Grow to Live

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Introducing Our You Tube Page

I recorded the first video this morning. Just an introduction to the garden, what's growing, where everything will be. I was alone so I had to hold the camera which means I couldn't really engage in any activity but hopefully, in the future, I can film the transplanting process, staking the plants, putting up the trellis, turning the compost, mulching and more. I figure that live video is much better than pictures although YouTube butchers the quality. I'm going to see if Myspace does any better.

Just a couple of pictures to show from this weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect. Not much to say today. I figure 5 minutes of your time a day is enough.


-- Dale

Monday, April 03, 2006

Planning Your Garden

Am I going in reverse? Possibly, but there are a few of you who haven't started your seeds or planned your garden layout so who cares? Garden layouts are important. It gives you an idea of how many plants you need but also where you should position your plants according to the amount of sun needed, which vegetables are companions to others and importantly, which plants need to be staked or caged. Make sure you figure out which of your plants needs to be staked, caged, or grown on a trellis. Squash, cucumbers and melons are the most common plants that require a trellis. This nice article with photos on diynet is a nice tool for learning how to build your own trellis. I'll keep this one short. There's plenty of reading to do with the links above.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Fuel We Eat and How to Stop It

I read a 1 2 neat little articles this morning about eating fossil fuels for breakfast. Not literally but figuratively. Have you ever thought about how much oil it takes to deliver food to your table? You should. It's one thing to cop the newest Toyota Hybrid but going the extra mile means finding out how far your the fertilizer that supplied your locally grown organic tomato has traveled and by what means. Moving on, sort of.

Reading about fertilizer, travel distances and the like gave me a good opportunity to pat myself on the back for undertaking the task of composting with worms. Many of you have probably heard me speak on it but rarely do I expound on what the process is and why it's vital to the organic farmer. I won't here either because the good people at do a much better job than I do. More gratifying is how many people I've introduced to composting and not only that but getting them to understand the benefits to themselves on a personal level but also to the planet as a whole.
My good friend Yvette (bless her heart) went the extra mile and bought what looks to be a professional worm box. Very aesthetically pleasing but far from functional. I don't think she appreciated the mass exodus of worms to her kitchen floor. The Brentwood boys came to the rescue and reconfigured her food scraps, newspapers and cardboard. Her worms are now living happily and consuming anything in their sights.

Worms are important. More importantly, worm castings(waste) are important.

They're not just little wiggly guys who come out in the rain. Our whole agricultural system is based on them doing their jobs.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Back to Our Roots

Originally posted March 4, 2005.

We missed Black History Month, so we're gonna make up for it in March. Because we're focusing our grow efforts on Washington, DC (and surrounding areas), it's probably time to recognize the historical connections of Blacks and agriculture in the American South. (Is DC the South though? Seems like it by the accents, cuisine, and cultural attitudes, but that's irrelevant right now.) It is important to know that our kinfolk contributed more to agriculture than simply serving as cotton picking slaves or struggling sharecroppers.
We know many of you are into photography (and got you some cousins in the "souf"), so you may find the USDA historical archives interesting. Are you a school teacher or PBS junkie? Check out this special feature: "Homecoming" documents African-American farmers, land loss, and social injustice from the Civil War to the present.
The folks at 3417 don't want to make this some kind of "ethnic movement" though. It's all about getting plants in the ground, forming lasting community relationships, and eatin' good food you've grown yourself. So start planning that sustainable urban ...the weather's gonna break soon.


I'm all planted

Ladies & Gentleman...

The list


Basil Organic Large Leaf Italian - 6 plants
Pepper Organic Early Jalapeno - 8 plants
Pepper Organic Hungarian Hot Wax - 8 plants
Brocoli Organic Belstar Hybrid - 8 plants
Pepper Organic California Wonder - 13 plants
Spinach Organic Renegade - 8 plants
Squash Organic Early Summer Crookneck - 6 plants
Squash Organic Summer Straightneck - 6 plants
Squash Organic Dark Green Zuchini Organic - 6 plants
Squash Organic - 6 plants
Tomato Organic Tropic CF - 30 plants
Tomato Organic Moneymaker - 13 plants
Eggplant Organic Black Beauty - 8 plants
Chives Organic - 6 slots (multiple plants)
English Thyme - Organic 6 plants
Sage Organic - 6 plants
Italian Oregano Organic - 6 plants
Parsley Organic Italian Flat Leaf - 6 plants


Marconi red Pepper Hybrid - 10 plants
Sweet Banana Pepper - Hybrid - 16 plants
Tomato Big Beef Hybrid - 12 plants
Pepper New Ace Hybrid - 10 plants
Tomato Better Boy Hybrid - 8 plants
SuperSweet 100 Cherry Tomato Hybrid - 8 plants
Lettuce Ruby Ruffles - 12 plants)

My tomato and pepper numbers are probably too low but you get the idea. I'm growing ALOT.

Why so many plants you ask? Well my friend/neighbor/fellow Green Party member, Andrew is growing plants on his 2 acre lot as part of a neighborhood co-op to supply his community with bags of vegetables at a set price. He came by Saturday and could hardly contain himself at the thought of hundreds of plants at his disposal. I figure that at $2 a plant, I'll make my supply money back plus some for my troubles. I guess I shouldn't tell him that I'd do it for free.

Also, I have a few upwardly mobile friends and family who have purchased homes this year and have tapped yours truly to create small backyard produce departments for 'em. It's amazing how little space you need when using the square foot gardening method. Rather than have everyone start from seed, I thought it'd be easier to start seedlings for 'em and transplant later.
I'm definitely going to have too many cherry tomato plants. (my neighbor doesn't need any) so if anyone's interested, holla. Peppers too.

In addition to the seeds that I'm growing, I swung by my friendly neighborhood co-op Glut and bought some lettuce plants. Emil bought 'em last year and we had a pretty good harvest so I decided to re-up. Pictures later.
Packets of seeds and the Bio Dome from Park Seeds.

Seeds in my hand waiting for homes.

Seeds in their bio sponges waiting to germinate.

Bed #1 after a hard day removing weeds, grass and leaves.

That's rosemary bush in the upper left corner.

I planted the lettuce at the other end. Pics tomorrow (hopefully)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Harvest Rainwater As Well As Vegetables

Originally posted May 9, 2005.

I know, I know, we stop at nothing to conserve and recycle. Well, that's a good thing for both the Earth, the garden and our wallets. Rain water is already considered "soft water" meaning that it doesn't contain the harsh chemicals that tap water does; stuff like chlorine, fluoride and minerals. By collecting water from your roof, it's less likely to pick up contaminates that are located in the ground, mainly from drain runoffs.

Did you know that only 2.5% of the Earth's water supply is fresh water, and most of that is contained in glaciers and ice caps? (*Dale, what about 'climate change'? Kilimanaro is losing her icecaps by the week. ~Emil). Water also exists in the air as humidity and clouds. That leaves us with 3/10 of 1% that are found in lakes, rivers and streams. Most of that water is drying up or at risk of becoming contaminated. That's why it's important for us to use as much of that free rain water for agriculture as possible.

The economics of water consumption is pretty simple. Americans already consume lots of water for household activities including 2 gallons a day just to wash hands in a household of 4 and another 2 gallons just to brush our teeth (don't leave that water running). We don't need to give WSSC or DC WASA any more of our money. With the rising population and shrinking resources for fresh water, America is headed for trouble.

If you own a home, think about purchasing a rain barrel or even placing buckets or storage totes outside. If you have no use for rainwater, someone in your neighborhood will. A safe, workfree way to conserve water and give back to the environment. (*Note: I'll soon be retrofitting an atrium gate to filter large debris and provide mosquito control, and a sand filter to remove smaller debris. Activated charcoal and a biological filter would be a lil' much, don't you think? ~Emil)

With that being said, our structure is in dire straits. Luckily, with the garden growing and the lack of precipitation lately, our barrel has lightened up enough for something to be done about it. Mother Nature must've read my letter yesterday because it's a balmy 70 degrees outside with plenty of sun. My seedlings will appreciate that. I picked more leaves from our Boston Red Leaf Lettuce this morning. It's always good to pick lettuce in the morning and at it's peak for crispness

If all goes well, everything will be in the ground by next weekend. This is when we can really begin to implement our companion planting strategies.



World Water Consumption Website


"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Okay, so this is the 2006 installment of our original Square Foot Organix blog. We've moved forward from that figuratively and literally. New name, new goals, new focus. "Grow to Live" is now born.

It's one thing to teach people how to grow their own food, it's another to create a movement. Cam and The Dips have soured the word "movement" but it's applicable here so I'll use it.

Times are tough. The price of produce continues to rise. When a box of tomatoes started cutting into my beer money a few years ago, I decided to take on the task of growing my own food. I've always been the type who likes to know how shit works. I'm a vegetarian and soon, the bird flu pandemic is going to scare me into a raw foods diet. Okay, I'm drifting...

Back to the movement. Ever since I started growing my own vegetables 2 years ago, the interest has been tremendous. I'd share my story, give some quick elevator talk about what it is I have in the backyard, how and why I do and that would be it. No follow up. No place for those with a genuine interest to really understand what's going on and learn themselves (besides the backyard). So a blog was born. And soon a website will be born. And soon more backyard gardens, and more vegetables and more worms and more stories and more blogs.

We're not dusty, backwoods hippies, chewing sticks, picking through soil and plants. We're 2 ordinary Black guys who've taken a liking to watching edible things grow in our backyard. We hope you'll learn to like it too.

The first few blogs will be re-posts from last year as they're still very helpful. If you enjoy what you see or read throughout this blog, send me an email or leave feedback. Why else would I stay up until 6 in the morning unless I thought that there were people who cared enough to check us out.