Thursday, January 2, 2014

Micro-farm update

It's been over a month since I posted regarding my "micro-farm" set-up and I thought it a good idea to show the outcome.  I have since harvested lettuce twice from it.  This harvesting consists entirely of merely trimming the lettuce down to a few inner leaves and eating the trimmings.  This is the beauty of loose leaf lettuce over head lettuce.  It recovers in little over a week and then I trim again.  I got about four or five trimmings before I harvested the entire plant last time I tried this.  This time I'll wait and see how many times I can harvest before it goes to seed. 



I think I packed them a little tight, but it's still working.  I am considering starting another set up with led lights as the exclusive lighting source to grow spinach. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bringing the micro-farm back online


   The Winter is definitely here and the time has come for indoor farming.  I never really explained the set up I used when I last mentioned the micro-farm.  I was playing a video game, yes a video game, called Harvest Moon.  The kids were playing it and I was attracted to it because I've always wanted to be a farmer.  Anyways, I got tired of pretending and decided to try as much farming as I could reasonably do in an apartment with three kids and a busy life.  Above you see me sifting through my worm compost to separate the worms from usable compost.  I figured I'd try to keep things as organic as possible. 



   I took a 10 gallon aquarium and taped white copy paper to the sides to use as reflectors.  I then inserted empty, plastic, strawberry and lettuce containers with a mix of compost and soil, and added a sprinkling of lettuce seeds on top.  I added a very light sprinkling of soil on top of that and watered it all well.  What you see above is the result after a little over a week. 




I place the whole assembly by the window and suspend two compact fluorescent bulbs over them for additional light.  The natural light I get is less than ideal.  It a few more weeks I'll have a decent batch of lettuce, which I plan on using for my packed lunches--biggest bang for the effort and the buck. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Newest Passion

I go to Guitar Center often with my son.  He gravitates towards the electrics and I the acoustics.  Well they have these cute little ukuleles and I thought they'd be good for my youngest son.  Took him to a free beginner's class at Guitar Center one morning--he lost interest, but I was intrigued.  They're fun, cute and easy to play--what's not to like.  I always stop by the ukuleles when I walk in, so I finally broke down and got one.
It's a Lanikai LU-12SGC made specially for Guitar Center from mahogany.  That's a pen next to it for the sake of scale.  It was on sale, a little over thirty bucks, which was an excellent deal.  It's got a nice sound and I can't put it down.  What can be better than that?

Flat Silver Lining

I got a flat on the way to work today--normally a major bummer, but not today.  It was a slow day at work and I've got lots of time accumulated and its not always easy to take off.  I would have been quite late if I had gone in--it took over an hour for me to walk home, though I wasn't rushing.  I enjoyed the opportunity to look in on places I only pedal by rather rapidly, places I'd been meaning to check out more closely.  One of those places is the Juniors Cheesecake Factory (Yes, they actually make the cheesecakes there.) on Grand Street in Queens--yes, in Queens, not Brooklyn.  They have a small store inside, but it is only open when I am at work, so I seized the opportunity, walked and made a purchase.

It's a Brooklyn Crumb Cheesecake and I am looking forward to sharing it with guests.  This is what it looks like inside.

Yumm!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Micro-farm

   I haven't biking much this month.  Took the month off because I had a balance on my Metrocard that needed to be used.  I use the Wageworks system that replaced Transitchek for city employees, except that I give the card to my wife to use.  She works for the NYC Dept. of Education and does not use it in the Summer, so I have extra months that are deducted from my pay that she cannot use.  I saved them for the inclement weather months like February and early March.  I anticipate cycling again this coming Monday.  Meanwhile, I continue cooking and planting, which I consider consistent with bicycle commuting.  In short, a life of simplicity and sustainability.

   My latest effort has been the use of a 10 gallon aquarium as a mini-indoor farm.  Okay it is quite the micro-farm, but I call it such because I am using to grow food--lettuce in particular.  I think the future of farming is not only urban, but indoors.  Rooftops are not enough for viable urban farming, though I do like the idea.  I took the aquarium and taped white computer paper to three sides to serve as reflectors (I lay sheets of paper overhead also to reflect the light downwards as well.).  I place the whole thing by the window to take advantage of whatever light I get, which isn't very much--I face Northwest.  I placed recycled plastic strawberry containers with soil and compost from my worm bin inside and placed two compact fluorescent bulbs overhead.  The are daylight bulbs in the 20W range.  I planted the lettuce seeds and they've grown quite nicely.  I got a very full bowl of salad from my first harvest, which took about three weeks.  I was, I must say, impressed, especially since, while I had hopes, I didn't really know what to expect. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cooking more

   There is no way to consistently eat healthy without cooking.  My wife has introduced me to cooking in the crock pot and I find that it is great for cooking beans.  I grew up eating rice and beans, and eating canned beans is okay, but I am never thrilled to eat canned goods.  Cooking dry beans has always been a chore, but no more!  Now I soak the beans of my choice overnight, drain, rinse, add water at a 2:1 ratio and proceed to place them in the slow cooker for the day with a teaspoon of salt.  It cooks for six to seven hours.  When it is done I discard about half the water and use the rest.  I add sofrito, tomato paste, a little more salt and perhaps some chorizo, if I have it.  My next task is making my own sausage, so I won't have to worry about where it came from.  I make my own sofrito already.  Try it.

Maintenance

   There are several reasons I don't ride all the time.  The first reason is the weather.  I am not inclined to go crazy and ride in extreme cold or any kind of precipitation.  It's simply not necessary.  It's messy and the risk when automobile driver's vision is impaired and my brakes are compromised is unacceptable.  The other reason is simply when it is inconvenient.  I may be shopping or traveling with others, etc...  The last reason and least acceptable reason is when my bike is down due to some maintenance issue.  The cost of having it repaired at a bike shop often negates the savings from commuting, yet taking the subway while the bike is down isn't cheap either.  I have taken to doing a good deal of the work myself.  However, it has taken some learning.  One source of this learning has been the classes at Times Up!, an environmental action group, as they describe themselves.  They offer bike repair classes that are quite useful.  I've patched inner tubes many times before, but I learned things attending their workshop on the subject.  I learned to service my bottom bracket and hubs at their classes and I even learned a thing or two about adjusting my brakes and changing the cables.  I look forward to the next class on replacing spokes and truing wheels.  It is a useful organization and I think every cyclist should know the basics of bicycle repair.