Time for blogging has been nil until now.

I’ve had the good fortune of making friends with the Parish Agent for the Agricultural extension, Rob. Actually, we’ve been friends since the Ron Paul campaign, but I didn’t know what he did for a living. Anyway, we talked over lunch about my yard and the limits I have for growing vegetables. The sunniest part of my property is the driveway doing along the side of my house (which we don’t use). I haven’t wanted to tear that up in case we sell the house or change our minds about the driveway. So I build a gate between the house and the privacy fence and planted a bunch of stuff in pots. Well, Rob convinced me to go ahead and build raised beds and then just take them out if I ever need to, so I have started doing that. I made the first bed this weekend which is 8ft x 4ft. I shoveled out the gravel and compacted soil and dug down about two feet then added soil to about 6 inches above ground level. It’s bordered with landscape timbers. Next I’m going to make another 8×4 bed for the wife to grow herbs and then I’m going to make a very large bed about 6 ft x 15 feet. The latter will be hard to tend, but since I only have so much space I’m going to try to get as much as possible with it. After watching this video, I think I’ll use cinder blocks for my border for that. (Video: http://www.ky3.com/news/local/43761277.html)
My other sunny spot is the front yard. We’re still planning to make a hedge of Blueberry bushes along the north side when we have the extra cash. I read somewhere that carrots make a nice sidewalk border, tried it, and it is looking pretty good though it’s not a uniform border. Last night I pulled the weeds out of the flower bed in front of the porch (BTW we finally stained the porch and it’s looking good) and planted pumpkins that I hope will be orange come fall, more carrots, artichokes and some purple-hulled beans. They are planted in a kind of ornamental arrangement and I’m hoping they look good when it all comes up. I think the average person won’t know my flower bed is edible. We might put some nice looking herbs in a bed by the picket fence, but beyond that I don’t plan to turn my front yard into a garden.
So far we are having a steady and tasty harvest. Only lettuce, mustard greens and potatoes so far though. It’s all good, but the potatoes have been our favorite. The wife cooks them with rosemary (from her herb garden). My firstborn has a good time helping me harvest the potatoes too. It’s an Easter egg hunt and fun in the dirt rolled into one. His primary interest is flowers though.

We gave tomatoes the size of figs, figs the size of peas and squash the size of my index finger…and growing.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm  Comments (6)  

What am I Eating?

Saturday night we watched Supersize Me, the documentary of a man who went from eating healthy to eating at McDonalds three times a week for a month. The documentary was over the top, had a lot of sensationalism, and was typical journalist hype (Not completely journalist’s fault because that’s what people want to watch). Still, some of the factual information was disturbing and the McDonalds diet was not good for the man. It got me thinking that food is an industry. Human nature is to try to make as much money as possible, and people often cut corners and do things that are not right in the quest for profits. Food is one of those things that affect human beings (and animals) and so it’s a shame that people would cut corners to make a buck when it harms people, but the food industry has a perverse incentive to make as much money as possible regardless of what it does to man and animal. “Maybe it would be a good idea to pack meals when I go on the road” I thought.

Then yesterday I was in the car and heard a story on the news (I thought it was NPR, but it turned out to be a religious station) about genetically engineering animals for increased food production. There was not lot of commentary, but merely clips of people from people who were for and against it. It made me sick at my stomach. While the food industry people (who were for it) droned on in careful speech that sounded like they had plenty to hide, those who were against it talked about how the current breeding and production were bad enough: poultry bred to have such large breasts they were incapable of mating, poultry bred such that they were so large, or their systems so focused on egg production, their frames were on the verge of collapse, disease prone cows and a recent scandal where sick cows were shown being beaten and dragged.

Published in: on April 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm  Comments (3)  

Over The Weekend

I had been a little concerned that not much other than greens would grow in my back yard. I got a little boost by a post here that listed a bunch of things one can grow in six inch pots. The sunniest part of my property is the driveway which I don’t want to dig up. Over the weekend I got a half yard of sand and mixed a huge heap of sand, top soil and compost and filled somewhere around 60 to 80 pots and planted two types of beans and one type of peas. In some larger posts I also transplanted some peppers. Then I built a gate to go from my house, accross the driveway and connected to my neighbor’s privacy fence. This blocks the unsightly potted plants. The driveway is an old shell driveway (to the horror of environmentalists, at one time driveways and roads were paved by seashells dredged from the gulf) that is prone to weeds coming through so I picked up two trailer loads of leaves to mulch the part of the driveway where the pots will be.

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weekend Eve

Last Friday we had some good friends over so they could see the progress in our garden.  This Friday the wife and I are going to their house to see what they have done so far.  It ought to be fun.  If I can find enough people here in Lake Charles who are into growing food in the city, It’d be fun to start a little tour of gardens/supper club.

Tommorow and Sunday I’ll be set free from the office and plan to wear myself out digging new beds and planting more seeds.  It’s really refreshing to get out of the office and work with my hands. 

Sometimes I think that if we learn to live more simply, pay things off etc. I could retire early and putter around all of the time, or if I had a little land grow a few crops (we think we would grow berries).  On the other hand, I think a large part of my enjoyment of working with my hands is that most of the time I have to sit at a desk and work.  I can remeber getting sick of the books and the stress in college [Ha! I didn’t know what stress was then and I spend three times as much time studying now] but after a couple months welding rebar or running conduit though pipe racks, and I saw the value of an education.

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 4:35 pm  Comments (2)  

Urban Homesteading

The wife and I are trying our hand at “urban homesteading.”  We thought hard about moving out to the country, but when we bought out house in town a couple years ago, we never saw anything we wanted to get.  Recently we revisited the possibility of moving out of town, but we sure like having neighbors and being able to walk to work.  We also love our old house. We also thought about just buying land outside of town for a “camp” where we grow a few things.  But, considering the cost of gas, and all of the troubles the U.S.A. has in keeping up with our gas guzzling, does it really make sense to drive 20 miles outside of town and drive every day or every time we need to go work on the crops? I had wanted to grow vegtables around the house, but the only place that gets full sun is the front yard and it would look tacky to have okra and tomatoes out there. 

Then I started reading and realized there was a lot I could do with the limited sun in the back, there were some pretty vegetables I could grow up front, and there were some places I could grow in containers in between. 

So here we go.  We just started this spring.  So far we have only harvested mustard greens (quite tastely when cooked with a little seasoning bacon and garlic by the way), but other crops continue to grow.  I haven’t grown vegetables seriously since I was a kid following my parents orders, so there is a lot to learn, but I’m diving in rather than worrying too much about that.  Where I live in south Louisiana is really good for growing as there is never a time when you can’t grow something.

By the way, although I’m not an Obama fan, I was pleased to see he planted a kitchen garden.

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 9:06 am  Comments (4)