Saturday, March 14, 2009
Will work for food
We're gaining more sunlight everyday and with each new sunny moment we're seeing great changes in our backyard farms. These changes mean more work to make sure we can pull off great harvests for The Corner and Weird Fish, the restaurants we grow for. More work means that we are in ever greater need for more hands. Our volunteers have responded to those needs in numbers.
This week Joel, Sierra, Tina, and Adrienne showed their lust for learning about food by getting dirty. They donated a Friday to getting some plants and seeds in the ground at both of our current garden locations. Blessed by a warm sunny day in the Mission we were able to get some of our seedlings in the ground. Throughout the day we planted head lettuce and scallions that we'd started from seed on our grow table. After that
we got crazy with some direct seeding of arugula, tat-soi, kale, and mizuna. While seeding doesn't take all that long in a small backyard garden I had a great time showing people the ropes. Beyond that, I was really grateful for all the help and good company. Before long I reckon we'll have some real black belt volunteers. Thanks guys.
Can we get a light?
While the sun sticks around a little longer now, we've been having some light issues on our light table in our grow room. Our squash starts just have not seemed happy. When a plant thinks winter is coming (i.e. when light decreases) it reacts by producing as much offspring (veggies in this case) as it can before the light is no longer enough to sustain the plant. In controlled environments, one strictly controls the amount of light a plant receives in order to give the plant time to mature before it decides to produce fruit and ultimately die. By systematically reducing the daily light cycle, we encourage the plant to "flower" and then "fruit".
In our case, our squash was flowering prematurely. Which meant it thought death was immanent. We had set our lights on a 12 hour time cycle to ensure that the plants had ample light to photosynthesize and grow large before we planted them outside. But for some reason it wasn't working. Scratching our heads, we just couldn't make sense of why our squash thought the end was nigh. That is... until now.
I donned a dunce cap the moment I realized, while laying in bed at 3am, that the master switch to the power was being turned off every night at 8:30 by our cleaning service at the restaurant. This master switch includes our timer. So regardless of what our timer decided to do, it was lights out every night at 8:30... no questions. Some days our squash was getting a full day of "sun" and others it was getting maybe only 3-5 hours. Now, with problem solved, we need to seed a new bunch of squash. And now the death-row squash will be granted a pardon and set outside to start hardening off. With any luck they'll brought back to health.
I believe that Homer Simpson said it best when he said "Dooooough"!! He knows as well as I do, its hard to sleep with a dunce cap on.
Link of the week
This week I've decided to try something a bit out of the ordinary for us and suggest a link that is off the beaten path. "Fringe" Author Daniel Pinchbeck (2012: the return of Quetzalcoatl) writes mainly about altered consciousness and the point break of our political, social and environmental culture-wave but has also been known to wax poetic when it comes to sustainability. While I will leave the research on his credentials up to the masses, I will advocate his very interesting blog www.realitysandwich.com. In addition to his provoking ravings and rants about consciousness expansion, he has interesting views about the state of the environment and what we can do about it. While he's no Michael Pollan, his views about personal responsibility and urban farming are worth more than a mention. Explore his blog and decide for yourself.