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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hoop House Fail

To say that the weather this "Winter" has been odd would be a gross understatement. Yesterday it was almost 70 degrees, then a front moved in and it dropped down into the 30's. It was also freaky windy. Given how degraded the plastic on my hoop house is becoming, I was a little worried about how it would handle the abuse. This morning when I was feeding the chickens, I walked over to inspect it and this is what I found:

I've had to patch up the hoop house numerous times, but they have all been tears that were 18" or smaller. I'm not quite sure what the best way to fix this gaping hole is going to be. I suppose that will be a job for tomorrow morning. I need to patch it quickly because I have a bunch of seedlings on my kitchen counter that are going to make their way out there before too long. Once Spring is in full effect, the plastic is going to come off, and eventually the frame will serve as a giant green bean trellis. For now, though, I need to seal it up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Online Garden Planner

There are tons of resources on the internet to help people plan their garden. Mother Earth News has a pretty cool program on their website...but it costs money. I was poking around (ie. wasting time) on the internet tubes yesterday when I stumbled across a somewhat simplified version of that software on the Gardener's Supply Company website. It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of the Mother Earth program, but for the low, low cost of nothing, I thought it was pretty cool. You can save individual beds and whole garden layouts. The plant list is a bit simplistic, but there is space for making notes about what varieties you're growing. My first inclination was to use it as a way to work out crop rotation, or play around with different garden arrangements. At any rate, it's a fun way to satisfy the gardening itch that seems to crop up this time of year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starting Seeds (and ordering more)

It's February, and I'm chomping at the bit to start planting things. Assuming that the plastic on the hoop house manages to make it through the spring, I plan on utilizing that space to start seedlings and harden off plants without over-crowding the kitchen counter. At this point I have 2 1/2 trays of seeds planted. They include: Early Flat Dutch Cabbage, Green Sprouting Broccoli, Silvery Fir Tree and Purple Russian Tomatoes, Curly Blue Scotch Kale, and .... I forget, there are 2 more. I'm also going to try to build a frame out of 1/2 inch conduit to hold the grow lights over the seed trays. I've had schrechlich gluck with starting broccoli in the past, so hopefully having a little more control over the lighting will help ward off tall, spindly seedlings.

I'm also getting set to oder some more seeds from Baker Creek (what can I say, I'm a junkie). Right now I'm planning on getting Golden Giant Amaranth, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Nero di Toscana cabbage, and Fordhook Giant chard. I also want to increase the quantity and variety of flowers around the 'Burbstead in order to attract more pollinators. I'm not sure what I'm get for that. Most of what I plant right now are Asters and Marigolds.