Aerial View

Heat tolerant species, of eggplant and okra, are noticeably slowing in their growth rate, but I’m not ready to pull them.

Tender greens can’t handle the heat, but the current climate serves them nicely. We have Asian greens, Bok Choy, and Kale growing to survive our mild North Texas winters.

We’ve spot repaired our wind blown green house and piled compost around the bottom to effectively bury and seal the bottom.  This will also serve to add heat from composting mass for when it really cools down.

Today was perfect weather to be cleaning the space, spot insect control (the squish method) and preparing for more crop plantings.

Mushroom Grow Setup

Harvest Friday, Market Saturday

Harvested this evening; bell, jalapeno, anaheim, banana peppers, arugula, okra, three micro green varieties, two squash, three eggplant, a few green beans, and a couple tomatillos. We expect larger returns in the coming weeks. Get it 9-sell out, Saturday, Carroll Blvd. and Mulberry.

Mushroom Prepwork

What a lovely Tuesday to be outside or to roll the windows down. We have been researching and gathering supplies to cultivate mushrooms. Tending to our wide variety of micro greens and keeping the newly planted seeds happy.

Matt has been researching and accumulating the items needed to start our mushroom grow operation. Although we have a lot of trial and error going on, we find it very important to thoroughly research so that we will only buy the correct things once, and to prevent hazards. Today we obtained our substrate sterilization barrel (a recycled orange-juice drum),  grow containers (buckets), and the supplies to build an air filtration box (air filters and lumber). The mushroom spawn should be arriving this week and we will be ready for it. We have learned that the mushrooms we are going to try first (Oyster) does not have a very long shelf life and this is why it is not often seen in grocery stores. We chose these mushrooms to start with because they are prolific and are good for beginners. Once we get a feel of it we will attempt different strains.

We are still experimenting with micro greens by trying different seeds and methods. We currently have a batch of alfalfa, mustard, a spicy mix (radish, arugula & cress), and a special 13 seed blend specifically for micro greens from sprout people. For the first 3 days we keep them in the dark with lids on them to hold the moisture and pressure so that the seeds will feel that they are in soil. Today we took them out of the dark and placed them outside.The seeds are surface sown in trays with about an inch of soil, because the soil is shallow it is prone to being dried out quickly and we mist them 3 times a day.

The seedlings planted yesterday are not to dry out either, so watering is very important until the sprouts are visible. We soaked them twice today.

We also have some tomato plants that are getting too large to stand up on their own so we put cages around them to hold them up. It’s important to keep a watchful eye over the garden every day so that pests or weeds or plants getting too large can be helped before things are difficult to get under control.

We are looking forward to getting hands-on experience with mushroom cultivation, refining our micro green methods and watching our new crops grow. We hope that all are taking advantage of the temperate climate and we would love it to stay awhile.

Sow in Balance

It was a great day to plant and today we sowed Bok Choy (which I also have planted in a pot on my window-sill for just-picked fresh lettuce), Siberian Kale, Chioggia Beet, Cylindra Beet, a few Celery and three Swiss Chard (all that was left in the seed packet).

If planting by the moon was an absolute, above ground crops are recommended in the phase following the new moon up until the full moon. We are 4% in the waxing phase and the moon sign is in Libra, the balance scale. This is the optimum moon sign for planting flowers and is representative of attractiveness. So we hope to get beautiful crops with positive influences.

Into Ashes

The cucumber beetles were collected over a couple of weeks and stored in a jar of alcohol.

 

 

We have a concrete slab/scrap grill in the middle of the garden. A fire was made here with dried grass and sticks gathered from dead tree limbs.

 

The alcohol caught on fire to burn the bugs from above and below. The fire stayed hot by constantly being fed more kindling. The smoke caused a large amount of the insects to fly away.

 

The bugs were thoroughly burned.

 

 

 

The char remains were crushed into ashes. These ashes were spread on all the beds throughout the garden. During the peppering of the ashes I didn’t notice the presence of any cucumber beetles. Later in the evening the beetles were back seemingly unaffected by the preparation. Further research is needed for a more affective method of nontoxic insect controls.

Biodynamic

We’ve been looking into and practicing some biodynamic methods of gardening, which may go one step past organic in wholesomeness. As biodynamic methods have a spiritual connection to encouraging plant growth. Biodynamics takes into account; astrological placements under the conception that the cosmos reflects itself on the earth and expresses itself in the life that springs forth, so time at which preparations are taken to ward off pests and encourage more vigor in cultivated species may increase effectiveness.

We wouldn’t label our produce biodynamic, or organic because we would first need investigation and testing. Also we aren’t the types to encourage government authorities to inspect the details of all dealings. It is our belief to appeal to, and earn the trust of our customers by doing the best we can with what we have to create fresh and unadulterated produce. We would like our market base to know their farmer and be free to ask any questions and share any concern. We strive to give transparency of the food we want to share with you. We would value highly our backyard produce over anything that came from 100s of miles away, because it is ours and we know what’s on it and where it came from. It grew where we grow and lives with us. Love is in this food. Matt and Andrea tend these plants every morning. We physically touch them with bare hands and consciously praise them for their beauty and bounty. We serve as their protectors as we attempt to rescue them from destructive pests. We find great importance in being connected to what feeds us.

In our biodynamic practices we are paying attention to the moon phase and sign. Being aware that root crops should be planted in the waning phase of the moon and above ground crops in the waxing phase. The moon phase is split into quarters (new moon, 2nd quarter, full moon, 4th quarter) for more specific chores to be more affective during times of greater influence. Every 2-3 days the moon cycles through a different sign that is correlated to an animal (zodiac), body parts, elements, and planetary influence.

  • Aries – ram, head, fire, Sun
  • Taurus- bull, neck, earth, Venus
  • Gemini- twins, arms/chest, air, Mercury
  • Cancer- crab, breast, water, Moon
  • Leo- lion, heart, fire, Sun
  • Virgo- virgin, bowels, earth, Mercury
  • Libra- scales, kidneys, air, Venus
  • Scorpio- scorpion, loins, water, Mars
  • Sagittarius- archer, thighs, fire, Jupiter
  • Capricornus- goat, knees, earth, Saturn
  • Aquarius- waterman, legs, air, Uranus
  • Pisces- fish, feet, water, Neptune

For my current, very basic, knowledge I constantly reference; the Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac, A 2012 Seasonal Gardening Guide, Astrological Gardening by Louise Riotte, and Agriculture Course by Rudolf Steiner. So that I may know the indicators of influence for each species. The farmers almanac online is an invaluable source of information on the subject.

Today we are under the barren sign of Leo, striking in the heart, during a particularly destructive moon phase (4th quarter), the death of the old moon, and I have collected cucumber beetles in a jar with alcohol. I am going to burn them into ash and sprinkle them over my veggies to deter these species from returning. This will be my first biodynamic preparation and I am enthusiastic to take note of it’s effects.

Fertilize and Keep Alive

When will this heat wave break? We are hoping soon. In the dry heat we are being sure to keep the soil moist and cool. We have started gardening a new plot at a friends residence and are preparing the soil for a fall garden.

We have lost a few crops to this heat wave (spinach didn’t do well in the ground this week) but others are thriving. The pea plants are growing taller as are the corn. Our Asian Greens, all star lettuce, and Arugula have developed their first true leaves. We have been watering every morning to prevent the tender crops from drying out. Keeping an especially close eye on the shallow micro green trays, which need misting 3 or more times a day. Hugelkultur beds are very efficient at retaining water and keeping temperate root system as seen in their lush growth.

Our friends have moved into a house with a garden present. We are helping them so that  it produces food for the fall. To prepare the garden we weeded, and turned the beds with rock dust (to increase mineral content), Medina Growing Green (kelp meal, pasteurized poultry manure, and green sand), Organic Hummus and Manure.

Fertilizing and manuring encourages the plants to produce more blooms and make larger fruit. We use a homemade compost tea so the plants can take up the nutrients with ease.

We have also began sprouting seeds, Alfalfa and a Grain mixture. If everything goes well we should have the Grain mixture available for sale on Saturday. We are having to tweak our methods as we go to learn the best way to grow with what we have.

We are very much looking forward to the final heatwave of summer and the beginning of fall on September 22nd. In the mean time we are keeping things alive and well nourished. They seem to be happy and we are delighted to share the produce and gardening with others.