We’ve lost our home. Our agreement was terminated. We had to move as the new owner gave us two weeks. To say that we were in shock is an understatement, especially as we’d been told that the house and land was ours to use until we no longer wanted it.
So, we moved. Stuffed our life in storage. Dug up what we could of our gardens, and put all sorts of plans on hold. No more experiments, garden plans or anything else. Luckily we didn’t get notice a week or so later. If it had, we would have been deep in house construction and garden building.
We’ve moved in with my mom for a while until we can buy land. No more lease agreements. No more uncertainty about property. We are looking at a 40 acre piece of land. We are considering a GoFundMe campaign. I’ll post more details as things progress.
In the last few weeks, we have had a lot of snow. Right now the total for the season is close to 80 inches. In some places, we still have 8-10 inches on the ground. In other places, we have mud.
While Spring is less than 15 days away, we will be lucky to have continuous warm weather for some time. Meanwhile, we will peruse the seed catalogs, plan raised beds, start seedlings and do our best to stay out of the mud.
Part 1Here are some pictures of our new hybrid aquaponics rig going in. Right now some conventional potted plants are on the stand, but by tomorrow evening we will have the unit all but completed. It combines soil enrichment techniques, aquaponics, and vermicomposting in a small space and sports automatic controls. Plant, cull, feed and harvest will be the only tasks, and these are vastly simplified.
The first crop will be lettuce, radishes, and spinach with crops in parallel bins on the shelves above and below. bear in mind that the room these are in varies from 5-30C, just as a winter time greenhouse would. Other test objectives include:
1. Test the effectiveness of the LED full spectrum lights (7W draw!) as grow lights, comparing these to the sunlight coming in the south exposure window behind the rack.
2. Test the hybrid soil enrichment techniques, aquaponics, and vermicomposting system on a small scale before deploying a similar system in an enclosed greenhouse (scheduled spring 2015).
3. Build and program the control system which will allow nearly unattended operation. The system is intended to be transparent to the growing operation, only requiring the human touch on the plants.
4. Create a fully documented, scalable, and open design which may be replicated allowing apartment dwellers to grow a fairly substantial amount of food in a very small space with minimal expense and effort.
Yes, you read that right… this is to be a fully documented open hardware project! Stay tuned for updates both here on G+ as well as issyroo.org,
PS. Dear stoners… this project will be vastly disappointing to you. Even though I live in Colorado, I don’t grow or use pot. This is not to say these techniques won’t work for it, but I just don’t know and I won’t be finding out. I don’t have anything against Cannabis, but we do Federal and State contracting and subcontracting. I must test clean, and abide by federal laws. Besides… It’s just not my cup of tea… more for you! 🙂
Life has been busy. While the weather has been wild, we’ve gotten a lot done. Between unseasonably warm weather, snow and wind, we’ve managed to paint and trim the Wendy House and construct another raised bed. We’ve trimmed trees of deadwood and chopped, split and stacked a lot of firewood. We still have a lot to chop, as two truck loads were donated.
We’ve planned for new buildings as well. We hope to have at least one greenhouse by spring. We came across plans for a greenhouse made from deer fence and scrap wood. We will be making one or two of them. Plus, we plan to build a small barn/chicken coop. All of this of course is dependent on funding and time.
We did have a bit of fun. As the weather got colder, we moved all of the herbs inside. The front part of the Wendy House is full of herbs. This of course started a discussion. Aaron had been looking into hydroponics and aquaponics. He began looking at things online and discovered Dutch Buckets.
Next thing I know, we are off to Home Depot and Lowes. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but we learned some things, and will incorporate them in the spring. Below are a few pictures. I’ll be posting a full article after this one.
It’s Autumn. The landscape is drying up and the nights are growing colder. In fact, we’ve had a couple of days that were cool enough to merit a fire. Over the last few weeks, between meetings, Celtic Music festivals, family emergencies and the like, we’ve begun to change our routines to match the weather.
We were ‘gifted’ with a truck load of wood. It still occupies a large part of the back yard, but is slowly being cut down to size and stacked to dry. We picked up a bunch of pallets and have been using them as a base for firewood stacks, and garden tool storage. It’s amazing what you can do with pallets.
We’ve slowly been putting the gardens to rest as well. We still have lettuce, rhubarb, squash and herbs in the various beds. I’ve brought in all of the herb pots and distributed them around the house. Seed pods are drying and we will store those as well. We plan to improve various raised beds, build a few new ones and add a truckload of manure to the garden. Our soil is very poor, so making anything grow is a challenge.
Life has been rather busy. We’ve gone from an idea for a NaNoWriMo novel, to a discussion on “could we do this for real”, to Issyroo Farms LLC.
August 1st is Colorado Day, the ‘birthday’ of the state. To commemorate it’s birth, the state discounted all business licenses to $1. We had planned to organize as a business later in the month, but the opportunity was just too great to pass up. Aaron did the paperwork and by the end of the day, Issyroo Farms was an LLC with all the papers in a nice neat folder.
Today we did bank paperwork and city licensure. We are listed as Agricultural Research. I still have a logo to make, but we are now down to the easy paperwork. We’re celebrating too! It’s not every day that you start moving a dream into a reality.
Through some of our other work, we have gotten some leads on property that we might purchase and start to build out some of our larger “dreams” that simply will not fit or work on in a city. (not for a lack of trying!) This of course has meant reconsiderations on the use of space here. A second development has been my parents giving us permission to use their back yard as garden spaces as well. This means we can expand some of our work and the variety of fruits and vegetables grown.
At home, we are working on green house designs, raised beds and other experiments. We’ve had a plethora of rain, and things are greener that we’ve seen them in decades. Is this climate change? A long cycle? We don’t know. However, we are working to do what we call the start up experiments and baby steps that will eventually translate to other bigger experiments, like greenhouse domes and sealed environments.
When things settle down, we will be posting some of the lessons learned this year. Compost, and moisture have been heady topics of discussion between ourselves and our neighbours who have been working similar soil for ten years and are only just now getting good and consistent results.
While the weather kept us from doing much work on the gardens, we’ve done a fair bit of discussion and experimentation internally. Some of this took the form of ‘war gaming’ a situation. We discussed ideas and tried to figure out the best way to handle them.
While Aaron worked on various radio satellite experiments, I began to figure out some of the issues that we would face living in an offworld or dome environment. There were a lot of questions.
How many plants per person to balance CO2 vs oxygen
What variety of plants. This includes herbs, medicinal plants and food.
What kind of livestock?
Water and sewage
Heating and Cooking
Privacy and a whole lot more.
One of the big things that came out of the discussion was a Space Oriented Maslow’s Hierarchy. This is what we came up with:
Self Actualization: Personal growth, Fulfillment, helping others
Personal Esteem: Achievement, Responsibility, Reputation, Purpose
The summer months have been filled with a variety of activities. The lost of the grant meant that we had to restructure how we were going to do things. We concentrated on some smaller projects and more research than gardening or building.
One of the first was to move the compost bin. We moved it to the eastern side of the yard and the construction zone. The electric power was laid to the guest house and the ditch filled in. There will be more work over the winter to clear the garden.
Then we got a 1-2-3 punch. Drought and a fire, followed by the ‘monsoons’. We made a gutter bed, and built some raised beds. We also planned for a keyhole garden. I planted seeds in various beds and literally could not keep enough water on any of them. Some of the herbs survived. Most of the veggies didn’t. Then we had the East Peak Fire. This meant that we spent the better part of two weeks under evacuation orders, just waiting for the fire to get too close. In the end, the fire stopped 6 miles from town and burned 13,572 acres.
Within days of the fire evacuation order being lifted, it began to rain. Just enough to make us think that the drought might be over. Wrong. It helped damp down the fire, but it wasn’t until late August that the rains really hit. Northern Colorado flooded in what they considered a 1000 year flood. 18 inches of rain in just a few days. We had our fair share, and it made for a right mess of the yard. However, the garden began to grow. Lettuces and squash. We’ve also done a lot of weed control as the rains made them grow like crazy. Since then, we have been making plans for next year and discussed financing a greenhouse.
No, we didn’t get the grant. This morning we got a notice via email.
Thank you for submitting your proposal to SpaceGAMBIT. We’ve received so many proposals that we’ve only just finished evaluating them. We were only able to select a few for funding this time around and unfortunately your proposal didn’t make the final cut.
We will be checking with Space Gambit to see why our application was not accepted. The idea there being to find out what we can improve on to make our grant application better.
Meanwhile we are working on reclaiming the back yard. We will be adding a 10 x 12 ft green house and starting various experiments as we can without grant funding.
As Aaron said, in many ways it was a blessing not to receive funding as we are entering a crazy busy time of year. We shall see.