Tag Archives: gardens

New portfolio projects

Are you curious what a property design might look like? How can I help you? I can create a map custom designed for your specific property that is not only an image where to plant, but also a detailed report on species, climate, phases or stages to design, how to amend soils, and how to combat erosion issues. I just uploaded two property designs I created. Newer designs include more detail and more information with web links to plant species, links to resources for additional information, and how to start making money using your property. You do not need to have a “farm” to grow income. You can do it in just a 1/4 acre plot.  With the property owners permission I have posted two additional designs based on a rural configuration where the owners wanted to introduce livestock to their property, 50 acres. The second property is a suburban property and shows the possibilities of what you can do on a smaller portion of land, only 1 acre. You can have a design for any number of situations and configurations. 100+ acre tract down to an apartment window.

House

Prices for design are based on time needed and applied to the design, each design will be unique. For details on pricing use the consulting page.

Portfolio

Rural Design

Urban Design

Free Class Saturday March 22nd 10-noon, Introduction to gardening and food production

free-fitness-class-saint-petersburg-FL

This meet-up is FREE sponsored by The Point Church and Community Center.

We will be discussing many topics such as when to start, companion planting, deep mulch, composting, edible landscaping, back yard chickens and more.

If the continuing food price increases are getting you down start producing your own. You do not need land to grow your own food. There are tips and techniques that you can even grow indoors in a window or even without.

With the drought in California fruit and vegetable prices are going to go up. Recently California ranchers stated they will be liquidating many of the herds. This means increased prices on beef as well.

Tired of all the chemicals in and on your foods. Grow your own and know exactly what is in it.

The slides are for classroom use only and no notes/handouts provided. If you would like a copy of the slides you can purchase them before or after the class $5. Cash or via PayPal wolfbeachfarms-at-gmail.com There are lots of charts and graphs. All information is available for free if you know where to look. No audio or video recording allowed.

Details at the Link below or to RSVP

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardening/events/169762822/

Build an aquaponics system for under $50

Recently I hosted a tour from the great folks from Aquatic Design. A local company that sells, installs, and services ponds and other waterscapes. They are beginning to enter the world of aquaponics, and wanted to see some real examples from the area. Granted my system are no commercial operation, nor are they often pretty to look at. I mean, I use kitty litter boxes as biofilters. It was cheap (free), I felt accomplished, I did it myself, it works, I can replace parts easily and inexpensively (free).  

 blogger-image-180826912

The tour was a learning experience for both I felt. I shared my experiences and lessons learn, often the hard way, and what I, as a new consumer, or someone just getting into aquaponics might be asking, looking for, and solutions to some problems I encountered. I have been a past customer of Aquatic Design and probably continue to be. It was a great feeling when they asked me to come see their new building which will house their aquaponics examples and configurations and maybe give advice as they were setting things up. I felt like all my lessons learned the hard way, shortfalls, and set backs were for a reason. I didn’t need to go to a course, an educational institution, or pay a big chunk of money for the education I had experienced. So when I tell people you don’t need to spend a ton of money on videos, books or classes, to learn about aquaponics I come speaking from experience.  

 While they were here I talked about the largest system 4500 gal outdoor down to my smallest system 30 gallon. As of now we have 4 systems in operation. 4500 gal outdoor pond, 3000 gal currently in a greenhouse but being converted to hoop house, the newest a 275 gal poly tote in the garage – still under development, and the 30 gal inside our kitchen/dining room. This 30 gal is something many people can put into place for inexpensively, it is a great conversation piece, it is entertainment, it is educational for kids of almost all ages, and in my mind, it’s really cool.

 

4500 gal system

4500 gal outdoor system

3000 gal greenhouse system
3000 gal greenhouse system
275 gal still under development

275 gal still under development

Tubs on top of the 275 gal tank. Using Raft grow system

Tubs on top of the 275 gal tank. Using Raft grow system, romaine, celery, and azola growing

30 gal indoor system

IMG_0720

Romaine from purchased head

IMG_0727

Romaine 3 days later

I made this system a continuous recycling flow system. I got the aquarium from a friend who was throwing it out. Free. You can look on Craigslist, Goodwill, or friends and family for aquariums. Many times people would love to get rid of them. Bonus if you get pumps or other stuff with it you can use later.

The rocks on the bottom of the tank are landscaping lava rocks. Mine were free. The previous owner of my current house landscaped with it. I hate the stuff in the yard. Again free. (well, if you count the $10 I pay kids to collect if they want to earn money). Fish habitat or hiding spaces I used left over PVC pipe from another project. Find them at building sites, or look around. It could be old Tupperware, or food containers just something for the fish to swim in and out of.

I actually paid for the submersible pump. But it was 75% off so I think I paid $10. Some big box stores will clearance pond and fountain pumps in fall and early winter. Just watch for sales. Or it may come with your aquarium you got for free. You can watch Goodwill and I have seen fountains or other pumps on occasion. Worst case $30 or so retail price.

The grow beds are wash bins. This was a Goodwill special and I only paid $0.25 each. Dollar Store has them for a buck. The grow media, lava rock again. Do not pay for the extruded clay. Not worth the extra money in my opinion. I drilled holes in the bins and had the pump take water from the tank, pump into the bins, and out the drainage holes in the bottom. It is important to add more holes than you think is necessary, because over time roots and other gunk can fill the holes and it will overflow. Another important lesson, add overflow holes below the lip. VERY important, if you don’t, and your drainage holes become clogged, your tank will overflow, and all your water will go onto the floor. Want to know how I learned this?

Because of the location in my house the system doesn’t get enough direct light to support plant growth. So I added a florescent light. The light, the stand, and the bulbs maybe $30. I made the stand out of PVC pipe and fittings. I could have just as easily hung from the ceiling and saved the cost. I use this system sometimes when I to talks or presentations and the stand is needed for display purposes. You need to use a bulb that will hit 2700K to 6500K, read the labels on the bulbs. Choose a T5 over a T12 type of bulb. T5 is higher intensity over T12, and more efficient use of energy. The fixture should match the bulb type, T5 bulbs fit in T5 fixtures. You could use HID, or LED. But for the money and energy I found fluorescent was just fine. HID gives off too much heat, and LED was too expensive. With fluorescent lights you want them 2-6 inches from the plants. The light needed for photosynthesis loses its intensity after 6 inches using fluorescent bulbs. HID can be several feet away because it is a more intense light (and 2-6 inches will literally cook your plants).  

We have some kale, some medicinal plants, and a philodendron, which are poisonous, but we can split and propagate to other containers to sell, or help purify the air in the house. We always leave the main plant so that there is always a plant purifying the water in the system. We have had tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, parsley, basil, cilantro, marigold and more. You can get plants from what many people think of wastes. We have started planting the bottoms of romaine lettuce. It was originally just an experiment, but now we are just harvesting the leaves for food. Celery is another plant that can be planted from the hearts when you buy them at the store. Here is another list of plants you can plant from cuttings when buying food. You can also regrow scallions, 3+ years of cuttings from the same plant.

Regrow

IMG_0756

Celery, this is the 4th regrowth for this plant

I got feeder fish from the pet store $0.12 each. I got a plecostomus (sucker fish) to eat the algae off the sides so I didn’t have to do it. $2.00. I feed the fish azola or duckweed I grow myself. So feeding them is free.  From an educational standpoint there are so many things to learn. From the 2 year old feeding and watching the fish, to adults and learning about the nitrogen cycle. There are lots of lessons to be learned. Want to learn more. Contact us, or follow us here, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  Or come see us in person November 23rd for a full day class on homesteading, growing your own food, preserving your own food and more! Ensure your spot is reserved by registering and prepaying for the class. Schedule your own series of classes with the Be Prepared Series.

I made the cover of Prepare magazine!

I recently wrote an article that landed me on the cover of the October Digital release of Prepare Magazine. The digital publication is free. Sign up to start getting them.

http://www.preparemag.com/

October Prepare

Full day homesteading skills class

Thanks to everyone who completed the survey for what people are looking for as far as education here in Indy. Here is the first response to that. Based on the survey results this is what most people wanted to see.

Full day homesteading basics class. 8 full hours plus free samples to take home. As of now here is the breakdown of the class. This is for people from apartments to rural areas. I will give examples of how you can implement in just about any situation. I will bring examples, what materials I use, photos, and a CD/DVD of resources I use when I need additional information.

Class will be $40 per person or $60/couple. If bringing the family or more than 2 please contact me for other arrangements. Pay in advance or at the door. Cash only at the door. You will save the cost of the class alone if you just adopt and use a few of the topics mentioned.  Due to the limitations of Meetup payments (can’t do discounts based on number of people) contact me if you want to pay in advance with cash or use electronic payment.

Register through one of the Meetup groups below although not required. There is a limited number of seats but should accommodate a larger class size but to guarantee a seat registration is recommended.

http://www.meetup.com/AlternativeGardening/

http://www.meetup.com/Indiana-Disaster-Preparedness/

Here is what is being offered. I can add additional topics if time and my experience permits. Seats, and tables provided along with two large overhead screens for notes and examples. There will be breaks and a lunch period as well. Bring your lunch or visit one of the many local places.

  1. Backyard Grocery (fall is one of the best times to start this)
    1. Mini Orchard
    2. Vegetable garden
    3. Edible landscaping
    4. Aquaponics
    5. Backyard Chickens
    6. Goats
    7. Bees
    8. Rabbits
    9. Vertical Gardening
    10. Potatoes
    11. Container Gardening
    12. Medicinal Herbs
    13. Composting and mulch
    14. Water harvesting and rainbarrels
  2. Food Preservation (what to do with everything you harvest)
    1. Canning
      1. Water bath canning
      2. Pressure canning
    2. Dehydrating
    3. Freezing
    4. Smoking
    5. Fermenting
  3. DIY
    1. Laundry soap – how to make – free samples 5 ingredients or less
    2. Tooth paste – how to make – free samples 3 ingredients or less
    3. Bar soap – how to make –(free samples if cured in time)
    4. Fire starters – how to make
    5. Homemade bread – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    6. Homemade pasta – very simple steps <5 ingredients. Way more healthy for family
    7. Make your own ethanol
    8. Battery backup for emergency home power use
    9. Make your own generator from your car with an inverter

Class at Trade School Indy Oct 26th

I am teaching a class at the City Market through Trade School Indy. Here are the details.

Here is a link

http://tradeschool.coop/indianapolis/class/

October 26th Satuday

2:00pm to 3:30pm

Indy City Market (Upstairs North Mezzanine) The City Market at 222 East Market Street Indianapolis

Would you like to turn your backyard into a food production area for you and your family? Want to grow organic fruits and vegetables that are free from pesticides and herbicides?Believe it or not, it’s possible to harvest 550 lbs of fruit and veggies on 640 square feet of land. The secret is Permaculture. On my 0.2 acre property, I have 6 productive trees, 24 productive bushes, 60 medicinal plants, edible landcaping, 24 laying hens and 2 ponds that allow me to harvest fruits, veggies, berries, fish and eggs all from our backyard. Participants are welcome to come to our farm afterwards.

About the teacher, Rick Beach

Rick is a suburban homesteader that has over thirty years of experience in Gardening. He recieved his Engineering, Chemistry & Pharmaceuticals training from Geoff Lawton & the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Rick has been teaching for over two years on various subjects. He is passionate about people growing their own food and becoming less dependent on foods that are served through a window or out of a box.

 

The Herb Spiral and Farm updates

                We have been very busy lately. As the colder weather approaches, there just doesn’t seem enough time to get it all done before winter.

 

                I completed the 1st of the herb spirals this weekend. I know it won’t get planted this year, but getting it installed now will allow the ground to settle over the winter, and I can add more soil before actually planting. This spiral cost me noting to make. The walls are made from old concrete field tile that has accumulated out at the farm. The soil is from an excavated area and soil had been piled up. It only took about two full days to complete, and most of that was hauling dirt. I had the layout done in about an hour. Not only can I plant in the bed area, but because I used hollow building materials I can plant in them too. I haven’t yet decided what to plant into the tiles. But while building this I discovered about 6 other larger tiles. About 1 ½ feet across. We are now going to use these as large planter pots. Nothing goes to waste.

Started with a stake, and one tile.

Started with a stake, and one tile.

 

I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.

I placed the tiles where I thought it would go adjusting as I needed. Dry fitting.

 

After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

After I was happy with the design, I started adding soil from the outside first.

This is what I ended up with. Both my wife and myself can reach the center from any side. The 2 year old calls it her castle and likes to run up the ramp to the top. It helped compact some of the soil and set the tiles, so she helped with this project too.

null_zpsee1e8679 null_zps0e0eb584

       

      Speaking of nothing to waste, my wife’s grandfather is tickled and laughs almost daily at the stories we tell him of repurposing materials. The tiles were just one example. We found an old door that was repurposed in the chicken house for ease of getting into the laying boxes. Several months ago we found some old aluminum wiring of some sort in a junk pile. We repurposed it to use as a trellis for the blackberry garden. Now it is much easier to harvest the berries when in season. Old fencing, has become used for growing peas and tomatoes. Old bricks will be used for a forge. Old 55 gal drums will be used for water barrels and about 100 uses for old pallets. We have uses or repurpose for just about everything we come across on the farm.

Here is the hay and straw repurposed into fall garden, and the reused fencing in the center as a trellis.

null_zpse84b161d null_zpsa013630c

We have come to the realization, that nothing is junk unless it absolutely cannot be used. Old bailing wire has a million purposes. Junk mail, I shred it and feed it to my worms to make compost, compost tea, new soil, and bait for fishing. Old barn wood has a new life as a dining room table. Old tires, potato vertical growing bins. If I don’t have an immediate use for it, it will go into one of the piles/barns and find a new purpose when one is discovered. Not all the repurposing ideas are my own, but most of the “functional” uses have been developed on demand. The creative are about 1/3 mine 1/3 wife and 1/3 I find online. In my pinterest account you can see some things I stumbled upon.

http://www.pinterest.com/rikkrack/boards/

                We have been cleaning out old garden beds, adding chicken area to keep them safe from predators, and reorganizing materials. 6 new chicken tractors are on the list to build before February. Again these will be repurposed from old materials as much as possible. The build of the tractors will be a post on its own.  Every time we are up there we come up with new projects. We have roughly 45 min to an hour one way drive time from our Indianapolis home. On the way up to the property we discuss what we are going to do, would like to accomplish, and plan for attaching. We have 4 pages of projects, tasks, and wish lists. On the way back we mark off what we accomplished and lists for what we saw that needed to be added or new projects. This week I decided to add a pond to the rose garden that will be build either this fall or next spring. We are repurposing a preformed pond we had here in Indy, which was repurposed from another project. I decided to take all the field stone we have come across during the cleaning phase and make a large waterfall water feature in the pond. This will not only aerate the water for when we stock, but keep some of the unwanted slime and moss growth down. It will be a nice feature to see, and hear. We would eventually like to make the pond into a natural swimming pool so this fits nicely with that plan. Adding a sauna, hand pump for the well, tree nursery, hoop house and the list goes on.

Herb Blurb – Garlic

Recently I wrote about homemade cold remedy, and homemade chicken broth. Here is the details on another great herb. Garlic.

garlic 2 garlic

Garlic is closely related to onion, shallot, leek, chives and rakkyo and has been used by humans for some 7,000 years. Originally from Asia, it has spread all around the world and is used in both culinary and medical applications.

Garlic today is available in many forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, fermented, (black garlic) freeze dried, and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). Personally fresh garlic, or home dried is the best option.

Garlic is easy to grow and will grow in most areas of the US. While it can reproduce naturally using pollination from a male and female plant, most grown garlic is used by planting a clove from the bulb. One bulb can plant 10-20 new garlic plants. Garlic is typically planted in fall about six weeks before the first frost and deep enough to not go through many freeze thaw cycles as it will develop mold and rot. It is then harvested in the spring. Garlic doesn’t have too many enemies in the pest world, and is actually great to plant near other plants which are more susceptible. We planted garlic around the roses this year and have noticed a significant decrease in pests. You can also do this around more susceptible plants in your vegetable garden. Garlic can be places fairly close together as long as there is enough room for the bulbs to mature. It likes loose, dry, well drained soils in sunny areas. The best USDA zones for planting are 4-9 but don’t let that stop you from trying if you are outside that zone. If I am close to the zone boundary of a plant I will at least give it a try. There are many techniques using permaculture that can elevate your current zone 2-3 zones higher. Example you can get an extra zone using rocks around the base of a tree to increase 1 zone going from 5 to 6. Or a hoop house can get you as many as 3 zones. From 5 to 8.

You can not only eat the bulbs or cloves, but you can also eat the leaves and flowers. Both have milder flavor than the bulbs, but is still usable in many dishes. Garlic has so many uses in the kitchen they are almost endless. You can eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, infused in oils, toppings and that is just a few. My favorite (although my family hates it when I do this) is to roast it in a terracotta roaster. Take a bulb or elephant garlic, cut the top, and roast it. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and eat right out of the peels. The reason my family hates it, is I already eat a lot of garlic. From adding to my scrambled eggs, with a little goat cheese and herbs, to minced raw garlic topping on my salad, to garlic herb butter on my steak. Eating roasted puts me over the edge. I start to ooze garlic out my pores. I smell like walking garlic for a few days until it works out of my system. Apparently can smell from a few feet away. I never notice.

As I said in an earlier post garlic is a component in the cold remedy. Garlic has been known to repel parasites, aid in digestion, antimicrobial, antibacterial, improve respiratory problems, and improve low energy. It has been shown to improve cardiovascular and cholesterol related issues. It has shown in some studies to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Some studies have shown that regular use of garlic in the diet can reduce high blood pressure and even regulate blood sugar levels. During World War II it was used as an antiseptic. Garlic has been used to treat infections, and administered for treatment of chest colds, digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush. Garlic has also been successful in China in treating AIDS patients with certain types of infections and ailments.

The sticky juice of the garlic has been used to glue glass and porcelain together, and even as an insecticide in organic gardening with diluted and sprayed over plants.

If you are looking to add garlic to your gardens, whether it is vegetable or ornamental gardens, fall is the time to buy. A little bit of garlic can go a long way. 1lb of garlic bulbs can yield 10 lbs of garlic next spring. If not wanting to plant garlic to eat, perhaps just plant as insect and pest control. It is also good against molds, and bacteria and viruses that attack ornamental plants. The less people spray they better off we will all be. While I think of garlic as a wonder plant/herb my family is not so keen on the herb. As my wife says “Everything in moderation, and honey…you over did the garlic again… you are banned until you stop stinking.” Yet I don’t get sick very often, and can eat all kinds of food not good for me (mmm fried foods). My cholesterol is low, and I have really low blood pressure for someone my age, weight, and dietary intake. Now there is an idea. Combine my favorite. Fried garlic in some way? Off to the kitchen to experiment…while the wife is still at work.

Herb Blurb – Parsley

               Many people think of parsley as just another condiment or a garnish on a plate, but parsley has many benefits beyond garnish. For starters you can and should grow parsley in your gardens. It is a biannual and after the first year establishes will come back again stronger. I have had relatively good success planting and harvesting parsley here in Indiana. Last year’s drought took its toll on many of my plants. What plants survived the horde (aka the chickens) has done well now that I have protected it from them. There doesn’t seem to be anything that they won’t eat.

ParsleyParsley_Curled

Something I didn’t know and again learned recently that there are two crops from parsley. The green tops most commonly used here in the US but also the root. After the first year the parsley plant grows a large tap root to help it survive winters.  This tap root is edible and used commonly in and around Europe in soups and stews. The downside is that after harvesting you will no longer be able to harvest the leaves, which means you will just have to plant more. Some for harvesting the tops, and some for harvesting the roots.

                Besides using parsley in everyday cooking I like to use it in my cold remedy. This will be a series on the components of that remedy starting with parsley. Parsley has anti microbial and antibacterial properties. I recently learned that it also has shown anti cancer properties. Parsley is loaded with antioxidants and has loads of vitamin C and A. Some studies have suggested that it also can help with arthritis, is healthy for the heart, and the anticancer properties have shown promise in colon and cervical cancers.

                Parsley can take a while to grow as the germination time from seed is four to six weeks. I plan on starting my next batch of parsley December-January timeframe. I know, middle of wither here in Indiana right? But this early start allows for a longer growing season. By the time the last frost comes, my plants will be 4-6 inches tall and already on their way to producing for me. This means I can harvest some of the leaves as early as March or April when many people are just starting to think about gardening. It prefers well drained soil and full sun. It can be grown indoors or out, and in the ground or in containers. I currently have my parsley in container gardens, but plan on adding it to one of my herb spirals for next year out at The Farm.

                When I have harvested in the past, I would only collect the leaves. Or cut a large bunch, then chop off the leaves and either dehydrate or use fresh. Lately I have been saving the stems and freezing them. These stems are what I use as part of my cold remedy or to flavor stocks. Whenever I have a component if a vegetable or plant I am not eating directly I save for when we make stock. Parsley stems for example, or the tops and bottoms of onions, or the tops and bottoms of celery. While I don’t eat them directly I wouldn’t dare throw them out. I save it until I have enough to make a stock. Read more about stocks and cold remedy on another post.

                Parsley can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw parsley is said to cleanse the palette and freshen the breath. There are many juicing and smoothie recipes using fresh parsley. Try making it an addition to meals prepared at home.

Suburban Farm Tour 9-21-13 10am

If you are local to the Indianapolis area we are hosting a group tour to see in person and ask questions some of the things we have used on our micro farm in the city. See the three aquaponic systems in action, back yard chickens, medicinal herbs, water harvesting, edible landscapes just to name a few. Ask questions, tips, techniques and see some of the items we have for sale. This will be scheduled through Meetup Alternative Gardening group. If you are not already a member of Meetup there is a link below. We are having it on Saturday September 21st 10am.

Group Tour info