Saturday, April 23, 2011

Perennial Tomatoes?!?!

Last year I began researching  a few articles on perennial vegetables and I found out that although tomatoes are not traditionally thought of as perennials if given the right set of circumstances they can overwinter. Over the past few years I have successfully overwintered Eggplants, Peppers sweet and Hot and for the first time Tomatoes. Last year I started some cherry tomatoes from seed and grew them in containers. Container garden for tomatoes has it challenges. First cherry tomatoes want to go everywhere. However, if you like the wild Hair look than cherry tomatoes in a container is the way to go. I'm not particularly fond of it but as an experiment it worked. As winter set in I kept the tomatoes out for as long as I could, checking the temperatures daily to to make sure they did not go below 45-40 degrees. As the cold weather set in consistently, I pulled the plants into the sun room and sat them by the windows. The rays from the sun intensify as they pass through the windows of my sun room. In there the temperature is comfortable and even on days of frost the tomatoes in my sun room do not wilt. My only downfall during this project was paying to much attention to water and overall leaf health and not paying any attention to the aphids growing unchecked in my sun room. During the overwinter process, the plants do appear to go dormant. But with tomatoes as long as there is sun they keep on producing flowers and through the winter many flowers were set and although they didn't produce bucket loads of fruit; they did produce fruit occasionally. As the spring arrived I put the plants out and for the first several weeks I saw and fought with the aphids for the first time. They were everywhere. On my eggplants, peppers, and hitting my tomatoes hard specifically targeting the new growth. The war of the aphids is not over but I'm winning and my plants are starting to show tall tale signs that they appreciate the dedication. I believe overwintering is important for urban farmers. Many of us don't have the land or space to properly rotate crops. However, with container gardening and your overwintered plants all you need to do is fertilize and re pot if needed. Recently, I added some Grade A compost manufactured from my chicken coop and the Tomatoes are absolutely loving it. The next phase of this project is to do more research on developing seeds that overwinter well. This is a whole new animal for me and the reading is intense but I find it absolutely exciting. The fact that individual plants that are exposed to certain conditions and thrive as a result only to pass on this code to future seeds of their prodigy is territory that is both foreign and amazing to me. My hope is to one day develop strains that first overwinter well and then produce sweet delicious fruit. Well see..... I feel like my journey has just begun.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zombie Gear AR 10

I believe in the Zombie Apocalypse. Although not as in depth as some hard cores believe; I believe that people when pushed up against the wall no matter what ethnic background (with the exception of the Japanese) and no matter where they fall on the social economic ladder; the inherent nature of people to survive at all cost will manifest itself when times get tough.

I think back to the Katrina Catastrophe when mobs of people were running the streets like "Zombies" raping, pillaging and destroying everything in thier sight. How do you protect yourself? How do you protect your family? When chaos strikes because it will, it's not a matter of "if" but rather when and when it does go down, how prepared will you be? One day your watching a movie with your family and the next day your hiding in your closet hoping "Zombies" don't find you.

Guns are a tough subject for many people. Especially when we just recently had a congress woman shot at point blank range by some idiot. I get it. I believe there should be regulations, but we have to be smart about what we are regulating because often times regulations only affect law abiding citizens. Regulations have no affect on criminals. Let me say this again.... Regulations have no affect on criminals. This is why I say we have to be smart about this becuase when that time comes and your life is in serious danger, you will have many options. You can run away from criminals who will have guns. You can try to reason with criminals who will have guns or You can stand your ground with your guns agianst criminals who will have guns. Either way in any situation, criminals will always have guns. I wish this talk was only fantasy, thought up in the deepest darkest segements of my mind, but that is just wishful thinking.

Pictured is an AR 10 Armalite. It shoots a .308 rd or 7.62 x 51mm NATO rd. It's outfitted with a rail system to add sexy equipment, bipod, magpul assualt grip, and Bushnell Tactical Elite 3200 5-15 x 40mm Scope. I will finish her up with a Tactical stock. As long as the Zombies keep at bay, I will be using this beauty this year to shoot wild boar and deer. Some purest believe you do not need a military style rifle to hunt with. My statement to those critics is to look back in history and tell me what military rifle in colonial times were not used for hunting.

In short--- No Matter what your personal reasons for owning a gun is, I urge all gun owners to practice gun safety continously and be responsible. And for non gun owners and Antis who are totally against guns- I urge you to not make yourself appear vulnerable. No im not here to spout off my opinions to people who do not think the same way I do. The bottom line-Criminals are oppurtunist and seek to exploit  easy vulnerable targets. There is real extreme evil in this world. I have seen it up close. It's not pretty. I wish my eyes were virgin like the majority of people who have never experienced it. My only advice; if your in a situation where you wish you would have a gun and don't; Wish a little bit harder that your neighbor has one.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to grow the most in limited space

Most Urban Homesteaders Start out growing in the city with a sense of frustration, wishing they had more land and one day hoping for the time when they can purchase some land in the country. But as the journey begins to manifest itself, Urban Homesteaders quickly realize that the aspirations for moving to the country can't match the joy reaped from challenges produced in the city.

It's difficult to grow vegetables in the city, because the lack of space is the number one nemesis. Living and growing in an urban environment has forced me to challenge the very way I think about producing a harvest. The cool thing about this approach is that it is all unorthodox. You don't have to follow a strict set of guidelines. Growing under these conditions will push creative juices to flow, some result in total failure and others will result in bountiful crops. This year I took one of my raised beds and decided that I was going to do hay bale gardening in them. The picture portrays two hay bales inside of  3' x 6' raised bed. In this particular raised bed I am growing Bush beans, Garlic, Melons and yellow squash. The 1st hay bale has some miniature heirloom melons growing in them. The second hay bale has the yellow squash. Spaced evenly around the perimeter of the bed are garlic bulbs that are growing strong. Evenly distributed in between each garlic bulb  are highly prolific bush beans that don't require a trellis.

My motto is to grow veggies where weeds would grow instead. My opinion is unless you are trying to grow an award winning Swiss chard or some other fabulous plant, crop your veggies as tight as possible and reap the benefits. The tricks to growing the most in limited space is constantly being developed. If your reading this and your on the fence about not having enough room to grow. I challenge you to get a planting pot and see just how creative you can be.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our Homeless

Living in an Urban Environment I can't help but to notice that homeless people are living around me. I see them everyday. There is one particular guy that I see pretty often, his name is Mike. My neighbors have known Mike for a long time and Mike is homeless because he just can't leave the bottle alone. Today I was walking out of my home towards my car and I heard a voice from my Neighbors porch. It was Mike, sometimes Mike likes to sit on the porch and people watch. Who knows what Mike has done prior to his arrival but it doesn't matter. Mike is Just Mike and Mike likes to sit on the porch and watch people and traffic go by. But today Mike called out to me as I was walking to my car. He said, "Excuse me." I said, "Whats going on?" I assumed his next question was going to be if I had some money, or a ride or maybe even some food. Nope it wasn't any of that. Mike said, "Can I ask you a question?" I said, "sure Mike go ahead." the next four words that came out of his mouth took me by complete surprise. I knew being homeless, is not the ideal situation for anybody, but some of these people just don't have a way out and they are looking for a way out. Mike asked me, " Can you Shoot Me?" I was taken back a bit from this odd request. I told Mike, " Mike No I can't shoot you." Mike looked severely disappointed that I wouldn't take him up on his request. As I left to go workout I realized that for Mike, living must suck everyday and he doesn't have the courage to take his own life but he realizes that living everyday is just a plague for him. Shooting Mike is not an option, but if I were in Mikes shoes I probably would want some body to shoot me too. My wife cried when I told her that today. I still feel saddened. My neighbors are some of the best people you will ever meet, they have a heart bigger than earth. From taking care of stray animals to giving Mike a sandwich now and again, they wont give him a bullet but at least he feels an ounce of kindness from people who don't have to show him anything. We can take life for granted everyday, but sometimes the homeless can help us put things right back into perspective. It's not in me to wish harm on Mike to make his situation better, but I do hope and pray he is able to one day find peace.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lady Bug Larva Don't actually look cute

A few weeks ago I bought some lady bugs over the Internet and released them into my garden. Since then I have noticed that the lady bugs went from eating at the buffet to wanting to make my garden their home. Everyday I see lady Bugs in the garden and more importantly I see their larva. Lady bugs for all they are worth are very popular in children's books. But most children books do not advocate the voracious appetite these creatures have and their use. I am absolutely fascinated with the predator prey mentality. Just yesterday my wife and I were watching Great whites chase seals and as the seal was jumping and escaping the Great white she was yelling yes!! We both were yelling 'Yes' with each lunge, until Ole Great White lunged straight up and caught the seal in mid air, She yelled, "Oh No!"" and I yelled "Yeessssss!!" If any body was listening to that conversation it probably would have sounded like an orgasm gone wrong. She looked at me in horror that I had the audacity to cheer for the Great White. What can I say seals wouldn't be seals if there was no presence of the Great White. But anyway back to the lady Bug Larva... They are not cute, even though Lady bugs have the representation of being the Child's Bug. But for all their worth, they are extremely helpful. The fat joker pictured is full of Aphids. I have seen his kin on other plants throughout the garden and they are feeding heavily. Only time will tell if this war of the bugs will prove beneficial.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Share your Beer with the Garden

The past few weeks I have been extremely busy at work, working day and night. Most of the time right before I leave I turn on the sprinkler system to water the garden before Bob makes his appearance. But as busy as I have been, there has been something a lot busier in my garden eating up all my leafy green vegetables.

Obviously you wont see any of the characters in play during the day, but on one cool morning I walked outside to see a slug crawling along on my cabbage plants. I wondered why my cabbage had holes in the center of them. I also noticed that all my leafy greens were affected by this. As bob came out and the flying insects started to wake, I also noticed a wasp fly to the cabbage plant where the slug was and it crawled in the cabbage. I thought this was weird because too, because first, I didn't know what the ole wasp was up to. But watching a little further I wondered if the wasp was preying on the slugs. I don't have any confirmation of this but it's very likely the wasp was hunting.

As I soaked all this in I realized that my garden was under assault. This is the type of creepy assault that's not noticeable. Its in your face everyday, but it's not alarming until it's to late. I have heard of the use of beer being used in the garden as a way to keep the slugs down but I really never bothered with giving this the attention I should; until now. Because as work has picked up I am not around to pick every slug off my plants and feed them to my chickens. So I decided to share some of my beer with my garden to see what happened. To my surprise this stuff works lethally well and even though I have cut down drinking beer sue to training for my next ultra-marathon, I will definitely continue to make beer runs for my garden .

How it works.... The yeast from the beer is to irresistible for the slugs to leave alone. They will come far and near from anywhere to the smell of beer and as they crawl slowly toward the smell of the beer, they literally dive right in and sink to the bottom and literally drowning in a drunken stooper. Beer is an easy, cheap, and effective way to control these beast that will damage your leafy greens in short time. At the first sign of holes in the middle of your plants, get a confirmation that you have slugs or snails and make a beer run. Thank God Georgia just passed legislation to buy Beer on Sundays.