Monday, June 30, 2008


I was going to share some with the cutie at the coffeeshop... she insisted on giving me $4... I'M RICH!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer storms

Like a t-storm sweeping across the plains, is the pace of change with my plant projects.

The spider mites are kicking my ass inside, at least in the AeroGardens. My regular houseplants have not been much affected. I have also had a very hard time sprouting peas in the AGs. I think the cause for all of this is that it's too hot and dry inside. I shall have to keep more ventilation going since those lights get hot.

I finally got some containers, so I was able to transplant them outside (in as much shade as possible). These are made of compressed rice husks and things and are meant to eventually decay. Saw them at World Market. Inside the pots I'm using 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 homegrown compost (it's rich and ready), and a topping of clay pellets. I planted the plants along with their AeroGarden/AG3 pods. Mental note: water the hell out of this stuff. It's been raining a lot so it should be a good time to get them outdoors.

Out of three AeroGardens, the only things I have planted now are two little, slow-growing tomato plants and one pea plant. ALL the other peas either rotted or got covered in spider mites. My two green beans are in pots outside now, since they are too big for the AGs and hopefully that will get some kind of balance on the spider mites. The AeroGardens have really disappointed of late... two of them are unplugged. Like I said, it could be the heat; it is probably mid-80'F's where they are during the day. Still, I expected more from the AG3.

On the plus side, right now I have no plants with spider mites inside. My little aquaponic experiment is looking good outside... even my chives are coming back and the six-month-old basil plant is reaching for the sky. Also, my hops plant is looking much better outside! It has branched out like I thought it would.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Status at summer solstice

I'm sorry I have been derelict in reporting on all my various ecogronomic projects. Here is an attempt to bring things current. Overall, I have had mixed success. The sum output has been much less than I expected, but there are some positive developments.

I have so many things going on I don't know where to begin. At last count I had three dozen individual plants indoors alone. Plus an equivalent on my patio.

In general the AeroGardens have not produced as expected. I have been able to get seedlings pretty easily in most cases, but getting real plants with real fruits has been elusive. I'm sure a good deal of this was from my relentless moving plants around, trying them in bottles or outside, etc. Still, I was disappointed by some kits, like the Cherry Tomato. I have only got one big plant out of it. It's important to note that I did have that bowl outside. It also grew a giant zuccini, but it lost its blossoms too.

I was disappointed by a couple of the kits. My Aerogarden 3's Green Bean kit (out of three seed pods) produced two leggy plants that got so tall I moved them to an AeroGarden Classic. Also, the Baby Greens are gone, daddy, gone. They don't like to be above 78'F and I think my air conditioner may have dried them out. They ended up getting covered with some kind of little red plant mites.

So, the theme for the last couple of months has been disappointment, be it self-induced or not. To have four AeroGardens going and an empty salad bowl is a little discouraging, and I have spent around $50 on seed kits alone. My little cherry tomato plant looks like shit. It had some blooms but it lost them. I dumped out all the old water and started anew in an attempt to revive. Right now it is parked in a Classic AeroGarden with just the two leggy Green Bean AG3 refugees. My last remaining hops plant is hanging on, beginning to branch out, but it's still just a sad little diseased looking twig. The little coffee plant I got on eBay has some leaves but it is an unhealthy yellowy shade of green. These last two, parked outside.

My pride and joy is my little lemon tree. I think I got this thing started earlier than the rest. It has about eight fruits on it and they are larger than limes. Also, one of my several poblano pepper plants is looking like something after I moved it to get a lot more shade during the day. It has been so hard getting stuff going on that baking (115'F) patio, but the lemon tree is full sun all day. The key is, use oversized pots and get stuff established early in the season.

My aquaponics experiment is going, though I downsized it. Now it's basically a styrofoam cooler with a raft on top holding some AeroGarden refugees. The basil is alive, after all the abuse it's been through in the past six months (I planted it around Christmas).

I also have a purple basil in the window in a vase, and a cutting from it is finally establishing itself in a pot on the patio.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Riding at night

A musicians' guild meeting prompted another night bike ride. I left my guitar at home tonight. Carrying one on a bike at night is kind of a drag. I only did it a couple of times in Salt Lake City, clipping the soft case to the pannier rack in the back. This leaves you with a big saddlebag and a pointy end on top you have to take into consideration when moving around trees. Mostly it makes you look like an ass, like you're almost homeless or maybe have a DUI.

On the face of it, riding a bike at night is inherently dangerous. But there are also safety advantages. Cars' headlights give you cues. It can be less crowded.

It can also be more pleasant, especially in the summer. It's almost 10 p.m. now and the temps have only started to fall below 90'F. The breeze is refreshing, the pulse of city nightlife exciting.

When I go night biking, I feel in control. I know where everyone is, as far as moving vehicles. However, I tend to stick to the sidewalks more than usual. Also, I'm lit up like a Xmas tree. I believe in having two sets of lights in case the one fails due to batteries or something. This goes for front and back. Also lots of reflective tape on my cycle, packs, sometimes even my clothes.

Night biking. I'm for it. But don't be out too late---there have been some bad attacks on cyclists after dark. Be careful. Be aware. I feel a bit safer when mounted high on a bicycle than as a mere pedestrian. But I stick to neighborhoods that feel safe to me anyway. There are risks, but they can be managed for a rewarding night ride.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It's a cruel, cruel summer

That little praying mantis drowned in a glass I left on the patio overnight :(

It's been a cruel, cruel summer as far as the plants go. I have seen temperatures on my patio as high as 113'F. I can't imagine transplanting anything from the hydro outside into that.

I think I need larger containers, in general. My poblano peppers aren't really doing anything.

My AeroGardens are growing various seedlings, and I have had an awful lot of duds among the seed pods. One of my AGs has just two plants, as they are both statuesque, budding beauties: a cherry tomato and a monstrously huge zucchini with leaves the size of small pancakes. Zucchini seems to be well suited to hydroponics. I wonder if my AG Classic will be large enough to house the full plant.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Animal kingdom

Bizarre start to the day. There was a dead frog in my kitchen. How does one get a dead frog in one's kitchen living in a 2nd story apt? He was covered in dust like he had crawled from under something; I wish I had gotten to him before he was all dessicated. How sad.

It was quite a day for the animals. Went for a bike ride by the river and spotted a little green grass snake. His head was about the size of a pea. It is odd how no one else on the trail seemed to notice him. These snakes are very inquisitive and I was afraid of him getting too close.

I later saw an osprey land up in the canopy. Afterwards, having a Miller Chill on my back porch, I noticed it was 92'F---at 9 o'clock. This was a half hour after the sun went down. The moon was the barest splinter in the pastel sky.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Suddenly it's June 1... May was filled with joyous events but before you know it, it's gone.

How are things im mein garten? Alles klar, Herr Kommissar? Well not really. It has been getting into the 100'F's on my porch, and the heat is really getting to my less-established plants.

My hops plant was not doing so good after I pruned it, attempting to get another one going with the pruning. It is leggy and some of the leaves at the bottom are yellow and covered in spider mites. I brought it inside under a grow light in case the heat was a factor, but I really have no idea what is going on or how to fix it. I might have been keeping it too moist. There is some brown on the tips of some of the leaves, which is usually a sign of dryness.

Some things are positively thriving outside. My lemon tree is going bananas, so to speak. It even has a few new blossoms! The little lemons are about half the size of ping pong balls, larger than marbles. They all look healthy. I have been watering the crap out of it. Ditto for my strawberry plant: it doesn't have any flowers or fruits, but is putting out a runner.

I have some new additions to the fambly. I started another AeroGarden 3 with green beans. These sprouted in just two days---not the six to eight days the label indicates. I'm taking that as a good sign. I would really like to get some protein into the urban homesteading equation, hence the legumes. The only other way I know to do this is grow mushrooms or raise chickens or something. I will be on the lookout in case a chicken falls off the 10:50 a.m. chicken truck that passes my house.

I have been having mixed results with my AeroGarden Classics. One of them has evolved into a sophisticated, successful, and diversified mini-garden with a magnificent cherry tomato tree (it looks more bonsai than bush), parsley (planted at Christmas (!), it's been thriving since I removed the basil), a couple of newly planted snow peas (no sprouts after two days), and a very precocious zuccini I grew from my own Burpee seed. The first zuccini I transplanted outside in a little pot got flowers but then it got burnt by the sun or perhaps excessive nutrients from the fish water. However, my newer zuccini plantings have been really taking off. I have been able to get them started quite easily just by placing them in some foam at the top of a water-filled bottle. It's that easy. I have a couple of plants floating on top of the fish vat outside, but the one in the AeroGarden is outgrowing all the others.