The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

archives for 12/2016

Kit greenhouse

When I called Ken to ask whether his lemon tree wanted to star in Mark's film, I was instantly intrigued by the tree's living accomodations. One of Ken's garage doors was rotting out and would soon need to be replaced, so he came up with an outside-the-box solution. He turned the zone into a sunroom instead.

Garage door sunroom

At first glance, I was impressed by the kit sunroom Ken had purchased and put together. I'm not so sure he would have been able to build something as tight for the same cost from scratch.

From a gardener's standpoint, the sunroom is also a perfect use of that thermal mass (aka driveway), with the bonus that plants can be rolled inside if temperatures drop too low.

Kit sunroom

This is the sunroom's first winter, so Ken is watching it carefully to see how it fares in the cold. So far, he reports that nighttime lows have been about twenty degrees above exterior temperatures with the garage door open onto a mostly unheated basement.

Posted Thu Dec 1 07:22:13 2016 Tags:
Space suit upgrade ideas.

NASA is offering a 30,000 dollar bounty to the right idea that helps mitigate human waste in space suits for 6 continuous days.

Maybe some genetically modified Black Soldier Fly grubs could live in a backpack compartment and convert body toxins into something more safe with the added bonus of space compost.

Posted Thu Dec 1 16:10:08 2016 Tags:
Braided redbud

Ken's green thumb isn't limited to the contents of his new sunroom. Walking up to his front door, I was immediately taken by the braided redbuds lining the walk.

"Did you sculpt them yourself or buy them that way?" I asked.

He shrugged off the beauty of the trees, explaining that the technique had merely been a way of saving the redbuds from the ax. "My wife didn't like the way they were hanging over the walk," he explained. "She wanted me to cut them I braided them instead."

When asked for tips on sculpting trees, he suggested trying redbud or beech. "The trunks will grow together as they mature," he noted. I wonder what the trees will look like fifty years after their reprieve?

Posted Fri Dec 2 07:29:49 2016 Tags:
Quick hoop trouble.

Some recent high winds whipped our longest quick hoop out of shape.

It just took a few minutes to put it back to normal.

Posted Fri Dec 2 15:32:15 2016 Tags:

Quick hoop trouble.

Some recent high winds whipped our longest quick hoop out of shape.

It just took a few minutes to put it back to normal.

Posted Fri Dec 2 15:40:52 2016 Tags:
Frozen pond

August 28 to November 28 --- three months, four inches of rain.

November 29 to December 1 --- three days, three inches of rain.

Our weather changes on a dime and abruptly we are wet once more.

Posted Sat Dec 3 13:08:00 2016 Tags:
mark Lucy nap
Lucy yawning on porch.

It finally got cold enough today for Lucy to use her heat pad for nap time.

Posted Sat Dec 3 16:18:09 2016 Tags:
Grazing goats

We won't know for sure until she fails to go into heat Wednesday, but I'm already starting to think of Artemesia as a second freshener. She's dried off (finally!) and is starting to shine back up on unlimited fresh minerals and hay combined with a daily dose of oats or honeysuckle.

Unfortunately, Aremesia has also taken to trying to pull me off my feet when I put on her leash and open the gate to lead her out into the garden. I'm assuming this abrupt leap from mild to headstrong is a result of the embryos swimming around in her belly, but I may still have to resort to goat training 101. Even a Mini-Nubian can pull me off my feet if I'm not careful!

Posted Sun Dec 4 07:31:27 2016 Tags:
Wet garlic

Despite the drought, our garlic sprouted and grew.

Its newspaper mulch is keeping invaders down, but we may still need to hand weed the beds once before spring.

Posted Sun Dec 4 15:40:07 2016 Tags:
Wet goats

We'd gotten so used to this October-in-December that the chilly rain came as a bit of a shock. No more halcyon afternoons lounging with the goats. Instead, it's a delivery of wet honeysuckle then back to fighting the cats for the prime spot in front of the wood stove.

Posted Mon Dec 5 07:33:46 2016 Tags:
Wood splitting action shot.
The first day of wood chopping means Winter is coming.
Posted Mon Dec 5 13:50:57 2016 Tags:
Tossing firewood

When I went on my usual morning walk on Thanksgiving, the world delivered a gift right in front of my bootsteps. My work gloves had been getting holey, but not so bad I was willing to buy a new pair. So imagine my surprise to find a nearly new set on the road, soggy from rain but otherwise intact. Score!

That said, if you hunt along our road (which, no, I'm not going to  name) and lost a small pair of blue gloves with tree patterns on the back a couple of weeks ago, please let me know. They're only lightly scuffed and still quite ready to wear.

Posted Tue Dec 6 07:30:52 2016 Tags:
Selfie with cat

Eight years ago when Strider showed up sick and wet in our barn, he would have been diagnosed with PTSD had he been human. It took years of tiptoeing down the hallway for Mark to prevent our younger cat from running away every time the man of the house entered the room.

And yet...slowly but surely our lost cat has begun to bloom. First he learned to raise a paw on command when Mark offered a treat. He'd sit on my lap and pur more deeply than any cat ever has before. And this year, he learned another new trick --- catching voles.

Ledge catIn the past, Huckleberry has been the hunter in the family. Where we live, this is actually a very good thing since mice try to move into the house every fall and the garden is full of rodents that nibble on our crops. But this year, Huckleberry didn't kill his offerings. Instead, time after time, he brought them through the cat door alive...and let them go.

I growled and complained, but then I realized that our more complacent cat had merely decided Strider was finally ready to expand his repertoire. Sure enough, soon after that final chipmunk had been recaptured, Strider began bringing in voles and consuming them down to the guts, including one massive specimen bigger than any I'd ever seen before.

An online calculator suggests Strider will be turning 48 shortly in human years, definitely no spring chicken. The moral of the story? Whether or not you can teach an old dog new tricks, that rule doesn't apply to cats. Cats, like people, keep growing and changing with every day they spend on this earth.

Posted Wed Dec 7 07:44:20 2016 Tags:
Mushrooms drying on the rack.
An upcoming cold front might make these our last mushrooms of 2016.
Posted Wed Dec 7 16:01:03 2016 Tags:
New clothespin

The cheap dollar-store clothespins we bought when we moved to the farm a decade ago are few and far between at the moment. Some fell to the ground and were lost. Others rotted or split. Suffice it to say, I mostly drape my clothes nowadays rather than pinning them.

Why not just buy new pins? I got stuck on what kind I wanted back when the Deliberate Agrarian started producing high-quality clothespins. Maybe I should pay more for a product that would last a lifetime?

Then, while clearing off my desk in preparation for my painting spree, I found a dozen or so new clothespins, presumably the last of the original batch that hadn't originally fit on the line. Perhaps these will buy me another year or two of indecisiveness?

Posted Thu Dec 8 07:39:08 2016 Tags:
Lucy chewing on creek flotsam.
Lucy likes to find plastic bottles floating in the creek and chew them to death.
Posted Thu Dec 8 15:01:25 2016 Tags:
Anna No heat
Honeysuckle hedge

For the last two winters, I've debated the pregnancy status of our goats at length. This time around, though, I'm confident Artemesia is pregnant both because her behavior changed markedly after being bred and also because we passed the three-week mark with no signs of heat.

I'd like her to gain a bit more weight before she hits the hard final months of her pregnancy, so we're increasing rations --- more carrots, more alfalfa pellets, and a daily head of sorghum. Good thing I've started being able to expand my own dietary repertoire at long last or I would have been fighting my pregnant goat for those precious carrots!

Posted Fri Dec 9 07:20:58 2016 Tags:
Kubota cold starting observations.

Winter is already a lot easier this year thanks to the addition of the Kubota X900.

Topping off the fuel last week with Winter diesel seems to help cold starting.

Posted Fri Dec 9 15:57:49 2016 Tags:
Overloaded nest box

8 am is rush hour on the winter farm. Everybody needs to be in the nest box at once!

This actually used to be two nest boxes, but our hens knocked down the divider because they all wanted to lay in the box on the right. Now the larger space is capable of seating long as nobody needs personal space.

Posted Sat Dec 10 07:29:44 2016 Tags:
Split goat leash

Sometimes, our little doeling likes to go her own way.
Posted Sat Dec 10 16:11:35 2016 Tags:

Mark and I dropped by Maggie's new flat Friday for a mini apartment-warming party. But we were the ones who came home with gifts.

ClothespinsClothespins! Sorry, Daddy --- your Christmas present has been usurped.

Mom also pulled together an album of never-before-seen childhood photos of me. I'll be sure to share excerpts here on the blog in the near future.

Thanks, guys! It was a treat to hang out in such an airy, window-lit space.

Posted Sun Dec 11 07:23:05 2016 Tags:
mark Wheels
Moving feed bags

Between the Kubota and the green wagon, feed-store day is easier than ever before.
Posted Sun Dec 11 17:04:43 2016 Tags:
Trailer interior before

The trouble with painting two walls in vibrant colors is that the spruce-up makes the remaining wall look pretty terrible. This is especially true if the final wall was your very first building project with $0 budget and involved cobbling together odds and ends of found materials in order to close in the gaping hole in the side of your new home before winter hits.

Plastering with cat

I'm generally oblivious to clutter and interior ugliness, but I'm pretty sure Mark cringed every time he walked into the room. Time to add some texture to cover up the paneling and slap on a few coats of paint!

Sanding plaster

The copious windows on this wall made me feel like the surrounding area shouldn't be quite so lumpy and bumpy. So once the joint compound dried, I sanded lightly to bring the texture down to a dull roar. (I still kept some texture to maintain the theme I have going in the space.)

Masking windows

Here's the area after the first round of primer.

Trailer painting

And after primer round two. Now for color! Mark thinks we should go with the same light blue that's on the opposite wall. What do you think?

Posted Mon Dec 12 08:01:38 2016 Tags:
Early photos

Mark let me steal his spot for a few days in the leadup to my birthday to show off early family photos that Mom recently dug up. As you can see, I was a bit off kilter as a child, but I loved to draw.

The right photo on the bottom is the second to the last time anyone forced me into a skirt and pointy shoes. And the left bottom shot showed what I'd much rather have been doing --- swinging on one of the homemade contraptions on which I spent so much of my childhood.

Posted Mon Dec 12 16:08:40 2016 Tags:
Swimming dog
"I has been awhile since I have visited your blog, Lucy is starting to look a little gray in the face, how old is she now?"
--- zimmy

Lucy is 12 years old, which is pretty old for a Chespeake Bay Retriever. She's slowed down quite a bit, but she's still the first one to ford a flooded creek and she keeps up easily on my two-mile morning walks.

Mark would tell you that a dog couldn't have a more perfect life than Lucy's. She has people around nearly 24-7, she can run as far as she wants in every direction without worrying about cars, and she knows she has a job to do. No wonder a few morning aches and pains aren't enough to keep her on the couch, even on a frigid winter day.

Posted Tue Dec 13 05:21:34 2016 Tags:
Back to the land

Old family photos are probably boring for most of you, but I couldn't resist another collage. This one shows the early farm years, when I thought wood stoves and wringer washers and construction projects were nothing but fun.

Posted Tue Dec 13 16:02:39 2016 Tags:
Complementary colors

The consensus seemed to be to play it safe by carrying over the light blue from the facing wall. And I mostly stuck with that...but I couldn't quite resist adding some orange on the wood around the window frames.

And now I've finally run through my $200 stash of painting supplies. In case anyone's curious, the three walls I played with this winter required four gallons of joint compound (for texture), a gallon of primer, a gallon of white (for mixing), most of a gallon of blue, and parts of two pints of orange and yellow-orange. Not so bad for sprucing up about a third of our trailer in one fell swoop.

Posted Wed Dec 14 07:26:01 2016 Tags:
Family photos

Mom and a sweet potatoFor my final begging-your-indulgence-with-family-photos post, I can't resist delving into numerology. When I was born, my father was the exact age I am now, and Mom was pretty close to my current age in the photo in the upper left. Meanwhile, her mother was really close to Mom's current age when the photo in the upper right was snapped.

So what do you think --- do the Tirrell women breed true?

Posted Wed Dec 14 14:25:46 2016 Tags:
Sprouting onions

In a perfect world, homesteaders go over our stores every time we dig into the cupboard in search of a potato or onion. In my world, though, about midwinter I generally stumble across some rot problems I didn't properly stave off at the pass. In this case, the issue was that the low FODMAP diet eschews onions and I had some sprouts and decay in the former category that I didn't notice in time.

Luckily, fifteen minutes sorting the baskets of produce generally deals with the problem. And my stomach has improved to the point where I can now start putting small amounts of high FODMAP foods (yes, including onions and garlic!) back onto my plate. So, hopefully the rest of the stores will be enjoyed rather than pushed away into a dark corner to be ignored for another three months.

Posted Thu Dec 15 07:29:48 2016 Tags:
Ben's Winter visit with Charlotte.

We got a little help today with bringing in carrots from the refrigerator root cellar.

Posted Thu Dec 15 16:54:27 2016 Tags:
Welcoming party

Our days are bookended by animal chores. But every ounce of effort is worthwhile when Artemesia greets me, waiting patiently by the gate.

Posted Fri Dec 16 07:24:58 2016 Tags:
Lumber hauling in the Kubota.
Got some 2x10's to build a storage shelf unit.
Posted Fri Dec 16 16:24:40 2016 Tags:
Anna Frozen dew
Frozen droplets

Thursday, the weather was just right to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. These droplets of dew-turned-ice resembled nothing so much as snowflakes preserved in glass.

Posted Sat Dec 17 07:29:52 2016 Tags:
Desk lamp wall mounting.
This stainless steel desk lamp makes a decent wall mounted lamp.
Posted Sat Dec 17 16:32:21 2016 Tags:
Anna Expansion
Icy stepping stone

Along with turning a year older, I always look forward to my birthday because it (nearly) marks the turning point of the year, when the days begin to grow longer once again. The time of contraction is nearly ended and soon life will expand out in every direction as the sun gives us a little extra light time every day.

Posted Sun Dec 18 07:25:19 2016 Tags:
Rogue One movie day.

Ever since I was a kid I've had a burning question nobody could answer.

Why was the Death Star designed with such a vulnerable weak spot?

We found out that nugget of truth and more on Anna's recent Birthday movie day.

Posted Sun Dec 18 16:02:54 2016 Tags:

Find Happiness NowThose of you who read between the lines are probably aware that five months of grumpy gut has been hard on me on a mental and emotional level even more so than on a physical level. I'm a total believer in the brain-gut connection now, having charted my moods and bowel movements for months and found a nearly perfect correlation between good and bad days on both ends of the body spectrum.

On the plus side, this realization has forced me to work harder than ever before to create order out of the chaos within my own slightly flawed brain. I've found easy pick-me-ups in the form of gratitude exercises, long baths, Christmas lights, zumbaing to youtube videos, and doubling down on the daily walk. 95% of the time, being aware of the early warning signs saves me from long days in the outhouse and from long nights wandering down dark mental alleys. But the other 5% of the time can be a doozy.

Which is where you come in. One of the books I'm working through at the moment is Jonathan Robinson's Find Happiness Now, a series of exercises you can carry out in five minutes or less to boost your mood short and long term. With my birthday just past, I decided to follow Robinson's advice and beg for help from those who love me for a project he calls "The Birthday/Funeral Gift."

To that end, I'm collecting anecdotes and photos to go into a make-Anna-smile book for rainy days of the soul. Want to join in? It's simple. Just think of a favorite memory about your connection with me, write it down, and mail or email it over. It's a bonus if the tale comes with a photo, but any kind memory is much appreciated. I'm looking for short, sweet memories that I can read and look at when I'm down to remember how much brightness there is in the world. Thanks in advance if you choose to play along!

Posted Mon Dec 19 07:32:14 2016 Tags:
Paint can.
Picked up more paint today for future shelf unit.
Posted Mon Dec 19 17:35:49 2016 Tags:

Our firewood supply is holding up so nicely that we still haven't broken into this year's half of the woodshed. I figure we'll start on the easy-to-split tulip trees around the first of the year, which will remind us to start putting our energy toward filling back up the emptied half of the shed in preparation for next December.

Posted Tue Dec 20 07:46:53 2016 Tags:
Cutting board with circular saw.
Got all the boards cuts for the new heavy duty storage shelf unit.
Posted Tue Dec 20 15:22:45 2016 Tags:

You know how the hotdogs and the buns never come out even so you just have to keep buying more? I seem to have that problem with paint and primer.

I still had some paint left from my wall projects, so I decided to paint our bookcase-to-be. But we'd run out of primer, so we had to get another gallon of that.

I have a sinking suspicion that when the paint is gone, we'll still have primer left, sending me in search of something else to paint and more paint to do the job with. Tricky, tricky....

Posted Wed Dec 21 08:08:34 2016 Tags:
Lucy paw prints.

We learned the hard way that painted boards need to be placed up right for drying.

Posted Wed Dec 21 15:12:27 2016 Tags:
Painting boards

It's a bit of a leap of faith to do all this cutting and painting without first fitting everything together.

If my math is right, we'll end up with two bookcases, each orange on the inside and blue on the outside. To that end, we're painting some boards all the same color, some boards half and half, and are carefully considering each edge.

Assuming we don't need a second color coat, Friday will be the day of reckoning. How's that for a cliffhanger ending?

Posted Thu Dec 22 07:41:21 2016 Tags:

Shaking and saving paint.
I've always felt like shaking a can of paint saves that paint that would adhere to one of those mixing sticks.

Posted Thu Dec 22 14:14:16 2016 Tags:
Goats eating honeysuckle

A month after finally weaning her daughter, Artemesia is starting to put a little fat back on her bones.

It's handy to have
weight tape figures to reassure me that my gut feeling is right --- our doe is a little fatter now than she was in November.

Hopefully she'll be fatter yet in January and February, ready to give body weight to the next set of babies when they come to call this spring.

Posted Fri Dec 23 07:23:21 2016 Tags:
Storage shelf unit made out of 2x10's.
We finished up our 2x10 heavy duty storage shelf unit this afternoon.
Posted Fri Dec 23 15:57:00 2016 Tags:
Office bookcases

Small bookcaseI'm really glad Mark decided to make office shelving units rather than purchasing them new. Between the lumber and paint, I figure one large and one small bookcase cost right around $100. I call that cheap for two large pieces of furniture that are color-coordinated and hefty too.

Hopefully Mark will still think they're beautiful in a decade despite his ever-improving skills. I know I'll continue to love them, but I'm an easy sell.

Remodeled office

Moving my books and office supplies back in was a slightly more bittersweet experience. I'd already expunged over half of my clutter, but I found during the six weeks I spent with the rest piled out of reach that I really only missed 10% of what remained. Still, I put it all back anyway, not quite brave enough to delete items I rarely look at but might need...someday. The good news is, everything is now within easy reach and is instantly accessible.

Bare wall

Mark asked what I wanted to do with the wall space above the longer bookcase. "More shelves?" he suggested.

Unfortunately, I've found that stuff expands to fill the space allotted to it, so I decided to go for something pretty instead --- a fish tank turned aquaponics setup. Yes, I know I've poo-pooed the sustainability of aquaponics in the past, but I originally just wanted to put in a fish tank for pure soothing inspiration. If I'm already committing to feeding ornamental fish and heating their water, suddenly aquaponics made more sense.

So I used my Christmas money from Rose Nell and Jayne (thank you two so much --- you rock!) to order a premade unit that hopefully won't drip onto the books below. Stay tuned for talk of ammonia, cycling, and other technical terms once my present comes in the mail.

Posted Sat Dec 24 07:37:18 2016 Tags:
Solar cell mounting with gaffer tape.

The trick to getting the Solar Christmas lights to last longer was mounting the cell outside at an angle with some gaffers tape.

Posted Sat Dec 24 15:35:11 2016 Tags:
Stained glass coloring sheet

As the light begins shining back into the darkened world, I'm so grateful for beauty, love, and resilience. Thank you all for your kind words on last week's post, and thank you to the caring people who sent me photos, reminiscences, and a stained-glass coloring book to raise my spirits.

No matter when or how you celebrate, I hope this weekend is full of fun, food, and friends. Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, and a Joyful Major Winter Holiday of Your Choice!

Posted Sun Dec 25 07:54:22 2016 Tags:
Huckleberry needs to be scratched.

Huckleberry needs just the right amount of pressure applied to his spine while he's being stroked.

Posted Sun Dec 25 14:42:58 2016 Tags:
Painting without primer

One of our readers asked why we'd bother to use primer since modern paints are, at least to some degree, self-priming. I answered that, in my limited experience, one coat of paint doesn't cut the mustard unless you're painting over existing wall Repaintingpaint. If I'm going to have to apply two coats anyway, why not start with a can of cheaper primer for phase one?

To illustrate my point, I pulled out our dinner table, which I painted with a single coat of paint (no primer) a bit less than a year ago. Tables see relatively hard wear, and eleven months was long enough to rough up the surface so bare wood was showing through in spots. Time to paint again!

The big question will be --- which surface looks better at this time next year, the table with two coats of paint or our bookcases with one coat of primer and one coat of paint? Let's see if I remember to report back in January 2018.

Posted Mon Dec 26 07:36:22 2016 Tags:
Using wedges to split firewood.

Our latest firewood logs turned out to be a real challenge for the Chopper 1.

The problem was the axe getting stuck more often than not.

The solution was to break out the wedges and baby sledge hammer.

Posted Mon Dec 26 15:29:33 2016 Tags:
Ancient futon

The final living-room zone slated for an upgrade this winter is our ancient futon. We got the furniture used over a decade ago, and the mattress did a good job for the first few years. By this point, though, no amount of flipping and thumping keeps the cloth from sagging. Meanwhile, the bars are very much evident underneath your bum.

I took a slumpfy before photo without tidying to show the things I'd usually hide. Odds and ends are stuffed underneath, coats have a tendency to get draped over the edge, and there's a cinderblock replacing the middle leg. Mark tells me we can do much better.

Cat planning

The idea is to create a raised day bed/sofa with space underneath for seed starting, coat hanging, and general storage. Trailer ceilings are low and Mark is tall, though, so the structure won't be very raised --- just 28.5 inches from floor to the beginning of the bed supports. Stay tuned for details as the project progresses...and Huckleberry's notes on whether a raised day bed is as acceptable as an ancient futon for cat napping.

Posted Tue Dec 27 07:20:30 2016 Tags:
What extra food does a pregnant goat need?

Artemesia gets an extra well balanced breakfast when she's eating for two.

Posted Tue Dec 27 15:28:55 2016 Tags:
Honeysuckle tang

Acorns on the hillsides kept deer away from our core homestead for most of the autumn and early winter. But one doe has recently begun hanging around just beyond our borders.
Nibbling doeling
Rather than waiting for her to eat up that tasty honeysuckle then move from there into the garden, I'm taking a proactive approach...let the goats eat the wild greenery instead. The deer-browse spots are harder to access, so I'd ignored them earlier in the season. But our girls obediently followed me through the briars and along the steep slope to do their duty when asked.

Now that the easy honeysuckle is filling goat bellies, I'm hopeful the deer will move along to easier pickings for the rest of the winter. Fingers crossed she'll do so before she learns about the tasty greenery still existing in the garden proper....

Posted Wed Dec 28 07:44:48 2016 Tags:
Kubota X900 hauling big lumber.

Got enough lumber today to finish the upcoming elevated day bed storage unit.

Posted Wed Dec 28 16:32:28 2016 Tags:

With my strength rebounding to near-normal levels, I decided to embark on one of the big garden projects that has been lingering on my to-do list for six months --- moving the blueberries.

Our original blueberry patch is located quite a distance uphill from the trailer, but that was the only spot where I could fit so many plants. Unfortunately, all of the rabbiteyes died back during a particularly cold winter, so I was left with three northern highbush blueberries plus two gooseberry bushes spread out across a rather tremendous patch. The result was a weed epidemic when I didn't have the energy to keep track of a large area, only a very small percentage of which was actually bearing fruit.

Transplanting gooseberries

Rather than filling in the gaps, I decided to contract our garden back closer to our trailer. So I wheeled six barrows of acidified topsoil down to make a spot for the blueberries, then dug everyone up and moved them in.

The transplants will likely sulk through 2017. But I have a feeling we'll actually end up with a lot more fruit soon after due to the sunnier location and the dramatically higher likelihood they'll be weeded and mulched. Plus, with only a few steps between door and berries, we're far more likely to enjoy small harvests rather than leaving them for the birds.

Posted Thu Dec 29 07:45:51 2016 Tags:
Dragonfly photo covers electrical box.

Decided to use Anna's stunning photo of a common green darner dragonfly to hide the electrical wires needed for the light on the new aquaponics unit.

Posted Thu Dec 29 15:58:30 2016 Tags:
Aquaponic light

Our AquaSprouts premade aquaponic kit came in the mail before we made it to the big city to buy an aquarium. So we put Transplanting herbstogether as much as we could and are now in a holding pattern until the weekend.

While waiting, I figured I'd dig some greenery out of the garden to fill the grow bed. Herbs are a good fit for aquarium-size aquaponics setups because they handle low light and nutrients while producing a crop that seems much larger than it is --- a spring of fresh green onions goes a long way in sprucing up an ordinary winter meal. To that end, I'll be transplanting celery, chives, thyme, and Egyptian onions and will soon start some basil from seed to round out the potential crop.

Aquaponic grow bed

Here's one last shot...just because I like seeing Mark backlit as he puts the finishing touches on the grow bed. Next up --- getting the water flowing!

Posted Fri Dec 30 07:17:31 2016 Tags:
Aquarium tank in a Kubota.

We got the last component to the aquaponic system today.

The ten gallon glass aquarium was 14 dollars.

Posted Fri Dec 30 16:51:57 2016 Tags:
December lettuce bed

A lot of the garden went to weeds this past fall while I was doing the bare minimum required to get by. So I didn't plant anything in our cold frame...although self-seeded arugula filled nearly half the space.

With the lettuce under our quick hoop starting to be damaged by winter cold, though, I figured it was time to see if I could get some midwinter lettuce going in the slightly warmer space under glass. Perhaps the cold frame will serve us a salad by Groundhog's Day?

Posted Sat Dec 31 08:06:14 2016 Tags:
Plywood rectangle for elevated day bed storage unit.

Putting together a plywood rectangle with a 2x4 frame for the elevated bed unit.

Posted Sat Dec 31 16:28:27 2016 Tags:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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