Urban Gardening / The Window Farm

0 Urban Gardening / The Window Farm

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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Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

garden soil 01 Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

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.

garden soil 04 Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

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The Must Have Gardening Book For Monkies Like Me! American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques

gardening encyclopedia techniques 01 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.

gardening encyclopedia techniques 02 The Must Have Gardening Book For Monkies Like Me! American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques
gardening encyclopedia techniques 03 The Must Have Gardening Book For Monkies Like Me! American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques Continue Reading / See Additional Photos

Espresso, My Ticket Into The Green Thumb Cult Club

espresso that garden 012 Espresso, My Ticket Into The Green Thumb Cult ClubPhotographer 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? 

espresso that garden 11 Espresso, My Ticket Into The Green Thumb Cult Club Continue Reading / See Additional Photos

Blackhearted Monkie Attempts To Start A Garden, Again!

v 01 organic gardening 01 Blackhearted Monkie Attempts To Start A Garden, Again!Photographer: V 01 (cc)

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)

v 01 organic gardening 02 Blackhearted Monkie Attempts To Start A Garden, Again!
v 01 organic gardening 03 Blackhearted Monkie Attempts To Start A Garden, Again! Continue Reading / See Additional Photos

Natural Farming | How Green Makes Great Red and White

medlock1 gliving Natural Farming | How Green Makes Great Red and White

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.

medlock2 gliving Natural Farming | How Green Makes Great Red and White

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The Enviromentals (Episode 1) How to Make a Worm Composting Bin

Monkies love composting! Really, since we are guzzling green juice all day long, we end up with a ton of semi dry veggie fiber. Each day we have over 4 pounds of waste from our Carrots, Celery, Cucumbers, Apples and Beets. So, we could trash it all and let it trap gas in a land fill, or we could give it to the worms and turn it into super compost. We decided to get some worms. We will make a video about that soon. But until we do, here is a very funny video by the Enviromentals (Hal Brindley and Leigh Ramsdell) show you how they built their worm bin. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos

Organic Gardening | Intro To Fertilizing and Mulching

gardengirl 01 Organic Gardening | Intro To Fertilizing and Mulching

You’ve selected your site and prepped your soil. A bag of all purpose organic vegetable fertilizer sits quietly in your garage. Don’t worry about the soil stains on those designer jeans you thought would make forking more fun — it’s nothing a little soap won’t take care of. Dirt under the fingernails? A quick manicure will fix that. (And if you haven’t checked out how stylish garden gloves have become recently, you should. Mine are hot pink and make me look like a race car driver.)

Revved up and raring to go?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to apply soil amendments, I want to take a moment to reflect on why it’s important to grow organically. Let’s move past the obvious and overstated issues of health, clean water, lowering fossil fuel dependency and cutting the pharmaceutical companies out of our food. I’d like to explore the more subtle, underlying aspects of this important consumer choice.

I got into organic farming and gardening to make a difference, knowing how miniscule and relatively insignificant my contributions were likely to be. While I may not be able to move the mountains I want to — not by myself, anyway — at the end of the day… of the decade… of my life, I want to know that I did my part to make this place more beautiful than it was. That I spread the spark of imagination and demonstrated the possibilities of how beautiful and abundantly we can live.

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Solar Automower Cuts the Grass While You Watch! (Or Not)

solar automower lawn mower cuts grass 02 Solar Automower Cuts the Grass While You Watch!  (Or Not)

What’s that black thing crawling along your neighbor’s lawn? It looks like an enormous bug or Darth Vader after an unfortunate encounter in the trash compactor. But it’s not. It’s the Automower Solar Hybrid.

Yes, the lawnmower has gone the way of the Prius. Sort of. A Prius with a brain and an agenda.

Believe it or not, this is the world’s first ever automatic lawn mower. Not only does it cut your lawn while you’re at the office or inside helping the kids with their math homework, it has a solar panel that at least partly powers it. (For extended or night mows, you’ll need to have charged it with some AC.)

Solar power. That’s great. But are they kidding about it cutting the lawn by itself?!?

solar automower lawn mower cuts grass 03 Solar Automower Cuts the Grass While You Watch!  (Or Not)

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Urban Farmers Are Cooler Than Actual Farmers

city farmer Urban Farmers Are Cooler Than Actual Farmers

Urban farmers isn’t the name of a hot new musical act (though it should be), or a euphemism for teenagers handy with da hydroponics — it’s a real and revolutionary movement that’s taking place all over America. Forget cold comfort farm, city dwellers can now enjoy this agrarian pastime from the comfort of their own apartments.

Just ask Denniston and Marlene Wilks, who grow scallions and bitter watermelons “in the shadows of the elevated tracks toward the end of the No. 3 line in East New York, Brooklyn.” (via the New York Times) They set up their urban farm with the help of the Parks Department gardening program, GreenThumb, who assisted them in building raised beds of compost as “heavy metals are common contaminants in city soil because of vehicle exhaust and remnants of old construction”.

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