July 2010

For anyone who has been paying attention the past few years, it’s clear that growing your own food is becoming popular again. Seed companies have seen sharp demands for their seed stocks and beekeeping and chicken husbandry classes are being offered in virtually every urban area. There are many reasons for this. Some people are concerned about food security. Some people want the better taste and variety of homegrown food. Whatever the reason, the trend is clear.

The New York Times has chronicled this change for the past several years and yesterday reported that the trend has even hit botanical gardens. Apparently, attendance is down and previous event sponsors are no longer supporting traditional events. So, the gardens are getting more creative on a variety of fronts. But, the primary change is captured in this single sentence, buried in the middle of the article:

Edible gardens are the fastest-growing trend at botanical gardens, consistently increasing attendance, experts say, along with cooking classes.

This is not only unsurprising, but good news. Edible gardening is also the primary trend in home gardens, resulting in higher food security and higher quality food.

First, the good news. I’m harvesting figs now. Like most of my fruit, I’m letting them get super ripe, so they are deliciously soft, melt in your mouth good. I’ve had problems in the past with squirrels eating them before I can get to them, so I experimented with making plastic “cages” for them this year. This might have helped, because none of them were attacked by squirrels this year. However, there could be other reasons for this; (more…)

A friend of mine had trouble guessing what kind of livestock I was thinking of adding, even with lots of hints.  When she finally got to bees, she claimed they weren’t livestock. I’ll defer to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service on this. They consider bees as other livestock, so I’ll go along with that.

I’ve had an interest in bees for several years, (more…)

I checked this morning and there is one baby hummingbird in the nest in my front yard. Ain’t it a cutie? Thankfully, mama was no where in sight, as she doesn’t like it when I’m anywhere near the tree. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

Here are a few shots of the planters themselves, to show how they are constructed. The green planters were made following my friend’s instructions, by cutting out a section of the plastic tub’s lid the size and shape of the tub’s interior about five inches off the bottom (the height of the pond baskets that drop into the water reservoir). While this results in a large tub, it is very time-consuming to do this.

Me second approach (more…)

Last winter I took a series of gardening classes and one in particular intrigued me. The instructor, another Master Gardener in my county (in fact, she was the one that told me about the training program) taught one class on how to make self-irrigating planters. I love the acronym–SIPs–although I have to say these planters don’t really SIP. They use at least as much water as a regular planter, but more of that water is going into production because losses from soil evaporation are virtually nil.

In any case, a friend and I built a couple planters each one day. As I readied to plant them I realized (more…)