Trying to Practice What I Preach

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
r101958's picture
r101958
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 257
Trying to Practice What I Preach

My posts have not been all that regular and one of the reasons is that I have been attempting to practice what I (we?) preach. I put this entire structure up this year. Part of it was built from the remnants of my daughters' jungle gym/swing set which was no longer used (the darker colored, odd shaped posts come from that). I live in Florida and started this project in mid february after planning it during the 'winter' months. The structure is covered with 30% shade screen and is entirely surrounded by chicken wire (3ft) and screen (4ft). Hence the ends are open from 4ft to the top. I put together the frame, work table and all the raised beds. Most of the plants are from heirloom seeds (75%).

Here is the 'green house':

Here is the interior:

The below tomato plants are now about 6ft high:

This is my unweeded somewhat sloppy mini-cornfield:

And last, but not least, one of my 12 'test' Jatropha plants:

becky's picture
becky
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 8 2009
Posts: 113
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

Bravo!

I didn't know anything about Jatropha, so I checked Wikipedia.  Here's a rather interesting quote:  "Goldman Sachs recently cited Jatropha curacas as one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production"  The citation link is to a Wall Street Journal article from 2007. (Goldman Sachs ? hmmm....)

Anyway, r101958, that looks really cool. 

becky

Juvysen's picture
Juvysen
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 121
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

what's Jathropa?

r101958's picture
r101958
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 257
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

  Thanks Becky! I've got a bunch more Jatropha seeds on the way. Planning on getting a manual press also. I'm interested in seeing how it all works out. I'm thinking of buying a small plot of land somewhere and trying to grow some more Jatropha. It is quite easy to grow and is not high maintenance.

  What is now covered by the greenhouse was plain old lawn just 6 months ago. The plants in the greenhouse are growing like crazy. I've already been able to harvest a few string beans and a cucumber. I hope to do some canning this year as well.

  I have also planted 2 peach trees, 2 plum trees, 2 more orange trees, another grapfruit tree, an apple tree and 4 blueberry bushes. I just planted a few coffee plants as well. Maybe too ambitious but it is interesting trying to grow different things.

  Anyhow, I am not such a spring chicken anymore so this was quite an effort for me but I thought I could hardly expound the virtues of living more practically without actually doing it. Also, I figure the majority of the really hard work is done (building everything and did not use a rototiller) so I won't have to do it again next year. It is good exercise and I am learning a lot.

  - Robert

 

 

r101958's picture
r101958
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 257
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

Sorry Jenna, didn't see your question until after I had posted. Jatropha is a bush-tree that produces seeds that have very high oil content. Here are some more facts (you can find many out there just Google 'Jatropha'):

--- It’s considered poisonous (to some degree,) as its seeds or nuts, and oil from them are non-edible;

--- Its origins are thought to be Central America, or perhaps the Caribbean, but it is now grown in Asia and Africa and elsewhere.

--- It doesn’t need much water to survive - only about 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall per year - thus can be grown in arid regions and will grow well on marginal land;

--- Once growing, it has a long life, about 40-50 years and needs little maintenance; it doesn’t have to be plowed under each year;

--- It can stop land degradation and reverse deforestation;

--- It can be grown alongside food crops and won’t compete;

--- As a perennial (doesn’t die every year) it can sequester carbon too. A full grown shrub or tree absorbs around 18 pounds (8 kilograms) of carbon dioxide every year. 2500 shrubs can be planted in a hectare (about 2.5 acres), resulting in more than 20 tons of greenhouse gas sequestration per year.

 As a feed stock for biodiesel fuel it holds considerable promise as well:

--- Each hectare can produce an average of 500 gallons (1900 liters) of biodiesel per year from its nuts as well as more than 7500 lbs (3400 kilograms) of waste biomass. For biodiesel, Jatropha yields more than four times as much fuel per hectare as soybean; more than ten times that of corn.

Hope that helps some.

-Robert

JAG's picture
JAG
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 26 2008
Posts: 2492
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

 Robert,

Thanks for sharing your gardening project and the pics were great. I live along the Gulf Coast in Texas, a similar climate to Florida, and I was wondering why your using the shade cloth. I'm building a similar structure to your "greenhouse" and I'm incorporating bird netting in much the same way that you used the shade cloth. Are you using the shade cloth for shade, or is it intended to act like bird netting?  I know the summers get really hot down here along the Gulf, and I can see that the 30% shade might help with the watering demand, but isn't it counter productive to a vegetable garden to shade it. Just curious.

Thanks again for sharing and it has inspired me to put in a little extra work on my project.

Jeff

cat233's picture
cat233
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 20 2008
Posts: 575
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

Hi Robert,

I am totally intrigued with your work... Excellent!  When you have the time, please share a few more pictures and details of your project.

Have you had any battles with insects or other pest?

Thanks,

Cat

 

 

johnfournier77's picture
johnfournier77
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 11 2009
Posts: 2
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

In the future, you might consider planting your corn in mounds instead of rows.  Plant about a dozen seeds in each hill and then thin back to the 5 or 6 healthiest plants.  I think you'll get a lot more out of the same garden space if you plant them clustered like that.  Also, once your corn plants are about 2 feet tall, plant pole beans at the base of each corn stalk.  Once your beans come up, plant squash plants between the mounds.  You'll end up with a small space full of corn, beans, and squash.  Also, the beans will fix nitrogen in the soil for your corn.

Juvysen's picture
Juvysen
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 121
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

THat's so amazing that you're already able to harvest.  Up here in colder climes I haven't even planted most of my stuff yet. 

r101958's picture
r101958
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 257
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

JAG,

    I used the 30% shade screen to cut down on the excess heat and burning caused by the sun here in Florida during mid summer. Using the screen the heat and sun underneath should somewhat resemble the heat and sun in the midwest during summer. It should also cut down on incidental insects and birds. I am also somewhat concerned with wind issues during summer so I made it so that I can retract the screen by hand in the case of a hurricane.

Cat,

   Thanks much! I will post some more photos later on in the season. Some of the plants are growing too well, namely the pumpkins.

JohnF77,

    Great ideas, thanks for the pointers! I will give them a try next time around. I think I will plant the pumpkins in a separate area as well.

Thanks to all-

Robert

 

r101958's picture
r101958
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 257
Re: Trying to Practice What I Preach

Cat,

  One question I forgot to answer, the battle with pests. So far not too bad. I had to use some BT on armyworms. It is a naturally occuring bacteria and not bad for the area. Armyworms have a voracious appetite...let me tell you..they can strip leaves like there is no tomorrow. I also use some organocide which is made from all natural ingredients (nothing petroleum based).  -Robert

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments