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vox_mundi

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #600 on: November 19, 2018, 07:56:00 PM »
Anyone have experience with one of these? I'm trying to start a group at our local library.

A Sharing Economy for Plants: Seed Libraries
https://theconversation.com/a-sharing-economy-for-plants-seed-libraries-are-sprouting-up-106432

... The process works much the same as with books. Patrons receive seeds and plant them, then allow some of their plants to go to seed and return those seeds to the library for others' use.

Might need to get our local representative involved
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1810
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etienne

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #601 on: January 05, 2019, 04:41:46 PM »
We had lots of chard this year and kale is also a great plant for the winter time ('boerenkool' - farmer's cabbage - is a Dutch specialty).

Well, now I have Kale, and nobody want's to eat it. I found a soup receipe with mainly potatoes and onions, but it wasn't a great success. If you have any suggestion... it would be a great product if we didn't have supermarkets because it is easy to use and easy to grow.

Winter spinach are better accepted, it works fine, excepted that they don't support too well the weather we have now, we oscillate between -5°C and +10°C.

Leaks are also fine this winter. The mosquito net during the summer did a great job to protect them.

kassy

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #602 on: January 06, 2019, 06:10:29 PM »
I like it the traditional way mixed with mashed potatoes and then put some vinegar on it (or mustard) and a veggy sausage on the side but there are many other things to do with it:

Search for dutch recipes using boerenkool and translate what looks interesting. That should give plenty of suggestions for different recipes.

This is just 1 source:
https://www.ah.nl/allerhande/recepten/R-L1383828732495/boerenkool
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Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #603 on: January 25, 2019, 04:45:49 PM »
Every winter I come here and talk about LED grow lights. Every winter I think about building them myself, but don't have the time. It seems that there are a lot more lamps on offer than in the past few years, with lots of small and a few large online shops offering different kinds of lamps.

We really want these lamps, because we have trouble raising seedlings indoors during February and March, because we have triple glazing and things can be very cloudy here for prolonged periods.

So, I'm going to dive into this stuff yet again, and if I find anything interesting, I'll report. In the meantime, if anyone has any tips, I'm all eyes.
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Bernard

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #604 on: January 25, 2019, 06:04:31 PM »
Anyone have experience with one of these? I'm trying to start a group at our local library.

A Sharing Economy for Plants: Seed Libraries


Just stumbled on this post. Here in France there are a lot of initiatives in this domain. A major actor here is the RSP, Réseau Semences Paysannes.
https://www.semencespaysannes.org/ In french only, I'm afraid.

vox_mundi

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #605 on: January 25, 2019, 07:47:44 PM »
Thanks, Bernard - that looks interesting   :)

Every winter I come here and talk about LED grow lights. Every winter I think about building them myself, but don't have the time. ...

Step-by-step instructions on how to make a DIY LED panel with parts list ...

https://www.ledsupply.com/diy-makersled-led-grow-light

https://www.instructables.com/id/Introduction-to-LED-grow-lights/
« Last Edit: January 25, 2019, 07:56:48 PM by vox_mundi »
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ghoti

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #606 on: January 25, 2019, 08:47:15 PM »
I have to wonder how much more energy efficient these DIY LED setups are when compared to now commonly available white LED bulbs. I fully understand the green portion of the light is "wasted" but using common bulbs and fixtures is  cheaper and certainly more convenient.

That's what I'm using to help my plants through the dark days of winter.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #607 on: January 25, 2019, 10:01:53 PM »


We really want these lamps, because we have trouble raising seedlings indoors during February and March, because we have triple glazing and things can be very cloudy here for prolonged periods.

have you tried winter sowing?

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #608 on: January 25, 2019, 10:25:17 PM »
Step-by-step instructions on how to make a DIY LED panel with parts list ...

https://www.ledsupply.com/diy-makersled-led-grow-light

https://www.instructables.com/id/Introduction-to-LED-grow-lights/

If I would really want to do this, I probably could (the soldering, etc). But finding the right parts that cover the right spectrum, etc, would be a PITA I don't have the energy for. My initial plan, a couple of years ago, was to buy a couple of blue, red and white LED strips and then use them in a custom-built closet of sorts.

I have to wonder how much more energy efficient these DIY LED setups are when compared to now commonly available white LED bulbs. I fully understand the green portion of the light is "wasted" but using common bulbs and fixtures is  cheaper and certainly more convenient.

That's what I'm using to help my plants through the dark days of winter.

Yes, thought about that too and tried it out last winter with a cold (bluish) and warm (reddish) LED lamp. It didn't seem enough to grow seedlings, but maybe I did it wrong.

Like I said, there seems to be more on offer, but very little info, everything China-made, nothing where you go 'hey, that looks trustworthy'. So, unfortunately, it seems I have to go the Amazon route, where I can at least check out user experiences. This grow light is popular and has a 3 year warranty and good customer support:



What I like about it, is that it has separate buttons for the early growing period and then the blooming period. Reviews also look good, but it's a bit pricey, at 90 EUR.

have you tried winter sowing?

Well, with some plants, and we also have cold frames. But my wife wants to have a head start before spring starts, by having seedlings ready to go out as soon as there's no more chance of night frosts. So far, every winter, all the stuff she planted out early in the house, got spindly, stunted growth, etc. And then she'd feel she was behind with everything for the rest of the growing season, apart from all the wasted work.

Hence, a good grow light that covers an area of about 3x3 feet.
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dbarce

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #609 on: January 26, 2019, 12:35:03 AM »
When you say "grow indoors" do you mean inside a hoophouse/greenhouse or inside your home? tried to look in the comments, but couldnt find what kind of layout scale your little garden operation has. If you are growing indoors you might want to try to get more natural light to your seedlings or even grow outdoors and provide a heatsource. As a different option to the LEDs.

I also live in a very cloudy part of the world, albeit not as cold as where you live. Im setting up a small comercial garden operation and hereabouts, light under a polyethylene covered polytunnel seems to be enough to produce healthy seedlings. We will start our sowings (partially from a good seed house from yourparts of the world Reinsaat.at) next week. To heat up the seedlings in winter we use a table covered in sand with a heat source and place our trays on top. As I said though, I dont know if this is viable for you.

silkman

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #610 on: January 26, 2019, 09:54:15 AM »
I've often thought about going down this route but have come to the conclusion that the benefits would be modest, though spindly young plants threatening to topple over on window sills are annoying.

We use a thermostatically controlled propagator, live with a couple of weeks of windowsill watering and move onto a greenhouse which is heated overnight when it's needed.

Our experience seems to suggest that trying to get a week or two's headstart on the season isn't enormously helpful but I'd be intersted to learn how it might be done.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #611 on: January 26, 2019, 02:10:59 PM »
When you say "grow indoors" do you mean inside a hoophouse/greenhouse or inside your home? tried to look in the comments, but couldnt find what kind of layout scale your little garden operation has. If you are growing indoors you might want to try to get more natural light to your seedlings or even grow outdoors and provide a heatsource. As a different option to the LEDs.

It's all in the home. I plan on building a large greenhouse attached to the house, but I won't have time for that for at least another two years.

We let seeds germinate in the living room or bedrooms, and then we take them upstairs where it's cooler and we have double glazing from slanted windows in the roof. With triple glazing, plants will wilt etc even if it's sunny. I think the three panes filter out too much of the spectrum plants need.

Quote
I also live in a very cloudy part of the world, albeit not as cold as where you live. Im setting up a small comercial garden operation and hereabouts, light under a polyethylene covered polytunnel seems to be enough to produce healthy seedlings. We will start our sowings (partially from a good seed house from yourparts of the world Reinsaat.at) next week. To heat up the seedlings in winter we use a table covered in sand with a heat source and place our trays on top. As I said though, I dont know if this is viable for you.

We just placed an order with Reinsaat yesterday.  :)

How much electricity does the heat source pull? We thought about making a large cupboard, or buying one second-hand, put in a glass door, and then heat with lamps from the bottom. But it seemed like too much work, we'd still have the problem with cloudiness, and it was already too late for such a project anyway.

The 300W LED grow light posted above consumes about 130W (half for Veg and half for Bloom). We may consider buying the 600W version, because it would perfectly cover our 4x3 feet table for the job. But it would exceed our budget, so maybe 300W now, and if it works well, another 300W next year.
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Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #612 on: January 26, 2019, 02:26:11 PM »
Our experience seems to suggest that trying to get a week or two's headstart on the season isn't enormously helpful but I'd be intersted to learn how it might be done.

The problem with the head start, is that if it doesn't work out, you have to start from scratch and end up with a delay. And then you have lice problems with fava/broad beans because you couldn't get them out early enough. Although they did (barely) survive in the cold frame last year, and then surprisingly still had a decent crop (see pictures below).

All the plants we planted out early, cabbages etc, had huge start-up problems. Maybe a grow light can give them a nudge. If we buy one, I'll report on how things went.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2019, 02:32:50 PM by Neven »
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sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #613 on: January 26, 2019, 08:43:30 PM »
a friend of mine here build a little outdoor greenhouse (4ftx4ft) with a heating pad in it. Seems to be doing ok on early starts. He warns not to overheat.

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #614 on: January 27, 2019, 09:04:20 AM »
It's all the rage for Premiership football teams, Neven:

https://www.stadia-magazine.com/news/architecture-design/tottenham-hotspur-stadium-introduces-world-first-integrated-pitch-grow-light.html

It would be good to hear how you get on on a rather smaller scale!

dbarce

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #615 on: January 27, 2019, 03:59:55 PM »
How much electricity does the heat source pull?

 We use something called a heating cable (Heizkabel), which we pass through a bench containing sand kept moist. The wattage depends on the surface you want to heat, and thus the length of the cable. I found these numbers as a reference> 6 meters – 50watt, 10 meters – 100 watt, 25 meters 320 watt.  We have a 3m one, and keep it to 18-21C with a thermostat.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #616 on: January 27, 2019, 10:11:13 PM »
It's all the rage for Premiership football teams, Neven:

https://www.stadia-magazine.com/news/architecture-design/tottenham-hotspur-stadium-introduces-world-first-integrated-pitch-grow-light.html

It would be good to hear how you get on on a rather smaller scale!

If it doesn't work out, I'll use it for this then:



We use something called a heating cable (Heizkabel), which we pass through a bench containing sand kept moist. The wattage depends on the surface you want to heat, and thus the length of the cable. I found these numbers as a reference> 6 meters – 50watt, 10 meters – 100 watt, 25 meters 320 watt.  We have a 3m one, and keep it to 18-21C with a thermostat.

That would seem very efficient! A lot more efficient than the grow lights I'm looking at, but of course, the functions are different.

I've looked at using a 'Heizkabel' for heating the upstairs windows because they get really wet when it's freezing outside, to the point where drops start leaking onto the wood surrounding the windows (which will become a problem sooner or later).
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sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #617 on: January 28, 2019, 07:35:02 AM »
Re: condensation on windows

a) humidity too high ? measure and put in dehumidifier ?

b) windows getting too cold ? replace ?

c) window treatment: put in a pelmet, blinds, sheers, heavy drapes, consider outside wooden shutters with controls on inside. (inside wood shutters might be a possibility)

I got a floor to ceiling big window ground floor to windward that gets ice near the bottom on bad nights (like right now in the midwest) no matter what i do.  I got humidity control, humidifier and dehumidifier in central HVAC and such, but i cant keep RH at or above 30%  an not get ice . not willing to take RH lower, for various reasons.

gonna go to triple pane from double.

sidd

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #618 on: January 28, 2019, 12:05:18 PM »
Quote
a) humidity too high ? measure and put in dehumidifier ?

It's relatively cold upstairs. Right now, no sun and freezing temps outside, it's around 8°C (46°F) and RH is around 75-80%. The space is too big for a dehumidifier, although I have an efficient, mobile one. Maybe I should try this when it's sunny.

Quote
b) windows getting too cold ? replace ?

They're only 5 years old. They're double glazing, because they're slanted roof windows. The rest of the windows in the house are triple glazing and only a few of them get some droplets in the lower corners when it's freezing a lot. I just wipe it away every morning.

Quote
c) window treatment: put in a pelmet, blinds, sheers, heavy drapes, consider outside wooden shutters with controls on inside. (inside wood shutters might be a possibility)

Yes, I should be trying these things right now to see if it helps, before I finish all the construction work upstairs. I thought about putting some kind of heat elements below the windows, like the heating cables dbarce mentioned, 50W tops. But if shutters or drapes work as well, I'd prefer that. Will give it a try.
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El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #619 on: January 28, 2019, 12:52:09 PM »
I suggest a coldframe with a heating cable, which you turn on only when the nights are below zero (C). Also, you need to open/vent the coldframe when there is sunshine with above zero days during daytime .This way you can get 4-6 weeks headstart and the young plants will be much stronger than if you grow them inside the house, since they will experience cold nights (but no freeze) and warm days - no transplant shock. If you live in Austria I think (depending on the elevation of course) you can start cabbages/onions/greens, other hardy annuals in February and tender annuals (tomatoes, melons, etc) in March, and plant them out 6-8 weeks after planting depending on the weather.

This - in my experience - is the easiest/cheapest solution.

etienne

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #620 on: January 29, 2019, 07:07:57 PM »

Quote
b) windows getting too cold ? replace ?

They're only 5 years old. They're double glazing, because they're slanted roof windows.


This is typical. Usually, it's not a problem of the glass, but of the windowframe.

Normally, the glass is better insulated than the frame, so the problem is solved with a thicker frame. The problem of roof windows is that the rain water has to flow down, so you can't have a thicker frame on the upper side. The problem is even worse because in most cases glass plates are separated by a piece of metal which is a good heat transporter. 

johnm33

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #621 on: January 29, 2019, 08:30:10 PM »
" The problem is even worse because in most cases glass plates are separated by a piece of metal which is a good heat transporter.  " If it's silver [aluminium] it's the old style cold spacer, in the uk the warm ones [plastic] are black, usually.
Also 80 seems a little high, do you cook with gas? have an extractor? maybe try to fit a single room heat recovery vent.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #622 on: January 29, 2019, 09:51:58 PM »
Upstairs is an unheated space of around 600-700 square feet.

But let's return to gardening.
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TerryM

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #623 on: January 29, 2019, 11:45:28 PM »
Upstairs is an unheated space of around 600-700 square feet.

But let's return to gardening.


Sorry - but wouldn't even a small, low wattage fan to disturb stratification be helpful?


A stove hood and bathroom fan vented outside should help with the humidity, and also allow warmer temperatures in summer with less discomfort, and less AC. ;)


And now a return to gardening.


Terry

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #624 on: January 30, 2019, 07:20:12 AM »
Then a bit of gardening: I tried artichokes last year and turns out they can be grown here in C.Europe (I "stole" Eliot Coleman's idea who grows artichokes in Maine!).
So, I started the artichokes inside at the end of January/beg. Feb to make them believe that they were born during the summer. Then they were put outside in March in a cold frame to make them believe that it is (Mediterranean) winter. Then they were transplanted outside in April. They grow their fruit (actually flowers) if they believe that they have been through winter. I harvested the Artichokes in August. Not as big as those grown in true Mediterranean regions but worth a try

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #625 on: February 07, 2019, 02:37:05 AM »
Apropos Heizkabel to warm soil: My Grandma used horse manure at the bottom of a pit covered with a glass frame.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #626 on: February 07, 2019, 11:10:37 PM »
I've decided to go another route. Instead of buying the 300W grow light I mentioned earlier, I'm buying two second-hand lamps with four fixtures each, and eight LED light bulbs that can operate at either 2700K or 4000K (simply by pressing the switch two times in a row). 2700K is 'warmer' and tends more towards red in the spectrum, which is good for blooming, and 4000K is 'colder' and tends towards blue in the spectrum, which is good for seedlings to get going and remain stable/not falling over.

This way I save some money, get to tinker a bit, and have a fanless (=quiet) set-up that uses some salvaged materials. The eight LED lamps total 64 Watts for 6400 lumen vs the grow light that consumed 130 Watts for 6000 lumen. Now, I know that there are other specs that are more important for grow lights (PAR, PPFD, and so on), but I'm confident that the LED light bulbs will emit enough light in those parts of the spectrum plants like.

If it doesn't work, I can still use the lamps for other purposes.

Below an image of one of the second-hand lamps I'm buying, and an image showing the spectral power distribution of a LED lamp that can go either 2700K or 4000K (unfortunately the lamp this chart is based on, was too expensive (I'm using lamps of this brand throughout the house), so I've decided to go with the Osram version, which is four times cheaper) and the absorption spectrum of photosynthesis below it. As you can see, the charts overlap quite a bit, FWIW.
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ghoti

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #627 on: February 09, 2019, 07:55:18 PM »
Looks great. Just remember that 6000 lumen is dark when compared to full sunlight. Full sun is more like 100,000 lux (lumen per m2). The light will have to be very close to the soil surface to provide outdoor like lighting.

This is always an issue with artificial lighting indoors.


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Re: Gardening
« Reply #628 on: February 09, 2019, 08:19:09 PM »
and put an oscillating fan on them so they don't grow up spindly.

vox_mundi

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #629 on: March 22, 2019, 06:09:56 PM »
Fortified 'High Tunnel' Growing Structures Withstand 'Bomb Cyclone' Winds
https://phys.org/news/2019-03-fortified-high-tunnel-cyclone.html

Lessons learned in construction of protected agriculture systems, or high tunnels, kept Texas A&M AgriLife Research tunnels near Amarillo securely in place during the recent "bomb cyclone" that reached recorded wind gusts of 80-90 mph.

Dr. Charlie Rush, AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Amarillo, has spent the past four years building high tunnels and researching their use in growing vegetables at the Bushland research station.

After a number of early setbacks, he and his crew developed some steps to fortify the structures to withstand the high winds that often occur in the Texas Panhandle.

The methods they developed have been captured in an educational fact sheet and a series of "walk-and-talk" construction videos available at:


https://amarillo.tamu.edu/amarillo-center-programs/plant-pathology/hightunnels/


Hightunnel without fortification...............................With fortification

... "It quickly became obvious that the high winds in the region posed an immediate threat to successful vegetable production within them," he said. "Within weeks after completion of our first high tunnel, severe straight-line winds nearly blew one completely out of the ground, and within a few months, the reinforced plastic covering had been totally blown off two others."

Through trial and error, Rush said the research team identified techniques that helped secure the high tunnels, and they have now survived continuous winds of 60 mph and gusts near 90 mph.

"This fact sheet provides information that should help farmers in windy environments build high tunnels that have improved chances of surviving the harsh Panhandle winds," he said.



Other Videos at: https://amarillo.tamu.edu/amarillo-center-programs/plant-pathology/hightunnels/

Quote
(videos)
- High Tunnel Overview
- Laying It Out
- Irrigation System Setup
- Inventory and Building Rafters
- Parts Layout and Distribution
- Ground Post Installation
- Going Up With the Rafters
- Installing the End Wall Posts
- Mid Project Review and Tips
- Roll-up Door Installation
- Buttoning Up the Doors
- Main Cover Install
- Roll-up Walls Installation
- Anti-Billow Cord Installation
- Wind Strapping
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

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etienne

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #630 on: March 23, 2019, 05:04:50 PM »
Hello,

My neighbour has been collecting grass clippings for years. In fact, he didn't want to bother taking it away. I am now allowed to use it, but am not sure how to handle this. It is not very well composted. I mixed it last week and it already helped a lot, some worms are now in it.

Is it a good idea to put it under a layer of earth, or to mix it with earth in the vegetables' garden ?

The amount is too important to put it with my normal compost.

Thanks, regards,

Etienne

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #631 on: March 23, 2019, 06:46:41 PM »
1. alternative:
I would spread it 30 cm deep on an "ungardened" area and leave it there for 2-3 months. After 2-3 mnths the soil will be soft and full of nutrients. Then I would  take the grass clippings to another place (start the process again there) and plant into the newly created "virgin" soil.
2. alternative:
keep it until autumn then mix it with leaves (go over them with a lawnmower first) and spread 30-50 cm deep. Plant directly into it in the spring
3. alternative if you live in a dry environment (dry summer):
use it 15-25 cm deep around tomatoes/melons in a collar 30-60 cm wide. Dont do it if you live in a rainy summer environment because the snails will kill you.

There are many more possibilities of course, theses are just ideas.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #632 on: March 23, 2019, 08:44:50 PM »
Also I strongly advise everyone interested in truly organic gardening to read:

https://worldagriculturesolutions.com/

It is a rare gem. Really.

etienne

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #633 on: March 24, 2019, 07:53:15 AM »
Many good ideas, thank you very much.

I get enough grass clippings during the spring for the 3rd alternative. In Luxembourg, you never know in advance if it will be a dry or a rainy summer. If you make averages on a few years, you get a perfect graph for farming, but real life is not an average.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #634 on: March 24, 2019, 11:04:08 AM »
This reminds me of one thing. I really like to use a heavy layer of mulch to kill weeds. One of the techniques I learnt is growing potatoes under a heavy layer of fall leaves. My neighbours meticulously collect leaves from their gardens and bag them to be taken away. I collect those leaves in the autumn and keep them until spring in their bags. Then, in April, I choose a weedy area, mow it very low (2 cm), put the seedpotatoes directly on the surface (no digging, just put them down right on the mowed weeds) and then cover them with 20-30 cm leaves. You need to water it for a couple of days so that it would settle, otherwise the wind might carry some of the leaves away. The potatoes will grow in the leaves so in June/July/August you will not need anything to get the potatoes, just your own hands. My children like to collect the potatoes from under the leaves, it is very easy, and all the potatoes are very clean: no dirt on them. Most weeds will not be able to get through 20-30 cm leaves so they die.
After the potato harvest, I take the leaves away and put them under my trees to kill the weeds there and give them nutrients at the same time (the leaves will become soil in 2-3 years and there will be plenty of earthworms under them!).
Now, the good thing is, that where the potatoes/leaves were, the soil stays moist and rich and there will be no weed pressure for many weeks, because all the weed seeds that tried to germinate during April-July died because of the lack of sun. So you will get a very clean (and fertile!) bed where you can plant anything and won't need to worry about weeds. The few weeds that still come up won't matter, do no harm. So you can plant carrots, broccolis, brussel sprouts, salads, whaetever you like for a second harvest and you will need no fertilizer and you won't need to weed at all. Pretty much the best lazy-gardener system.

I know it is nothing new, i did not invent it, but I like it very much.

morganism

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #635 on: March 25, 2019, 09:48:05 PM »
For all you kale growers, try a waffle iron to roast em....

Dead grass and leaves need some green mixed in to break down and compost. I also add a bit of fertilizer, as the breakdown sucks a lot of nitrogen out.
To hasten leaf breakdown, put a couple bushels in a metal garbage can, and insert a string trimmer, some fresh lawn trimmings, or leafs from understory. Mix back in with the full leaves, and it will compost much quicker.

Sebastian Jones

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #636 on: March 26, 2019, 06:52:34 AM »
El Cid: I tried the spuds under leaves trick once. A massive colony of mice was very grateful for the warm safe shelter with a ready built in larder...Aside from that, it worked well.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #637 on: March 26, 2019, 08:00:11 AM »
El Cid: I tried the spuds under leaves trick once. A massive colony of mice was very grateful for the warm safe shelter with a ready built in larder...Aside from that, it worked well.

Well, you know what they say in permaculture circles: You don't have a mouse-problem, you have a cat deficiency :)

I luckily have 2-3 cats hunting in my garden (neighbours' cats). Never had the above problem, but I agree that it is probably not very nice.

Since I don't weed and am a very lazy gardener generally, I need clean bed. If you don't want to have 20-30 cm of thick mulch because of mice, you can also cover your bed also with a black plastic (permaculturalists will kill me for this though :) for 4-6 weeks during the warm season and you will have no weed pressure for the next 4-8-12 weeks. After that, your canopy will close and it won't matter anyway. Used black plastic bags will do but won't last, or you can use a black tarp, or (used) pondliner.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #638 on: March 26, 2019, 08:03:14 AM »
Dead grass and leaves need some green mixed in to break down and compost. I also add a bit of fertilizer, as the breakdown sucks a lot of nitrogen out.

If you don't mind me saying, you can also use your urine mixed with water to help 'em break down. Best natural fertilizer and nitrogen source, though some find it gross...

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #639 on: April 14, 2019, 05:37:38 PM »
Here's an update on the grow lamp project. I built the whole thing a while ago, but had trouble getting the right lamps. I wanted to have lamps that can switch between 2700K and 4000K, but received 'normal' 2700K lamps, and it took six weeks to get the right ones.

I decided against buying a normal grow lamp, because it was a bit expensive without fully covering our needs (small area), lots of metal and plastic coming from China, of course. Here was the idea vs just buying a normal grow lamp:

Quote
This way I save some money, get to tinker a bit, and have a fanless (=quiet) set-up that uses some salvaged materials. The eight LED lamps total 64 Watts for 6400 lumen vs the grow light that consumed 130 Watts for 6000 lumen. Now, I know that there are other specs that are more important for grow lights (PAR, PPFD, and so on), but I'm confident that the LED light bulbs will emit enough light in those parts of the spectrum plants like.

In the end, I got some even brighter lamps for a total of 88W for 8500 lumen. So far, I feel that they have helped the plants we've put under them, not getting wilted and stunted. The peppers look really good, the tomatoes are having some trouble with the relatively low temperatures upstairs (around 14°C right now, as it has been very cloudy, cold and rainy outside for the past week or so), and all the other plants did fine and are now either in the garden or under the cold frames on our terrace.

Next year I might experiment with a heating cable, like El Cid proposed, or some infrared stuff, to create the perfect temperature for seedlings without having to heat the entire space.

Pictures of the construction are below. I can choose to either have the four lamps on the left on, or the ones on the right, or both. And as said, I can toggle between 2700K and 4000K. I can adjust the height to three levels. My wife has transplanted some stuff to larger containers, so it's on the middle level now, but otherwise it would be on the lowest to get the lamps as close to the plants as possible (as in the picture). I guess the highest level could be used for getting plants through the winter.
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Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #640 on: April 14, 2019, 06:06:59 PM »
Another experiment we're conducting, is with our garden's soil. My wife got really enthusiastic by these videos on compost mulching by Charles Dowding (I can recommend his videos):



We still don't produce enough biomass for compost ourselves (mostly kitchen scraps, which don't compost well over here, I must say) as our plot is still recovering from many years of agricultural exploitation. We have added some cow manure here and there, and mulched extensively with hay for 2-3 years, but things simply went too slow.

To buy finished compost in garten centres is extremely expensive, the municipal compost is full of who knows what, and so we decided to get some special compost from a company called Sonnenerde, around 45 km from where we live. The compost is special because it's actually full of biochar, or Terra Preta, or Schwarzerde as it's called around here. They do this by pyrolising all kinds of organic agricultural waste. I believe Martin Gisser has mentioned them in the Biochar thread.

The idea is that once you've added this compost to your garden and put on a protective layer of mulch, you don't need additional manure for a couple of years, because it's full of sequestered carbon that holds onto nutrients like nitrogen, only to release them when needed by plants.

We've added the Schwarzerde to two beds, covering them with Biofaser (fibres) from the same company, as these cow manure and straw residues from a biogas plant also add nutrients to the soil while keeping slugs more at bay than hay does. The salads seem to do well in them, and next year, we can put in plants that require more nutrients, like cabbages.

Here are some pictures:
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Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #641 on: April 14, 2019, 06:16:34 PM »
And finally, I'm now in the process of building a duck house, which is going extremely slow, unfortunately. I seem to be unable to simply build something, but start thinking about the entire life cycle and how it's going to be used (cleaning, ventilation, entrance/exit). Before you know it, you're building a foundation on a slanted surface and installing special doors, for a much larger than anticipated duck house (because I already know that my wife and daughter will want to keep some of the small ones, 'so cute!'  ;) ).

Just as with the growing lamp, the idea was to buy something, but it was either too expensive (new), too old (second-hand), or too small. I also had quite some building materials left for a project like this, like wood and stuff to make a small green roof, which I will have to use sooner or later, if I don't want to discard it.

The 25 square feet (2.5 m2) duck house, when finished, will cost around 250 euros, excluding the materials I already had. That's not too bad, considering what the new pre-fab stuff costs.

Here are some pictures of the project so far. I'm closing the whole thing now, then I'll line the floor with some left-over ployethylene sheeting, which should make cleaning much easier, and finally build the green roof. Then, as soon we have a fenced-in area and a small pool, we can go hunt for ducks, the best solution to slug problems. As Bill Mollison said: No one has a slug problem, they have a duck deficiency.
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El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #642 on: April 14, 2019, 07:13:02 PM »
- Charles Dowding is the definitely DA MAN! Anyone contemplating producing their own food would be wise to watch his videos.
I also highly advise watching the "One yard revolution" series on youtube. Very nice, practical information

- As for making enough compost: If I were you, I would spread white clover seeds between the beds and in all "unused" spaces, ie. lawn. If you have a smaller area you do not often walk to, you could seed alfalfa (lucerne) as well, it produces huge amounts of material. Both give you 3-4 cuttings in Austria which you could compost. They are high in N so compost fast. Add some fall leaves (I take my neighbours' rakings) and you will soon have enough compost for your small garden!

- One more thing: if you have a small area, you can always try going vertical, ie. growing stuff on trellises. I would definitely try growing grapes, minikiwi (pretty coldhardy) on the fences, and would probably grow melons, cucumbers on trellis

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #643 on: April 14, 2019, 08:00:28 PM »
- As for making enough compost: If I were you, I would spread white clover seeds between the beds and in all "unused" spaces, ie. lawn. If you have a smaller area you do not often walk to, you could seed alfalfa (lucerne) as well, it produces huge amounts of material. Both give you 3-4 cuttings in Austria which you could compost. They are high in N so compost fast. Add some fall leaves (I take my neighbours' rakings) and you will soon have enough compost for your small garden!

There's quite a lot of white clover growing all over the place. That's the first thing we sowed when the completely barren plot was ours. Lucerne didn't do well. We use all the grass clipping as mulch around bushes and trees, but we will definitely put more of it in the compost bin.

As for biomass, we plan on planting miscanthus giganteus (elephant grass or Riesen-Chinaschilf) in one corner of our plot. Eventually we want to use that for stables like the duck house, and for mulch. I'm considering other stuff as well, like willows, maybe to one day produce our own biochar. We have some on our plot, but not enough by far.

Quote
- One more thing: if you have a small area, you can always try going vertical, ie. growing stuff on trellises. I would definitely try growing grapes, minikiwi (pretty coldhardy) on the fences, and would probably grow melons, cucumbers on trellis

We have plenty of area, and so we plan on doubling the vegetable garden next year. But I agree with what you say.
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Re: Gardening
« Reply #644 on: April 15, 2019, 12:28:35 AM »
I highly recommend a local gardening club because specific problems and the best ecofreindly solutions tend to be specific to the region. As an agricultural school Washington State University has a master gardener program. They combine professionals with experienced gardeners both focused on challenges in the local ecosystem.

El Cid

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #645 on: April 15, 2019, 08:13:12 AM »
One more thing, Neven, and I don't want to be a smartass, just based on my experience, if you do not have enough compost for filling raised beds, the solution could be mulched-in-place unraised beds.
Basically you could sow a mixed cover crop in the autumn, part of which would freeze during winter, the other part would live on thru spring (like mustard, oats, crimson clover, vetch, etc). Then you thoroughly cut the biomass in May (with the lowest setting of you lawnmower) and cover it with black plastic (I know, any permaculturalist would kill me for using plastic :) to stop regrowth, and kill weeds. Keep the plastic on for 4 weeks and you will have a nice, soft bed by June. You can transplant summer crops like melons, tomatoes, etc, or directseed beans, carrots, etc. for autumn use.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #646 on: April 15, 2019, 09:42:42 AM »
One more thing, Neven, and I don't want to be a smartass, just based on my experience, if you do not have enough compost for filling raised beds, the solution could be mulched-in-place unraised beds.
Basically you could sow a mixed cover crop in the autumn, part of which would freeze during winter, the other part would live on thru spring (like mustard, oats, crimson clover, vetch, etc). Then you thoroughly cut the biomass in May (with the lowest setting of you lawnmower) and cover it with black plastic (I know, any permaculturalist would kill me for using plastic :) to stop regrowth, and kill weeds. Keep the plastic on for 4 weeks and you will have a nice, soft bed by June. You can transplant summer crops like melons, tomatoes, etc, or directseed beans, carrots, etc. for autumn use.

I agree, but we've tried that, and the problem is that our soil is so incredibly loamy. Forget about planting carrots, for instance. It was all going too slow, but will hopefully get better with the Schwarzerde (we'll know at the end of the season).
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #647 on: April 16, 2019, 01:55:49 AM »
My biodiesel tractor sits around during cold weather and this year the bio left in the fuel lines gave me some trouble. I had to drain and flush fuels lines change filters and change out an old fuel lift pump. Yes you can get replacement parts for a fifty year old tractor but you gotta wait till the parts show up. I do most of my own trouble shooting and repairs so getting parts and the work done cost me time. My cover crop kept growing and it's now about five feet tall. With the tractor now fixed I have been pulling an old John Deere one bottom mold plow to turn in the cover crop. The five foot tall oats , peas, and fava tangle the plow and it's slow going covering about one foot per pass. The mold plow is a relatively benign soil tillage implement and is much better than using a rototiller on soil health. Also it's less mechanical and a very very maintenance free tool. As I seem to be retracing agriculture progress in reverse and  learning how to use a mold plow is one step closer to returning to using horses.
 I got enough done to put out several hundred potatoes and about 100 shallots saved from last years garden. I have a couple hundred cabbage starts in plug trays along with some Brussels sprouts and broccoli . My tomatoes and peppers are also ready to put into the ground but I am waiting in case we get a late frost. My largest effort will be two acres of oil seed pumpkins ( for the pigs )but I need to get the cover turned in first. I put the cover in last year mowed it and left it fallow so with this years cover incorporated I won't need fertilizers. Two years of cover crop and one year planting vegetables. Having three acres of garden allows me plenty of room to alternate what area I plant cover crop or food crops.
 So I am marching further into the past with each new year. I need to harness up my wife's Welch cob and start relearning how to farm with horses . I have driven her before and she's buggy trained but pulling farm implements is quite different , we make very messy furrows and not straight at all.
 I am each year more convinced I can feed a small group of people with ancient methods, heirloom seeds, heirloom livestock and minimal technology. I am also convinced the ocean and native wildlife are in decline. I hope all our technology crashes and burns before nature does. My water well pumps would fail at that point and my farm with them but maybe, just maybe some old geezers like me can provide some sort of bridge to the past that someone else might choose in order to walk this thing back.

 Also I miss Terry and I hope is is alright.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 02:11:22 AM by Bruce Steele »

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #648 on: April 16, 2019, 05:31:54 AM »
" biodiesel tractor sits around during cold weather and this year the bio left in the fuel lines gave me some trouble. I had to drain and flush fuels lines change filters and change out an old fuel lift pump."

Oh boy. If you run biodiesel in an engine and gonna let it sit, always, always run on petro diesel forawhile before shutting it down for the season. Then drain everything. Even petrodiesel goes bad over the winter. I drain hydraulics and oil as well as fuel, disconnect electric, put the thing up on blocks, take battery indoors and put on a trickle charger. I find that my hydraulic hoses last a lot longer if they ain't left under pressure in the cold forafew months. The tires are another one, i drain the liquid ballast out and depressurize for the winter. Takes a day or two to get em going in spring, but they seem happier, and a happy tractor is what we like.

Now there's guys around come by in summer and get straight vegetable oil from us and pump into their 50 yr old tractors, they run two tanks, and start and stop on petro diesel even in summer. I find i dont have to do that, just need to make sure that i run petro diesel thru before long shutdowns.

Don't get me wrong, thats the big ones that get shut down. We keep a couple little ones going over the winter, need to run a snowblade quite a bit, and pull people outta ditches and mud quite a bit too. Clearing tree falls and drainage blockages is another big one. In cold weather, another thing that saves your hide is block heater, and good battery maintenance.

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #649 on: April 16, 2019, 05:33:50 AM »
Re: horses for plowing

You might wanna hire a couple Amish guys for a season ...

sidd