Posts Tagged ‘permaculture’

My post on vermiposting at enjoytimeoutdoors.com…

Worms Ate My Garbage- A Lesson in Vermiposting.


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Here’s the weekly vlog update for 18 July 2010 …

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I finally shot a video update of the container garden and posted it on YouTube.

I’ve been adding new containers almost weekly and plan to continue through the growing season.

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Just a couple a random thoughts as I relax and enjoy this beautiful rainy day…

Springtime lawn destruction: Where’s the logic in ‘rolling’ the lawn?

Over the last few days at least three of my neighbors fired up their riding mowers and dragged a large, heavy lawn roller around their properties. 

As I watched, I asked myself if I should plan on doing this, also?  Then the aspiring Permaculturist in me spoke up and shouted “Heck no!”  They are destroying the wonderful, airy growth zone in their lawn.  The precious, non-compacted space that took nearly three seasons of  ‘being left alone’ to create.  A precious place where tiny organisms can thrive, where rain and dew can be more easily absorbed and where the grasses’ roots can breath and expand.

Needless to say, I quickly banished the idea of crushing my lawn from my mind.

Container Sizes:  How important is it and what is the impact of under-sized containers?

With the abundance of successfully sprouted pepper, tomato, and various other veggies and herb seedlings, I’m left scrambling to find suitable containers to transplant them into.  I have about six, thirteen-inch containers for the some of the tomatoes and peppers.  This won’t be enough for the number of starts I would like to keep.  I have over a dozen peppers I would like to keep, since both of my sweet and hot peppers are mixes.  I have no idea which varieties I have going.   Maybe mix packets weren’t the best idea for a first-time container garden.

My question, what is the risk in planting peppers or tomatoes in smaller containers?  I have a number of  eight inch glazed ceramic containers.

In my quick research, everything I’ve seen talks about the ideal size containers.  None listed the consequences of a slightly undersized container.  Will the plant be smaller and the fruit not as abundant, or will the plant die off if it crowds itself and gets root bound? 

Time will tell, and so will I.  After all, that’s why I write Spisblog’s Journal.


Growhouse update:  Death sentence for unattended seedlings?

Before leaving the seedlings unattended in the growhouse I wanted to monitor the temperatures throughout the day to see how the temperatures change and to confirm that the poor little seedlings don’t get cooked or dehydrated.

Yesterday was a beautify day to monitor this.  It was a partly cloudy, breezy day in the mid-fifties (F).

About mid-morning when the internal temperature in the growhouse reached the low fifties, I moved the trays and strawberries in.

One of my key concerns with this growhouse is the lack of a vent flap or any easy way to allow heat-buildup to escape.  This proved to be a valid concern.  Within a few hours, the internal temp was climbing into the mid-eighties.   To regulate the temp, I would frequently open and close one of the zippers to allow the breeze to cool the internal temp.  With a little practice, I was able to keep it hovering in the mid-seventies .

While this was fine for a Saturday that I was home, this isn’t an option during the work week.  I need to find a better solution or the seedlings will cook.

My plan is to cut openings at the top of the side walls and line them with self adhesive velcro.  This way I can make an adjustable gap in the velcro, allowing for the excess heat to vent.  This will also provide for some airflow through the greenhouse, which will also help with condensation.

Seeing it’s raining right now, this sounds like a nice project for tomorrow.

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Cherry Tree

The last two evenings we’ve had nice weather here in NE Indiana.  With temperatures in the mid 50’s F,  not wanting to waste this unseasonably fine weather, I spent some time caring for the maples, arborvitaes, and flowering cherry trees.

It felt so good to get my hands in the soil again; breaking up the crust of last year’s wood chip mulch, loosening the soil, pulling clumps of grass that have grown up through the mulch and laying a fresh layer of cypress wood chip mulch.

Not only am I making the beds look nice, I’ve preparing them for the nitrogen fixers I’ll be planting in the months to come.  It looks like these poor trees have been neglected for years.


Some of the maples still had the original landscape fabric that’s probably been in place for twelve years now.  The mulched tree ring around the trees are still the same size they would have been when these trees were originally planted. 

I’ve been removing all of the landscape fabric or (worse yet) heavy plastic the previous owner used throughout the landscape.  I’m also expanding the tree rings to be more in scale with the tree’s size. 

Two of the maples (which both had landscape fabric) had very bad scars from sun-scorch on their trunks.  They were pretty well healed, but on the advice of the tree trimmer who helped with the willows, I wrapped both trunks with a paper tree-wrap.  He told me this would help them finish healing.


The five new arborvitaes have wintered over very well.  They were planted in the heat of late July last year and shed quite a bit in the fall.  I was concerned about their surviving winter, but all five are doing great.  They already appear to be growing this year.   They each got a cardboard ring (to suppress the grass) and a fresh layer of mulch.  I’ve seen the bunnies under these trees a lot this winter. After close inspection, they didn’t appear to do any damage.  I wonder if they were just enjoying the tiny pine cones or just using them for cover.

 Flowering Cherry-

The flowering cherry has issues.  It has a bad case of bacterial canker.  I’m still researching this problem and am trying to save the cherry, if possible.  To give it a fighting chance I’ve worked in a 1/2 bag of Miracle Grow garden soil into the heavy clay soil to help loosen and aerate it, mixed in some coffee grounds for my worm friends, and provided a protective layer of cypress mulch.  While prepping the soil I noticed that the tree was also planted too deep.  I dug around the root crown, with the hopes this will help the tree  breath better.  I’ll be keeping  a close eye on this tree this year.  I would prefer to treat it through environmental changes rather than chemically, but if a copper treatment is required, so be it. 

Hopefully it will make it through.

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This spring, while acquiring seeds for the container garden, I was quickly reminded just how expensive  this undertaking was going to be.  Along with nearly everything else, it seems like seeds are either more expensive or the size of the packets are shrinking.

I settled for ‘mix’ packets for things like lettuces, hot and sweet peppers, and a few other packets of middle of the road or very popular varieties of tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, beans, etc.

There’s an affordable alternative to buying retail or from expensive mail order catalogs; Heirloom Seed Swap.

Heirloom Seed Swap is a free seed swap site for seed savers.  Heirloomseedswap.com is an online marketplace where, through free ads, people can offer, trade, give away, or sell surplus and/or saved seeds.  A true person-to-person exchange.

Heirloomseedswap.com was created by Johnny Max and the Queen of the Self Sufficient Homestead Podcast, one of my favorite podcasts.

The site has only been online for a couple of weeks, but is already beginning to take off.

The neat thing about heirloomseedswap.com is that it offers a truly free marketplace for individuals, where rare or hard to find plant varieties can be exchanged when they are available.  It’s not a catalog that only offers the same run-of-the-mill or ‘common’ varieties.

This is a wonderful resource that can benefit everyone in the gardening and homesteading communities.  I am looking forward to contributing by offering seeds for trade or free. 

I think this is a noble cause that Johnny Max and the Queen have undertaken and they should be commended for donating their time, energies, and money to get it up and running. 

I hope it succeeds, for the benefit of us all.

Thank you Johnny and Queen!




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The compost bin is finally up and running!

I’ve had the addition of a compost bin on my list for some time, but I hadn’t decided where to place it and what to make it from.  I wanted to have a compost bin that was self-contained, wouldn’t dry out to quickly or stay too wet during rainy periods, easy to turn, easy to move (if so desired), relatively inconspicuous, and somewhat attractive (i.e.- not incredibly unattractive to the neighbors), and inexpensive to make. 

I considered the pre-made molded plastic bins, but couldn’t see spending the money.  I opted to use a spare Rubbermaid tote we had lying around.  To make the compost bin, I simply drilled 7/8 inch  holes in the bottom and all four sides, and filled it up.

a look inside...To get it going I added a weeks worth of veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, the remnants of my first round of spring cleanup debris, some soil from the best perennial bed we have, some old dried out potting mix (from some old containers), and a little potting mix, and watered well.

I located it in an old neglected bed that was little more than sun-baked clay with a little bit of  hardwood mulch.

After three short days, I was very happy to see that old bed coming back to life.  I moved the bin and discovered a handful of baby worms enjoying themselves in the moist, nutrient rich soil.  To give the bin a quicker start I added my little worm friends to it, with the addition of today’s coffee grounds and veggie scraps.

I have contemplated adding some worm towers to the main beds around the landscape.  After seeing the immediate success under the compost bin I think that decision just got a lot easier.

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