Thursday, December 31, 2009

So, Now What?

Eleven beers can do a lot to a guy. Beers since eleven, eleven hours later can do quite a bit more. A guy that's not normally known for taking risks, for instance, may sit with his friend at the corner of their favorite watering hole, talking about some cockamamie scheme to eat and live off the land. The guy with the beer in him may agree to just about anything the guy who's super excited that the local sports team won their local sports contest, and his enthusiasm levels being off the charts may have excited the guy with too much beer in him.

Maybe the guy with the beers in him woke up to something he didn't know and didn't understand because his beer goggles made it seem like the greatest idea ever.

Okay, that's being a bit dramatic. Point is, I've now woken up to this thing I've gotten in bed with, and now, I've gotta make it breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. And snacks. For a week. In July. Not only that, but, I have to grow and hunt and trap what I feed it. Every meal. For a week. In July.

Question is... how?

I turned to my dear and fearless leader Google, who creates products and services I can use which allow me to find anything I need. Some call it a search engine; I call it magic!

I'd heard of Square Foot Gardening before, and with my somewhat smaller yard, I figured this would be the best option. And so, I hit up Mel Bartholomew and his Square Foot Gardening website. I learned that the best option is 4' x 4', and for my yard, that's perfect. I've got close to 16' from fence to path, which will leave me roughly three feet between fences and two feet between each box. That's 32 crops I can grow, though I'll likely grow less and spread things out. I haven't decided particulars yet. That's something for another post.

I also decided that the hanging upside-down tomato plants weren't some sort of magic that happened solely based on some TV infomercial. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that it was someone simply capitalizing on another idea, and I was right. Turns out, people have been using 5 gallon buckets and pails for years. Not only do they do it for tomatoes but, they do it for peppers, too! That would definitely give me space -- in fact, I could put a pail at each corner of my garden, if I wanted to with a very minimal loss of space!

My brain raced with excitement as I priced lumber to buy my raised beds and looked around for the best prices on compost, peat and vermiculite. Problem was, I didn't know when to plant everything. Hell, I didn't even know how to plant everything. I know seeds started everything and I could get my own plantings and seedlings to transplant, but, would that be in the fair spirit of the challenge? No, I decided I would have to grow seedlings myself. I didn't know when to start anything.

That's when I found Skippy's Vegetable Garden, and, much more importantly, this calendar. With a last frost at 5/10 here in Zone 6 (being coastal), I need to get my onion seeds started indoors on 2/22. My pepper seeds have to start on 3/15 (Happy birthday, Jess!) and my tomatoes 3/29. But, what can I grow that'll be ready to harvest in July? Now I know. Can I grow potatoes? Yep! I can even grow 'em in old tires!

This leads me to my next question, and one that'll be a doozy: How do I get protein? The answer, I think may lie in science, namely, fungal science. While I'm not normally one for the humble parasite known as the mushroom, I think it's my best chance to get the protein I crave. So, I'm going to grow my own mushrooms, rather than forage something I'm not sure about and end up dead. Thankfully, there are kits available that make this a breeze. The half button half portobello kit may be my salvation.

The question is -- is that a food I cultivated myself? I didn't do anything except water the box the innoculated soil came in, and that's cultivation, somewhat. I'd love to know what you think in the comments.


  1. We're actually zone five here, Pete. If you start your seeds that early they'll be too big (and probably rot/dry out becaue the roots are busting out) by the time the ground's warm enough to take them and the last threat of frost is gone. We've done that in past years (even starting them at spring solstice, which is still too early!). You're best going with the zone five info, even though we're technically costal the Lake effect temp's and snow hurt us here instead of help us. :o)

  2. Also, I think the mushrooms are fair game, as long as you in the meantime figure out how to cultivate them for next year without the box.

  3. It's actualy pretty easy for someone used to brewing to cultivate Mushrooms. Similar Techniques, hell Yeast is a fungus. You just turn it upside down. You eat the fungus and not the substrate. (cause it's poo) Otherwise the "cave" would be a perfect spot probably.

    You could use the pressure canner to sterilize the substrate. Then it starts like a yeast culture and progresses into a tray of "substrate".

  4. Kathy, Mark mentioned something about putting seedlings outside prior to planting. I think it slows down their growth and gets them accustomed to being outside