In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011
We start a pumpkin patch
Our soil is much better than we thought. It looked like adobe in the heat of August and September, but I learned in my Victory Gardens San Diego class to do a shake test. You take a sample of soil put it in a jar of water shake it up and let it settle for a week. It then settles in layers. We actually have a good mix of clay silt and sand on top of a clay base. The front yard with is feral lawn remains is actually really rich in organic material also. The back yard is has less but is not so bad either as you can see rom the lush growth that the rains have brought forth.
Our compost pile sprouted a few baby pumpkin plants. We already had one that germinated in our sink trap in the days after Halloween. That one we potted and it quickly out grew the pot. So we made a quick raised bed in the front yard by turning over the soil, laying down newspaper as weed/grass barrier and piled it with green cuttings and straw. On top of this we layered compost. This technique of layer or lasagna mulching, is another thing I learned from the VGSD. Its used for planting on top of and ex-lawn or other soil that is being reclaimed for food growing. We planted our two strongest pumpkins in the bed. Unfortunately that was the week the frost hit. The plant that sprouted in the sink survived the frost, but something was eating it. Mrs Greyshade identified the culprit as earwigs and found a solution. She put out little dishes containing a mixture of soy sauce and vegetable oil. The next morning we found drowned earwigs plus a slug and loads of little black aphid looking things. The compost pile yield more pumpkin plants and this time all are doing well.