halifaxearthtech: Mysore fruit seller (Food)

As we order seeds and start them on our windowsills and kitchen tables, the last thing we probably want to think about are supplies of local vegetables for next winter. So I'll keep it short: order your brussels sprout, chard and endive seeds now, sow and forget. In ten months you'll be glad you did.

Belgian endive flowers
Belgian Endive flowers are highly ornamental

Here are Belgian Endives I grew last summer. The beautiful mauve blossoms and roseatte of green leaves are too bitter to eat in the summertime. They were developed for a practice known as "Forcing": the brutal art of causing a plant to use up it's winter root stores to create blanched leaves of a delicate flavour in the absence of light in your basement.
Winter-forced endives
The endive forced into winter production (picture by 3.0 from Wikimedia)

You've probably seen these torpedo-shaped salad greens in select grocery stores. They are much cheaper to create on your own with a little effort. These endives were grown in my furnace room, lights-off. If you don't get around to growing endives or are short on space, you can force dandelion roots too.

After a winter of cruel and unusual agriculture, my endives are greening up nicely in my porch. I will set them out again to gather another summers-worth of energy for future basement exploits.

 Endives turn green again in spring

The endive returns to bitter-tasting life in spring's sunlight
You can read about the impressive nutritional benefits of endive on their Wikipedia page


Aug. 11th, 2013 12:32 am
halifaxearthtech: Photo of fairy wrens taken by Bengamint444 from Wikimedia Commons (Habitat)
I've been quite busy all summer and I realise I've not posted much. Here are some updates on the home front.

All the garlic has been harvested. I've learned I eat 100 heads a year, and if I plant 26 heads (assuming an average 5 cloves a head) I'll grow enough to eat, and enough to plant for next year to have enough to eat and plant the following year (whew!).

I've finally finished building a pest-resistent second compost bin. Like the first, it can hold a cubic yard of compost, though this never happens because it rots down and reduces in volume constantly. We'd been contributing to the first bin for 18 months and there is just about a cubic yard of finished compost. It's all going in the raised beds. The composting toilet is also back in operation now.

One lesson from this year: don't plant zucchini in a permanent clover green-manure! The lack of airflow means it's succeptible to rust and then your zucchinis turn into slime. I did get one big one though early on. Fingers are crossed for subsequent zucchini.

Also, don't plant all your broccoli and brussels sprouts in the same bed, it makes it too easy for the moths to find them!

During July's heatwave my scarlet runners were curiously unproductive. I learned that temperatures had to dip below 35C for beans to set fruit. I had no idea they were so fussy!

I tried to be self-sufficient in peas this year. I got about half that far and froze a kilo of peas. I got maybe 6 L of raspberries and 10 L of black currants, most of which I sold. I also was able to give away many canes from thinning my raspberry row.

I was pleased with the wildflower bed this year.

All in all I can't complain. The new chest freezer is being put to good use and I'll be canning up peaches and tomatoes quite soon.
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
It's a familiar story. You didn't intend to grow potatoes in your garden but April came around and you were left with a bag of sprouted ones, pale necks yearning and straining towards life and you take pity on the potatoes and plant them. This time of year is like a second kind of Easter egg hunt.

I put these ones in a raised bed that was filled with fresh Bengal Lancers horse manure. This is part of my project to fill my raised beds without buying soil. A lot of soil available for purchasing can come from questionable sources: slow-to-replace peat moss strip-mined from bogs, biosolids, or sometimes the topsoil from a bankrupted farmer's field. And there is no need to buy it, if you are able to sit tight for a year or two. Just look at this finished product after only one year!

I eschewed the shovel and easily sifted through the raised bed with my hands. By the way, Bengal Lancers are always pleased to give manure away for free to anyone who asks nicely as they have to pay to have it removed.

Of course I have no idea what variety these guys are, I think they were the tail end of the Ecology Action Centre root cellar project, so they were organic and purchased locally. These will tide me over until the next root cellar purchase and are going to go into some veggie pate. And yes, I dug up my potatoes in the dark. The shorter days are catching me by surprise. And I'm kind of a goth, ok?

I want to see a side-by-side trial of raised beds filled with mulch and potato towers, to see if the potatoes planted into a tower that is already filled burrow down all the way and make just as many tubers as the potato that has mulch piled around it higher and higher all year.
halifaxearthtech: workmen stand outside Alexander MacKay school in 1918 (People care)
The common Roots Urban Farm had it's launching work party day today. The raised beds to the east side are for community groups, and there are a half-dozen or so that are for public consumption (the ones closest to Robie street). Jayme Melrose said she figured about 200 volunteers attended today. Councilor Jennifer Watts made an appearance.

The schematic of the final finished farm

a haybale insulated compost depot

volunteers wheelbarrow donated soil to the raised beds

chives on a chair
volunteers and a large pile of soil
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
More pictures from my garden.
It's time for another garden update.

I've been harvesting salads of arugula, spinach, radishes and lettuce for a couple of weeks now.

A lettuce that I grew from the root ball of a hydroponic lettuce bought at the grocery store.

The Ecology Action Centre root cellar discharged and I cleared out the last of my produce last week. Much of it went to Food Not Bombs. Of the remaining 10 pounds of beets, I will probably pickle and can them.

The last onion.

In other news, this is what happens to tomato seedlings when you don't start them in good-enough soil. Can you believe this? This is from the third week in May


The first 2012 Fruit Tree Planting Day (and the second ever Halifax fruit tree planting day of all time) took place Mother's Day. We distributed more than fourty fruit trees in Metro, and I'll get some photos up as soon as I can.

One of two hazelnut shrubs I ordered.
halifaxearthtech: photo by Lykaestria from Wikimedia Commons (Energy)
I have not blogged in a while. Spring is here and there is so much happening. Yesterday I gave a workshop to Christ Church on Ochterloney street about SPIN (Small Plot INtensive) farming. We put in a lasagna garden and some pallet gardens. Pictures:

< img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-9DLwezFwSvM/T6cGkwqW4fI/AAAAAAAAALU/JMZqNd7idPE/w287-h215-n-k/sheetmulch5.jpg">

About a month ago was the Halifax Seedy Sunday at the Seaport Farmer's Market. There, I gave a talk there about composting and soil health, along with Jayme Melrose, who talked about the Common Roots Urban Farm project and Nikki Jabbour, who talked about season extension. I got some buckwheat seeds from somebody who wants to help the bees. They will be a cover crop and lovely wildflower and bee-friend, as well as a small amount of grain, if I harvested it. I threw it outside on a nice day before reading that it should go out before the last frost date. Oops! We'll see if that became a problem.

The peas are coming up in the kitchen sink bed

A bumblebee. It looks like all the unusually sunny and dry weather will be good for the berries this year.

These are currants, gooseberries and hardy kiwi that I may be selling at the farmer's markets this season. Come by Annapolis Seeds if you want some. If business is good enough I'll bring them to the brewery market when seed-selling season is over in June.

The garlic is coming up in the aged horse manure raised beds. I wonder how big of a bulb they will make?

The tomatoes are coming along slowly but surely. I think the potting soil I used this year was
sub-par. I've added some blood and bone meal.

The buried container is successfully containing the stinging nettle.

The asparagus is only 3 years old. It looks like we will be able to harvest from it next year. I have been feeding it 4 times a year. I transplanted another one but it looks like it died. I also have a new lavender this year.

Next Sunday will be the fruit tree planting day. The time is finished to order trees, but if you want to help volunteer to plant trees, Meet at the Ecology Action Centre next sunday, the 13th, at 10:00 am. There will be another tree planting day, in the fall we hope. So if you wanted to get in on the action there is still hope, or you can buy a tree yourself at www.charliethetreeguy.ca.
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Daniel Keshet 2004 from Wikimedia Common (Botany)
I realise I haven't posted here in some time, spring is filling up and getting busy!

On Wednesday I met with COuncilor Jennifer Watts who had gathered together people interested in planting fruit and nut trees in the city and there were a good crowd. The results were uplifting.
Read more... )
halifaxearthtech: (Default)
(Posted at Sep. 27th, 2011 07:28 pm)

I had a good talk this morning with friend and permaculture practitioner. Right now I am modifying a list Verge gave me for food forest species from zone 3 to zone 6A. Let me know if you want a copy! The differences are striking. If we push the envelope in Halifax we can grow figs. It's ok, Alberta has much better topsoil!
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Joe Shneid of Louisville Kentucky, from Wikimedia Commons (Pattern)
(Posted at Sep. 13th, 2011 06:55 pm)

The neighbors have gently reminded me that it's time to tidy up the landscaping around the house. That is an evolving situation with which I am lucky to have Aaron help me out. I was in need of motivation to make the property presentable anyway. If I am to be serious about consulting then the place should be an example of what I am capable of.

Read more... )

The front will probably take another three hours. I am mulching some properties this week as well as my regularly scheduled shifts so that should bring in some badly needed income. Next week I've discovered someone is interested in having me consult and (permaculture) design for a large rural property in New Brunswick, an exciting opportunity
halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
(posted September)

The universe just smacked me down big time and I've had a demoralizing morning.
Last winter around November I got together with a couple of volunteers and we removed a lot of goutweed from the strawberry patch of Studley Garden. It is now August of the year after and I returned from a trip away to find the patch not, as I had hoped, taken over by strawberries but that the goutweed had returned, along with rampant blackberries and an abundance of sow thistle (sonchus).
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