Apartment homesteading?

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mathiverse
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by mathiverse »

white belt wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:28 pm
Edit: My only concern about reusing soil is the possibility of plant diseases, but I’m unsure how common those are with microgreens. Also I believe I read that red worms carry some pathogens but I need to do some digging to find it.
Question to learn since I don't know much about microgreens, but I'm following your journey into them whitebelt.

Would the plant diseases only kill the batch(es) that was grown in the reused soil since microgreens are grown in separate trays or do you see ways it could be a more widespread problem?

Also, if you find the place you read about the worm related pathogens, please post! I'd be interested in reading about that.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:13 pm
Have you looked into vertical growing systems?

Would a reflective surface applied to rear of balcony help?

What are your guerilla gardening plans?
I've looked around on youtube at a few designs for vertical growing systems, but I didn't see anything that I fell in love with. A lot of them seemed quite resource intensive, but I think recycled wood and pipe would be more my style. Having said that, it may be worth exploring again when I get settled at my new site this summer. As I mentioned in another thread, I'm kind of in a holding pattern until a find out where I'm moving to this summer. When I move, I hope to be at the same site for 3 years (whether that's a rental or a house), which should give me the opportunity to implement some slightly longer term strategies. At my current site, I'm just going to do some early season vegetables in containers to get some gardening fundamentals under my belt before I move.

Good point about the increased grow space from using mounds, I'll have to look into that some more. My issue with the traditional hugelkulture mound is it seems counter to everything Brad Lancaster teaches about naturally harvesting rain for gardens. I get that there are logs in the hugelkulture bed that help with water retention, but it seems like a mound shape is going to at least somewhat drive water away from my garden. Maybe there is a hybrid solution like putting a hugelkulture mound in the center of a larger rain garden basin.

I'm not sure about reflective surfaces for outdoor gardening. Everything I've read is usually about using them to grow marijuana indoors, and from what I can tell the effective reflective materials are $$$.

Right now I don't have any guerilla gardening plans, but that may change at my new site. My concerns over guerilla gardening would be putting in effort and resources to grow something only to have it mowed over or pulled out by someone else.

Edit: Are there any books or resources on bio-intensive vertical gardening? I don't remember seeing any mention of vertical gardening in Jeavons' works.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

white belt wrote: My issue with the traditional hugelkulture mound is it seems counter to everything Brad Lancaster teaches about naturally harvesting rain for gardens.
This is one of the areas where you have to design very specifically for your climate or micro-climate and setting. For instance, one of my fails was due to not taking into consideration that average rainfall matters much less than variability of rainfall. A good layer of mulch on top of healthy soil is usually all that is needed (with exception of new transplants and maybe a couple weeks in July/August) in an area like mine where rainfall is average and fairly consistent, the soil tends a bit towards clay, and it is rare to have a piece of land with a good deal of slope.

Unfortunately, my memory escapes me for good book on vertical gardening. I know I have skimmed a few, but I've never bought any, because I've rarely been that space challenged. My permaculture partner had maxed out his tiny backyard, so he was more into it.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:28 pm
I grew my first batch of microgreens in soil and it didn’t require much labor.
ah, great, thanks for that. i'm still working out (slowly and deliberately) the plans for my indoor garden, and this helps "see" a bit.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

Alphaville wrote:
Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:49 pm
could you please outline your system and how it would work?
This is using the "Papa Blue Shirt" youtube channel method with worms in the trays (link in previous post).

From a continuous harvest timing perspective:

Day 1: Seed Tray A. Cover Tray A with an inverted non-perforated tray.
Day 4: Seed Tray B. Cover Tray B with an inverted non-perforated tray. Water Tray A.
Day 7: Remove inverted tray from Tray A. Seed Tray C. Cover Tray C with an inverted non-perforated tray. Water Tray A and Tray B.
Day 10: Harvest Tray A. Seed Tray A. Cover Tray A with an inverted non-perforated tray. Water Trays B and C. Remove inverted tray from Tray B.
Day 13: Harvest Tray B. Seed Tray B. Cover Tray B with an inverted non-perforated tray. Water Trays A and C. Remove inverted tray from Tray C.
Day 16: Harvest Tray C. Seed Tray C. Cover Tray C with an inverted non-perforated tray. Water Trays A and B. Remove inverted tray from Tray A.
and repeat...

Only three trays needed, and a small lighted shelf in a climate controlled room (in other words, room temperature, no freezing temperatures). This would provide 100g to 200g broccoli microgreens every three days.

About 15 minutes of work required every three days.

The inputs are electricity for a shoplight running 16 hours a day, seed and a small amount of soil. One would need a worm bin to compost waste plant matter.

Compostable outputs are the unused stems and roots pulled out of the tray, which can be fed to a worm bin.

Non-compostable wastes include plastic packaging for seed and soil.

Optimization: Note that only one tray needs light at a time, so it could be a small light. The method could possibly be optimized to use daylight in a windowsill. One could use soil from the worm bin instead of packaged soil when topping off the tray after seeding.

If optimized, the only costs would be for seed, and to replace any broken trays as time goes on. 10 lbs of broccoli seed is currently about $70 - https://seeds.toddsseeds.com/broccoli-sprouting-seeds/ . 10 lbs = 4536 grams. At seeding rate of 50 grams per tray, 10 lbs will seed 90 trays, at a cost of $0.78 per tray, with a harvest of 100 to 200 g of microgreens. 90 trays is about one half a year's production on a continuous harvest basis.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

sky wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:05 pm
If optimized, the only costs would be for seed, and to replace any broken trays as time goes on. 10 lbs of broccoli seed is currently about $70 - https://seeds.toddsseeds.com/broccoli-sprouting-seeds/ . 10 lbs = 4536 grams. At seeding rate of 50 grams per tray, 10 lbs will seed 90 trays, at a cost of $0.78 per tray, with a harvest of 100 to 200 g of microgreens. 90 trays is about one half a year's production on a continuous harvest basis.
What’s the difference between sprouting seeds and regular seeds? I ask because True Leaf market sells Waltham 29 Broccoli as a microgreens seed (which is what I’ve used so far). It seems like the sprouting seeds are slightly cheaper though.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

sky wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:05 pm
Only three trays needed, and a small lighted shelf in a climate controlled room (in other words, room temperature, no freezing temperatures). This would provide 100g to 200g broccoli microgreens every three days.

About 15 minutes of work required every three days.
ah, thanks a lot, will check the videos out with my wife & confer on feasability of operation.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:48 pm
ah, thanks a lot, will check the videos out with my wife & confer on feasability of operation.
In regards to climate-controlled room, my setup is literally in my bedroom on a shelf (it's a studio). If you are in a humid environment you might need to set up an additional small fan, but I found that wasn't necessary for me when growing in soil because I had good air circulation from my ceiling fan and I already had a fan run at night for white noise. I think you mentioned you are in a dry environment, so mold probably won't be an issue but you might just have to bottom water everyday instead of every other day if things start drying out.

I'm using a pair of 24 inch LED grow lights on a timer which are enough to cover 3x 2010 trays at once. I set the timer to 12 hours a day (9AM-9PM) just because that's a bit more reasonable since it's in my living space and my sleep/wake times have some variation. My next batch will be a tray or 2 of microgreens and then the remaining space will be to start seedlings for my spring garden.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

@wb

same here, studio apt (but in the desert)

we get savage mold where there's humidity (eg inside the brita pitcher handles) but otherwise no.

treatment ive seen is light hydrogen peroxide dilution in watering spray. it's just the "one small detail after another" factor that tends to overwhelm.

so im hoping that in a "naturally balanced" environment (soil not medium) this might not be an issue.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

@7wb5

That makes sense. I confess that at this point my practical gardening experience is virtually non-existent, so I don't have a wealth of knowledge to fall back on. I'm trying to remedy that this spring. Good point about looking at the distribution of rainfall across the months in you region. I've heard of the mulch trick to retain moisture as well so that's definitely something I'll be doing.

Right now, I think one key for any shot at self-sufficiency on a micro urban homestead scale is figuring out how to maximize potato production in a very small space. At least I suspect that's the case with most regions of the USA east of the Mississippi, with the exception of tropical parts of Florida where other staple crops can be grown. I've talked about this before here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11308&p=230030&hilit=potato#p230030

Let's assume the estimate that 2 lbs of potatoes can be grown per sqft in soil is accurate. I've done a bit of research on growing potatoes in 5 gallon buckets, and one reputable Youtube source says to expect anywhere from a 4-6 lb yield (I know there are lots of variables involved, but I'm just keeping it simple for now). A 5 gallon bucket has a diameter at the top of approximately 12 inches, which means the bucket provides ~5 lbs of yield per sqft, more than double Jeavons' moderate output. Of course there might be more challenges associated with keeping the buckets watered compared to a crop in the ground, but that's where things like self-watering/wicking buckets and mulching the top of the bucket come in.

However, the bucket is only 15 inches tall, so we're still not really taking full advantage of vertical space. The "traditional" potato tower I've seen that is made by filling a wire mesh cylinder with hay, soil, and potatoes seems to fail pretty much every time. But if we know that a 5 gallon bucket works pretty consistently, perhaps there is a way to set up a series of suspended 5 gallon buckets, one on top of the other? I'm envisioning one bucket placed on the ground and another hanging from a post, with a few inches between the top of the first bucket and the bottom of the second bucket. Basically, the potato plant in the bottom bucket would still grow up, but it would be along the sides of the bucket above it, providing shade and cooling for that bucket. I might wrap the buckets in some kind of trellis system to give the potato plants support as they grow up. I'd use the simple self-watering system with a container at the bottom and PVC pipe that you see all over the place, which should minimize the need for daily watering. The white buckets should be less prone to overheating, and I can even bury the bottom bucket slightly with some ground cover around it to provide shading. As I mentioned, the other buckets would get shaded by the potato plant growing out of the bucket below them as the season goes on.

In theory, you could expand the system to 3 or more buckets. If we assume each bucket is 15 inches tall and a 3 inch gap between buckets, then a 3 bucket system (~15 lbs of yield) would be 51 inches tall and a 4 bucket system (~20 lbs of yield) would be 69 inches tall. One thing I'd have to figure out with anything larger than 2 tiers is how to suspend the buckets, since hanging from the handles will probably take up too much space.

I haven't seen anyone try this based on my research, which tells me that it might not be feasible. But then again, this shouldn't be much different then growing in individual 5 gallon buckets on the ground, which we know is a proven strategy. There are also not a lot of people working in this solution space, as we've mentioned before.

Edit: Maybe a more realistic estimate on potato yield per 5 gallon bucket is 2-3 lbs. I'm unsure but I'll definitely be running my own experiments this summer and reporting my yields.

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:40 pm
treatment ive seen is light hydrogen peroxide dilution in watering spray. it's just the "one small detail after another" factor that tends to overwhelm.
I really don't think treatment will be necessary in your environment. Also, supposedly worm castings have antifungal properties if that become a big concern.

You can watch a thousand videos on microgreens and each will have a slightly different take on things. I just stuck with following Corey's Cave beginner course because he keeps things very simple and he is quite honest about what steps might be necessary for commercial growers vs. what's necessary for individual growers. The plants are only growing for 2 weeks indoors, so in my opinion there are just much fewer things to go wrong compared to growing a traditional vegetable outdoors.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 2:06 pm
I really don't think treatment will be necessary in your environment. Also, supposedly worm castings have antifungal properties if that become a big concern.
i really can't say. but murphy's law is real :lol:

also i don't know about worm castings, but assuming it were true that's what i mean by "naturally balanced." things killing each other till they achieve a steady state.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

@Alphaville

I agree that things definitely will go wrong. The nice thing about microgreens is that with a 2 week lifecycle, if things go wrong you can just throw the batch in the compost pile and try again. It's easy to get a lot of iterations to test out different techniques as well.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

white belt wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:20 pm
What’s the difference between sprouting seeds and regular seeds? I ask because True Leaf market sells Waltham 29 Broccoli as a microgreens seed (which is what I’ve used so far). It seems like the sprouting seeds are slightly cheaper though.
No difference between sprouting seeds and regular seeds, just in the size of the package. Sprouting seeds are sold in bulk sizes.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

Broccoli (or any brassica) are not very susceptible to mold. They also will happily grow in cool temperatures.

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Ego
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Ego »

What is the purpose of growing them in trays with soil? The jar sprouting method seems to work well and I seem to remember from the interview with Jed Fahey that glucoraphanin levels were highest at day three. Is there are reason to grown them longer and larger?

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

Sprouting also works. It has been a while since I sprouted broccoli, but the flavor of microgreens might be preferable to some. Microgreens are more salad like. But sprouts are also good. I have also heard that the glucoraphanin/sulforaphane levels are highest at three days, but the sprouts are tiny at that time, just starting to pop out. If the goal is maximizing glucoraphanin/sulforaphane, then sprouts might be the way to go.

tsch
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by tsch »

I've grown potatoes in bags (the kind that have the flap to allow harvesting from the bottom as you add soil for more growth at the top) and in a long wooden planter box.

The bags work, to a point, but my experience is that I disturb the roots when harvesting to the point that the plant never quite recovers properly.

The planter box was more interesting. IIRC it was 4-5 ft long, about a 1.5-2 ft tall and wide at the top (it tapered from bottom to top; my brother made it and then handed it off to me when he moved). I planted three potato plants in it and added soil/compost as the plants grew. Eventually it became this ongoing potato thing...I'd just harvest some potatoes when I wanted some for dinner but otherwise left it alone. That went on for at least 2 years. Probably some of the potatoes were sprouting and adding new growth. They are a little touchy to getting the right amount of water, and prone to fungus.

Neither of these would have yielded enough to be a staple crop for survival, but it was GREAT for having a very fresh home-grown ingredient to add here and there. That, for me, has been the real benefit of apartment-size gardening; it works really well for saving trips to the store (useful in a pandemic!) and providing higher quality foods and variety. As well as the entertainment of doing it.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

I started a soil microgreens tray. Eventually I will add worms after there is something to eat, maybe in a month. I am going to try to follow the system outlined above. Eventually I will get some worms from a fishing bait store and add them in. Hopefully red wrigglers.

My early seed starts for my plant sale are in the tray, these are the slow growing plants. Rosemary, lavender, parsley, sage, spearmint. My soil is half and half seed starting mix and coco coir. I am starting them on a shelf under lights and will be top watering. They are in six cell packs, all over seeded so I will split them up in a few weeks.

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

sky wrote:
Sat Jan 23, 2021 4:01 pm
I started a soil microgreens tray. Eventually I will add worms after there is something to eat, maybe in a month. I am going to try to follow the system outlined above. Eventually I will get some worms from a fishing bait store and add them in. Hopefully red wrigglers.
Are you planning on using any kind of seed starter or top soil for the microgreens like he does in the video? I actually have all the other components to try such a system, so I’m wondering if just sprinkling some worm castings on the top layer of the soil prior to planting a new batch of microgreens would suffice in the soil re-use system.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

I have started two trays so far. I did not add any dry soil on top of the seed. I just sprinkled seed down and tamped it a bit with a piece of wood.

I just checked the tray I started on the morning of 1/23, so 4 full days since watering in. They are growing well, no problems.

I am using an inverted solid tray on top of a solid tray (not a perforated tray). Some growers stack trays to push the seed down onto the soil, I am not doing that.

I am just experimenting here, not saying this is the best way. My goal is to find the easiest low effort way.

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