Planted on April 1, 2010. Photo taken April 22.
At left, collards in 70%coir/30% perlite. On the right, 70%peat/30%perlite.
We're wondering if the coir mixture is wicking at all. After a heavy rain, the coir SIP perked up, but the plants in the peat mixture continue to outpace it.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Planted on April 1, 2010. Photo taken April 22.
Friday, April 23, 2010
This week we welcomed our second colony of bees to the roof with a big Benvenuto!, this tribe being mostly Italian (with a few Carniolans for good measure)...
Apis mellifera ligustica. This is the most popular bee in North American. These, as all of the commercial bees, are gentle and good producers.
I could immediately differentiate them from Hive 1 bees -- the newcomers are bright yellow and a little zinginer.
Or maybe they're just acclimating.
When Noam called to say he was on his way to the O'Hare Airport Oasis (there's an oxymoron) to rendezvous with Simpson's bee delivery and would be back in an hour, I'm struck again by the happy slowness of it all:
A truck from Ohio wends its way through the Midwest, distributing small lunchbox-sized transport containers holding bees and their Queen.
This next shot puts the bee transporter in perspective, as Art and Noam line up Art's cool newly assembled 25-year-old Sears beehive kit, freshly painted and baked in the sun.
Soon it's time for the transfer...
sitting on the hive lid lower left?
Art built a new pier for Hive 2 a bit north of Hive 1.
Bruce and neighbor Karol joined us to welcome the new colony. Note the cool-weather greens, started by Bruce from seed..
We've been cutting salads for a week
(I couldn't wait to start eating these greens)
standing a sane distance away.
Now it's time to check on Hive 1, which has been busy after the long winter.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
While I can appreciate the practical beauty of our SIPs, they are a special kind of ugly when nothing is growing in them. And I'm not thrilled about using plastic, no matter how safe it is.
With that in mind, I made two large SIPs out of rough cedar fencing boards.
My journeyman carpentry skills were put to good use; it wasn't a simple project.
The first step was to mill the boards so the long edges were square. Then I glued, and clamped, them up into large panels using biscuits.
The water reservoir is made by lining the box with 4 mil plastic. The soil screen is boards drilled with 1/4" holes that rest on a wood cleat 3" above the bottom of the reservoir. The wicking chambers are strips of plastic cut from a 5 gallon bucket and then turned into small rings.
Each planter measures 70"x16"x14" and holds 6 cubic feet of growing medium. It took roughly 20 hours and $80 in materials to make and install both of them.
I'm about halfway done with a major project to retrofit my existing 30 Rubbermaid tub SIPs. Instead of the plastic bag cover and angular trellis support, I'm cladding them in panels made from inexpensive brown UV resistant tarps and cedar. In addition to looking better, the new design is much more functional. I'll have more to say about the changes in another post.
[Updated 9.25.10 -- There has a been some cupping of the fence boards because of their high moisture content when I bought them. It's mostly aesthetic, nothing that makes them fall apart. In the future, to avoid this, I'm going to use the more expensive kiln dried cedar.]
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Thought some of our local readers might be interested in this, copied from the Chicago Advocates for Urban Agriculture google group.
Topic: Bee Hive up for adoption
"Julie Samuels" Apr 12 10:56AM
I got a call about a beehive that is looking for a new home. It's a short tower - 2 boxes and it comes complete with "livestock" . Please contact me directly via email and let me know if you are interested and I will forward your information to the owner.
Contact Julie Samuels
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Just 21 days after our test using Big Rubberbands to secure the shower caps on our SIPs, we had a failure.
The rubberband broke yesterday. It feels crumbly to the touch, like a rubberband that's been sitting in a drawer for 10 years. Just three weeks in a little hot sun and some cold weather.
Live and learn. I'll start using garden twine to hold the plastic in place.
Updated 4.18.10 -
We got an email from one of our readers, David.
I use punctured 700c inner tubes for bicycles. First I cut on either side of the stem (air valve) then fold the tire in half and cut it in two. I then use a square knot to fasten the tube around the bucket. Bicycle Shops just throw the inner tubes away so just ask your local shop if they could save you some.Thanks David!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Here's a two-fer:
First, your greens are ready for pick-up at Bruce's. And they are gorgeous (this is H2 testifying it's true.). In Chicago it's perfect weather for these babies to be planted outside. They love a good chill.
I'm just delighted with the Asian greens and other veggies coming up from my Hudson Valley Seed Library seeds. For your $20 membership, you get to choose ten seed packs. And their art packs make exquisite gifts.
I hope you ordered some because they are seriously good.