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Archive for February, 2012

Permaculture at work.

IF you’re like me, you’ve been in a state of transition. The winter seemed to drag in a perpetual state of inbetween this year. Here in Brooklyn, we’re already seeing some pretty awesome spring blooms. Bees are humming, compost is composting, and the birds are flyin’–its time to get-a-plantin’. It’s been almost a year since I wrote “The Urban Survival Guide”, which can be downloaded/read here, but I’ve only just begun my experiments in permiculture. To get me off to a quick start, I just bought a copy of The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. So far, it’s been a great read. Its the first physical book I’ve bought in a long time, and the design work is wonderful. It’s full of helpful tips for folks in the city that want to green up their experience. They talk about porch gardens, raising chickens, worm farming and the like. Its very funny, too. There are a lot of simple tips, like growing out garlic so the shoots can be used in all kinds of dishes. This was a wakeup call! The veggies that you buy at the grocery store are still alive! After a winter hibernation that had me, for better or worse, skipping out on fruits and veggies more than I should have been, it was the motivational push that got me thinking green again.
Case in point, I just started putting out my trays for spinach. Right now is the perfect time to start planting spinach and lettuce if you live in New York City. In my experience, it doesn’t need too much soil (about 3-4 inches) and it’s a great way to feel connected to the food you are eating. I went and purchased some domes for my spinach this year after reading that they like to be at a constant moisture level. The trays are inexpensive (1.99). Get the ones with holes in the bottom so you don’t drown them. The 5-inch clear domes were expensive ($5.99). To supplement/experiment, I only bought two domes and for the other trays I used clear garbage bags and some used toilet paper rolls to keep the bag from sitting on the soil. This was simple, but less attractive. Then I poked some aeration holes into the bag. I’ll keep this post updated as my spinach, mesclun mix and wheatgrass trays begin growing. I used Bloomsdale Spinach (Fast, 5 days to sprout) and Franchi Mesclun mix. These should sprout in 5-10 days. The wheatgrass is Red winter Wheat, which I found at a local shop. The wheatgrass and spinach is listed as organic, but the mesclun is not.
I’ve also found that as I start to become more active in my greening pursuits, I’m also writing more. I just updated my other site, sublimeminds.com with a small review and link to Andrew Bird’s new album, Break it yourself. I also played an hour long set this past weekend of some of the tunes off my latest record Mountain Sons. Hopefully this momentum will build and continue into the spring! In two months, I’m set to begin my adventures in Beekeeping! While I’m planning on doing this upstate, I haven’t barred the idea of city beekeeping in the years to come if I can find a spot that is out of the way to do so. The city needs bees more than ever as more and more people jump onto the permiculture train that will lift us from reliance on the big ten producers of American food.

A year's worth of composting now hard at work.

I’m also looking to do a few new podcast episodes of
Starving Artist Radio as soon as I can secure some guests!
If you have any suggestions or want to plug some music and be interviewed on the show, send some samples to starvingartistsguide@gmail.com

Hope everyone is happy and healthy.

Johnny

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