This is crazy, how come I have never seen this site/video before. The WindowFarms project is a non-profit organization out of NYC, collaborating and designing gardens you hang in your window. They have over 13,000 members all working together to create new improved systems. This is so awesome, I am thinking even a plant killing dark monkie like me could get this right. Look how cute the founder is too. Right?
The windowfarms project approaches environmental innovation through web 2.0 crowdsourcing and a method called R&D-I-Y (research and develop it yourself). Big Science’s R&D industry is not always free to take the most expedient environmental approach. It must assume that consumers will not make big changes. Its organizational structure tends toward infrastructure-heavy mass solutions. A distributed network of individuals sharing information can implement a wide variety of designs that accommodate specific local needs and implement them locally. Ordinary people can bring about innovative green ideas and popularize them quickly. Web theorists like Clay Shirky claim that this capacity to “organize without hierarchical organization” will be a fundamental shift in our society brought about by the web over the coming decades.
(More videos after the jump)
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The early stages of making your garden involves some disturbance of your landscaping. What may be working may not be as abundant as it could be. Or as it will be. Gardening is an art, but soil prep a science. And as much as I would like it to be, it’s not always sexy. You have to be ready to get out there, get your hands dirty and sweat a little. After all, it’s the end result we’re going for here. And like the rest of life, the key is to relax and enjoy the process — the creative aspect of design and layout, the dirt under your fingernails, and finally reaping the rewards of your labors.
Fortunately, the first part is easy. Whether or not you enjoy it is up to you.
The first step is picking your plot.
Next opportunity you have to spend the day at home, settle in and take some time to observe your yard. Bring with you a good book and cup of coffee or tea and settle in. Relax, watch the weather. Maybe take out a pen and paper and jot down the time the sun reaches and later departs the site you have in mind.
Sunlight is crucial for optimum plant growth. Wind and rain patterns are also a strong influence. Find a sunny spot, avoid places that tend to channel strong wind. Six or more hours of direct sunlight is best. Vegetables especially require direct sun, but can handle some afternoon shade. Fruit trees are more forgiving, but you will find your fruit is sweeter if you choose a spot with afternoon sun. Your smaller fruits such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, and corn will appreciate the late day heat as well.
The Must Have Gardening Book For Monkies Like Me! American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques
Photographer: V Blak (CC)
Here at G Living we get books and other stuff sent to us all the time, which is great, but most of it isn’t worth posting about. It’s either dull stuff or just isn’t that “G”. And if it’s not “G” or just plain dull, we either don’t post about it at all or if we do, it’s not always pretty because we tell it as we see it. But with that said, out of the last 40 books or so that have come our way in the past year, this one is definitely a stand out. It’s called American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques. Yeah I know, could they make the title any longer? Anyways, it’s amazing and I am addicted to carrying this 4 pound thing around with me right now. Well, maybe it’s not 4 pounds, but it is pretty hefty, in a good way if you know what I mean.
I’ll admit, am completely new to gardening at the ripe old age of 42. Yes, I have waited 42 years to start figuring out just how plants grow and what the heck they actually need to stay alive. I have killed many many plants in my time I am or was completely clueless how to even start a garden. I didn’t really even know how to plant seeds. Do I put them in those little green house starter trays? Can I just drop them in the ground? How do I plant trees, what plants grow where, how much water do they need, why didn’t my seed germinate and so on. Like any newbie I have a million questions and that is exactly what this book is all about. It’s like the google of gardening but in a book form with detailed illustrations. I love it.
I can see my grandparents shaking their heads at me right now, saying something like duh…. its an encyclopedia, you daft Monkie!
This is not one of those re-hashed gardening books filled with old photos ripped out of gardening magazines from the 80’s or worse the 70’s.
You can’t go wrong with this book. This is an up to date modern book with a fresh feel to it. This is not one of those re-hashed gardening books filled with old photos ripped out of gardening magazines from the 80’s or worse the 70’s. You know the books I am talking about. They are billed high in the discount section of Barns and Nobles. Those books are a desperate attempt to re-use old stuff and passing it off as new. Those books bore me. This is one feels like it was create especially for the modern urban gardener, which I am guessing is probably someone like you and it’s definitely me.
I took some photos of the books layout for everyone. You can see them after the jump.
Here’s a handy project to keep you busy during the cold months. I first read about ollas (pronounced oh-yah) over at Little Homestead in the City. Basically it’s an ancient irrigation method that uses unglazed, porous clay pots buried within the root zones of plants. Water poured into the exposed necks of the pots (or pitchers) naturally seeps into the soil, providing a continuous supply of water to the plants.
I’m intrigued by any method of watering that reduces consumption and is more natural. Ollas seem like the perfect answer, but premade ones can be expensive if you’re using them to irrigate everything. Then I found a gardener named Matt who posted an excellent how-to for making your own ollas using nothing more than inexpensive terra cotta pots. Matt’s site is closertothedirt.com. I followed Matt’s tutorial, and here’s how it went:
Photographer V Blak
Gardeners, farmers, green thumb people, who can’t kill a plant if they tried, and those composting know it alls. You know the type. Always smiling as they guide you through their indoor forest of house plants. Yeah, those people. I think they are all part of some secret club, maybe even an underground cult. It’s just too suspicious… how do they know how to keep plants alive? How do they get seeds to sprout? How come they never have brown crusty leaves covering their house plants? Come on, really, their orchids don’t turn belly up and die a week after they buy them?
I will admit it, this Evil Dark Flesh Monkie is definitely not a green thumb cult member. To prove it, I kill plants on a regular basis. I burn them alive, I kill them through dehydration and my favorite method is over watering. Drown them in their own pots. Yeah, I kill plants. I have the boy scout patch and eerily empty pots to prove it.
I don’t want to be a killer. I was just sadly born this way, you know like Dexter. Of course I have my fairytale dreams of joining the cult, learning the secret hand shakes and eating lunches with dirt under my nails. Hell, I fantasies of indoor house plant forest, acres of gardens, a home surrounded by edible plants consisting of everything an Evil Vegan could ever want to digest. I am drooling even as I write this. Yeah I have dream!
I also have an addiction. I’ll admit it. An addiction to that dark rich smooth warm drink called espresso. Better know as heaven in a cup. I am having one now. My girlfriend even turns on the machine first thing in the morning and places a fresh mug in the receiving position, so I only have to walk up and push the two shot please button to get the ball rolling. Lucky for me, I have one of those magic machines which grinds the espresso beans, filters the water, tamps the grounds and makes a perfect cup of espresso all with just a touch of a single button. You have seen him ( the machine) on some of the shows. Everyone calls him Joe. He is my best friend… He has also become my ticket into the that green thumb cult. Yeah, I am sneaking in with a dark brown thumb. Well that is my plan and so far…. Master Joe is proving to be a very wise indeed.
Okay I know, V what the hell are you rattling on about? We are going to stop reading this thing if you don’t get to a point. Okay I am getting there. Everyone who follows my post religiously knows I attempted to start a garden back in June. I was all ADD kid excited. I found myself at the local gardening center buying hundreds of dollars of seeds, hoses, seed starting soil and those plastic sprouting trays. Fast forward a month and guess what… no sprouting little plants in the clear plastic dome sprouting trays, no lush rows of plants and no sign of any cult membership forms in the mail. No, the perfect little seed starting soil I bought for $15 each didn’t work. The seeds seem to look at me as if I was holding them hostage. They even had the nerve to scream as I kindly put them out in the direct desert sun in the middle of July. How was I to know it was going to get 150 degrees under that plastic dome?
Photographer: Tim Sackton
Okay I hope I am not going to bore you with this post. This one is for all the monkies out there who have already drank the “G” kool-aid and are getting deeper into the lifestyle, like me. I know, a post about shopping for food might not be exciting, edgy or include any celeb gossip, but it’s something all of us fleshy’s have to do. Personally, I love Food Shopping Day: I have full on dreams about a lush full fridge, oozing with fresh veggies. So please, your going to have to bear with me as I explore the idea of joining a CSA.
The question in the title is a real one for me. Where is the best place to buy your veggies? I know some of you out there are shaking your heads at me. I guess if your blood runs green, you start by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and then go on down the line, farmers market, maybe a organic local grocery store and last resort the old big box grocery store. But not everyone is born with green blood pumping through their veins, believe me. Most of us grew up thinking Kraft was a food company? My own childhood was filled with things like Coke and Kraft deluxe mac n’ cheese. I remember our high end dinner option was the deluxe Kraft mac n’ cheese vs the powder mac and cheese. Hmmm… what to choose?
Maybe I don’t want onions, cabbage and so on, or maybe I do want things not in the box. Will I end up just composting it?
But now as an adult with all the buying options completely open to me, which option is best? Or maybe the real question is what mix of options is best. I understand the concept of the CSA and love it. For those of you out there who don’t know what a CSA is, here is the quick answer. A CSA is a members club basically and you pay a lump sum in advance to a farmer or a group of farms and in return, they deliver a box of veggies every week to your home or a pick up location for a certain number of weeks. The cost runs about $30 a week and you pay in advance for a certain number of weeks, 4, 8, 12 or even up to 52 weeks. All the boxes are the same. You don’t get to choose what is in the box, since the farmer can only give you what they are growing and what happens to be ripe that week.
Photographer: Sayward Rebhal
Oh, deary me. Goodness goodness goodness. With a late spring, a miniature monster to care for fulltime, a foggy summer punctuated by unexpected heat waves, and most recently, two consecutive weekends away . . . it feels as though the world is conspiring against my garden. Ha! It’s just a hot mess up in there these days.
Oh well, I can’t complain! In this odd year of mostly hands-off-farming, I’ve actually learned a whole lot. And I’m so excited for next year! I can’t wait to implement all my new insights, and I just can’t wait to see this baby beast all covered in dirt and sprinkling seeds as he toddles along. We’re gonna have so much fun!
So speaking of seeds, I sort of have this grand idea. I want to organize an international seed exchange for Bonzai / G Living readers! I’ve always been enamored with the idea of saving seed – there’s something so inherently whimsical about this incredibly practical act. There are tons of really great reasons to do it, not to mention the fact that it’s just plain fun. I mean, talk about recycling!
I’ve written a bit about various seed-saving techniques, but the truth is, it’s fairly universal no matter the species. First, remove the plant part that holds the seeds. If it’s a pod or a flower, allow it to dry completely and then liberate the seeds. If it’s a fruit like a tomato or gourd, simply excavate the seeds and then allow them to dry out. Either way, collect your fully-dried seeds and label them clearly, storing in an airtight container (old spice jars work great). Easy as pie!
Today is the day. I, V 01 will start my garden. YES WORLD I WANT TO BE A GARDENER. And this time I mean it.
I feel like an addict (addicted to the idea of gardening and not actually gardening). I have been saying I am going to garden, for almost 20 years (pathetic I know). I have had a few false starts, but this is actually the closes I have ever come to actually starting. Of course first and foremost, I had to pick out a visually appealing location. An area of the yard I could gaze at often. I am very visual and half the fun of gardening would be watching the thing become more beautiful with each passing day. Or maybe in my case, watching it wither, dry up and blow away. Oh lets hope not. Come on Green Monkie Juice, its time to pay off. (lots of images after the jump)
When I was in my early twenties, I live in a small village in England called Fairford. Life in the English country side was a magical experience for me. You see, I grew up in the dry boring suburbs of San Antonio Texas. One generic stick box house after the next. My life completely revolving around the maze of hot asphalt roads and shopping malls, which make up the typical American town. England was the ancient place of tiny roads, forest, small village centers and filled with people who actually walked place to place. I think my time in England shaped my love and desire to be a gardener. You see England is a country of gardeners. They have a very strong proud tradition of gardening and nothing screams that more, than the completely amazing Eden Project.
The Eden Project, in Cornwall England, is a celebration of growing things. Here is the official spill: The Eden Project is an unforgettable experience in a breathtaking location; a global garden; a place of beauty and wonder. Our world famous architecture and art draws inspiration from nature, our educational work is about creating a positive future in a world that is going to go through radical change, and we try to ensure everyone who visits Eden leaves knowing something more about their connection to the world. That’s the big stuff…Eden is also about simple pleasures; enjoying tasty food, rediscovering what puts the great into the great outdoors, imaginative play for children, taking time to stop and smell the flowers, having a good time.
Medlock Ames Winery has vin-dicated my Granny’s gardening methods. Her approach was unusual to say the least, and we all thought the lush product of her idiosyncrasy was pure coincidence. Now I’m delighted to discover an up-and-coming family vineyard whose dynamic methodologies have put an ecologically modern-day spin on the age-old wisdom of Granny.
In 1996, two young men formed a partnership to make great wine. At the time, the success of California wines had created a glut of property purchases by owners who razed the land of the natural flora and fauna to put in their steel and grid rows of grapes, greedily using up every bit of space in order to maximize profits. But Christopher Medlock James and Ames Morison had other ideas.
From the onset, the Medlock Ames Winery embraced unusual techniques by utilizing Biodynamics, a radical method in which natural occurring plant and animal interaction replenishes the living soil, creating a vitality that supports and affects the quality and health of the plants that grow in it. Sounds pretty simple, but it isn’t. The exact science has numerous factors to take into consideration and the growers must be grounded in the precise ecological knowledge of nature.
There is just something so therapeutic about working with plants. Beyond conventional therapies (possibly including many meditations) and both chemical AND natural powders and pills – I would love to see people who are sadly suffering from stress and maybe even depression simply include more plants into their lives. Its really something special.
I’m adding more and more edibles to this lovely space in Arizona, and the potential really feels endless. The Desert Space of Love! Little pockets everywhere to put in good soil with a beautiful little plant.
I’m thinking about Desert adaptable plants –
Prickly Pear Cacti
The Wonderful World of Citrus
I’m mulching everything heavily, and giving them lots of attention. They are all doing really well – lots of flowers and new growth.
Plant more edibles. Little pockets EVERYWHERE.