Monday, October 31, 2011

Down On The Farm Today

What a delight to be woken up hours before sunrise by the unlikely sound of an evening rain!  I will take credit for causing it....yesterday I left on the clothesline the laundry that had finally dried after being soaked by the rain I caused by hanging it up a few days ago! Looks like I got just under an inch....perfect timing as yesterday I created a whole new flower garden out front on the mulched area by outlining the area with log sections a tree trimmer brought me last week to save him a trip to a quite distant brush dump site (the local one was recently closed) then cutting out the carpet I'd laid there years ago to choke out the lawn. I planted Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtiums all along the inside of the log edging, then scattered and raked in vast numbers of seeds of Chicory, Ipomopsis rubra, Drummond Phlox, Malva trimestris, Papaver somniferum, White Sweet Alyssum, and Larkspur. After that came a DEEP watering. So the rain that came this morning was perfect as over the past few days I'd planted Sugar Snap Peas, Daikon, Giant Red Mustard and more in container gardens out back.

Today I gathered several more Muscovy Duck eggs, dated them with a felt tip marker (they need 99.5 degrees  F and 35 days to hatch) then put them in the incubator with the first batch. I may offer young ducklings for $10 each when they are big enough in about 2 months.

I continue to weed and prune in an effort to appease the Code guy after my new citation for overgrowth, though in a phone message to him I told him that the vast majority of the plants are purposeful ornamentals, which I thought would be obvious due to my front yard being a dramatic splash of color in a neighborhood of mown "lawns" that are mostly mowed weeds with grass mixed in. What's "funny" is that he has to look over and BEHIND my flowers to see the weeds that can't be seen from the street. I may well make a nice weather proof sign saying "Occupy Your Yard" and set it out front!

The restaurant I barter with for scraps for my poultry has a few folks, the chef included, who like the free range eggs plus herbs and veggies I bring I gave the chef a bag of that very mild green that has evolved  here over the last three years from Purple Kosaitai that was seemingly boinked by Mizuna. He liked it and may try it on their grilled flatbreads in place of spinach. He also enjoyed the duck eggs I gave him some time back and so I will take him more soon. If you raise poultry, bartering with local restaurants can be a great way to feed your flock VERY frugally by avoiding buying commercial chicken feed based on Monsanto's scary GMO corn and soybeans that studies have proven cause serious tissue and organ changes in livestock animals. Eating eggs from chickens fed FrankenFeed? No thanks!

As always each fall, my Mom and Dad cardinal are back, often wasting HOURS attacking their reflections in my van's rear view mirrors. I have cherished their chirping song ever since I moved in full time in November 2002.

Lastly, I can't speak well enough about  Their assortment of Asian veggies and herbs for Tampa's hot muggy summers and cool dry winters is excellent.....FAST delivery and fair prices too  (and everyone knows how cheap I am!). As I recall a $10 minimum order. Small packets and bulk packs too. Check them out.

Happy Gardening!

This Is Both Innovative AND Inspirational!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An article from my weekly column years ago in the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News


With the mountains snow capped and the trees leafless, winter might seem an odd time to feed the soil that sustains your lawn and landscape. But here we just finished a month or more of holiday gorging while our poor landscapes starve in the cold! A famished landscape can’t enter spring ready to reveal its glory, so feed it now if you never got around to that all-important fall feeding!

Why now and not spring? All winter and spring long, each snow melt leaches those vital nutrients deep into your soil, nourishing the roots of your lawn and trees and perennials, while revitalizing your sleeping vegetable garden. A fall or even winter feeding creates a savings account of fertility that pays dividends like a remarkably early spring green-up of your drought-ravaged lawn, vibrant regrowth of snow damaged trees, lush roses in June, and a cornucopia of fresh produce and herbs all next summer. And fed with natural materials, your soil will begin to improve its texture and lower its alkaline pH, allowing earthworms and beneficial fungi and bacteria to convert it into a water absorbing ‘sponge’ plant roots will revel in. Packed clay and loose sand become, dare we dream it, SOIL!

Colorado’s soil is almost always too alkaline (“sweet”), which chemically “locks up” vital minerals like iron and manganese and zinc so that tree and other plants’ roots can’t absorb what is already there. But cottonseed meal, sold in 50 pound bags at feed stores supplied by Manna Pro, is a natural soil acidifier that steadily and gently corrects this problem that causes pale yellow leaves in trees and shrubs (“chlorosis”) and generally stunts health. Hey, you and I need minerals to be do our plants. Cottonseed meal allows soil to release those it contains already while also supplying the natural nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium lawns and trees and gardens need to be green and vitally healthy. A couple 50 pound bags on a standard sized lot, or spread about as heavily as parmesan cheese on spaghetti, will start this vital healing process.

For the main course, treat your lawn and the rest of your landscape to “menhaden fish meal” which contains abundant natural nitrogen for a lovely spring thickening and greening of your lawn and vibrant growth of all other plants. But it is rich in all the sea minerals that are the “trace elements” plants need usually missing from chemical fertilizers that may add a smidge of iron and sulfur and leave out all the rest. Again, buy the fish meal at feed stores in 50 pound bags and sprinkle it parmesan cheese-style all over your lawn using a broadcast spreader and by hand in your gardens. In cold weather that lovely pungent fish odor will be less “ripe” than in summer and fade in a week or so. Many of us swear by “fish emulsion” but that is mostly water....a bag of fish meal is ALL fish! Remember, eastern native American gardeners planted a fish below each corn seed because ocean fish contain all plant nutrients!

If your yard has been being drenched by herbicides and fungicides and insecticides, all linked to issues of human and pet and environmental health, revitalize your soil with a bag of ‘Ringer Lawn Restore’ from a garden shop as it contains beneficial soil bacteria that prevent and cure lawn diseases while composting fallen clippings and old thatch and mulch into compost. As time passes they will feed on your future soil feedings and multiply and help your packed, alkaline clay to acidify and loosen naturally so it can absorb and hold more water. Think of “Ringer Lawn Restore’ as the yogurt we all eat after being on antibiotics.

Hey, no feast is complete without dessert, so treat your lawn and beds to a couple 50 pound bags of “dried molasses” from a feed store. Your yard will smell like a cookie instead of a dead fish, and when spring comes those natural sugars and carbohydrates will feed the beneficial bacteria and fungi that together will turn your lifeless infertile soil into a living medium that your trees and lawn and gardens will all find new life in. Hey, if your kids lived on white bread and soda, what shape would they be in? Most chemical fertilizers are just as incomplete or even harmful to the soil your landscape arises from.

So even as we endure winter’s glacial march, go ahead and plan for spring and give your soil some “health food” for a change, and help your yard fight back against the cruel insults of that lingering drought. And what better way to thumb your nose at Old Man Winter than use his snows to guarantee a colorful, vibrant return of spring to your landscape?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Down On The Farm On A Wet Friday.....

I will take credit for today's slow gentle drizzle and rain...late yesterday I put a full load on the clothesline! I spent most of the day inside, lurking WAY too much on Facebook. But early in the day I completed the bed I am putting in for my Catholic neighbor, Theresa Yarawski,  behind me.....the garden she had for the statue of Mary I gave her years ago had been crowded  by weeds despite me, her and her visiting kids weeding often. So a few days ago I removed the statues and hose holder, and covered the entire bed with two big pieces of carpet I'd scavenged a few weeks ago, each upside down. Today I covered the carpet weed barrier with about 5 inches of mulch from my pile, washed and painted white the scalloped concrete edgings that in the years since her deceased husband (and wonderful neighbor) Bill Yarawski placed them there had sunk deep into the sand, then put the edging back but now much higher and bright white. The hose holder and Mary and a few decorations are back in place atop the mulch, and around Christmas, when the weeds have all died beneath the carpet, I'll use an old knife to cut out coffee saucer size holes from the carpet and plant flowers. Thanks to Mary Jo for a couple months ago giving me this bucket of THICK white latex paint I've been using to spruce up my own yard. I've used scavenged carpet as a VERY substantial weed barrier (vs. those wimpy fabrics) since the 1990s in both Denver and Tampa in my landscape clients', and my own, yard.

In my own yard, when the rain became a very light drizzle, I sowed seeds of 'Giant Red' mustard in a very large tree pot (drainage long restricted by the holes being plugged with used plastic grocery bags) in my east bed out back, plus seeds of  other cold hardy crops.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ducks, Ducks and More Ducks!

About seven Muscovy ducks remain in the large pen I'd raised them all in since their ducklinghoods for safety from predators.....they got wise to how I caught the others to move to the free range area by grabbing their tails when I dumped in the restaurant scraps. I can't even get close to them.  It looks like two males and they've been "at it" a lot lately in that brutal rape fashion that ducks do (I wonder if dinosaurs did that too?) and so lately there have been eggs laid inside the dog house igloo in there but with no effort to make a nest or be broody. So today I took out six more, dated them with a felt tip pen, cleaned out the incubator and turned it back on, added the water for humidity and the no-mercury thermometer I got at Publix to make up for the missing thermostat, then placed the eggs atop a fresh kitchen towel supported above the water reservoirs by metal mesh. Muscovy eggs hatch best at 99.5 farenheit so I am tweaking the temps each time I turn the eggs. Now to put on my calendar to expect/hope for hatching 35 days from today.

I just got in from bringing home scraps from south Tampa's "Artifacts" restaurant on MacDill Avenue just south of Gandy..., great folks there. Sometimes I give their chef Doug herbs and veggies from my gardens in I gave the bartender Chris a new bouquet for her customers to enjoy as they drink and socialize. It is a mix of 'Teasing Georgia' roses, canna edulis, pandorea  vine, Blue Porter Weed,  and celosia argentea. Waiter/bartender Jason commented that it looked great as he topped off the vase with fresh water.

Frugal Holiday Gifts

The tyranny of the holiday season is closing in......Occupy Your Budget and put an end to ratcheting up debt due to cultural pressure to give high-end gifts. This class shows you quite a few ways to make VERY affordable gifts FROM THE HEART for friends and family that love to either cook or garden or both. None take a great deal of time and involve easily gotten "ingredients", some of which you might already have on hand, and most involve skill levels that let children participate in too for school projects. Create a new family holiday more slamming hundreds of $$$$ onto credit cards, and instead use your native abilities combined with your love of family and friends to create gifts that will make them think of you often for many months after the holidays have passed. The cost is $20, class time is this Sunday the 30th from 11 AM until 1 PM at my home: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611. Please call to confirm your intention to attend: 813 839 0881 You will receieve 2 packets of cool seeds you can use to create edible living gifts that will be mature when the holidays roll around. Thanks! John Starnes

Free Seeds plus 'Tightwad Gardening and Landscaping' Class

A lifetime of pathological frugality has blessed me with no debt and a paid for home, and I'd like to share some of those penny-waterboarding techniques in this class for gardeners and homeowners dealing with tight budgets and financial insecurity. You will receive a handout with 31 ways to beautify your yard and grow organic food crops while cultivating a mindset of grateful frugality to help heal your finances and add to your prosperity. The $20 class fee should pay for itself in just days. Plus you will get 2 packets of hard-to-get food crops seeds. Class time is 11AM until 1 PM this Saturday, the 29th, and will be held in my home and yard at: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611. Please call to confirm your intention to attend: 813 839 0881 John Starnes

Sweet Cassava Plants For Sale

This fast growing tropical sub-shrub bears nutritious leaves that can be cooked and served much like collard greens, but it is the large starchy roots that have made it a staple of tropical peoples for many centuries. The 'yuca' served in Cuban restaurants, and tapioca are both derived from these roots. Winter is closing in, so plant these about 6 inches deeper than they are in their 1 gallon pots so they can re-emerge from the base next spring and summer after winter freezes. I have 3 plants available, each is $5 and about 3 feet tall, set on my front porch Honor System plant sales table by my front porch; just slip your cash through the white dryer vent in my red office door. Address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611  Thanks!

Allium canadense plants for sale

Native from Canada to central Florida, this perennial member of the Allium (Onion) family bears thin, chive-like leaves that taste like a mix of garlic and sweet scallions. The reproductive bulblets (pictured) that form atop flower stalks in spring have more of a garlic bite as do the underground bulbs. Give it full sun and DAMP soil; lower the pot into a drainage tray filled with water, grow it in a Water Wise Container Garden, or by an air conditioner drip or pond shore. The plant grows vigorously from October through April, dividing at the base to in a couple years form a nice dense clump, then the tops die back for to be sure to mark where they grow! This gem is rarely sold so I am pleased to have 10 plants in 1 gallon pots for $5 each available on my front porch Honor System plant sales table along with Sweet Cassava and African Blue Basil and others. Just slip your cash through the white dryer vent in my red office door if I am out. My address is:  3212 West Paxton Avenue  Tampa FL 33611 Thanks!

Cultivating Hope

I enjoyed the Detroit urban farming documentary 'Urban Roots' at Roosevelt 2.0 last moving to see local folks bypassing "due process" and using direct action to create lush, productive, organic urban farms on parcels of Detroit's vast swaths of long-abandoned properties. In particular it was a joy to see the children immersing themselves in the experience, cultivating hope, likely a rare commodity in such blighted neighborhoods.

I gave some cool seeds and thornless edible cactus pad starters to gardeners I knew would be there, and Pam Lunn gave me a tub of her wonderful goat feta cheese in thanks. Nice to see my friends Mary Jo and Robin and Tim there. Great conversations with folks before and after,  and I scarfed down some great free nibbles, including samples of two wonderfully hoppy local beers. Good to see John Butts of Eco Farm, and James Kovaleski there too as it had had been a while. On the way home I dropped off a blanket and insulated rain jackets for the good folks of Occupy Tampa in front of Curtis Hixon. All in all a grand  and produtive day and home and "out in the world".

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food Day in Tampa
I look forward to another thought-provoking documentary and positive energy gathering at this innovative space in Ybor City tomorrow night, the 24th.  John!upcoming-events
"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away." ~ David Viscott

"For some people, happiness is too mild a sensation". unknown

My Front Yard Got Another Citation For Overgrowth

If it regards the balance of Spanish Needle (Bidens) and Ipomoea acuminata I've yet to remove, I agree and so have accelerated those efforts now that I back in town again after many trips to south Florida to help my Dad and his property....he's been hospitalized in one of three facilities since September 2. But if it regards the lovely colorful abundance of drought tolerant Florida-friendly perennial and annual flowers and roses, I will contest it.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Freezing Eggs For Winter

The chickens keep laying fewer and fewer eggs as autumn deepens, so for a while I will be less generous and stockpile many for some to use this winter for quiches and omelets. How? Just crack them into your blender, and when it is nearly full of raw eggs add a level teaspoon of seasalt, blend, let sit a minute to be sure the salt has dissolved, then blend again. Pour the mixture into recycled yogurt and cottage cheese tubs, label, then freeze. Today I will also add some Muscovy duck eggs that were laid randomly vs. in a nest. Last winter on a COLD day I used a BIG tub of frozen eggs, three cheeses on sale, onions, and whole wheat flour to make a HUGE quiche in my biggest Pyrex baking dish. When it cooled I cut it into squares and wrapped and froze each individually. It was a joy to get hungry and take one out of the freezer, thaw and zap!   John

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Sounds Yummy!

I'll  buy me some plantains at the neighborhood market. Plus this reminds me that I want a plantain plant! 

Serves 4

Inspired by the dish Red-Red from Ghana, this simple stew of tomatoes and black-eyed peas is traditionally served with fried plantains. Saute├ęd bananas are a great substitute and the flavor combination, while unusual, is tasty and balanced. This recipe was inspired by Whole Planet Foundation microcredit clients.


1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon butter

2 firm bananas, halved lengthwise and cut into chunks


Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 10 minutes or until golden and tender, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and peas and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until peas are tender and flavors blended. Stir in salt.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a separate skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add bananas and cook about 5 minutes or until browned on both sides, gently flipping halfway through cooking. Serve alongside black-eyed peas in a shallow bowl.

No Rain!

When I left Tampa to see Dad in Okeechobee a few days ago, the forecasts here said 90-100% rain chance, with 4-5 inches.....while that happened in Okeechobee, Tampa ended up with a near-meaningless sprinkle. Bummer as I envisioned returning to a nicely saturated yard as I accelerate various planting and clean up projects. But at least the pleasant cool down to the 50s took place. Cracker LOVES chilly weather!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Occupy Your Mind

Free Duck and Chicken Food

I enjoyed QUITE the haul today from a local restaurant (easily 40 lbs.) I barter with, plus a local pizzaria (easily 25 pounds) !  Woo hoo! Some people ask me if/why I am comfortable feeding commercial restaurant food scraps that surely are loaded with salt, MSG, etc. to chickens and Muscovy ducks whose eggs and meat I eat. I have a few replies:
1. I am cheap and low income
2. Commercial poultry feed is expensive and based on GMO soy and corn that scare me
3. All-organic, non-GMO poultry feed is VERY expensive...and I am not the 1%.
4. Recycling is important to me
5. In the wild, chickens and ducks are ominivores, not vegetarians...they eat insects, lizards, amphibians, fish, shellfish like clams, and arthropods such as crawfish and spiders and sowbugs....animal protein is crucial to them.
6. I am cheap

There is an abundance of free/barterable poultry food if we are open to inquiring about it with our friends and neighbors and co-workers who might work at a grocery store, restaurant, or farmers' market.


Allium fistulosum seedlings galore!

One More Reason To Grow Your Own Food

“Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money."

 Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England (appointed 1928)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Down On The Farm Yesterday......

Lavatera is an edible flower in the same Mallow family as hollyhocks and okra and hibiscus. I learned about it in Denver un the early 90s and have found it will grow here in winter and spring. In Denver it is a summer annual. It is very carefree, and the pink flowers look lovely in salads. Today I applied about two inches of compost to a small bed in my front yard currently home to the wonderfully fragrant Old Rose 'Baronne Prevost' and a hybrid Louisiana iris, both thriving in buried Water Wise Container Gardens made from 5 gallon buckets. I've not decided what to plant in the third buried bucket garden. Atop that compost I sprinkled a few dozen pink Lavatera seeds and gave the bed a deep watering. Tomorrow I will sprinkle first, some 'Carpet of Snow' white sweet alyssum seeds, then about half an inch more compost then water again. By Thanksgiving that bed should be lovely. Nice to see and smell 'Baronne' in bloom today!

I discovered today that my Muscovy ducks will READILY eat the protein-rich "SCOBIES" from my kombucha tea! At last a real use for them and a fine one.

One of the layered vines of my Mystery Grape "Gray Street Grape" has rooted nicely in its 1 gallon pot....time to call Robert to let him know his grape is ready. Tampa Rare Fruit Council member Paul Zamoda is also passionate about grapes for Florida, and after I took him a bouquet of cuttings to a recent meeting, he feels it is NOT my best guess of 'Conquistador' and agrees with Allen Boatman's and my original  hunch of Vitis aestivalis. I told Paul that the very nice size and flavor of the fruit have long made me wonder if it might be the VERY heirloom form of V. aestivalis called 'Norton'.

Almost ready for my first ever Muscovy duck kill....I have been very hesitant, a cowardly omnivore. I will likely try the pellet rifle to the skull first but have on hand the machete in case that is not fatal. But I may also try the advice of my Denver friend Michael and my cousin Mike and use a scavenged aluminum baseball bat for a sudden blow to the skull. Talk about meeting your meat!

Today will be my 4th  participation in Occupy Tampa where hopefully there will be a VERY large turnout after Tampa's Finest (?) police officers dispersed the occupiers Friday, banning tents and even personal belongings. Dang that pesky old First Amendment! One more reason to grown and know your own food, especially with economic implosion seeming more and more likely as karma catches up to the U.S. Karma's a bitch only if you are.

'Artifacts' is a nice restaurant in south Tampa on MacDill Avenue, and I love taking them eggs and bouquets and herbs  from my gardens daily as they save me their kitchen scraps that I feed to my chickens and ducks. Friday I planted in their urns by MacDill that are cuurently planted with variegated arbicola a seedling each of Cassia alata to male the entrance far more colorful and inviting as it is a VERY rapidly growing tropical flower that is also the source of the laxative 'SennaCot'. I really like the folks at 'Artifacts' and want to pitch in where I can to help them succeed.

I am enjoying excellent germination from both my own Allium fistulosum seeds I harvested this spring, and the Chinese Celery ( a very thirsty plant!) seeds that Pat gave me. I plan on planting a very large number of the alliums in the 6 foot diameter kiddy pool that Tim gave me as part of my quest to be self sufficient in onions and garlic, neither of which I can cook without.

 Baronne Prevost   1842  Hybrid Perpetual
Allium fistulosum


Thursday, October 13, 2011

'Bonar' Seeds For sale

Bonar is a vigorous Rape/Kale cross I have grown very fond of the previous 2 winters...very mild and tender raw or cooked, super cold hardy member of the Brassica family that makes superb salads. I am selling 1 tsp. of the seeds (approx. 500 seeds) for $2 and a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) sent to: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 Sow from October through February.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cape Gooseberry

For years in both Florida and Colorado I've enjoyed eating wild, low-growing "Ground Cherries" so I am going to order seeds of this tall-growing Physallis species.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Chance Citrus Seedling

Each winter I juice lots of my own citrus fruits plus ones my neighbors give me, and seeing seedlings pop up in beds and compost from discarded peels and pulp is a part of my life each spring.  I generally pull and compost them. But a few years ago (4-5?) one EXCEPTIONALLY vigorous seedling appeared so I potted it, then maybe a year later planted it by my south fence, knowing the extreme unpredictability of citrus from seeds even if you KNOW what fruit bore the seeds. Crushed leaves, sniffed, suggested to me and most folks that it came from one of my Meyer's lemons....a few felt the leaves smelled like orange tree leaves. Last spring it FINALLY bloomed for the first time, lightly, and set just one fruit, which dropped to the ground ripe this week. Definitely a lemon seedling, but the pulp was not very juicy and the skin was very thick and scaly...the tree is not worthy keeping. So I will chop it down and chopped it up to use as mulch around the nearby banana. I have one other vigorous Mystery Citrus seedling in a large pot and so will plant it somewhere, maybe the west bed I keep considering turning into a grass-based pasture for periodic chicken and duck grazing. All in all it was a fun experiment....bummer though the fruits did not turn out to be tasty and useful and numerous!  John

Occupy Your Life and Gardens!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Super Cheap Cilantro Seeds

Cilantro is a short-lived cool weather is a total ripoff to buy a plant due to the short life span and sensitivity to bolting in a heat wave. But packets of cilantro seeds can be over $2 for a very paltry number of seeds. So go to an Asian market where for less than $1 you can get a cellophane bag of Coriander seeds (the seeds of the cilantro plant!) that has a few THOUSAND seeds in it. I've done this for years, both in Denver and now in Tampa.....germination rate is usually excellent. Cheap is good!  John

My first batch of home made liquid laundry and dish soap

Initially, I dropped a bar of Kirk's Castile into a black plastic whey protein jug with a gallon of rainwater, and put it in the solar dish I heat my daily 1 gallon of shower water with in hopes it'd dissolve so I could skip grating the bar. Despite the black jug getting a hole melted in the side (!) the bar did dissolve in a couple of days. I poured it, two more gallons of rain water, plus 1 cup each of laundry soda and borax into a scavenged plastic water bottle and set in the solar dish vs. simmering it on my stove. I believe today is day 6 and the ingredients have almost completely dissolved after 2 days of the jug just sitting on a glass table facing south. Next I add the last 2 gallons of rainwater, then store the liquid soap in Arizona Green Tea jugs rescued from recycle bins. Cheap is fun!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Tampa

Occupy Tampa was well-attended and brimming with good positive energy. The police were friendly and many of us smiled, shook their hands or hugged or thanked them. Great care was taken to not block traffic and MANY MANY motorists honked and waved in approval. A most impressive event that deeply moved me often, such as when my friend Pat and I came upon a spontaneously self generating food tent, with folks leaving many foods and bottled water freely for me it seemed that donations quite exceeded withdrawals. I plan on attending again this Sunday after my classes. This is the most hopeful I've felt in years! I shot some videos, and will soon share a few.  John

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Solar Blaster

Today I began my first batch of that low cost laundry detergent using the solar dish I heat my daily gallon of shower water both dissolved the bar of Kirk's Castile AND melted a hole in the side of the black jug! Next in goes another gallon of rainwater and 1 cup each of laundry soda and borax, all then poured intoa 5 gallon water jug set into the solar dish to heat up for a couple of days. My goal is to make the 5 gallon batch without using my electric stove. John


Like Wasabi?

Grow 'Green Wave' mustard...raw, it will blow out your sinuses as well as wasabi then "shuts off" just as quickly. I've loved it since the 1980s as it thrived in Denver as a summer crop and Tampa as a winter crop.


Yet One More Reason To Create And Sustain A Humble Urban Farm

"As nightfall does not come all at once," he wrote, "neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Lovely Autumn Breakfast

I woke up to 56 degrees, and with an appetite after over a week of a bad-then-lingering cold. So I whipped up a lovely omelet of three FRESH eggs, a small fistful of katuk leaves (they taste like raw peanuts!), chopped Chinese chives, a chopped yellow onion (from the store), a sprinkle of turmeric and Morton's Light Salt, and cooked it, covered, over medium heat in a thin film of coconut oil. There is nothing like a meal made from the bounty of one's own urban farm, both in taste and healthy qualities. Now off to tackle many tasks for a productive, cool, low-humidity day. John

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Universe Wish List

I'd like to swap seeds or plants for the following items you might no longer want:

1. Four 6 foot steel fence posts, the green metal kind you pound into the ground, to make a rain shield
    for my newy constructed rocket stove by supporting a round thick glass table top I scavenged.

2. Stainless steel cooking pots/wok

3. Cast iron skillet or Dutch Oven

4. Above ground swimming pool kit

5. Bee hive stocked with Italian Domestic bees.

6. Rhode Island red chicks

7. Raw milk

8. 10 big  concrete pavers to give to a friend for her new garden project

9. Cannabis buds

Thanks in advance!   John