Indoor farming gives former New Jersey arena new lease on life
I prefer to grow food in the dirt without using pesticides, chemicals fungicides and tricks to make a vegetable grow bigger or faster. I still remember what a chicken used to taste like when it took thirteen to sixteen weeks to grow them for consumption, not the six to eight weeks it takes now.
Although the dirt is my preference I am still interested in all ways of producing a harvest. I have learnt quite a bit about aquaponics, hydroponics, aeroponics, bio-dynamics, permaculture, hugulculture and many other systems including vertical farming.
All of them look at different ways to improve the production of food. I must admit that I get a little envious when I see hydroponic vegetables in the supermarket and know that growing hydroponically in a controlled environment makes it much easier to look after your plants and also keep the produce clean. Now days, presentation of your produce as perfect and blemish free is a big drawcard for consumers.
I get The Hustle, a curated daily news email that concentrates on snippets of information for all things business and techy. It’s short, in a quirky style and always has something worth reading. Indoor vertical farming caught my eye and once I read it and watched the video, I thought it may be of interest to readers.
It is a summary of an article from Reuters about Aero Farms and how they are growing food in warehouses. It is hydroponic style with artificial light tuned to the best wavelength for optimum plant growth. The improvement in LED lighting and low operating costs has made it viable economically. Plus they can halve the growing time.
Here’s the catch with indoor farming.
As stated, I prefer growing in the dirt. Although more difficult, I believe that the biological processes involved with growing plants in the dirt and exposed to the rhythms and cycles of sun up, sun down, seasons, daylight and rain imparts a quality and vitality to plants that so far hasn’t been equaled. The plant consumer benefits from the vitality they receive as a gift from the plant.
But there are also benefits from all the research on different methods of cultivation. Primarily it is entrepreneurs trying to gain an edge that will set them apart from the competition giving them a selling advantage. Ultimately though, it will allow us to travel beyond the boundaries of earth.
I have just finished reading Inferno by Dan Brown. For those who don’t know, the author uses Dante’s Divine Comedy as a backdrop for a really good read. It took me a while to pick this one up (it was released in 2013) as I wasn’t too fussed about reading another of Dan Brown’s after reading his others and thought it would be similar. I was engrossed.
Perhaps you are thinking, WTH! has Dante and gardening got to do with it? I changed the F to H for Hell. Appropriate, don’t you think?
In my experience gardening is a great pastime for thinking. Things swirl around in your brain and connections are made that wouldn’t have been made if you didn’t do something that was totally unrelated to what you are thinking about. When I am reading a good book, I am totally there. I am in the book and watching what is going on. My mind conjures up images and scenes and also makes some pretty wild connections.
In one scene, the lead character, Robert Langdon is describing Dante Alighieri and into my mind pops an image of Griffin from MIBII (Men In Black 2) I hate it when people use acronyms and don’t give you the meaning the first time they use it, apologies for WTF above; thought you’d know that one.
Now I’ve had to search the book to find the description so you could make a judgement. It’s on page 82 of the book. I opened the book at P85 and for some reason worked backwards. (a story for another day)
“Dante Alighieri,” Langdon began. “This Florentine writer and philosopher lived from 1265 to 1321. In this portrait, as in nearly all depictions, he wears on his head a red cappuccio – a tight fitting, plaited hood with earflaps – which, along with his crimson Lucca robe, has become the most widely reproduced image of Dante.”
The above is a depiction of the painting of Dante by Botticelli. What sprang into my mind was a picture of Griffin and this was before I had seen a picture of Dante.
Dante and gardening
So what has Dante got to do with gardening? I was weeding. Contrary to most people I enjoy weeding and was musing away merrily weeding and thinking about Inferno when it struck me that I should look up Dante on the net and get some images and see if there was any resemblance to Griffin. Other thoughts had also been running through my head about doomsday scenarios in MIB2, Divine Comedy and Inferno. Did the writers intentionally dress Griffin in this way? Is there more to MIB2 than what is on the surface? All good fun to think about.
And to top it all off, my knowledge of Dante was/is abysmal. Until I read Inferno, I thought Dante was his surname and he lived in the sixteen hundreds. So looking it up a bit on the net would be a bit of fun and enlightening. And lets face it, we all need a bit of enlightenment.
While I’ve been writing this, I have also been doing a bit of digging on the net and came up with this site http://www.insideinferno.com/en/ that offers a tour of Florence based on the book Inferno.
If you loved, as we did, Langdon’s adventures through the tiny streets of Florence, you can’t miss our tour of the city.
The tour starts at 9.15 from Boboli then, after crossing Ponte Vecchio, offers an accurate visit of Palazzo Vecchio. It continues to the Badia Fiorentina, where the book starts and then stops at the Church of Dante where you can learn more about the Divine Comedy.
Immerse yourself in this unusal tour on the trail of Bob Langdon and pick the chance to view Florence from a different perspective, all you have to do is book the tour.
I have never read James Joyce’s Ulysses, but I figured if I ever get to Dublin, I would do a tour of the places he described in the book. So often you go overseas and forget the places you visited. To do it based on a book would keep it in the memory forever and in a place that you would easily remember where your memories were filed.
Inferno is not just an old masters mystery. It is also a science fiction adventure thriller with post humanists, challenges to religions and the best part is all the story is based on fact. There is also a dilemma that the human race hasn’t faced yet. It’s got it all.
It won’t be long and we won’t have to look up things on the internet, we will be connected and able to reference them by a nod or a wink or a bight of the teeth.
Thanks for reading – enjoy your weeding.
Castoffs Make an Instant Trellis
I have been thinking about how to build a trellis for the climbing plants I want to grow. Plants like cucumber, climbing beans, some Asian climbing plants and maybe some gourds.
I needed a fairly strong trellis and was thinking that a sheet of concrete reinforcing wire might just do the trick. They are about 6 x 3 metres with 20 x 20 cm squares.
Well, low and behold the concretors doing the driveway on the new house two doors up left some reo and steel in the block next door that is for sale. They didn’t return to get it and the owner had to organise its removal. So I grabbed a sheet before the steel merchant took it.
All the original blocks around me are the quintessential Australian quarter acre blocks or just over 1000 sqm. As they get subdivided and new houses built, the new owners usually put in a new fence. The old fences
have water pipe as their top rail and I have managed to collect a few lengths.The next task was to use the water pipe as uprights. I purchased a star picket driver from The Shade Centre for around $40 and using a step ladder was able to get high enough to drive the three lengths of water pipe around 1.5 mtrs into the ground.
Using gal tie wire I wired the reo to the water pipe uprights and voila, instant trellis. I know the reo will get quite rusty over time, but it will last a few years, and in that time I will figure out the best location for the future trellis.
I have been collecting cardboard for quite a while and used it to cover all the grass below the trellis and covered the cardboard with about 30cm of compost.
The final touch was installing the dripper line. Now all I need to do is plant.
Does the price of clothes washing detergent give you the “tom tits”? Do you get annoyed when it is time to buy more laundry detergent and you don’t get any change from $20 for a 4 litre liquid detergent? I do and I get sick of the bs advertising where they give the detergent an earth friendly name to fool the consumer that the manufacturer is environmentally sensitive.
I’m going to make my own home made laundry detergent.
Receipt for 3 of the 4 items
- Find a recipe for laundry detergent
- Buy the ingredients
- Make the detergent
- Use it
- Write a blog post about it
The fourth item is Borax which costs about $4 from Coles. My total expenditure is $12.29
Recipe for home made laundry detergent
Ingredients: 1 bar of soap, grated; 1 cup Lectric washing soda; 1/2 cup borax; some Bi-carb soda
Grate the soap. I used the fine tooth on the grater and the soap ended up looking like Parmesan cheese. It surprised me as it had quite a pleasant fragrance.
Add the cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax
If you want to make the mix stronger, add a small box of bicarb-soda to the mix. I wasn’t sure what a small box measured so added about 1/2 a cup.
Mix together and store in a sealed container. I used the trusty old 2 litre ice cream container. I’m running out of them so will have to hook in to some more ice cream.
The finished product
There is about a kilo of finished product in the container.
Amount to use
3 small teaspoons per wash
The recipe for this home made laundry detergent came from Warm Earth magazine. The writer said it was a tried and tested recipe from their place.
We used the recipe as soon as it was made. I thought it was great in the washing. Now ladies, just don’t think this is some dopey old bloke’s opinion. My lady friend was kind enough to do the washing and her opinion was she couldn’t tell the difference from the previous load using a commercial washing liquid. Rest my case.
I hope you have a go at making this laundry detergent. I have enough ingredients left over to make another 3 batches.
If enough people start looking for alternatives to commercial products, then maybe manufacturer’s will wake up and realize that they have to provide value for money and stop looking for ways to provide the cheapest cost item for the greatest price backed by marketing and advertising to brainwash the consumer.
Do you find that when you plant your vegetables from seed directly into the garden, you get too many plants come up and you have to cull them? Isn’t it difficult to throw those young seedlings away? I find that I am always looking for a spot to transplant them to.
Those little seedlings are just getting started when you are supposed to euthenise them. What started as a small job ends up taking a couple of hours.
The solution to the problem.
The Permaculture Home Garden Book by Linda Woodrow
The solution comes from a book titled “The Permaculture Home Garden”. Ordinarily I don’t read books about Permaculture because the ones I have looked at are mostly about design. I am more interested in what to do. I know design is important, but I just want to grow stuff.
Well this book is brilliant and what’s more it is written by a woman. Now don’t take that sentence the wrong way. I have tried reading numerous books by female authors and for the life of me I usually can’t get interested in them. There have been a few exceptions and this is one of them. It is full of down to earth information from building chook domes to making a seed raising mix.
Seed raising mix recipe
Materials for the seed raising mix
The simple recipe is a 50/50 mix of compost and coarse river sand. If you have read my posts on Calcium, you will know that I am a big fan of getting calcium into the soil. I also like to put it into my seed raising mix.
My formula is 3 cups of sieved compost, 3 cups of coarse river sand and 1 cup of lime. The seeds sprout a treat in this mix.
Part 2 of the equation
The second trick is to grow your seedlings in a bottomless container so that you can direct plant the advanced seedlings and pull the container up for protection for the seedling as it settles in.
Pots to raise advanced seedlings in.
It settles in much quicker than if you grow a seedling in a punnet and have to remove it to transplant. The seedling suffers from transplant shock and takes a minimum of two to four weeks to recover.
The cheapest and easiest way to create bottomless containers is to cut the tops and bottoms off two litre milk containers.
By raising your seedlings this way, you don’t grow too many and you have an inexpensive supply of pots so you can be raising your advanced seedlings when your existing crop is half finished.
It also solves the other problem of having too much of the same vegetable at once and then not having any. Your planning is much easier