Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The only thing I've harvested so far is mustard greens. I planted a row about four feet long and we get enough for a side dish (half a grocery bad raw/less than a quart cooked) every 3-4 days. I have to say it is pretty dran good. The two year-old likes it almost as much as pasta (and eats it the same way: shoved by the handfuls into his mouth and hanging off his chin). The way the wife cooked it last night was the best (which she found amusing because this time she tossed the recipes and just threw a bunch of stuff in the pot and cooked it) and I actually drank the juice from leftovers after lunch today.

Potatoes are looking good (I think the ones in pots are doing as well or better than the ones in the raised beds or the ground).

By accident, I solved a problem with growing Strawberries in Louisiana: I have plants in small pots (I'd estimate about a quart to 1/2 gallon size) and plan to catch the runners in other pots (planned). The berries hang over the side, so they don't touch the ground and rot (discovered by accident).

People told me not even to try growing Tomatoes from seed, but my plants from seed have caught up and surpassed the plants I bought. The latest experiment is seeing how I do starting tomatoes in a hole in the ground filled with seed starter.

Heirloom collard greens are coming up one week after planting.

I think the carrots I planted months ago are finally coming up.

Lettuce is growing pretty slow but has a very pretty and health head--I might try this type in the front bed as it could pass for an ornamental.

Not much success with beans or cabbage. Okra still has not come up, so I planted a new area with some native Louisiana Okra seeds.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Urban Homestead

Here’s the update on vegetable growing. I think I’m going to do a modified version of “square foot gardening.” I measured the sunny part of my backyard and I think I can make 7 or 8 beds that are 4 feet wide and a little less than 20 feet long (walkways in between about 2 feet wide). Then in the back of my driveway I have an 8 ft x 8ft raised bed (in the shape of a parallelogram—best way to maximize space and still be able to open my garage door) with a cinderblock walkway down the middle, a 4x8 bed and an irregular shaped bed roughly a full railroad tie and a half by a half of a railroad tie, then there are the hundreds of pots I’ve picked up from the side of the road in the neighborhood.

In due season, I’m going to try to plant the following this year –planning on planting from tallest to shortest unless somebody knows if any of these plants love or hate each other (I’m doing a little of each at a time so that, with any luck, I’ll have a staggered harvest and will eat fresh and do less preserving):
Tomato (found what is supposedly native La. Heriloom variety, though I didn’t know any tomatoes was native to La.)
Okra (Native heirloom)
All kinds of herbs (the wife handles that)
Blueberries (in the front yard as a border shrub)
Figs (in a couple other little sunny pockets)
Bell Peppers
Mustard Greens
Collard Greens
Pumpkin (in the front—people will think they are just decorative!)
Carrots (that’s the mysterious border grass along my sidewalk!)

In other news, MOTHER EARTH NEWS has a couple of great articles, my favorite is about a man in Pasadena and his three adult children who raise 6,000 pounds of food per year on a lot slightly smaller than mine and in California.
Speaking of Mother Earth, there was an article last month about population control that set some people off—though most apparently agreed. I wish someone would have pointed out that population growth is a problem in some areas, but we have the opposite in other areas. Of course, my take is that there are moral and immoral means to the desired end.

Oh, and Mother Earth is my 32 month old’s favorite magazine. When I pull it out he comes running to look at the pictures. When I sit down with another book he grabs a back issue and hops in my lap. He calls it his “Fwower [flower] book”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Heirloom Seeds

Following on Leatherneck's comment on my last post, I had no idea you could get heirloom seeds over the net. Do you know if this is a good company? If so, or unless you know of a better, I may order the tomatoes (The 'Caspian Pink' Heirloom Tomato plant has absolute knockout flavor! It has been voted ‘best flavor' by the majority of tasters, even against Brandywine. This was one of our most popular heirloom tomato plants last year.)

SM: since you me and my sister are all small time beginners, it might be interesting to see some stuff we are all interested in (e.g. heirloom tomatoes) and make one order of some stuff and split it three ways.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Thoughts While Gardening

I'm interested in a modified form of--I think they call it--microgardening where you maximize use. I'm thinking about growing like 1-3 chickens in the back yard to: a) make eggs b) eat houshold waste c) use droppings for fertilizer. I'd like to learn more about how to use manure to side-dress-fertilize vegetables.I think cow and horse manure used be used for this "back in the day" before chemical fertilizers were developed.

I want to be organic within reason. My main reason for that is not aversion to chemicals, but wanting to be as "do it yourself" as possible.

I need to learn more about harvesting seeds from the things I grow, but right now I'm focusing on just trying to grow things (there is so much to learn, I'm trying to do what I can with the knowledge I have and build on it).

There are 4 places to plant: 1) Area in back yard that gets a fair amount of sun from mid morning to early afternoon (I have not exactly established how many hours--more hours right now because no leaves on the trees) 2) raised beds that get a good bit of sun though not a full day 3) pots in an area along the side of the house that get lots of sun most of the day 4) various areas in the front yard where I can make a vegtable look like an ornamental (e.g. carrots along the sidwalk leading up to the house; I have big beds right in front of my house where I may grow cabbage though it gets no sun till noon and then intense sun till sunset). 5) I could put a few things inside the picket fense if I can find something that will find that amount of light agreeable

May plant a couple blueberry bushes in the front yard along the property live between me and my neighbor. I understand thay have nice white blooms (but I have to crack the code on cross-polinating).

Trying to master a good mix for potting. LSU reccomends a 1-1-1 mix of sand, compost and dirt.

Right now I have the following planted:
a) Fig trees
b) Strawberries (six one-gallon pots surrounded with other pots filled with dirt to catch runners (I hope the plants stay alive and I can multipy the number of plants over several seasons).
c) potatoes
d) Lettuce
e) onions
f) mustard greens [I and trying a little each of c-f in pots, the ground and raised beds]
g) Pole beans
h) Ginger (not sure if it is edible, but want to find out)

And that's no "bull

Monday, September 15, 2008

Being Green--Oh and Blogging Isn't For Me

What with soaring fuel and food prices, an economy on the brink and the way both the Republicans and Democrats are hell bent on bankrupting this country, I've been taking an increasing interest in going to a simpler, more self sufficient lifestyle. To that end, I've been doing/planning/thinking about the following:

Saving money for land to grow a few things (doing).

Getting a scooter or small motorcyle (thinking about, shopping around)--you can get them for under $2k and they get 90-100 MPG.


Planting a garden (doing).

Making compost (doing)--this has been my most successfull adventure along these lines.

Turning down the thermostat (I can do that now that the wife has given birth and no longer has the pregnancy hot flashes).

Trying to make soap (doing)--without much success.

Trying to make a basket with native materials (doing)--without much success.

Researching to compile a "FOXFIRE" book for South Louisiana (Doing at the library)--so far I can tell you how to make candles with a wax myrtle and how to build a pirougue!

Going to the Lake Charles Farmer's Market (doing)--mostly a rip off. All but one guy buys crap at the grocery store and sells it to unsuspecting folks. You can, in fact, find more locally grown food at Market Basket, a local (LA and TX) grocery store chain.

AND NOW, MY CRUSTY COMMENT ON BLOGGING. I think blogging is a big disappointment. It has so much potential, but it tends to suck up a lot of time and you run into 50 blowhards for every rational person. So, if you are wondering if I'm "blogging again", I'm not. I'll post or comment when the spirit moves me.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Some people in this chamber love the Constitution more than they love the safety of this nation. We should all send President Bush a letter thanking him for protecting us."

-Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Slowing Down

I think I'm going to go to "light" blogging for a while.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Should you be in the Public Eye?

Should a person has been involved in something scandalous be in the public eye talking about religious and moral issues?

What if there are accusations that they have been neither admitted or denied, but sidestepped?

How should we, as people who care about the things this person says, treat such a person?

Would it make a difference if the incident was before they came to their current moral/religious position? If it is after, would it make a difference if the person came clean?

Would it make a difference if it was something totally agregious like taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable (young, drunk, at a low point), or if it was just a moral slip up (like Mitch in The Firm)?

Would it make a difference if the person were totally no judgmental?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


There is an interesting discussion on torture here. Maybe I ought to lay out my argument against torture.

Renaissance Men Rock!

If your kids want to make it in the 21st Century, they need to study the liberal arts.

I continue to work my way through The World is Flat. I'm not sure if I can encapsulate the theme of the book, but it is basically about how technology and innovations in the way we do things makes for a more level playing field in many areas, makes outsourcing jobs easier, etc. There are chapters on blogging, and how information is so easily available on the net. etc.

Anyway, he also addresses the problem of jobs since people in India and China can do not only manual labor tasks, but also intellectual and service work much cheaper (and apparently do a better job because these are high prestige jobs for people in India--and for other reasons).

Let me cut to the chase: He argues that if you learn only the nuts and bolts of your field, be it accounting, journalism (yes, even that gets outsourced), law, business, engineering, you are likely to find your self scraping by or completely useless. You need to offer something more be it a personal touch, higher expertise and proficiency, or innovation.

The education he recommends for young people, and the direction he suggests for America if it wants to compete globally is to promote the study of liberal arts.

One concrete reason for this is that (not an exact quote): Since the East can do left brain work cheaper, we must be able to do right brain work better. Innovation and adaptation to changing circumstances (who doesn't need this skill?) is best done by someone who has mastered more than one discipline (case in point, Leonardo Da Vinci) because such a person can take priciples and thinking from one discipline and apply it to the other. A person who has studied, math, music, literature, history, philosophy, foreign languages etc. is better prepared for right brain endeavors--though if you want to be an engineer you still need to study math!

He also has an interesting formula for success: CQ + PQ > IQ (Curiosity Quotient plus Passion [about learning and about your work] Quotient are more important than Intellectual Quotient.

So then all of you "grade grabbers", and utilitarians who were always asking us "what are you going to do with that?", on behalf of all liberal arts majors, let me say: Nanny Nanny boo boo, looks like you'll be the one flipping burgers!