Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bending Metal for a Community Garden Trellis

H2's nephew asked if I'd help build a trellis for their community garden, Roots and Rays, in Pilsen.  They wanted to make it out of metal but had no idea how to do so. It will serve as an entrance to the garden as well as a support for hops, which they plan on using to make beer.

(Double click on any image to make it larger.)

A rough sketch. We've modified the design to include more cross pieces to stabilize the paired hoops.

I'm bending a piece around a jig to get the desired finished radius of 5 feet. I made and tested several sized jigs before finding the right one. The metal tubing is 1"x1" square and the walls are 1/8" thick.

Leaning up against my house, we'll weld more curved tubing on the bottom of each end to get the desired shape.

There are a group of gardeners who want to learn some fabrication skills and will be helping me put it together. We'll weld the pairs of hoops together, strap them on the side of my work van and drive down Ashland Ave to the garden. It should all happen in the next couple months.

For a good tutorial on how to bend metal tubing by hand, check out this post.

A short helpful video is here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela – Prisoner, Rooftop Food Gardener

“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom..."

Via City Farmer.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Raise Chickens Without Buying Grain

I've had chickens for 3 years and have always fed them "chicken" feed, which isn't all that cheap, or practical.

I like the solution in the video but wonder how I could adapt it to my urban setting.

Friday, November 29, 2013


I saw this post on Hoshigaki by our friends at Root Simple and knew what I wanted to do when I found persimmons at our local veg market -- I bought 6 and started making it (them?).

The left and right ones in the top row are a little mushy. Not sure if they're going to dry properly.

This Instructable has even more detailed, well, instructions.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Making End of Season Fermented Vegetables

Using basil and tiny eggplants from my rooftop, along with green plum tomatoes and grape leaves from the community garden, I'm trying Sandy Katz's recipe from his book "Wild Fermentation".

Clockwise, starting from the upper left corner: Dill seeds and black pepper, green plum tomatoes and baby Green Thai and Little Fingers eggplant. Garlic, grape leaves, basil and one little hot pepper.

All packed in a plastic container. Not having a glass, or ceramic, crock, Katz's advice was to use a "food grade" plastic container.

The brine poured in and the veggies held under with a plate. I'll check for mold, skimming it off the surface if present, and wait 1-4 weeks for them to cure at room temperature.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Symphony of the Soil"

Although I have seen a number of very good documentaries on organic farming, “Symphony of the Soil” is the first to ground them (excuse me for the bad pun) in soil chemistry. The first half of the film is a guided tour of various locales by some of the world’s leading soil chemists, ranging from fjords to rain forests, with an emphasis on how soil becomes fertile. Like most people, I suppose, the idea of listening to a scientist explain the differences between different kinds of soil might seem dry as dust (excuse me for another bad pun) but it is almost impossible not to be swept along by their passion. In some ways the film is a throwback to the classic Disney nature films of the 1950s like “The Living Desert”. If you loved those films as a kid, you will find “Symphony of the Soil” impossible to resist. If you have kids, this is the quintessential family film.