Sierra Sustainability

Visit us here for interesting developments related to sustainability topics in Yosemite, the Sierras, and the surrounding foothills.

Frost Comes to Our Garden

As warm weather prevailed well into December, we’d been planting “winter vegetables” (bak choi, brussel sprouts, broccoli, lettuces, kohlrabi, mustard greens, cilantro, etc.) that thrived and grew well.

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During the week of Christmas through New Years however, we were hit by frosts in the high 20’s that completely killed our remaining summer vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, etc.). The garden looked so sad on some of the mornings but seemed to have faired well despite the cold.

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But now that non-freezing nights are back (for how long?), the garden is slowly looking happier than during the past week.

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Ever Better Community

Announcing the Ever Better Community II Conference on Saturday, March 28th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, Bldg. A. This conference is planned around the Open Space Technology idea that the people who show up for a conference are the people who should create the agenda.

The theme of the conference asks us, “What kind of future do we want for Mariposa County (and neighboring counties), and what practical steps will take us there?” It also asks us each to take responsibility for the topic(s) that we are passionate about, to lead a 50 – minute discussion about the topic, and create a planning network (email and or future meetings) for future action on that topic. One of the topics I (Ken) am interested in, and will take responsibility for, is planning for the creation of a rock-climbing history museum in the town of Mariposa. The link to the Conference is here:

everbettercommunity.org
If you are interested in serving on the steering committee or volunteering during the day of the conference, please let us know through this website.

EBC Facebook

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Sierra Sustainability: Summer Into Winter

It is now the last week in October, and both the tour season and Lisa’s and my garden are slowing down. In our garden, we’ve been taking out tomato and other plants that are no longer producing. We’re retaining those that still have ripening fruit on them, even though most of the tomato plants appear to be dying at their bottoms, many of their tops are green and flowering and continue to hold ripening fruit.

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The chicken-wire top of what was a cat’s protective cage has become an arbor for the ripening tomatoes, and the holes in the chicken-wire are the perfect size for bringing the cherry and yellow pear tomatoes down through the chicken wire to pick them.
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Where we’ve removed, unproductive plants, we’ve replaced them with a variety of autumn and winter vegetables, kale, arugula, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mustard greens, lettuce, spinach, celery, and more.

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Some we’ve planted in individual containers, though all are watered with our very efficient watering system described earlier.

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However, we’ve found that these recent planting are visited each morning by a lovely, but hungry variety of migrating birds, Rufus-sided and brown towhees, white- and golden-crowned sparrows, goldfinches, plain titmouses, and more. They nibble at the leaves of these delicate, young plants, so we’ve fashioned some simple cages to protect the most susceptible plants, leaving others at the mercy of these winged friends.

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Today’s harvest: Zucchini, cucumber, several varieties of tomatoes, calendula, peppers, parsley, lettuce, onions, carrots.

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Summer, 2014 Garden Update

Lisa and my garden has matured and has allowed us to continue to eat most of our meals with our major inputs coming from our garden. We harvest enough vegetables daily to eat delicious meals at least twice a day from the garden.

Garden Bounty

From the roof of our house, one can get a “bird’s eye view” of our “Cat-Cage” (with some shade cloth) as well as our recycled tractor-tire beds and other pots and grow-boxes which make up the rest of our garden efforts.

Bird's Eye View of Garden

Bird's Eye View of Garden

To keep cooking heat out of the house (so we can reduce our cooling needs), we’ve put our camp stove on the deck where we do some of our cooking. We also do some of our cooking on the deck using the grill. At one point we had a Stove-Top – Grilling Cook-Off, but there was no consensus about which cooking method was superior to the other.

Camp Stove on Porch with fresh vegetables

Grill on Porch with fresh vegetables

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Spring 2014 Garden Update

This year, we added 5 recycled tractor tires to our garden.

Tractor Tire Planters

This meant we also needed to add a new irrigation valve so all the plants would get enough water, even with our very efficient, system that directs water to the roots of the plants. In the following picture, incoming water comes in at lower left, then passes thru a filter to keep particles from clogging the spitters. Then the water passes into a manifold with three valves; the blue and red valves lead to the 2 spitter systems. The black valve controls a hose which has a watering wand which is seen just above the black valve.

Irrigation System

Unlike a drip system, our system uses 1/8th” tubing from a standard half inch drip line to a “spitter” which directs a small spray to the plant roots.

Tire Irrigation System

Most of the plants are really thriving and we are just beginning to reap our first vegetables.

GardenEarly Harvest

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