Growth is a double edged sword. Unchecked, growth can be cancerous and destructive. It is this type of ceaseless expansion that has put our society into the precarious environmental and financial positions in which we currently find ourselves. On the other hand, growth can be regenerative and life-giving. Following a forest fire or a bitter winter, the first green shoots to emerge from the earth bear witness to the earth's ability to restore life in the wake of disaster.

My goal for this blog is pretty simple and open-ended: I want to document and share with family and friends my efforts to incorporate an ever increasing degree of self sufficiency, voluntary simplicity, and environmentally-conscious design into my life as a would be urban homesteader.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Work

The temperatures this past weekend were unseasonably warm (the bank sign said 93 today). I took advantage of the opportunity to get some work knocked out around the house. The raised beds that wrap around the Southeast corner of the house didn't amount to much last year. I had some peppers, carrots, lettuce, and herbs in there. The only thing that came out of it were two tough-assed basil plants that defied my repeated attempts to dehydrate them. These are the beds that I want to plant all of my peppers in this year, so I needed to get them in order. I added dirt and compost to fill them up. For the record, a '92 Toyota Tercel with a gimpy 4 cylinder engine and a loose clutch will NOT haul 650 pounds of topsoil and a 254 pound driver at one time. I also improved the chook/rabbit/child defenses with some chicken wire. The beds with the trellis will house some early cucumbers. Now my pepper seedlings just need to get growing.

I also managed to clean and organize my shed - a job that was way overdue. In doing so, I drug out a bunch of pots that were hiding in a corner. I filled them with some potting soil that was laying around, and viola! Instant patio herb garden. More to come on this later.

Lastly, the Grand Rapids and Winter Density lettuce that I planted in February are really starting to come in, so they needed to be thinned. Thinning out a lettuce bed is a lot like weeding, except that you get to eat what you pull up. So tonight's supper featured the first salad from the summer garden. It was a nice finish to a very productive two days.


  1. Good show on the first salad of the season. I planted a bunch of crap 1 1/2 - 2 weeks ago and nothing has come up yet. Frustrating. I am definitely going to have to put up some row covers next year.

  2. Low tunnels are awesome! They easily extend your growing season by a month in the Spring and in the Fall. I think mine would have been more productive during the Winter if I had been more organized about getting things planted in advance. The best part is that they don't cost much to put up. Assuming that I had bought everything new (which I didn't), the materials list would have been:
    1/2" PVC pipe, 10' long : 5@$1.30 each= $6.50
    10'x25' 4mil plastic = $16.00
    Spring Clamps : 2@$1 each = $2
    Total $24.50

    That covers up one 4'x12' bed pretty easily. For the cost of two more pieces of PVC, you could stretch that to 4'x18'. Keep in mind that the contractor grade plastic will only last you for about one season, two if you're really lucky. You can order UV protected greenhouse plastic that will last for 5-7 years. That's what I'm getting for the big hoop house, and depending on the final cost, I might order enough extra for 2 low tunnels as well. My goal is to put floating row covers of Agribon-type cloth over the beds inside the hoop house Eliot Colman style, and then have a couple of low tunnels going next to it.