Google

Subscribe
Enter your email address to receive notifications when there are new posts
Powered by BLOG ALERT
You will get emails when I post a new blog. You will not get them for any other reason. I post on average 4 times a month. Each email will have a link to unsubscribe. You will not get any spam from me or Blog-Alert.
 
Visitors

You have 902399 hits.

 
Latest Comments
 
Recent Entries
 
Category
 
Archives
 

Blogs I follow:
Fem·men·ist
The Briefing Room (White House)
The Future is Fiction
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
The Quiet Extrovert
Electrons and More!
Crystal Math
Green Eggs & Ham
Ghost Town Farm
DemonBaby
30 is the new 13
The Gubbins Experiment
 
Links
 
$0 Web Hosting
 
User Profile
Bakari
biodieselhau...
Male
Oakland, CA



 
Posted By Bakari

Its been just about 2 months since I planted my rain water fed home-made scrap-wood self-watering planter-box garden
(http://apps.biodieselhauling.org/Blog/?e=28851&d=05/12/2009&s=The%20Garden)



The neighborhood cats think the garden is an excellent toilet, but by a fortunate coincidence I happened to get a motion activated sprinkler head in one of my hauling jobs recently, and that has completely solved that problem.

The first thing I planted was a potato. It was originally meant for eating, but it went bad, so I threw it in the compost. Later I noticed stems pushing their way around the plastic cover, and lo and behold the 'bad' potato was sprouting. So maybe now I will get a good potato out of it.
My neighbor who gardens had told me even before I built the planter that she had a tomato plant for me. She also gave me a tomato stake; which, incidentally, I had given her about a year ago, having gotten it in a dump run and having no use for it at the time. Apparently she took a couple more than she really needed back then.
She also shared some lettuce seeds and a bean plant.

Later I discovered something else sprouting in my compost pile. I have no idea what it is, but I figure if it was there it was probably something I was eating, so I planted it. Up until this point I had spent nothing on my garden (except for the materials for the rain collection), but it was getting late in the season and I finally purchased a few plants from the farmer's market (I got a discount because I work at the market myself).
I got strawberries, and an onion. I also planted a few tiny carrots a neighbor gave me. She intended them to be eaten, but they still had the tops on, so I wanted to know if they might get any bigger. After a few days the tops had wilted and I forgot about them under the mulch. A couple weeks after that they had popped back up bigger than ever!
Most recently I planted the seeds of some grapes I bought at the market, but have yet to see if they will sprout.

The lettuce is growing in faster than I can harvest it;
the beans are ready to be picked;
and the strawberry (the most recent thing I planted) is already blossoming.
The tomato plant is gigantic, and I found the first 3 little green tomatoes.


Everything is growing much faster than expected, but they all seem to be sharing the space with each other very politely.



Yesterday I did some harvesting and actually cooked a meal with food I grew myself.
Of course this is a normal part of life for a lot of people, but for someone who has lived in big cities his whole life, it feels pretty amazing.



Around the same time I began the garden I was also working on increasing the efficiency of my truck, and my friend and fellow bikestation mechanic convinced me to enter my truck mods into instructable.com's efficiency contest.
I ended up winning runner-up in that contest.

The same website now has a garden contest!  So of course I entered it as well with my  planter (which cost me a total of zero dollars, being built entirely of random materials I kept from hauling/dump runs) and my rain-water-collection system.

Voting begins Today.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Self-Watering-Planter-made-from-recycled-mat/


 
Posted By Bakari

My garden has finally been started.
It has been a long time now since I first decided to, but at least I didn't wait until mid-summer when it would be too late to plant.

I built the planter entirely out of scrap wood I had saved from past hauling jobs.



The half barrel in the pictures is also from a hauling job, but is not in use yet.



I lined the bottom with carpet (from a dump run)



to protect the plastic which goes above it (the plastic left over from a furniture move done in the rain).  Then an old blanket on top, both to protect the plastic and to aid in water wicking.

I placed some pieces of broken concrete (which used to be a fountain base) as supports for the porous sheet of wood which elevates the soil above the water reservoir, so that while the water below is accessible (via soil wicking) it does not saturate the soil or plants.



The mesh keeps the soil from getting into the reservoir.



The plastic trim lining the top of the planter is hauling leftover too.
I found slightly used (one season) potting soil on Craigslist in Oakland for free. Potting soil wicks water better, and so is recommended in self-watering systems. In theory the system uses less water, requires less maintenance and regulation, and produces healthier plants.
Being my first attempt ever to grow food, I consider this season practice, and I will be very happy if I end up eating anything at all from my little home-made box of dirt.

The first thing I planted was a potato. It was originally meant for eating, but it went bad, so I threw it in the compost. Later I noticed stems pushing their way around the plastic cover, and lo and behold the "bad" potato was sprouting. So maybe now I will get a good potato out of it.
My neighbor who gardens had told me even before I built the planter that she had a tomato plant for me. She also gave me a tomato stake; which, incidentally, I had given her about a year ago, having gotten it in a dump run and having no use for it at the time. Apparently she took a couple more than she really needed back then and had been storing the extra all this time.
She also shared some lettuce seeds and a bean plant. I got some free basil seeds in exchange for signing up for some email list at the farmers market last week.  My friend said she may give me a plant too.

So far I have spent almost no money on my new garden at all...

 

(just a bit more, and the finished pictures, on my MySpace blog, click here)


 
Posted By Bakari

Building the planter bed was the agenda for today, but there turned out to be a lot of little tasks to get out of the way first.
It wasn't long before I accepted that I wouldn't be constructing the raised container today.

First thing I did was to take down the sheets of wood from the roof of the shed which I used to angle rain water off and keep my shed from rotting.
Then I replaced it with a sheet of plastic (from a wardrobe move in the rain months ago) raised in the middle like a tent, metal taped to the sides of the shed.

Then I was distracted by the rain system.  The tubing on both sides need a bit of adjusting.  The barrel was almost full and it rained today, so I used my new watering can to transfer 4 gallons of water stored from the last rain to my potted plants.  Then I remembered that when I purchased this RV trailer it came with an external waste water tank which I have never used.  It holds 32 gallons.  I filled it from the storage barrel to make room for today's rain.

With the barrel half empty, I had a chance build a better and higher platform for it.  Wood which I had kept from dump runs years ago because it might come in handy someday, finally came in handy.  My new 18v cordless jigsaw made short work of custom fitting the wood to the barrel.

Watering the plants, I noticed that some which had grown a lot last year weren't doing so well, so it was time to give them some more room.  Three were replanted, using soil from my compost bucket behind the house to fill in the extra volume in the bigger pots (the pots came from a dump run; they've been sitting behind the house waiting for this day).  Having one simple compost bucket, there is no place to separate recently added material from finished compost, so extracting soil to use meant going through it one handful at a time and separating out the food scraps and worms, (and then going back through the soil twice more to get all the scraps and worms I missed the first time).
As I suspected, the roots were totally compacted.

Last fall I happened to be up in Joaquin Miller Park on the day of the last sale of the year for the native plant nursery.  I bought a CA strawberry plant.  The strawberry was one of the ones which got replanted today.  I have two strawberries already!  They are very tiny, and may not make it to edible size for months, if ever.  But still, they are very clearly strawberries already.  There is also another blossom which should join them as fruits before long.




Also, my lupine has blossomed.



These are exciting times :)