Friday, November 7, 2014

Aquaponic strawberries

Well, the aquaponic strawberries have not done as well as I had hoped. I think I might need more fish. But this berry I picked today was sooooooo goooood!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Surprise Vegetables

Today I finally got around to weeding around the greenhouse and the road garden. To my surprise some carrots and a potato somehow survived the Weedpacalypse.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Passion fruit

This year, the greenhouse has yielded some very nice Passionfruit. I just wait for them to drop, and leave them on the kitchen counter until they are a bit wrinkly.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Indian Blood Peach Season

Mmmm peaches

Saturday, August 30, 2014

End of August

The end of August means the end of summer for me. Sure it is still hot. But the heat has lost something.... It's hard to explain, but I am sure you know what I mean. It might happen earlier or later in your area, but summer is winding down. It makes me kind of sad in some ways, but the promise of those perfect fall days that are right around the corner lift me up in other ways.

The kids are going back to school on Monday, and the local pool will shut down on Sept. 10 for the year. We ate the last watermelon (besides the one the crows got because the kids forgot to shut the greenhouse door... grrrr) at the beach, and tomorrow is the last summer BBQ. Of course then we will have autumn BBQs. So that is not such a big deal. So here is just a post full of pictures of what was a really awesome summer. Too awesome to spend much time writing blog posts- sorry about that.

My secondhand greenhouse- tomatoes on the left, watermelon, zucchini, and a papaya in the middle, eggplant, peppers, passionfruit on the right

The volunteer fireman's BBQ party

Our new garage (made of recycled wood) and mini-van. 

His head really isn't that big. It is just the camera angle.

The house before re-staining

And the house after 24 liters of Xyladecor exterior wood stain.
The roof peak was a bit scary on just a ladder. Glad I won't have to do that again for a few years.

And the eldest pwning a watermelon at the beach.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bamboo Shoots

The bamboo shoots are coming up. The only reason this one escaped was because it was in my backyard. The boars are pretty thick this year, and they can smell shoots before most people find them.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tire Recycling is Fun

About 12 years ago, I was really, really into composting. I fretted about C:N ratios, I tweaked what I put in it, and worried if it didn't heat up "enough." Then I realized that quite frankly- compost happens. But one good thing did arise from my obsession- someone recommended I build a composter from Paul Farber's plans in his epic "Tire Recycling Is Fun." (it has since been updated and re-branded as "Tirecrafting" but the basic premise is the same).

It is an awesome book. The very well done illustrations made it much easier to follow than pictures would have, and it is written in a very engaging style that makes you want to try it! I rushed out and made a Grecian urn from a rusty bias tire with rim I found on the beach (still has tulips planted in it) and then.... ran out of space and time for a while. A few years back I re-read it and made some garden edging from tires someone had thrown out beside the road. Then I re-read it about a month ago and decided to make a composter, since I had found four enormous truck tires beside the road recently. (And as a funny coincidence, one of my favorite blogs: "The Walden Effect" recently had a post about using tires in the garden, which prompted me to post my experience.)
Excerpt from Tire Recycling Is Fun

I loaded the tires up in my truck, drilled holes in the sidewalls and started in with my jigsaw and a plywood blade. Worked fine. Take it slow and don't overheat your jigsaw. When I was finished I had a stack of tires without sidewalls that was about a meter high, and about a meter in diameter. In the book, he describes the major advantage to ring composting- mixing. Pull the top tire off and it scrapes the material down. Put that tire next to the stack and shovel the unfinished compost into it. Then do the same for the others. When you are done, the compost has been mixed and inverted with very little effort (comparatively).

Tire composter with lid (to keep out the crows)

Tire composter full.

Perfect! I thought- what can I do with the sidewalls? And it struck me- these would be perfect rings around fruit trees! They could hold mulch in them, give a definite boundary to trim to with my string trimmer, and they will last pretty much forever. Fruit trees seldom get so big that the rims would choke them, it just seems like a natural idea.

Tire sidewall mulching ring

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

2014 February 7-8 Blizzard

Or to use a more media popular name "SNOWPACALYPSE 2014"
2014 Japan "Snowpacalypse" (click to enlarge)
Yep. We got about 50cm (1'7") or so of very wet heavy snow. Most of you back home think- Well, that's a fair amount, but not really a tragic event.
Panorama from the living room window (click to enlarge)
You can see the hydroponic strawberries on the left by the fence

Imagine if you had no plows. If you had no rocksalt and sand. Imagine that your streets were only 16' wide, with walls on both sides.
My Bench!!! and the bus stop

Even with daytime temps of 7-8 (mid 40s F) we have a lot of snow to melt. It truly was a snowpacalypse here.
Dog and goats at a loss of what to do

But the city's skiploader that doubles as the "plow" finally made it to our driveway at 1:00 on Monday, so I was able to get on the bike and go to work. Man, that was a lot of damage. If you don't get heavy snows for 20 years, the trees don't grow expecting it, and MAN, a lot of them just shattered! About 10-20 meters up, they just shattered and the tops fell off. So our mountains look like... well, cedar plantations with a lot of toothpicks sticking up here and there. (You have to realize, there are thousands to tens of thousands of trees on each mountain, if one percent of them shattered, that is a lot of trees, but still only one percent)
Concrete power poles are not supposed to have a visible bend in them....

Just how heavy was that snow?!?!
Well, it is all over but the cleanup, and I got a lot of cheap wood. (I am a firm believer in burning cedar in my woodstove). The neighbors laugh at me, but my house is a comfortable 20-25 degrees, so I laugh back at them, trying to split knotty hardwoods while 15" cedar splits when I just grip my maul and look at it sternly.
And it dries faster than their hardwoods, so I get more heat value then they do.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rescued Paulownia Dresser

We decided to hire a guy to redo our driveway and parking space. And what a guy! He can do anything, and he gave us a year's worth of firewood to boot! Part of his job is pulling down old houses, so he tries to recycle any decent beams and posts. AND HE GIVES THEM AWAY!!! Our dream of adding a guest house is starting to look possible.  Also, as part of the demolition process, he often unearths antiques, collectibles, and some retro items that the customers give him. They are not always in the best of shape, but they aren't broken either.

Well, these things pile up, and he and his wife like to see them re-used. When we told them of our love of Japanese antiques, he showed me this beauty he got demolishing a doctor's house..
Rescued Paulownia dresser
It is quite scratched and worn, but amazingly all the fittings are whole (but rusty) and it looks amazing!
We have been looking in recycle shops for a dresser for our daughter, and now one just falls from the sky. 

Now I just need to figure out how to take care of it. Do I oil it? Polish it with a soft cloth? How would you care for 100 year old paulownia wood?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Aquaponic Strawberries

Well, making the hydroponic strawberry system was so simple, I thought I would add one to my aquaponics system as well. Then I can compare yields and flavor.
I realized that I don't need to build a pvc pipe stand for the grow tubes. They will do just fine supported by... well, anything! So I just measured to the top edge of the grow box, and calculated that for a 1% drop, I would need to lift the inlet four centimeters from the grow box, the far joint two centimeters, and just rest the exit on the media in the grow bed. Works great!
Then I planted twenty strawberry starts in vermiculite pots with wicks and set them into the holes. 
This was ridiculously easy to do.
Drilling the holes with my hole saw
Changing my PVC pipe to some garden hose.
Hill and Bourne don't seem to mind.
Planted 20 new strawberry plants in the aquaponics system!