"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's Up...

While the outside world is still covered in snow and ice, inside our little greenhouse celery and onions are beginning to germinate...and oh so slowly do they grow.

On the porch, temporarily under lights, peppers and eggplants have emerged as well. It will be many months before they can be planted outside, but it's a start. Our eventual goal is to expand the length of the greenhouse and install a small wood stove that I have in order to free myself of electric lighting and heat altogether...eventually.

I am using a mix of my own composted soil and sand with a small amount of wood and bone ash mixed in for potting soil again this year. Thyme leaves that were collected and dried last fall are steeped in water, mixed 2 cups per gallon with rain water this concoction helps to stave off the dreaded dampening off disease. As they begin to emerge the plants are sprayed with this for the first couple days to help combat any unfriendly pathogens in the soil...keeping the soil warm also helps prevent these issues. I use rain water because it seems to help the soil stay soft compared to our tap water that, due to it's high mineral content, sometimes causes the soil to form a hard crust.

These plants are growing in cut off milk jugs that have been placed in larger plastic containers to act as a sort of mini solarium under the lights to help hold in the warmth while growing on our much cooler porch.

We are also experimenting with many hard and semi-hardwood cuttings from holly, service berry, hawthorn, cottonwood, climbing hydrangea, various grapes, cherry, plum, mulberry, juniper, black elderberry, and blue elderberry. I have had a lot of success with many of these cuttings in the past, but some new experiments, like hawthorn, are supposed to be somewhat difficult to start from hardwood cuttings...we shall see. More on the results of this later.

...and, I watched and greatly enjoyed the below video this morning. From http://www.nfb.ca/film/my_urban_garden.

NFB's Synopsis:

In this short film, Halifax gardener Carol Bowlby harvests a mouth-watering crop from her small backyard plot. In considering soil quality, lack of space and a short growing season challenges rather than obstacles, she offers a wealth of practical growing tips for urban gardeners. By heeding Bowlby's advice, bountiful organic gardens work equally well on apartment balconies, in small or large city lots or in a rural setting

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