Wednesday, July 30, 2008

White House Veggie Garden!

What's this all about?

" "Eat the View" is a campaign to plant healthy, edible landscapes in high-impact, high visibility places, whether it's the "First Lawn" or the lawn in front of your child's school."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It was a Rocker, that's for sure, but so far no damages. The 5.8 Quake's Epicenter was in Chino Hills, fairly close to our home, (about 8 miles or so) but I wasn't home when it happened. It makes you think about emergency times... At least we have some food stocked up, and we have our SunOven. Water might become a problem though.... We do have a large pool so that might be boiled in the SunOven with the Wapi(water pasteurization indicator) The Garden probably doesn't care about the long as they have their sun, soil and water they are happy plants... :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Don't do this

I'm sure you probably think I'm a Ditz for doing this... but here it goes: I have Blackberries, they are red right now and as soon as they turn black, the Birds peck them all up! So, being frustrated that I hardly get any of the yummy berries I've watered everyday, I go and get white plastic grocery bags to cover up some of the crops. I didn't tie them tightly, so I thought maybe it'll be OK...NOPE! The one's in the bags got cooked (steamed) and now they are either white/grey or shriveled up.... LOL So, DON'T try this at home! hehehe

For those of you who have berries, what do you do? Investing in a bird net might be the bright idea, yeah?

Bugs and Fungi

I've been having Garden Problems lately... My Tomatoes have Thrips sucking on the new shoots, and causing wilting, the Cucumbers have tons of Aphids, and that whole bed of the Squash Family( cukes, zukes, melons) have succumb to white powdery mildew.

The mildew it seems, as I'm surfing the net, can be controlled by a diluted concoction of dish liquid and hydrogen peroxide, or a diluted mixture of baking soda. I have real-life experience with milk being sprayed that works as well, BUT since my son has anaphylactic allergy to any dairy protein, I won't be doing that.

In order to combat the insect infestation, I ordered some Beneficial Nematodes, Green Lacewing Eggs, and some Amblyseius cucumeris to eat the baby Thrips ... probably not the wisest of choices as the order cost me $57!! Some Expensive veggies if you tally that in...

This is my order:
[1ea: 1000 Green Lacewing eggs] [1ea: Amblyseius cucumeris, 5,000] [1ea: Nematodes - Steinernema carpocapsae., 10 mil]

I received the package of "bugs" last night and dutifully went out to "release" the Lacewing Eggs according to the instructions; it said "divide them into these wax paper pouches, then staple onto affected plants" In the process of going outside, the wind picks up one of the pouches and blows the contents out! D'oh!!!!(Homer Simpson version) Frustrated, I gently pick up as much as I can, thinking, 'I'm probably crushing all the tiny Lacewing Eggs as I'm doing this! I go over to the cucumber plant where the most infestation is and start stapling the pouches. Mind you, I'm doing this in darkness as I can't hold a flashlight and staple at the same time, so there are a few times the staples don't quite do the job it's supposed to and I drop another pouch!!! OMG, I say to myself and pick up the soily crumbs of rice husks that "hold" the eggs in. Finally I finish. I go out the next morning, and guess what? The Ants are carrying all the eggs out of the pouches and taking them to who knows where! I try to follow them, but being out of time (I gotta get to my 9~6 job) I give up...thinking there goes my investment... ants are gonna make a yummy snack out of my Lacewing babies... sigh...sob....

So far this morning I've tried dispersing the Beneficial Nematodes in a spray bottle all over the garden...then I realized, maybe these will hurt the ladybugs too! This is a disaster! What a moron for not thinking that through. So, currently my Garden is a total natural experiment. I've put my hands up and decided, 'you know what? I'll let it do what it will, this too will be a learning experience...with a $57 price tag... live and learn they say, but boy that hurts!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Set Backs

Last week I noticed a leak in the plumbing in the walls. It was a loud tap, tap sound and I heard it while washing some laundry in the sink upstairs. I went downstairs to the bathroom right under the top floor and the tapping was louder, then I noticed that the repatched walls of the Copper Repiping job that was done last Sept was starting get wet! So I quickly notified Tim, who was definitely upset about it. Long story short, the leak caused the walls to get wet, which the Repipers opened up to fix the leak, and the water made it's way under the carpet!!! So we decided to used Rubbing Alcohol on the wet spot and turn 2 fans directly onto the wet spots after Tim sopped up what he could. Alcohol evaporates quickly, and it also disinfects so we thought that it would prevent mildew. Soooo the set back is our electic bill. With the fans running all day and all night, we think the bill will be a whopper... sigh... Thank God the leak was the fault of the copper pipes, the Repiper told us that if it wasn't their own pipes we would have to pay him to fix everything!

The next sad set back is that either the phone or electric company stamped all over my bush bean and blackberry plant! They kill the bush bean completely and the blackberry was an offshoot of the mother plant I was trying to get to root, but R.I.P. I'm sooo upset that they are so careless. Couldn't they tell it's a plant??? They trampled right next to my pole bean and compacted the soil too.... sigh.... I'll have pictures later of my damages. Maybe I ought to call them and complain... but I don't know which company came. We have 2 telephone poles on our property, and it is lame... I think I might make a large sign and post it on the poles. "You will be liable to damages caused to Garden Plants" What do you think? When you grow a plant from seed, it's like a baby... I know it's silly, but it takes a lot of effort to tend to them to make sure they get well established. Poor Bush Bean... may it rest in peace.... it had one little baby bean growing on it too....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Garden Updates

Tim made a new Raised Garden Box for me out of the Freecycled wood. This is pictured with the box still upside down.
Here's the Box in it's new place. We'll have a few more boxes lined up where the lawn is behind and in front of this photo. We are trying the "Lasagna Method" and the newspaper is there to kill off the remaining lawn.

Farmer's Market and Home Made Foods

Farmer's Market Loot! Boy, we were impressed with the selection there at the Diamond Bar/Walnut Market!
Pasta Sauce with homegrown Zucchini, Basil and Sundried Tomatoes from last year's harvest
The Large Bok Choi pictured below was split up to make this Tsukemono(pickles) and a meal of Bok Choi Chicken.

Harvest Updates

Caleb excited about the morning harvest! "mmmm Pumpkin Pie!"
Radishes,Zucchini,Oranges,and one tiny Strawberry
Very Large Bok Choi
Strawberries,Blackberries, Zucchini and Basil
Oranges,Strawberries,one Radish,Zucchini,Aka Shiso(perilla),Bok Choi
Kyoho Grapes, Strawberries, Zucchini
Stumpy Carrots,Zucchini, Strawberry, Orange
Lots of Season's End Tangerines
Peppers, Zucchinis,Strawberries,Blackberries, and Gerbera Daisies to brighten up the kitchen

The Pan

Here's a Panoramic shot of my "In Progress" Backyard. I took a series of Photos and stiched them together in Photoshop. It looks huge but it's not THAT big. BTW, I wish we could use the space the pool is to grow crops...that'd be so awesome! hehe

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Money as Debt

This video is very informative, I highly recommend it. The art is needy, but the content is good!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Baby steps to Freedom

This past weekend, we propped up our collapsible Clothes Line and dried our first loads of laundry on it. That ought to save on gas and electric bills from the clothes dryer. Still trying to get the time-management part down, as most laundry was being done after 10pm before, but to utilize the sun, we'll have to shift that.

We received a bill for $41 on our electric bill instead of the average $110! We used to leave the computer on "energy save mode" all day and all night, but now turn it off when not in use. What a difference those steps have made in usage! For us powering down has been fairly easy because our son is still young, (not a teen who wants to surf online all day, listen to his iPod, etc. Tim is very cooperative and is interested in saving more $ through powering down! We gave each other a high 5 when we saw the $41 electric bill! Whoo Hoo!

We disconnected our Microwave, only to be used for emergencies. (To use it once it's disconnected is a pain, since you have to program the time back in before it allows you to use it, so that's a deterrent ) I've read that the electro-magnetic waves created by the Microwave oven kills most of the healthy vitamins in our foods, and it affects our bodies as well. After all, our nervous system is made of synapses and neurons firing electric signals to eachother and receiving signals from other parts of our bodies, so that makes sense to me scientifically.

A few weeks ago, I disconnected my electric toothbrush, and hand-held vacuum in the Kitchen. We've been disconnected most things we can in the kitchen so we save on "phantom" power usage by the small appliances such as the toaster oven.

We purchased hand cranked food processor and food mill from the Peddler's Wagon, but I still need to get adjusted to what they can and cannot do. Caleb and I made meat-loaf using the hand cranked food processor, with our garden zucchinis, and home made bread crumbs as part of the recipe.

We've stopped using Swiffers, and instead are reusing rags in place of them, rinsing them over and over, then washing them. Save $ and less in the landfills! We just use the old reliable broom and dustpan, then wipe up the smaller dust with the rags.

I acquired 2 black metal shelving units from Craigslist that will hold the seed blocks. It's against the South East side of the wall by the 2nd Garage.

Tim is in process of building a raised garden box out of Freecycled wood for the lawn strips next to our deck. I think I'm going to plant some herbs there, so I can gather them readily for cooking.

We have been composting all of our kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps along with biodegradable napkins for about 3 months now. We have reduced our use of Paper Towels significantly, by using reusable towels to wipe, then wash. We recycle all paper, plastic, aluminum, tin and glass. All these efforts have cut down our trash tremendously. It takes 2 weeks for the kitchen trash can to fill up now, and it's mostly non-recyclable plastics.

We are trying to process all the trimmed branches and leaves from the "pink" bush (we call it that because it flowers profusely in March in pink) and using the dried leaves for the dry part of the compost, layering it with our kitchen scraps. The branches & twigs will be bundled and saved for burning in the winter. I acquired a Log Rack for free from Craigslist so we'll need to organize the 2nd Garage to fit the new Rack to store our wood and twigs.

I have switched my soaps and shampoos to biodegradable, and shortened my showers. I save the grey-water from my showers to water the remaining lawn for now. We will be running out of Caleb's bathwash soap, so we are switching his soaps to biodegradable as well. We'll have to do trials since he is sensitive to nut oils. We switched Caleb's moisturizing cream from Aquaphor (petroleum based) to natural Cocoa Butter. He loves the fact that he smells like Chocolate and can eat his cream if we allow him to...hehe. It seems to be making his skin very supple.

I have been accepted by NELA's CoOp group online, so now I think I just have to order food from them, then wait for the pick up date? I'm new to this so we'll see. Less dependence on the market, and supporting small farms this way is good.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Original Recipe Bread

I think I finally got the hang of baking this gluten free bread. Some of the ingredients are rather unusual: Amaranth, Sorghum, Potato Starch, Oat Flour, Corn Starch, Sucanat, Salt, Olive Oil and Yeast. Most Gluten Free bread avoids Oat Flour because most oats are grown near wheat fields. We can tolerate small amounts of wheat (we're not Celiac) so we opted to use it in place of Tapioca, which makes it a heavier dough.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Does Anyone know what this is?

The Green and Red berries on a stick... I found some walking in the neighborhood, plucked some and stuck it in the ground and this is it! Seems like the birds love the berries.

More Updates

This past weekend we were able to get some used wood. Initially we were planning on using them for grapevine trellises but the wood is fairly old so we decided to make raised beds out of them. They will be used for Zones Q and R where the lawn strips are. Baked another batch of bread this weekend. Seems like baking 2 loaves every 2 weeks does the trick. Here's a bunch of pics that should have been posted a while back. Enjoy!

Got a late start on okra and broccoli. Thyme is in the middle. Zone M
the little blueberry bushes(there's 2 in there I promise!)
the grape vines we purchased. Waiting for room where the Heavenly Bamboo is planted, right behind them. Zone P
more peppers and a grapefruit. There's more grapefruit... I don't like grapefruit...anyone want some?
Zones G, H, and I: Zucchinis, Pumpkin, Lettuce(bolted) Cucumbers, Radishes, Bok Choi and now mostly gone Spinach.
Buckwheat seedlings sprouting in the clay soil, hopefully they'll do a good job breaking it up and adding some nitrogen and all that good stuff.
Peppers growing in Zone D's raised bed.
Cutting down the pink bush in Zone F

Garden Updates

We had to use a batch of dough to clean out the new pasta machine, so we're having fun with it.
Peppers, Strawberries, Blackberries, and a Radish
shy pumpkin
tomatoes and pepper plants
blackberries starting to blush
young red potatoes
more red potatoes, peppers and zucchini
old yogurt cups being recycled as seedling pots
zucchinis, oranges, grapefruit, radishes, strawberries, Gerbera daisies, and bok choi cabbages