Sunday, May 18, 2008

pea stand

With a few bamboo sticks and strings, we have constructed some support for our shelling peas and snow peas. This is the first time we tried this method. We'll see how well works.

Mark has also set up some trails for the hop plants to climb. The hops will be climbing from the ground up all the way to the top of the patio and across to the pole that we installed a couple years ago. You can see in the picture that there is a hop branch (by the stairs railing) shooting up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Most of the seeds that I planted early this month have sprouted! This really brings joy and excitement! See pics in order: bok choy seedlings, salad mix in the planter, and beet seedlings that I started indoor.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Our composting system

Back when we started this blog we promised to detail our composting setup. Today we make good on that promise. The reason to do it today? On Saturday I brewed 80 litres of beer, this means 40 pounds of spent malted barley got added to our compost. (Malted barley composts very well.)

We don't really have enough space for a traditional 3 bin composting system. So, I devised a pair of compost bins that take up less space and work well for us. The picture shows our system. We put fresh vegetable matter in the bin on the right. Every now and then we transfer some to the bin on the left. When we do the transfer, I always try to transfer already partially composted matter. Despite utmost diligence in turning your compost there is always more decomposed stuff on the bottom. Since the bin on the left is a tumbler it (during warm months) is able to render good material in a month if we tumble it regularly we are able to keep a good supply of compost when we need it.

Building it was quite simple. I made a footing out of cinder block and gravel and then some old 6x6 and 4x6 that I had lieing around provides the anchor and frame. I also had some 1/2 rebar that I cut into four foot lengths and toed through the anchor and the footing. Through the frame and the square composter I mounted a one inch piece of threaded ready bar with some PVC around it. That's the axle about which the composter rotates. You can see that in the picture. Before securing it I built the two end pieces of the tumbler, passed them on to the axle and then tightened all the nuts. Once I had the two end pieces on it was a simple matter of screwing on some more framing and then the outside siding. And of course the hinged door. It's fantastic. The only thing I might change is to add a collection bin underneath for the worm castings. Whenever I tumble it rich matter falls out.

Tower-o-potatoes redux

We got our first comment. From sinfonian. It seems most people build their potato bins more like his. With four uprights on to which the side panels are screwed as needed.

His comment was, how do I make it taller. Well, I didn't research so well that I learned what others do. I came up with my own idea of building tiers that I can stack. Just a very simple frame. It should be obvious from this picture what I do. I just screw the sideboards on to a short length of 2x4 such that there is an inch of room available for the next tier to seat against the previous. Simple and straight forward.

Which is better? Same manure, different pile.

more planting with new planters and new veggies

It was a nice sunny day (seems to be quite rare these days). We got excited with the lovely weather and so we brought more things to plant, even two big planters for our patio deck. Here are the things we planted yesterday and today:

These went to our brand new planters:
Mesclun Mix (West Coast Market Mix)
Spring Onion (Pacific 22)
Swiss Chard (Fordhook Giant)
Yellow Pepper plant
Sweet Basil
Parsley plant
Chives (transplanted from our original plant)

We also transplanted the 2 cucumber (Tasty Green) seedlings (started from seeds indoor), 4 Roma plants and 2 Sungold plants. These tomato plants were grown from seeds in a green house by my in-law. These plants have been producing delicious tomatoes for our enjoyment over the past few years. Around the Roma, Carrot seeds (Nantes Coreless) were sowed. Around the Sungold, Beet seeds were sowed.

Today, I sowed a few more things:
Carrot (Prodigy): Among the three varieties of carrot seeds that we brought, this one requires the longest length of time to grow as indicated on the package. By growing different varieties, we hope that we'll have consecutive harvesting.
Swiss Chard
Pac Choi (White-stemmed Pac Choy): this is our first time to grow pac choi from seeds.
More radishes
More beets

An update on garlics: two feet tall now.