Do you grow your own... y'know... food? | OT? | [56k modem warning, Apple II and Win'95 users!]

n0razi

Member
May 1, 2014
4,369
259
395
If by "grow" you mean "pick lemons time to time from the lemon tree in my yard that was there before I moved in and requires absolutely no care or maintenance", then yes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DunDunDunpachi

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
I'll share pictures within the next week (hoping for a sunnier day) but the garden is now almost-completely* planted.

Edible stuff: hot peppers, sweet peppers, cilantro, onions, scallions, a full row of tomatoes, cucumbers, lots of peas, beets, turnips, carrots, kohlrabi, mustard, potatoes, basil, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, kale, and baby bok choi.

Pretty stuff: tons and tons of flowers, both annuals and perennials. Mostly lavender, gaillardia, sunflowers, morning glories, and peonies.

Still need to plant watermelon, squash, and pumpkin up on the berm. I also need to find a spot for brussels sprouts which I neglected to put on my garden map.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Scopa

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
Growth so far:



This is the product of sowing a handful of mustard seeds last fall onto an unused plot. Pretty much all brassicas follow the same lifecycle as the white mustard: whether sown in spring, summer, or fall, mustard will spring up quickly and build up a taproot as best as it can to prepare for winter. The following spring, the mustard emerges very early and grows quickly. It is a frost-resistant plant and is one of the earliest leafy greens the gardener can harvest.

I am learning that when you think year-to-year in the garden, you can extract a lot more food from your plot of land.

These little mustard plants are peppery. The leaves are tender, and the flower heads are crunchy like broccoli, yet spicy. I wouldn't want to eat a whole salad full of these greens, but that's not the point. I'm pleased that I can get such a potent harvest out of a little effort and a little bit of planning ahead. Tasty when eaten raw and even better when fried up with some kind of fat and spices of your choice.



Early signs of rhubarb. This is another plant that overwinters. It is so hardy that it can be split and planted elsewhere in the hard.



Mature year-2 blackberry canes putting out busy leaves. These canes will die off this year and I'll likely lose the patch after a vigorous harvest. The neighbor cut down the large tree overshadowing this section over last summer, so while these canes will have a great year, I think it'll be too sunny to stay alive in subsequent years. We'll see, but I'm not really bothered either way. The plastic sacks of straw are inoculated with mushrooms. As it warms up, we'll see if they rot properly and produce.





This year, I'm attempting to grow peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes using string. We'll see if the method is effective.

In two months, this will all be bursting with green, so I guess this is the "Before" image to compare against later.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 嫩翼 and Scopa

gela94

Member
Aug 24, 2018
161
63
170
I would like to but I only have a west balcony :messenger_loudly_crying: But I still try with strawberries and tomatoes and I've a lemon tree that carries lemons at the moment but will take a while.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DunDunDunpachi

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
Here are some of my ongoing mad scientist experiments. The focus is soil and fertilization. I have a 1/2 acre yard and I want to eliminate as many "outside" amendments as possible. Avoiding artificial fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

Those chemicals absolutely work (former TruGreen employee and licensed agrichemical applicator reporting in 👨‍🌾 ), but I'm attempting to make my yard more self-sufficient.

So I am "growing" fertilizer and compost, as well as growing food. I am not new to soil management, so I've chosen a few methods and I will figure out what works best as I go. None of these options were expensive. The goal is to amend my soil using self-sufficient options in the yard and from my household instead of buying commercial options from the store.

The inoculated mushroom logs from last year are providing a boon of half-decomposed tree bark. As an aside, my mushroom straw bags have not sprouted. I'm pretty sure I failed. 😿 But it makes no difference, since I can simply use that straw in my compost. I will try the mushroom bags later this summer since I have plenty of empty sleeves left over from my last attempt.



This stuff takes a long time to fully break down. The bark adds carbon, potassium, and lignans to the soil. I layer it on top of my compost pile. I have been clearing dead trees from a no-man's-land property between my yard and other buildings in the area (most of which are businesses). There are tons of dead trees, fallen and standing. So, my aim is to keep clearing the dead stuff and using the wood and bark for mulch and compost.

There's a daycare directly behind my yard and I would like for those kids to (eventually) have a nice, flourishing garden area next to their playground instead of a swampy-looking bramble patch with half-fallen trees leaning upon one another. :messenger_tears_of_joy: I think a bit of neighborly land management will make that a possibility over the next year or two. We'll see.



The compost pile pictured above is mostly made of rotten tree bark, tree logs, straw, and a lot of green weeds from the yard. In spring, you can gather a ton of biomass merely by picking weeds and thinning out wild plants like tiger lilies. Very little compost pictured here comes from our kitchen scraps. I did jumpstart the microbial activity by pouring some milk kefir whey all over the pile.



The disgusting vat pictured above is half-liquified green yard scraps. It consists of a lot of water and about 5 wheelbarrows full of dandelions, cleavers, random turnip and mustard plants that survived the winter, wildflowers, and all other various weedy plants. The goal is to put as much green stuff -- doesn't even matter if it's a weed -- into the bin and let it rot down over the course of a month, give or take. This 55-gallon/208 L drum of worthless yard scraps will produce at least 250 gallons / 946 L of liquid fertilizer, since the stuff is watered down to a 5:1 (or even 10:1) ratio. Like the compost heap above, this was inoculated with a bit of milk kefir whey to jumpstart the microbial processes. Once the cauldron of awful-smelling stuff turns black, I'll know it is ready to use. The rotten scraps can later be put onto the compost pile when the liquid is all used up.

As an added bonus, hoverflies lay eggs and multiply on the top layer of the liquid compost. Not only will they help to pollinate my plants, but they will control aphid population in my garden. Aphids destroyed my brussels sprouts last year.

The compost pile, the liquid vat, and the worm bin (below) are not very active right now. The warmest days are only getting up to 65F/18C and nights are still plunging down to 45F/7C. Once it is warmer (especially overnight), these should take off much faster.



I purchased worms. I think that officially makes me an old man.


The worm bin will be an interesting experiment. I aim to get three products from it: worms (obviously) to scatter in the garden and in the yard, worm casings to use as fertilizer, and "worm juice", which is made by soaking the worm casings in water and using the filtered water as a fertilizer.

Between the milk kefir whey (produced by cheesemaking), the worm juice, and the disgusting vat of rotten veggie juice, I hope to start spraying a mixture of these three (watered down, of course) in my garden and on my lawn this year. I have a nice 4-gallon backpack sprayer so this will save me a lot of time. In a pinch, I can also inoculate the soil with sauerkraut leaves and/or juice. Building up the microbial activity in the soil helps to improve its health over time.

I predict I will be able to manage the weed population with healthier soil underfoot. That's the idea, at least.

And finally, here is a comparison shot to the mustard from last week:



The flowers will eventually drop seed, After, the mustard plants will weaken and die. You can see how leggy they are when packed closely together. This makes for excellent self-fertilizing "hay" that you can chop up and put right back into the soil once the flowers drop their seeds. In the meanwhile, I've been harvesting several handfuls of leaves and tops (which taste like spicy broccoli).
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Scopa

Scopa

The Tribe Has Spoken
Oct 27, 2017
4,003
5,270
505
your mind
Here are some of my ongoing mad scientist experiments. The focus is soil and fertilization. I have a 1/2 acre yard and I want to eliminate as many "outside" amendments as possible. Avoiding artificial fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

Those chemicals absolutely work (former TruGreen employee and licensed agrichemical applicator reporting in 👨‍🌾 ), but I'm attempting to make my yard more self-sufficient.

So I am "growing" fertilizer and compost, as well as growing food. I am not new to soil management, so I've chosen a few methods and I will figure out what works best as I go. None of these options were expensive. The goal is to amend my soil using self-sufficient options in the yard and from my household instead of buying commercial options from the store.

The inoculated mushroom logs from last year are providing a boon of half-decomposed tree bark. As an aside, my mushroom straw bags have not sprouted. I'm pretty sure I failed. 😿 But it makes no difference, since I can simply use that straw in my compost. I will try the mushroom bags later this summer since I have plenty of empty sleeves left over from my last attempt.



This stuff takes a long time to fully break down. The bark adds carbon, potassium, and lignans to the soil. I layer it on top of my compost pile. I have been clearing dead trees from a no-man's-land property between my yard and other buildings in the area (most of which are businesses). There are tons of dead trees, fallen and standing. So, my aim is to keep clearing the dead stuff and using the wood and bark for mulch and compost.

There's a daycare directly behind my yard and I would like for those kids to (eventually) have a nice, flourishing garden area next to their playground instead of a swampy-looking bramble patch with half-fallen trees leaning upon one another. :messenger_tears_of_joy: I think a bit of neighborly land management will make that a possibility over the next year or two. We'll see.



The compost pile pictured above is mostly made of rotten tree bark, tree logs, straw, and a lot of green weeds from the yard. In spring, you can gather a ton of biomass merely by picking weeds and thinning out wild plants like tiger lilies. Very little compost pictured here comes from our kitchen scraps. I did jumpstart the microbial activity by pouring some milk kefir whey all over the pile.



The disgusting vat pictured above is half-liquified green yard scraps. It consists of a lot of water and about 5 wheelbarrows full of dandelions, cleavers, random turnip and mustard plants that survived the winter, wildflowers, and all other various weedy plants. The goal is to put as much green stuff -- doesn't even matter if it's a weed -- into the bin and let it rot down over the course of a month, give or take. This 55-gallon/208 L drum of worthless yard scraps will produce at least 250 gallons / 946 L of liquid fertilizer, since the stuff is watered down to a 5:1 (or even 10:1) ratio. Like the compost heap above, this was inoculated with a bit of milk kefir whey to jumpstart the microbial processes. Once the cauldron of awful-smelling stuff turns black, I'll know it is ready to use. The rotten scraps can later be put onto the compost pile when the liquid is all used up.

As an added bonus, hoverflies lay eggs and multiply on the top layer of the liquid compost. Not only will they help to pollinate my plants, but they will control aphid population in my garden. Aphids destroyed my brussels sprouts last year.

The compost pile, the liquid vat, and the worm bin (below) are not very active right now. The warmest days are only getting up to 65F/18C and nights are still plunging down to 45F/7C. Once it is warmer (especially overnight), these should take off much faster.



I purchased worms. I think that officially makes me an old man.


The worm bin will be an interesting experiment. I aim to get three products from it: worms (obviously) to scatter in the garden and in the yard, worm casings to use as fertilizer, and "worm juice", which is made by soaking the worm casings in water and using the filtered water as a fertilizer.

Between the milk kefir whey (produced by cheesemaking), the worm juice, and the disgusting vat of rotten veggie juice, I hope to start spraying a mixture of these three (watered down, of course) in my garden and on my lawn this year. I have a nice 4-gallon backpack sprayer so this will save me a lot of time. In a pinch, I can also inoculate the soil with sauerkraut leaves and/or juice. Building up the microbial activity in the soil helps to improve its health over time.

I predict I will be able to manage the weed population with healthier soil underfoot. That's the idea, at least.

And finally, here is a comparison shot to the mustard from last week:



The flowers will eventually drop seed, After, the mustard plants will weaken and die. You can see how leggy they are when packed closely together. This makes for excellent self-fertilizing "hay" that you can chop up and put right back into the soil once the flowers drop their seeds. In the meanwhile, I've been harvesting several handfuls of leaves and tops (which taste like spicy broccoli).
When do you get time to play games? Lol.
 
  • LOL
Reactions: DunDunDunpachi

MrTickles

Gold Member
Feb 22, 2018
2,369
3,083
450
Let's put things into perspective.

My sister spent $600 on fertilizer, seeds, composting equipment, etc.

So far after ~8 months her garden has produced ~$20-$30 worth of veggies. Perfect, giant, juicy veggies. But the scale is scuffed. You can't make it worthwhile without planting thousands of crops.

It's just not worth it unless you own a farm sized plot of land. But even then, governments have to subsidize farmers here in the west...
 
Last edited:

Scopa

The Tribe Has Spoken
Oct 27, 2017
4,003
5,270
505
your mind
Let's put things into perspective.

My sister spent $600 on fertilizer, seeds, composting equipment, etc.

So far after ~8 months her garden has produced ~$20-$30 worth of veggies. Perfect, giant, juicy veggies. But the scale is scuffed. You can't make it worthwhile without planting thousands of crops.

It's just not worth it unless you own a farm sized plot of land. But even then, governments have to subsidize farmers here in the west...
Unless you subsidize it yourself using available equipment.
 

MrTickles

Gold Member
Feb 22, 2018
2,369
3,083
450
Unless you subsidize it yourself using available equipment.
Those multi-purpose tractors cost like $200,000 a pop. Then there's the water bills...

I think here in NSW Australia farmers get $30,000-$50,000 a year from the government and sometimes they fail to break even...
 
Last edited:

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
When do you get time to play games? Lol.
I still play games. The garden doesn't take a ton of my time.

Because of my work situation, I can usually take a 5 minute stroll, pick some weeds, turn some compost, and return back to my "desk" without issue. I don't invest a lot of time into the garden. Most of my methods are long-term and "natural" since that is conveniently the low-effort way of doing gardening too.

Let's put things into perspective.

My sister spent $600 on fertilizer, seeds, composting equipment, etc.

So far after ~8 months her garden has produced ~$20-$30 worth of veggies. Perfect, giant, juicy veggies. But the scale is scuffed. You can't make it worthwhile without planting thousands of crops.

It's just not worth it unless you own a farm sized plot of land. But even then, governments have to subsidize farmers here in the west...
There are volumes of books dedicated to the idea of a sustainable homestead using only an acre, 1/2 acre, or even 1/4 acre. The approach must be different than traditional farming but you can get high yields in very small square footage. For instance, with potato boxes or square-foot gardening or aquaponics.

No offense intended to your sister's attempts at gardening, but this is not a hobby where more money = better payoff. This game is all about leveraging your knowledge and ingenuity. There's a market built around people who prefer to buy their garden stuff instead of finding ways to do the same tasks for little/no cost. I do not say this as an expert. I say this as someone who has also frittered away money on gardening stuff that didn't pay off.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Scopa

MrTickles

Gold Member
Feb 22, 2018
2,369
3,083
450
She used the square foot gardening method, with some fancy soil (our soil here is trash, kills anything you plant in it).

Some regions are just not naturally arable, that would be 95% of Australia.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
She used the square foot gardening method, with some fancy soil (our soil here is trash, kills anything you plant in it).

Some regions are just not naturally arable, that would be 95% of Australia.
Dang, that's awful. It sucks to invest so much money and to have it fail. My soil is pretty dependable, compared to Australia.
 

MrTickles

Gold Member
Feb 22, 2018
2,369
3,083
450
We have a high amount of salty sand in our soil near the coast where there is ample rain. Then the further away from the coast you get, the soil gets super dry and dead due to lack of rain. There are very few sweet spots and they're almost all used by vineyards. We import 99% of our food.
 
Last edited:

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com
We have a high amount of salty sand in our soil near the coast where there is ample rain. Then the further away from the coast you get, the soil gets super dry and dead due to lack of rain. There are very few sweet spots and they're almost all used by vineyards. We import 99% of our food.
One might import / harvest sea plants from Australia's own coastal regions and slowly fertilize inward. I'm just spitballing, not trying to solve Australia's agriculture with a forum post. I know that rainfall is a huge problem. It fascinates me how differently each region of the world deals with agricultural issues. :messenger_smiling_hearts:
 

MrTickles

Gold Member
Feb 22, 2018
2,369
3,083
450
If we had more fresh water, arable land wouldn't be an issue. But almost every state has water restrictions up to the suburban level. We could use nuclear power to desalinate ocean water. But our governments are scared of nuclear, so there goes that solution.
 

DunDunDunpachi

Patient MembeR
Apr 18, 2018
9,753
16,724
690
USA
dunpachi.com


This is a $15 aquarium bubbler kit + a pair of $1.00 5-gallon buckets. I drop the bubbler stones to the bottom of the bucket and it aerates the liquid. This keeps it from going rotten too quickly. Instead, the water turns into a fertilizer. This fertilizer can be watered down and is high in nitrogen.

Each batch takes 2-3 days. Easy, inexpensive, highly effective. Off-shot to the right is my worm bin, and if you peer into the darkness you can see the jar underneath the drain hole that produces worm leachate.