Beautiful Permaculture Garden at The AREA in Inglewood Calgary

Hey everyone.  I wanted to share a video I posted on YouTube showing a great permaculture urban garden.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

how to control pest insects in your garden using your garden

How frustrating is it when you put so much work and effort into a garden, and then like out of nowhere, your plants are nearly ruined from insects munching on them?  I’m going to explain how you can control the insects that feed on your precious crops.

blossom!

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compost at lightning speed with a bucket worm farm!

Compost at lightning speed with a bucket worm farm!

Using worms to eat your food scraps is a great way to make use of almost all of your food.  Red wigglers seem to work the best since they’re so active.  One pound of worms can eat up to half a pound of food per day!In this instructable I will show you how to create a slick looking worm bin which will fit under your kitchen sink. Continue reading

how to fertilize your soil organically, easily and cheaply!

A while ago, I learned a technique to fertilize a garden or lawn using a method that’s cheap, easy and organic!  I’m so stoked to actually get to try it.

tea for your garden!

Now this method doesn’t actually put biomass down on your garden as fertilizer, instead, it increases the microbial growth in your garden by a million times! (results may very)  Your plants will love this!

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one of the cooler places I’ve been in calgary

I was reading a while ago about people who raise backyard chickens in their cities.  I thought this was such an awesome idea.  It provides eggs, chickens are very quiet when compared to a dog or even a cat in heat (ugh…), they provide nitrogen rich manure which goes great in a compost, the scratch the soil making your grass grow thick if they have enough of it.  I’ve heard of people growing food in their greenhouses in the winter using chickens body heat to heat the greenhouse.  Lots of benefits.

Then I looked for people who raise chickens in Calgary and found out, Calgary has a bylaw making it illegal to raise chickens in the city.  I couldn’t figure out why this was the case.  They’re totally safe, they’re penned in, even if they get loose, who cares?  It’s a chicken.  What’s it going to do?

Here’s a cool site on urban chickens

Anyway, I’ll skip a 10 page rant that I could write about how stupid I think this bylaw is and talk about a super nice dude that’s actually trying to do something about it.

His name is David and he’s the president of “the AREA“.  David is working on a pilot project to raise urban chickens the AREA’s yard so that the city can study and monitor any issues that might arise.  I read about this about a year ago and just last week, I finally stopped in for a visit.

I don’t know why, but I felt embarrased about how much I knew about the place.  After I read about the chicken thing, I also read quite a few more articles about how they put on art shows, concerts, parties, permaculture design courses, etc; so when David showed me around I was reluctant to tell him how much I had read.  Seriously though, I don’t know why.  He’s a super nice dude and would probably just be flattered.

Anyway, I wanted to give the place a shoutout and hope that tons of people will go there and meet David and his peeps and support the place.  Like them on facebook and send them a tweet or an email.  They really seem to have good hearts and from what I’ve seen they give back everything they receive.

Thanks for reading

Caleb

a herb I want to grow lowered my high blood pressure

So last week I went to a clinic and found out that I have high blood pressure.  When they tested it, I was at 146/100.  This wasn’t a one time thing.  I’ve seen before that I had high blood pressure for probably a year and just didn’t deal with it.

The doctor and nurse were saying that I need to change my diet and exercise more and probably go on blood pressure pills very soon.  Two of these things are true, however, I don’t like taking medication if I can take care of myself naturally instead.  I’m not gonna get into why I don’t believe in the pharmaceutical industry or why I don’t trust their products, but I will share what I did to lower my blood pressure to nearly optimal levels in 3 weeks.

what’s recommended

I googled hypertension to find out some natural ways to lower my blood pressure.  Most of them were saying:

  • Exercise more – I will
  • Lose weight – I’m not overweight
  • Quit smoking – I don’t smoke
  • Lower sodium intake – I’ve done more research on this and found that lowering sodium actually doesn’t work very well.  It might lower your blood pressure a couple points, but nothing significant.  Long story short, I haven’t changed anything as far as my diet goes yet.  If you want to know more about the sodium thing, check out this site and video.
  • take vitamin B – I’m taking a B Complex every day now
  • Vitamin C – I take 1000 mg every day
  • Vitamin D – I take 5000 mg every day
  • Vitamin E – I take 1 pill every day, but I’m not sure how much that is
  • Ginkgo – I take this every day
  • Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – I’m not taking it, but I might later.  I’ll see how things go
  • 2 cloves of garlic per day – I love garlic and I have no problem with this, but I’m not currently doing it
  • Hawthorn – I’m not taking or using it
  • Fish oil – I’m not taking it
  • Folic acid – This is possibly in my vitamin B complex pills, but I’m not sure
  • the DASH diet – 7-8 servings of grain per day, 4-5 servings of fruit…this is the stupidest diet I have ever seen!  Read Gary Taubes book called Good Calories, Bad Calories and The Dark Side of Fat Loss.  This diet will make you diabetic and overweight in no time.
  • Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium – I’m taking 2 calcium/magnesium pills every day. I’m not sure how much that is.
  • Mind-Body Interventions – I need to do more of this and I will be also.

Of the things that I tried, I only noticed a 2 point drop in my blood pressure.  I’m not necessarily going to stop taking the vitamins because I do feel good taking them, but I don’t think they’re helping the blood pressure.

what worked

I was out eating at an Asian market and noticed a Chinese herb store.  While I was eating I googled Chinese herbs and noticed that ginseng can have an effect on your blood pressure.  Taking 3-5 mg can lower your blood pressure, however taking 30 mg or more can raise your blood pressure.

I went into the store and spoke to one of the people in there and he recommended a certain ginseng which for blood pressure.  He said I will see results right away.  I was really skeptical about this because of the vitamins not really working, but I bought a month worth of ginseng anyway to try it out.  I asked him about what I read where it can raise your blood pressure, and he said yes that is the case if you take Korean ginseng, however if you take American ginseng, it will lower your blood pressure.

He was very confident in what he was saying so I thought, I don’t really have much to lose.  The pills only cost $5 per bottle which is cheaper than anything else I’m taking.  I started taking them right away.  I’m supposed to take 3 pills, 3 times per day.  I went to test my blood pressure at the end of the day and my BP came down 3 points.  I waited a couple of days and tested again today and my BP is now down to 126/90!  While this isn’t perfect yet, this is only after 2 days of taking it.  I’m very impressed and will definitely continue taking the ginseng while closely monitoring my blood pressure.

i want to grow it

Ginseng will be the next thing that I research for how to grow it.  I have looked a little bit so far and have seen that it takes 3-5 years to grow to maturity.  Also, some years it just lays dormant and doesn’t grow at all.

If anyone has any information or experience growing ginseng, I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Thanks for reading

Caleb

sheet mulching to rebuild soil and resist drought

If you don’t read this whole post, please scroll to the bottom and check out the questions.  I’d love to have peoples opinions and input.

I have been trying to figure out the best way to start a garden in Calgary Alberta.  We have rich soil here and I’ve been hearing that if your soil is “too rich”, your vegitables such as carrots won’t grow as well.

sheet mulching

In my constant search of all things permaculture, I stumbled upon a series of videos a while ago put on youtube by the University of Massachusetts where they transformed a lawn into a very large permaculture garden.  They did this without digging, and they didn’t even tear out the grass.  Instead the sheet mulched the place.

Sheet mulching is where you put a layer of compost down on your lawn, and then put cardboard or newspaper on top of the compost.  After that, you put a thick layer of mulch down such as wood chips or straw or whatever.  The cardboard breaks down and the lawn dies underneath and becomes biomass.  This makes a very rich soil to grow in and thickens the topsoil layer.

Check out the video.

the conundrum

While I was visiting Plantation Garden Center (again, very nice people), I was speaking with one of the people who helps out there and she was saying that this can be referred to as lasagna gardening and that it can have bad effects on our gardens.  I am not about to say that she’s wrong in any way, however I was very surprised to hear this.  I thought the richer your soil the better.  It seems silly in my head to purposely have a lower quality soil so that certain things will grow better.

Maybe I’m looking at this wrong too.  Maybe a healthy soil isn’t one that is jam packed full of nutrients. There is a balance to everything and perhaps this is just one example.

Another line of thought is, if certain things won’t grow in this climate in a nutrient rich soil, maybe we shouldn’t be growing them.  I want to build the soil and make it deeper and richer.  I want the soil to be healthier and deeper next year and the year after that.  If carrots get stringy, then maybe we should grow tomatoes and other nutrient loving things instead.

I’m not trying to put that lady down in any way.  I asked for her opinion and I accept it, and I’m not going to sheet mulch the gardens I’m working, so I’m taking her advice.  It’s just something that struck me as odd from a permaculture standpoint anyway.

input

What are your thoughts?  Have you tried sheet mulching?  Have you had issues where your soil was “too rich”?  Am I thinking totally wrong here?

Let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading.

Caleb

learn how to make sustainable natural buildings and ovens

Link

learn how to make sustainable natural buildings and ovens

These guys teach courses on how to make cob or clay houses and ovens.  They’re offering workshops in Calgary and Claresholm and even offering a wood fired pizza dinner in Calgary!

I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to make it, but it sounds awesome and I’m going to try if my schedule is open.

Check them out.

Caleb

what inspired me to grow a permaculture garden

I’ve always been very interested in ways of taking care of our needs which are beneficial for the planet.  My personality wants to solve problems and I think that’s why I ended up in IT.  So whenever I see something that solves a problem in a way that is good for the planet, I’m blown away and I research it like crazy.

the first bit of inspiration

I was in college when I was watching National Geographic and it was on deserts, but they had a segment where they showed a lady who lives in the desert and planted trees there.  She planted palms I believe and used mulch to capture rainwater.  I don’t remember well enough to say if she was using permaculture or not, but it blew my mind that you could reverse desertification by planting trees.  That was when I realized how important trees really are.

Since I was in college though, I didn’t have any time to research agriculture, so I left it for a while.

I wish I could remember what the video was.  I tried searching for it, but I wasn’t able to.  If anyone knows the video I’m talking about, please let me know!

the next kick of inspiration

I got into a phase of watching TED talks.  I found them right up my alley.  People presenting their ideas and solutions to issues we face.  If you haven’t ever watched a TED talk, I would recommend you look into it.  They’ve had speakers like Bill Gates, JJ Abrams, etc.

While searching for TED talks, I stumbled upon a talk by Vandana Shiva (who is one of the most brilliant people alive today IMHO), and she was talking about sustainable and organic agriculture.  There is so many layers to her lectures, so I’m just going to post a video rather than write 10000 words on her.

my introduction to permaculture

Up to this point, I had never heard of the word permaculture.  Then while looking for that video I first told you about, I found this one by Geoff Lawton which is better.  This video amazed me because they took a desert plot in Jordan which is one of the driest countries in the world and made a forest in it.  Not only did they make a forest, they made one that requires no watering, reverses the horrid effects of chemical fertilization and over grazing and feeds people.

Everyone in the world should watch this.  It is incredible.

Since watching that video, I’ve watched hundreds of other videos on permaculture.  I’m reading Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway and often I wish I could learn everything by osmosis so it would go faster.

in conclusion

I could write pages and pages and pages on this, but I feel like I’m pushing it when it comes to keeping people’s attention, so I’m going to leave this post where it is and write more later.

Let me know how you like the videos, and if you agree or disagree with anything.  I’m happy to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

Caleb

video: how to make newspaper seed pots!

I’ve spoken a few times about newspaper pots, and I thought I’d share a video on how to make them.

It’s a great thing because reusing something is better than recycling it, and definitely better than throwing it away.  Not only that, but newspaper decomposes and worms eat it!

I’d love to know if anyone uses this technique and one question I have is, can you plant the plants into your garden in the newspaper pot? Will it decompose fast enough to allow the roots to grow?

Thanks for reading

Caleb