Friday, July 15, 2011

Spring/Summer Garden Review

I've been wanting to do a review of our spring/summer garden, to keep a record, and also to note what has worked well in our garden beds and what hasn't worked so well.
We're still figuring out our light patterns and temperatures, not to mention the weather has been pretty cold this spring/summer (and real hot lately!).

These are some of our first true attempts at gardening in the beds we built last year.

Here are my grades for our gardens.
Lettuce and swiss chard: A, possibly A+
We got tons of different lettuce, growing throughout the spring and providing us with many salads. Our lettuce has bolted by now, and we're just saving some for the seed. The chard grew just as well, and is still going for us.

Basil: D
I've been unhappy with our basil plants! Small leaves, straight to flower. No good.

Kale: A+
Tons of hearty kale. What do you do with so
much kale? Make kale chips, put in green smoothies, make some of those gross
sounding kale cookie recipes? [gag]. I've been
thinking about
harvesting most of it, pureeing it, and freezing it in ice trays so you
can easily put them in green smoothies (which are pretty good, despite what my husband says.)

Squash: A
We got a great summer squash: the patty pan squash. That fruited early and gave us tasty little squash. A volunteer sprouted up in one of our unplanted bed, and we're still not sure what it is. And another volunteer heirloom pumpkin set up shop near our compost bins and is going strong. We'll be set come halloween.

Corn: D
Our corn has sucked this year. The stalks didn't grow very well. Something(s) ate some of our ears. We need a better spot for them.
Tomatoes: B
We're growing four kinds of tomatoes (maybe more?). Emerald evergreen, violet jasper (fav name), brandywines, speckled romans, and your typical red cherries.
We're just getting ripe tomatoes... yay! I was unsure if our tomatoes were going to turn out this season...
but we fertilized them and they're plumping up.

We're also growing peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, and more.

Here's some pics of our harvest so far...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crazy posts.

To those of you subscribed by email to our blog... sorry if you got an email with posts from long, long ago. I have done some switching with my blogger profile, and it due to an annoying feature in blogger, I had to re-post old posts to get them assigned to me again.

If you're not subscribed by email... disregard. Although, if you want to subscribe... it's right over there to the right. And hopefully there will be no more retro posts.

Choose your own adventure

I woke up this morning at 6:00 to the awful sound of panicked chickens. I looked out our bedroom window and to my horror saw a coyote in the chicken run with a white Cornish rooster dangling from the coyotes mouth. The worse part was the damn coyote smiled at me with the dangling chicken in his mouth. It was just like the chicken scenes in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Once I gathered my senses I darted outside in my underwear like a mad man screaming bloody murder and ran right for the coyote. He escaped just like in the movies. I am measurably slower without coffee. So here is the bizarre part.... Our chickens are always locked up secure and happy, but this morning the latched outside door was opened and the flock was meandering freely around our gardens.

So here is the part you need to vote on. 1. Did a coyote figure out how to open the secured latch on our chicken door and break in? 2. Did somebody break into our coop in the middle of the night and casually leave the door open in their pursuit of farm fresh organic eggs?
3. Did the wind mysteriously blow the latch to the door open for the first time in year attracting our sinister menace? Note: It was closed the night before. 4. Did aliens looking for intelligent life forms bypass our house in the middle of the night and head straight for the chicken coop to perform their experiments? There were no identifiable crop circles in the morning. So go ahead and cast your vote, or come up with your own scenarios. Help us solve this annoying mystery. The hens are depending on you!

Bathroom, too.

So, Sarah posted a little while ago about her favorite part of the bathroom - the clawfoot tub.  While I do think this was an awesome find, I think that the thing I was most excited about was the awesome toilet we found!  Throughout the process, from the point of conception of the idea, the thing that I really wanted to make was a stand-alone functional structure that didn't have to be tied into any utilities.  We didn't succeed fully because we did decide to tie it into the electrical rather than put solar panels on it, but only with the though that we would hopefully someday soon have our entire house running off of solar.  We also did tie it into the water line, BUT the coolest thing is that the only thing we have running out of it is gray water that we hope to use to water our fruit trees.  We were able to secure an awesome Envirolet all-in-one composting toilet so that we could avoid the sewer line and any problem of potential black water.  On one of my previous posts, I had voiced the dilemma we were having with the toilets - we had secured a very fancy composting toilet that wouldn't really work with what we had because it needed to sit way above the composter like this:
Through a series of fortunate circumstances, we were able to sell our Sun-Mar toilet that we bought for $600 for $1200 on Ebay!  Of course, we hadn't taken into account all of the shipping and other fees we'd have to pay (another story), but we still ended up making a couple of hundred dollars profit off of the sale.  Now our problem was that these Envirolet toilets retail for almost $1500.  We definitely didn't have it in our budget to drop an extra $800 on a toilet, so we kept our eyes opened on Craigslist.  Low and behold, a posting appeared, asking $400.  Of course, it was for sale in Watsonville, which is quite a way from San Diego.
Thankfully, Sarah has family in the Central Coast, they lined up a visit and picked it up on the way home!  It worked out great, and we weren't upside down on our budget.  It looks amazing in it's little corner niche.
And here's the king's view from the throne:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Victory Workshop!

Just an FYI to anyone interested, RADIO ACRES FARM will officially be collaborating with Victory Gardens San Diego  to offer a mini-workshop on how-to backyard chicken =)  It will be at 5:00, this friday at the farmers market.  The People's Produce Project Farmers Market runs from 2:00 to 7:00 pm every friday on Euclid, just north of Market.  Follow the signage...

Cob Stompin

We took the short drive to Euclid Ave to participate in our Friday ritual of fresh local food and community. I was prepared to meet up with some great people and buy some local produce, but we stumbled upon an unusual scene. There was a group of Second Chance youth collecting rocks and asphalt on the outskirts of the parking lot. Second Chance is a program that works with incarcerated youth and teaches them valuable job and life skills to transition them into the "real world". There was a large tarp with rocks, clay, sand and hay set up and a crowd gathered around Chad Bliss the youth farm coordinator for Second Chance. Chad asked the group of onlookers why farming and earthen building skills are important? Answering his own question Chad eloquently rambled on about how people are totally dependent on others, sometimes working 2 jobs just to survive, eat and have a roof over our heads. People who can grow their own food and learn earthen building can create a sustainable future and be less dependent on a "thing" based economic system that values "things" more than people. Chad took off his shoes and started mixing materials found in our back yards like clay, sand and water. Cob squished through his toes and the smiles of the crowd were contagious.

He started stompin and mixing the materials and rolled them back and forth using a blue tarp like a spring roll wrapper to roll the materials back and forth. His wet muddy feet were to much for my daughters and with a little prodding we too were cob stompin. Another local kid had already joined in the fun and we were dancing the Cob Stomp. Around and around we went with reckless abandon. Our dancing feet were creating a natural building material and maybe some community art.

Cob has been used all over the world as a building material and is known for moderating the internal air temperatures of homes. Cob is constructed using rocks as a base to keep the cob away from moisture, and is blended with hay which provides a sort of natural rebar to strenthen the structure. Cob is sealed with bees wax, wheat paste, or limestone paste to keep moisture out. It is easy to work with, hard as a rock and virtually free. You don't need multiple trips to Home Depot and your kids can help create and design the structures. The only problem is the permitting at this point but hopefully this to will change like gray water policy in San Diego.

So go ahead get some neighbors together and throw a Cob Stompin party. Take your shoes off and let go. You just might even create your own pizza oven, bench , wall or maybe even a house. Consider it a neighborhood art project, pedicure or a free mud bath.

This Peoples Produce Farmers Market workshop is a series put on by Victoy Gardens that will happen every other week and teach our community valuable skills of self sustainability. This is a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and support your local economy. Check them out at  

For your information: Just a couple million years ago there were whales swimming down Euclid and Market right smack dab on top of the People's Produce Farmers Market and the graffiti walls of Writers Block. The only predictable part of life is change. Enjoy it!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Way too many chickens

Did we mention in a previous blog that we got about 30 meat chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery? (and yes, that really is their name).  Well that was about 3 months ago and know those cute chicks are big and in my opinion, eating us out of house and home.  Literally, they eat non-stop.  I guess that's what happens when you get meat birds, they are bred to pack on the pounds. 

We also hatched out eggs from our late rooster, Doodle-do, about 10 or so.  And if that wasn't enough, just last week we bought 14 fertilized Maran eggs to put under another hen. So in about 2 more weeks we will have 14 more.  Which means by the end of July we will have approx. 60+ chickens, of which about half are roosters and just learning to crow. 

To complicate matters, I just saw a moving truck at our neighbors. Uh-oh....Maybe we should bring them a chicken dinner....