Agroecology


This recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence that people have been doing selective breeding of plants–using evolutionary concepts of selection–as early as 10,000 years ago. This work continues today.

However, I post this research here with a warning. (more…)

aprium harvestI’m struggling with language here, so any advice is appreciated. An aprium is a new fruit variety, created by Zaiger Genetics. It’s 3/4 apricot and 1/4 plum, just the reverse of a pluot, also developed by Zaiger Genetics. (Before rambling on about my garden, I should mention that the SF Chronicle had a nice article on the Zaiger family a few days ago. I visited their farm a few years ago while on a tasting tour and met them. They’re good people, and (more…)

Last year I had a pretty primitive system of rainwater collection and storage, just four garbage cans and five-gallon buckets for collecting rainwater. This year I’ve advanced considerably, with three rainwater catchment barrels in place and a fourth ready to be chained into the system. For more on this year’s new setup, see my earlier post, My rainwater catchment system. Now that I’m collecting more water, and collecting it on the lowest part of my property, I’ve been wanting to figure out a better system for using the water and moving it to where it is needed.

A friend came by a few weeks ago to see my setup and told me how he moves around his laundry grey water. He has a small pump, a Simer M40, that I liked because it has two hose bibs, making both input and output easy to use in the garden. I found one used on eBay and it arrived today. With warm weather the past week and wind on top of that, I needed to irrigate. Plus, we have a storm coming in next week and I want my catchment barrels to be empty and ready to collect more rainwater with the next storm.

So, I tested out the pump, both for irrigation and to empty out the barrels. The pump is small, so it doesn’t put out a lot of pressure. But, there is enough pressure to hook up my hose and water my plants. The real test came when I moved over two catchment barrels of water to garbage cans elsewhere in my yard. The pump was slow, taking 12 minutes to fill each garbage can and drain half of a catchment barrel. But, it worked and I was able to do other yard work while the transfer took place. I now have 130 gallons of water stored in garbage cans and will have capacity to collect another 260 gallons of water with the coming spring storms. I like this setup! I’m thinking I might even get another container, a 200 gallon surplus food container, to put under my front window, then I can store water to irrigate my front yard once or twice during the summer. The pump could be used to move rainwater from a collection site to that tank.

Suddenly, I have more tomatoes than I know what do to with. I knew this would happen, as I planted about 15 seedlings, but I haven’t had time to prepare. I’ve been wanting to buy or build a food dehydrator for some time, but simply haven’t had the time to do so yet. Someone recently suggested using the back of my car, since it gets lots of sun and gets hot on a sunny day. So, I washed an old window screen, elevated it on bricks over some newspapers and started laying out sliced tomatoes to dry. We’ll see how well it works. I think this is a great way to get sun-dried tomatoes for later use, if all goes according to plan. And it has lots of room for more tomatoes as they ripen!

I like to go out in the garden every morning and see what’s ready to harvest. I was out of town for a few days, so this morning’s harvest was a little larger than normal. But, it gives a good idea where I am in my summer crop cycle. Before I forget, I should add that the photo doesn’t include a handful of red raspberries and blueberries that made it into my belly instead of the photo. (As always, click on the picture to see a larger version.) So, what’s here? Roughly, from left to right: (more…)

What would urban agriculture look like if it were industrialized? Everything on this site approaches urban agriculture from an ecological perspective. As urban agriculture becomes more popular, we find entrepreneurs looking at opportunities in the field. Some of those entrepreneurs will follow the current trends towards local, sustainable agriculture. But, others will see the opportunities and approach urban agriculture from the industrial approach. What will their agriculture look like?

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In an earlier post, I provided a recipe I was experimenting with to make homemade black raspberry liqueur. As mentioned in that post, the berry flavor was overpowered by the rum used in the liqueur. I’ve now tried two additional batches using vodka instead of rum. I’ve also reduced the sugar in the sugar syrup. The berry flavor now comes out more strongly, since the vodka doesn’t overpower it like the rum did and cutting the sugar reduces the overpowering sweetness of the first batch. Both batches used the same recipe, although I didn’t test the batches as thoroughly as suggested in the recipe. So, the first vodka batch came out very nice, but the reduced sugar left the second batch a little hot. The experiments will have to continue, I’m afraid. 😉 Here’s the revised recipe.

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