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A How-To Guide For Installing A Home Garden

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  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 04:25pm

    #12

    dcm

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    year round up north

Adam already did a great piece on Canadian folks growing more in calendar months than you'd ever expect. Here in the Puget Sound area, I've been growing year round for some time with nothing more than some simple 3 by 3 foot mini greenhouses set in a clear view to the south. The sides are 6 mil plastic and the top, with a hinge lid has solid clear material from home depot. Folks like Elliot Coleman, Geoff Lawton and others have helped educate me. It's mostly about timing. The plants go dormant more by lack of light than heat. UP here, I have found that under cover, by the third week of january, I can start to see growth in kales, spinach and other hardy greens. I have also diversified my greens a great deal adding all sorts of perennials. Many "annuals" have stayed alive for years. Primates can recognize and eat hundreds of edibles…and get a wide variety of nutrition fresh off the plant in its greatest concentration. We used to do that too….and they say we've evolved. Much of it is about timing and you can put lots of things in the ground that will sit in nature's refrigerator and stay in great shape … if you keep it out of the wind, rain and away from the critters.        

  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 07:27pm

    #13

    Grover

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    Earth Air Tubes

It looks like LDS Prepper's "geothermal" system utilizes earth air tubes. Essentially, this requires 100+ foot lengths of those corrugated black plastic tubes buried 6 feet (or deeper) where the air passing through exchanges heat with the native soil. The soil at that depth remains at a more constant temperature year round in northern climes. So, these tubes cool the air in the summer and heat the air in the winter. It takes very little energy to push the air with a fan. This is a good use of a PV panel and battery system to keep plants alive during cold winter nights.

Here is a website that provides some answers to questions about earth air tubes, design, and installation: http://earthairtubes.com/ I don't agree with all his recommendations, but his customers in Iowa are obviously satisfied with his systems. I like the almost passive operating nature of this system (after the incredibly energy intensive installation.)

Grover

  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 07:41pm

    #14

    LesPhelps

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    Greenhouse Design

I was thinking 2X4 walls, clear corrugated exterior, with an inner wall of clear 6 mil, geothermal heat pump and a row of 30 gal black barrels on the North wall.

If I remember correctly, LDSPrepper's greenhouse gets down to 40 with a similar setup in Idaho.  

Idaho's average low temperature in Jan-Feb is in the ballpark of 25f degrees , vs Jan 4f and Feb 9f, average lows in Central Wisconsin.  Years ago, we would get an occasional -40f.  More recently, we rarely exceed -20f, but still, it's cold.

I thought about building a rocket mass heater under a row of 30 gal water barrels to use on really cold nights.

 

  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 08:02pm

    #15

    Matt Holbert

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    LDS are big time preppers

Les- Thanks for the LDSPrepper link. Inspiring. I suspect that you mean Latter rather than Later. If you live in Wisconsin it might be worth a trip to Illinois (Nauvoo and Carthage) for a visit to Mormon's temporary home in Illinois before being forced to move west. Mormons (LDS) supposedly keep a one year supply of food in their homes and at their places of worship. One of their churches west of town (Spokane) has a small grain bin behind the church. I've been told that it contains water.

Several weeks ago I noted that you indicated that you grew up near Jan Spencer. Small world story coming up… My wife and lived in Galveston in the late 80's and early 90's and played tennis on Sunday mornings at some public courts near our home. Several times we played next to two highly competitive men. One of those men turned out to be Jan. Several years later I spotted Jan at a community conference in Olympia. Jan had moved to Eugene and we had moved to Boise. Jan eventually got into Permaculture and we did as well. Small world…

  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 08:43pm

    #16

    LesPhelps

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    Small world

[quote=Matt Holbert]

Several weeks ago I noted that you indicated that you grew up near Jan Spencer. Small world story coming up… My wife and lived in Galveston in the late 80's and early 90's and played tennis on Sunday mornings at some public courts near our home. Several times we played next to two highly competitive men. One of those men turned out to be Jan. Several years later I spotted Jan at a community conference in Olympia. Jan had moved to Eugene and we had moved to Boise. Jan eventually got into Permaculture and we did as well. Small world…

[/quote]

Yes, latter.  I'm not religious, but respect their prepping.  They have an outlet warehouse near Chicago where they sell long shelf life food items.  I've been thinking about going there to stock up.

Jan and I played tennis when we were growing up.  He lived next door and there was a court across the street.  My recollection is that we were, at that point, fairly evenly matched.

I lost track of him for a number of years, but we've been keeping in touch for the last couple of decades.

He's the one who brought Chris Martenson to my attention.  He asked my opinion of the earliest version of the crash course.  I've subscribed to the website ever since.  I do not believe he is a regular visitor to this site.  I suggested he share his story here.

  • Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - 09:23pm

    #17

    dcm

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    low level geothermal

low level geothermal, along with passive solar are probably the smartest (and easiest) things we could do to not only help heat anything but to grow all sorts of crops just about anywhere.I've come to conclude the only reason we aren't is corruption. Check out "Citrus in the Snow" on youtube. This guy has done amazing tropical and near equatorial crop growing in the high plains of Nebraska…for ENERGY COST of a simple fan. Now I'm a fan.   

  • Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - 12:59am

    #18

    Wendy S. Delmater

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    Such great advice

Thanks for sharing the details of your journey, Adam! Great article. 

And yes, you need to plan it out in advance. I did so the first time before our garden reset: on paper, asking locals what to grow and how, and although we had single-height boxes (with 1/4-inch hardware cloth on the bottoms) we fully intended to make them deeper.  The only reason it did not work was that the climate was so different. Zone 5 to Zone 8 was a huge change, and the main change was insects

So when you say new gardener, understand that with 30 years of experience a new climate can make you a newbie all over again. 

  • Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - 04:01am

    #19
    darcieg76

    darcieg76

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    One other thing to note that

One other thing to note that might be encouraging to some people is that, iirc, Adam rents this property–he didn't wait to buy before creating this awesome garden and learning these mad skilz.

  • Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - 04:31am

    #20

    Adam Taggart

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    darcieg76 wrote:One other

[quote=darcieg76]

One other thing to note that might be encouraging to some people is that, iirc, Adam rents this property–he didn't wait to buy before creating this awesome garden and learning these mad skilz.[/quote]

You recall correctly, Darcie.

There's no reason not to start a garden if you don't own your property. You develop skills, you eat better, and your landlord appreciates the improvements your efforts make to the property — everyone wins.

And if/whenever you eventually do own your own property, you won't be starting from scratch. You'll have your prior experience to inform how best to garden on it.

  • Sat, Apr 15, 2017 - 11:21am

    #21
    fated

    fated

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    Measuring produce produced.

Quite a lot I would say – if planned and managed well. We aim to improve our management this year.

We have a veggie patch similar in size to Adam's. Also a back and some front yard, and driveway strip, randomly planted out, as well as pots on our deck.

I have been trying in various ways to get a measure of the effectiveness of our gardening endeavours.

One way is weighing in kg the food produced and consumed each year. The things we eat while in the garden aren't counted, nor are the things that we throw directly back into compost. Sometimes a carrot is just not worth trying to peel, or a moth eaten apple goes into our council bin to get the codling moth away from our property.

2012/13 = 180kg    

13/14=186kg

14/15=149kg

15/16=121kg

16/17=222kg  so far!smiley.

But when you do the math for our family last years crops would be only 110gm per person per day. Famine.

Some years it's a lot of watermelons that give big numbers, other years it's the zucchinis, or apples, or spuds, or tomatoes. Never the same bumper crop so far. This year no melons grew, but the apples have been raining down. The other big factor has been time available for planning and garden work. Full time study, 7 week holiday, and working two jobs have all had impacts at various stages. As does crop failure due to weather or bird damage.

Because herbs weigh very little I record them on a number of uses basis. Mainly because it's $3-5 for a takeaway pot from the supermarket, which likely is only used once before it wilts away. So I consider if I use a herb in a dish we have either saved $2- or would not have used that ingredient.

Another guage we use is how many of the veggies or salad ingredients on our plate came from our garden, or via traded goods. A plate of all home grown, served with self caught fish or prawns is a moment we acknowledge.

I also dry a lot of beans to use in soups/stews in winter. So they are shelled out and only the dry beans weighed.

It definatley hurts a lot less to have to throw something out of the fridge and into the compost when you have grown it, rather than paid for it. We get to eat much more seasonally and really notice what is in the shops that is out of season. Plus our guinea pig is fed for free from fresh scraps – and turns them into poop for the garden.

How do others measure?

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