Tag Archives: gardening

Episode-2289- Practical Homesteading in the Modern Age

Sometimes I feel society in on the edge of yet another split.  Those that value things like gardens, back yard birds and foraging, and those who don’t but see no value in such things.  These people look around and see  a world when you can summon a car with a cell phone, to either take you to dinner or bring dinner to you.

Unlike 2008 when I began the journey of this podcast, the economy is booming.  Right now if you don’t have a job, frankly don’t really want one.  Everyone is hiring.  Every day some new technical marvel is unveiled.  Alternative energy is really beginning to stop looking so “alternative”.  It seems in perhaps a decade electricity may be almost free in relative terms.

Computers are continuing to become better, smarter, faster and cheaper.  Anything you want from lobster tails to fine silk can be delivered to your home in 12-24 hours from the almighty Amazon.  You can understand when it comes to homesteading why some people are like, why bother?

The other side though is pretty amazing.  We have people on YouTube documenting their homesteading journeys with hundreds of thousands of people following them.   A few such people have more than a million followers.  Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are full of pictures and short videos of everything from “square foot gardens” to urban chicken tractors.   Celebrity Chefs like Guy Fieri show off their backyard flocks and compost piles.

Yes even in a world of high speed processors and “Door Dash” food delivery the back yard homestead is thriving in 2018.  Today we discuss ways to be a practical homesteader in the modern world.

Join Me Today To Discuss…

  • Why do we homestead
    • Humans are cultivators
    • As much for recreation as for production
    • The quality of food we can produce
  • Some rules for happy homesteading
    • One project at a time
    • Start with something easy and fun
    • Set and respect a budget
    • Build management into daily activities (smart zone design)
  • Some of my favorite projects for homesteading
    • Back yard birds (composting system)
    • Of course a kitchen garden (gotta love wicking beds)
    • Set up a seed starting system (lights, etc)
    • Building a solar heater
    • Lean how to can food
    • Install rainwater catchment
    • Creating habitat, natural spaces, attracting wildlife
  • Final Thoughts

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-2219- Wicking Beds for Easy Garden Production

As many of you know I have become a huge fan of aquaponics over the past two years, but if you said, what is the best thing about aquaponics, okay, I’d say fish and cool water gardens.

Though if you said what is the best part about aquapnics for growing vegetables, I would say, two words, wicking beds.  I don’t really think I would be that big into aquaponics without them.  I would likely have one small system or just garden ponds.  Once I learned how to integrate the two, I was hooked.

And yes, they go together like beer and pretzels, but i don’t always have pretzels with beer and you certainly don’t always need to have aquaponics with wicking beds, in fact most people that use them, don’t.   And the good news is as long as you design them right, if you ever want to add fish, it is just running a few pipes.

Join Me Today to Discuss…

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-2180- Growing Children in the Garden

No we won’t be talking about planting little Timmy and little Tammy seeds in the garden but rather how gardening can plant seeds of knowledge, compassion, resiliency and skills in our children.  One of my true heroes in the world is Geoff Lawton and Geoff made a statement that sounds almost absurd in some ways…

All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden!

Even I balked a bit at that statement at first, then stepped back and said well, metaphorically is how he means it.  But I realized when I looked at how he said it, he was dead serious.  So I stepped way back and said, is this statement true.

When I did so I realized you had to look at it though the right lens.  No one thing is generally sufficient to fix any major problem, so a true solution is one that sets things in motion.  It is that initial motion that creates inertia and that provides an opportunity for more things to be done, and in the end the problem is solved or mitigated as much as can be done at the time.  So true solutions are the catalyst, the spark of a solution, that create something akin to a trophic cascade.

What is a trophic cascade, it is when a small change creates powerful indirect interactions that can control or change entire ecosystems.  A classic example is how the reintroduction of wolves changed the course of rivers in Yellowstone.

So today we will ask the question, if a few packs of wolves can cause life to explode and a river to moderate and change its course, what might be the effect of teaching our children, how to do something as simple as grow a garden.

Join Me Today to Discuss…

  • Can we really solve the word’s problem with a garden
  • What is a trophic cascade and how can we hope to create one
  • What happens when a child learns about gardening
    • They learn patience
    • They learn actions have concequences
    • They learn to feed themselves and others
    • They learn to recognize patterns
    • They learn to solve problems
    • They learn the value of hard work
    • They learn that all living things have a place in our world
    • They learn that everything in life is a cycle
    • They learn that some things are beyond your control
    • They learn to teach
    • They learn how to find answers from elders, literature, etc.
    • They learn a hundred more things
  • How can this create a trophic cascade?
  • The difference between solving a problem and setting a solution in motion

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-2152- Food Production on Small Properties

Our Urban Garden in 2010

Today we look at homesteading and mainly producing your own food on small lots.  I would define this as 1/20th to 1/4th of an acre.  The average home being built in America today is sitting on about .11-.16 of an acre, or about in the range of 50-60 feet wide by about 100-120 feet deep.

Lot’s of people dream of owning more land at some point, but the truth is more land is more work.  Even with three acres I am mostly focused on about 3/4ths of an acres on my property adn put 80% of my effort into about a quarter of an acre total.

I also grew up for a time in rural Pennsylvania.  We had a garden of about 1/20th of an acre on about a one acre property.  I always saw the farmers as having so much more land then us, most were 40-120 acre holdings.  But those we knew as family friends when I visited them I noticed, that they had about an acre around their homes, and a garden about the same size as our own.  Those 40 acre tracts grew corn and beans.  This was the 80s by the way.

This has always been the way, the majority of what you produce for your own use, doesn’t really require much land.

Join Me Today to Discuss….

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-2147- Seed Starting Primer for 2018

Last week we talked about a lot of great new plants to grow for 2018 so today is a good time to talk about starting all those seeds you’ve ordered or will be ordering this month.  Today’s show was prompted by a question about leggy seedlings of tomatoes grown for market sales, but I think it will help everyone.

Today’s show includes a segment from a show back in 2012.  I am doing this to help save my voice during my cold (dubbed snot slinger flu).  More so however, because I think this information is imperative to understanding how to get best results with seed starting, and frankly the way I teach it hasn’t changed in all these years.

Join Me Today To Discuss…

  • Understanding how seeds germinate in the wild (this answers so many questions)
  • Setting up your seed starting systems
    • How much do you want/need to start
    • Indoors, garage, outdoors. green house
    • Lights (LED, T5, T8, Natural)
    • Heating (mats, space heating, etc)
  • Determining your starting dates
    • Determine last frost date
    • Plan at least one week later
    • Count backwards based on time to “set out”
  • Trouble shooting
    • Slow / Low germination
    • Leggy
    • Poor color
    • Mold, slime, etc.
  • Final thoughts

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-2121- Time to Start Planning for the 2018 Spring Garden

It is Easy to Forget that Each Season is Really Only About 13 Weeks Long!

Each year usually in January or February I do a show on spring garden planting and it hit me that I should really do so earlier.  Why? Because every year I transition from winter to spring with a entire list of shit that was supposed to be done, that ain’t done.

I fall behind on new bed preparation, seed starting, plant layout planting and other projects.  I mean just think about seed starting, this should begin for many crops a full 8-10 weeks before they are to be set out.  Cole crops like Broccoli and Kale can be planted well before the last frost as well.

Other in the ground starters like peas for instance can generally handle down to about 28-30 degree over night lows, so we need to be ready to plant them very early and success them into summer crops like tomatoes and peppers.

And this is the time to START planning, at least get down on an organized list what you want to do.  Because yes, it is the holidays, there will be shopping, travel, etc. but the mind is alert right now.  Soon you will have what I call “Christmas Coma” where you sort of cost though the end of December and most of January.  It is a slow time for many of us, but also tends to become a time of inaction.  Hunting season ends, too damn cold for many things, no baby livestock to worry over yet, etc.

To break it what you need is momentum!  Otherwise next thing is it is March and you are over paying for Bonnie’s plants at Walmart because it is too late to start seeds for the year etc.

So how do you get momentum?  The plan is your momentum.  The hardest part of any process is what?  Getting started!  If you have that plan, that rough outline it becomes a to do list, you follow that in those slow weeks and by the time things pick up your are hitting the ground running.  However if you wait until mid January to plan, you put it off one week, then two, then it is February, the some life event happens, its March, got it yet?

Today we won’t talk so much about what to do but getting that plan in place to create scheduled action items so that when spring comes and the birds sing, your growing season is off to a great start.  And even if gardening isn’t your thing, there is a big lesson in that.

Join Me Today to Discuss…

  • The lesson in taking a trip/vacation/etc.
  • Why planning is important for spring planting
    • It works
    • Gives you actionable items
    • It is a sanity check
    • Allows you to sort critical from necessary from nice to have
    • Prevents mixing spring and winter prep items
  • Some things I am planning for this year
    • Basic planting diagrams for all annual production
    • Massive wicking bed and aquatic expansion
    • Seed starting including a grow tent this year
    • Forage system for the quail aviary
    • New run of quail for production
    • Pastured chickens instead of new ducks this year
      • Brooder construction
      • Chicken tractor – build and complete dates, etc
      • Quantity – just for me or for others too?
      • Date to order
      • Date on pasture
      • Date of harvest
  • Key Dates to Determine
    • Last frost and last hard freeze dates (not the same at all)
    • Dates to get your seeds started by
    • Construction start and end dates (planned and “drop dead”)
    • Planting dates
    • Fertilizer and amendment dates
    • Spaying of trees and perennial dates
  • Keep a garden book
    • Weekly high and low avg temps, any frosts
    • Date of rain activity
    • In ground seed planting and first germination
    • Pest activity
    • Bud break on perennials
    • Flowering and first harvest of annuals
  • Final Thoughts

Resources for today’s show…

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Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

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Episode-2027- Twelve Overlooked Vegetables for the Garden

Purple Tomatillo – An Overlooked Garden All Star

In the spring and early summer talk a walk in the garden section of any big store or even typical smaller plant nurseries.  Mostly you see peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and a few other veggies and herbs.

There are so many other options though and many are tougher than our stand alone favorites.  Fore instance so many people love growing tomatoes but in many areas they are plagued by early and late blight.  You can usually get a decent yield and then you hit a wall, well why not grow tomatillos instead.  They make fantastic salsa, are great grilled and are pretty much immune to most disease and pests.

Today we walk though 12 such options for your garden and in most of the country there is still time to get these guys up and running for your fall planting.

Join Us Today To Discuss these 12 Overlooked Garden Edibles…

  • Tomatillos
  • Sweet Potato
  • Egg Plant
  • Arugula
  • Swiss Chard
  • Amaranth
  • New Zealand Spinach
  • Orach
  • Ground Cherry
  • Lambs Quarters
  • Purslane
  • Nasturtium

Resources for today’s show…

Sponsors of the Day

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Episode-1986- Perennial Vegetables for your Homestead

“Bloody Dock” – A Beautiful and Edible Perennial Most People Have Never Heard Of

Today we are going to turn our focus on food production in our own back yards.  The plants I will describe here are wonderful for growing in just about any environment.  And even though they are perennials most will do find in containers and wicking beds, etc.  Indeed a few are custom made for such applications though normally not grown that way.

Perennials are wonderful because they either come back on their own every year or they require very minimal effort to assure their return each year.  Many are even considered weeds or a nuisance by the unknowing.  Yep a plant that requires minimal work, self propagates and is good to eat we have come to see as a weed.

Join Me Today To Discuss…

  • How we define perennial vs how we should define it as growers
  • Twelve Plants you should be growing for trouble free food production
    1. Bloody Dock (True Perennial to Zone 4) – Source
    2. Ostrich Fern (True Perennial to Zone 3) – Source
    3. Scarlet Runner Beans (True Perennial to Zone 6 with heavy mulch) – Source
    4. Sorrel (True Perennial to Zone 3) – Source
    5. Jerusalem Artichoke (Behaves Like a Perennial to Zone 3) – Source
    6. Lambs Quarters (Behaves Like a Perennial to Zone 4 and possibly Zone 3) – Source
    7. Day Lilies (True Perennial to Zone 4) – Source
    8. Good King Henry (True Perennial to Zone 3) – Source
    9. Egyptian Onions (True Perennial to Zone 4) – Source
    10. Horse Radish (True Perennial to Zone 3) – Source
    11. New Zealand Spinach (True Perennial to Zone 7 or Zone 6) – Source
    12. Lovage (True Perennial to Zone 3) – Source

Resources for today’s show…

Sponsors of the Day

Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.

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Episode-1957- The Beginners Guide to Growing Food

I have done some really advanced stuff with agriculture and permaculture over the years but I realized it has been a long time since I have done something totally devoted to a true beginner.  The person looking at a patch of ground and a back porch and just wanting a garden and some of their own food on their own table.

This does not have to be complicated and it also doesn’t have to be expensive.  Our grand parents and great grand parents didn’t spend a lot of money to grow a garden, they didn’t have design certificates or gadgets either.  Still today we have a lot of options they didn’t, by combining their simple approach and some modern convience we can get off the ground running fast.

We can have a great harvest in our first year and lay the ground work for a garden that gets better and better over time.  We can also do things in a way that shortens the learning curve and makes us feel good about what we are doing, rather than demotivated and frustrated as many first year gardeners become.

Join Me Today to Discuss…

  • An example of why the “green thumb” is a myth to be ignored
  • What is the goal of a family garden
    • Produce food
    • Save money
    • Improve quality of life
    • Provide better healthier nutrition
  • Should you go with “raised beds”
    • What is the ground like
    • What is your climate like
    • Can you either automate or simply irrigation
    • Are you going to want “borders” if so why
    • Where are you going to get your material and how much will it cost
  • Why I recommend buying plants your first year, at least some of them
    • Plants I recommend buying
      • Peppers
      • Tomatoes
      • Broccoli/Cauliflower
    • High success rate
    • Very broad availability of varieties now
    • Cost is not bad, and this is a learning year
  • Plant I recommend planting from seed in the ground
    • Peas/Beans etc.
    • Beets
    • Radishes
    • Arugula
    • Dill
    • Squash
    • Melons
  • Plants I recommend starting in containers even in your first year or buying
    • Chard
    • Lettuce
    • Basil
    • Parsley
    • Chives
  • Why everyone should grow sweet potato
  • Bed establishment
    • Double dig, sheet mulch or both
    • Bring in material – yes till/turn it in
    • Mulch with wood chips
  • The things that will make your plants successful almost no mater what
    • Dr. Earth 1014 Premium Gold Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer (balanced NPK) – Link
    • Garrett Juice Plus (foliar feed) – Link
    • Blood and Bone Fertilizer – Link
    • GS Plant Foods Liquid Kelp – Link
    • Hydro Organics Earth Juice Cal-n-Mag Plant Food – Link
    • Liquinox Iron Zinc Chelated Solution – Link
    • Endo Mycorrhizae Fungal Inoculation – Link
    • Azomite consider sourcing locally – Link
    • Green Sand consider sourcing locally – Link
    • Lava Sand – source this locally!
    • Expanded Shale – source this locally!
  • Going forward or doing more in the first year (composting-worms-etc)

Resources for today’s show…

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Episode-1932- Seed Starting Primer for 2017

Grow Light Tech Has Advanced a Lot Since I Started TSP!

Spring is coming!  Well technically it was spring here in Texas 4 days ago, now it is winter again and it will be spring her on Thursday and Summer for a day on next Tuesday before returning to winter on the following day.

For most of the nation is it actually winter and it may seem spring is a long way off, but it isn’t.  March 21st is the official first day of spring, that is only 63 days.  For much of the country your last frost date is close to that time, perhaps only a few more weeks out.

Many seeds should be started in a protected environment about 6-8 weeks before setting out, translation, it is time to get those seeds ordered and started very soon.

Join me today as we discuss…

Resources for today’s show…

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