-2009, 08:28 PM
Just harvested some broccoli tonight, after some nom-noms this morning from a black squirrel spurred me into action! Had some tonight along with some store-bought; while mine was a little coarser, it cooked up far greener, and I think had a better taste. Wish I'd bought more plants...I'm not sure that once you pick the florets, you get any more from the same plant that season? It's a pretty green plant, even if not. My mini tomatoes are pinking up too, and very tasty, the few I've had. I have a bunch of lettuce to eat, so I see salad in my future...or sandwich filling! I did the weeding a week or so ago, so I'll be good for a few more weeks...

Beached Male
07-21-2009, 11:11 AM
I have a dozen or more date palms sprouting up, and I keep planting more. I'm finding that it only takes one month for them to sprout outside, and they do very well even though it is 100+ degrees F everyday. I thought they'd sprout and burn up, but just the opposite - they're flourishing. Goes to show that some plants can be sprouted and grown at any time of year, simply need the right seed, the water, and the will to keep at it.

What is interesting is that all around the patches of small plants and date palms I am growing -- the bugs (good kind) are all starting to crowd around. Little jumping spiders I haven't seen before are gathering around them, probably feeding on bugs desparate for the water I give the plants. Little sand geckos are also all around, and with my regular watering, they seem to be rapidly reproducing and gaining in numbers. Even a "Camel Spider" has made a home behind my Spanish Flag plant. He only comes out infrequently, but he (or she LoL) comes out like a little soldier unafraid of anything - they're related to scorpions but they don't have a tail, instead use very powerful jaws to quickly rip apart other bugs and small things. "Life" is returning where there seemed to be none.

I've seen a few monarch butterflies pass through, although a couple months ago. Ladybugs sporadically passed through also, although since the temps went over 100 I haven't seen one.

This is one aspect of gardening I've only recently learned more about -- how to ensure you keep the good bugs and critters working for you. Toads are another one - they especially help against slugs - for those in the U.S. fighting that menace naturally.
BM

msmith1
07-21-2009, 11:37 AM
BM--you're lucky to have a green thumb! Keep posting your garden tips!

I've always struggled at growing plants--friends have said it's because plants can "sense" vegetarians...I guess plants have fear...LOL!

Climate change has been affecting us up here...these past couple of summers have been very irregular, so I've been told.

Last year, the only thing that did well and produced for us were a few assorted herbs, the fig tree and the jalapenos! LOL! Who knew?! Hot peppers in the cool PacNW!

This year, it's tomatoes, tarragon and chives...everything else has given up the ghost. Something has been eating at the figs, so no luck there. We should be seeing ripe tomatoes in another week--lots of green ones out there now (couple each of Roma, Cherry and a Russian eating variety). My husband has an amazing freezer spaghetti sauce he makes, so we'll use them up for that.

My brother grows his tomatoes n' peppers in buckets hanging upside down! He's had great success with habaneros, but he's in SC--the heat.

Kim

Beached Male
07-21-2009, 11:50 AM
Kim,
You raise a very good point for home gardeners - planning ahead for a variety of seasonal changes. For example, one should plant a variety of vegetables, some that do better than others in drought, some that do better in high rainfall situations where root rot from too much water could be a problem.

Basically - bring diversity to your plan for your garden. This is another thing I'm reading up on.
BM

Carrie
07-21-2009, 06:25 PM
BM, would love to see pics of your critters someday, if circumstances allow! I'm fascinated even with bugs.

Funny story of the day...my co-worker was in the restroom when she noticed a beetle scurrying around her feet. Not wanting to crunch it under her shoe, she reached for the only possible weapon at hand - a can of room freshener - and sprayed it on the poor thing! Of course, it did nothing to kill the bug, who ran away. Another co-worker went and rescued it to the outdoors (I think; I hope she didn't kill it, but she usually doesn't), but not before I observed, "That's gonna be one good-smellin' bug"! Hehehe :p

I keep getting more and more broccoli from the same plant, and my onion plant is getting ready to have flowers. Cool.

msmith1
07-22-2009, 02:24 PM
BM & Carrie- do you do "square foot" gardening? And companion planting?

Kim:)

Carrie
07-22-2009, 05:22 PM
I'm gonna say no, since I haven't heard of either one. I have literally a tiny strip of dirt on either side of the walk to my apartment building, so you might call mine "square inch" gardening :p

Beached Male
08-25-2009, 01:26 PM
MsSmith - yes, I have planted corn, squash, and beans before such as the native american "3 sisters" method. Not sure how that planting technique turned out this year. I'm not tending garden back home but I hear it's going ok.
There are several books out there on how to maximize productivity per square foot in a cramped situation. My goal - own enough land to not worry about that problem.
Harvest is coming soon...
BM

Beached Male
04-12-2012, 04:59 AM
This is an old thread now, but just sending an annual reminder - it's planting time in the Northern Hemisphere for most climates. I'm now fortunate enough to grow things year round here in the tropics.

Anyone else having success at gardening or have a story to tell?

One book I can recommend, having read it: "How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine" by John Jeavons.

http://www.amazon.com/Vegetables-Berries-Thought-Possible-Imagine/dp/1580087965

BM

edelweiss
04-18-2012, 01:05 AM
Just today, I planted tomatoes, green onions, green beans, two type of strawberry plants, green,red and yellow peppers. All are organic. I hope they will grow. I have them in large pots because, where I live, the ground is indian clay.

Beached Male
05-25-2013, 02:03 AM
edelweiss,
So sorry that I am replying over a year later! The book I linked previously was updated shortly after I posted and is on its 8th edition now, and frequently used as a college textbook for organic farming. The technique described is the "French Intensive Method" for a raised bed garden that folds in compost. Translated - even your Indian Clay can be transformed into a different soil quality by folding compost in. If you buy and use a composter, you're making your own fertilizer and future garden soil that over time can tip the balance of your predominant clay soil for a local raised garden. That's one of the key points of the book and this method, is that it doesn't matter what you start with, you can intensively manage small squares of land to grow more veggies per square foot than other methods and crowd more plants in than normally would be advised in traditional row crop plantings.

This year I have focused more time toward fruit trees and vines - a young Mango tree that sprouted its first fruit this year (all 2 of them), Lilikoi vine, giant starfruit tree, and a young dwarf tangerine tree. I've enjoyed my tropical setting but look forward to one day having a normal 4-season year and normal planting seasons again.
BM