Growing Food – What’s working what’s not

Aug 19, 2010 by

Pro urban farming graffitti LA

Found this picture via Xeni Jardin and I love it.

I also love growing food.  Its a truly awesome feeling to be able to walk out of your front door to pick a couple tomatoes for dinner or to walk around your garden and plan what you will eat based on whats ready to eat.

But it has not all gone as planned.  Its a learning experience as I go, and I’m learning a lot.

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As you can see from the above picture, my garden is growing like crazy.  The tomatoes have attacked and are quickly taking over.  I obviously planted way too many way too close together and as they get ripe I’m going to have a hard time just being able to pick them let alone eat all the tomatoes.

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The zucchini has been growing good, but some strange mold has been growing on some of the leaves and some of the zucchini’s themselves.

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My peppers and chilis are starting to come in and those are just awesome.

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here is the attack of the tomatoes (not killer as far as I know).   I started out by adding a couple of tomato baskets I had around.  Then I added a couple more as they were outgrowing those.  Then I added 3 more.  Then some string to help hold them in the planter box.  Then 2 more tomato baskets.   Its getting nuts.

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And this is just a sad sight.  My beans and peas have died.  I’m not sure what went wrong here.  I suspect I didn’t water enough.  They were growing great and I was snacking on the snap peas while I worked out in the garden one day and the next day, they were all dead.  Very sad.

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And my corn is stunted.  I think these are done as well.  They just stopped growing and are turning brown.   Very sad on this one as I LOVE corn on the cob.

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My broccoli came in quick and then I went away for a week and came back to find it had all flowered.   Very sad.  I still have a few that are almost ready to eat, so I didn’t loose them all.

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My cantaloupes are kicking ass.  Check those out!

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And so far my watermelons are looking good as well.

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And i’m really just not sure whats going on with my lettuces.  They are all growing in tree-like configurations now.

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And the carrots are coming in nice.  My wife grabbed these to throw in something she was cooking.  I’m going to start harvesting the rest soon.  I think those are growing well, but who knows, they grow underground. Crazy carrots.

Beyond the learning experience of starting a garden and the joy of being able to walk out to my front yard to grab something to eat, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to inspire others to start a garden.  I have many friends who have started gardens and I’ve heard from many readers that they are now starting gardens as well and that makes me smile.

I love that I can share the awesome feelings that come with growing your own food.

Our food system is broken.  Our food grown and covered with chemicals that we have no idea how they impact our body or our environment.  It is then shipped halfway around the world before it reaches our stores.  Its wasteful and not that good for us.  And thats the food that grows!  You don’t even want to think about the mass produced chemical laden processed food we eat every day.

But you have a choice here.  You can buy local at farmers markets. You can join a CSA.  You can grow some of your own food.  Even if its planting a small lemon tree in your yard or creating a small garden box and throw in a tomato plant and a few herbs.   Grow something.  You will love it, and you get to eat it!

Ben…

If you’ve got a garden project send me some pics and tell me how its going.  You can email me at Ben@TrulySimple.com

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My Garden Overfloweth

Jun 25, 2010 by

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My garden is growing like crazy.   I planted everything from seed in the beginning of March and I’m already harvesting a ton of vegetables. I’m new to gardening and you can see how I built my garden in these earlier posts:

I’m lazy, so I built a big garden

A Truly Simple Garden: The Beginning

A TrulySimple Garden – building the raised beds, dirt, water, and planting the seeds

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I’m learning as I go.  One thing I’ve learned quickly is to not plant so much stuff.  I’m never going to be able to eat all that squash!

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But I knew I was going to give away a lot of vegetables and thats part of the fun.

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I’ve already eaten one large zucchini out of the garden and just picked another.

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The beats will be ready to eat soon.

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The tomatoes started off small, but have now taken off are are going to produce aproximately 597 tomatoes.

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And I have baby watermelons!! Lots of them.  I can’t wait to be eating these this summer.

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going to have lots of cantaloupe too.  That will be nice to walk out, pick a cantaloupe, and eat it for breakfast

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Beans are starting come in and are very cute.

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And yes I have 4 foot high cilantro.  Well not anymore.  I trimmed it back, but yeesh!   Look at that stuff.

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You can see the zucchini and squash overflowing from the box there.  Going to have A LOT of those.  But I LOVE zucchini bread so thats all good.  Now I just have to get my mom to fly down and make it for me.

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Here is some vegetables we pulled out to eat the other day.  yummy

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And I caught my wife out working in the garden.  At first she didn’t like the idea of the garden and thought it would not work.  She now loves the garden and actually likes to work out in it.  She puts on her podcasts and goes to town.  She says its soothing, and she’s right.

Ben…

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A TrulySimple Garden – building the raised beds, dirt, water, and planting the seeds

May 25, 2010 by

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This post is continuing from Part 1 of Building a Truly Simple Garden

Previously I talked about why I got rid of my front lawn and put in a garden.  I showed the beginning of that process.  In this post I’m going to talk about the building of the raised beds, the dirt, the watering and planting the seeds.

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Here you can see the making of one.  Each box is made from a 4×4 post sunk into the ground 12-18 inches with concrete and the sides are made up of cedar fence boards.  I dug up the old sprinkler system from the lawn and put a line into each box so it would be auto-watering, but more on that in a bit.  The bottom of each box has a layer of wire mesh to keep the gophers out, and the cardboard boxes you see there are to keep the grass/weeds from growing up into the garden.

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I left one end open to help get the wheelbarrows of dirt into them for filling.  Make sure when building your boxes you leave enough room in between for a wheelbarrow or lawnmower etc.  I have enough room, but wish I had a bit more for turning and steering the wheelbarrow.

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I got the dirt for the boxes off of Craigslist.  It was “free” dirt, you only have to pay delivery.  I got both topsoil and compost for the boxes.  I ended up with 15 yards of compost and 10 yards of dirt.  Total delivery cost me $250.   I felt they were a little low and to give me a little extra oomph, I bough some good gardening soil from Home Depot to fill in the top layer.

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25 yards is a lot of dirt to move, but I only had to do it once.  The boxes are now done, except for the sides and corners.  You can see from the first picture I finished those off with more cedar fencing boards.

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As mentioned earlier each box has a water line run to it.  I put a valve on each box so I could shut off or limit the water to each box if needed. To water the boxes I am using a soaker hose.  I was going to run drip irrigation, but to buy all of the different lines, hoses, adapters, and fittings would have cost a lot more and would have taken a lot more time, so I went with simple and easy and just bought a single soaker hose for each box.

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The first soaker hose I bought from Harbor Freight was a cloth mesh and it did not give me all the water I wanted so I ended up returning those and replacing them with a rubber style soaker hose from Home Depot.  These were $9.99 each.

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You can see that style hose picture here.  I simply ran the house around the box and programmed the sprinkler system to water the vegetables for a few minutes 3 times a week.

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For planting the vegetables, I planted everything from seed.  I have a lot to learn in this respect, as I see the garden now overgrowing like crazy, but thats what this project is about; learning something new.  As mentioned in my $3 dollar garden post, I got most of my seeds from the 99 Cent store.  Guess how much?  Only 25 Cents per pack!  I bought a ton of seeds and walked out there spending only a few bucks.

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Everything I planted was from seed, except for some garlic which I had in my fridge that was ready to grow.   I did do some research on companion gardening, and determine which plants like to grow with other plants and which combinations to avoid.

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And thats that.   So far everything has worked out.  My garlic is almost ready to harvest.  I’ve eaten a couple of salads from my lettuce already and I’m totally loving the learning experience.

I’m also loving the feedback from family, friends, and new friends to the site who have told me they are not building a garden.  Thank you for all the feedback.  It truly inspires me.

Ben…

If you’ve got a garden, send me pictures and I’ll put them up on the site.

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Build a garden for less than 3 dollars

May 19, 2010 by

This is the “you have no excuse not to” garden post.

Did you know you could buy bags of top soil from the dollar store?  Guess how much? Only 1 dollar!

Did you know you could buy potting containers from the dollar store?  Guess how much?  Only 1 dollar!

Did you know you could buy seeds from the dollar store?  Guess how much?  Nope… only 25 cents per pack!

I didn’t know this until I walked into my local dollar store looking for who-knows-what and I noticed big bags of potting soil near the entrance.  ”These can’t be only a buck” I thought to myself, but as the big sign outside clearly states, it was only 99 cents.

Then I did some scouting around the store and found the seed stand.  All seed packets, even though priced at 99 cents on the packet, was only 25 cents each.  I bought a ton of seeds and that is what I planted in my big garden.  Seeds packets at Home Depot run anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 and I had to buy a few of these to fill in the missing vegitables i wanted to grow, but I found about 90% of what I wanted to grow at the dollar store.

All that to say… you can build a little herb garden or plant some smaller garden containers for next to nothing!  You have no excuse not to plant something editable in your backyard or apartment patio area.

Here is a quick project I put together for less than 3 dollars

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A Truly Simple Garden: The Beginning

May 10, 2010 by

There are questions that no ones asks.  Like, “why do I have a lawn?”  In my case it would be, “why do I have a front yard that used to have a lawn, but now has patchy brown grass, weeds, and mole hills, and why do I continue to put in my time, money and energy into it?”

I asked myself this question after the sprinklers broke…again…for the last time.

So the question was asked and the answer was obvious.

“I don’t know.”

So from that day on the lawn had a short life span.  I wasn’t going to touch it, fix it or improve it.  I was going to get rid of it and replace it with a garden.

Thus the garden project began.  I chose the front yard for 2 reasons.  First the afore mentioned sprinkler issue and to do something different and create a centerpiece to attract discussion and inspiration for others.

Getting started on the garden:

Here is what I knew going into this project:

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