Thursday, January 23, 2014

Have a Project ....Get Going on a Limited Budget.......Get Some Ideas

Starting Over with Inspiration.....

It has now been 4 full weeks since we arrived here in Spring Valley with snow boots left over from our move. In looking back, it has taken most of that for this move to really sink into our heads. Even after going for a drive up to Julian, where I grew up, we still felt on holiday.  Living here in San Diego did not seem real. I think it has been partly because we never expected to move back.  Coming back to California was for Marty's father and the business.  For me this has been more of a challenge because I interact with his dad during every part of the day.  Marty works a lot of hours, so it is more my challenge to meet his needs, our needs, and the business needs.  After 4 weeks this is getting easier.  It is like having kids again at home that constantly distract you.

It is my role to be his dads companion, care giver, and fit in all the rest too. I am blessed he is still able to do most things without too much help.  Saying that, his mind slips at times and he really does need us.  I cook his meal at 4 pm because he is used to eating then. My goal with him, on a nutritional level,  is to get him away from the TV dinners he lived on. It has been a lot to adapt to, all at once.  I also know that God will give me the strength to keep it together as time goes along and it gets much harder. Patience is needed with every conversation. We came back to keep him out of nursing home. He is a retired commander who would not enjoy being told he must do something at a certain time.  He is very particular on what he wants done and how he wants it done. He had two bad falls before Christmas in his apartment and those falls have affected his memory. He is like a dad, rather than a father-in-law and he loves me as a daughter. Making him feel loved and useful is a gift to both of us. 

In coming back to San Diego, we used most all our reserves.  Since we moved with one u-hall, even with a 26 footer, so much did not fit in. We left almost all the building materials we had acquired, all the great mulch and potting mix in beautiful beds, and the stock froze in the truck.  So basically we are starting over.  After feeling blue and sad for a few days over the losses, I see it this way.  We left Nevada and a lot of work over two years that was left behind but .....gardening there was a nightmare there with high winds, heat, and cold in the winter.  I did well with my efforts but it was always our efforts against the weather. We lost the game often. We were successful in most of the efforts but it took so much work there. I was frustrated all the time. I could not grow my beloved Moringa trees except in containers in the house. That is in the past.

The pictures below are the future back here is San Diego.  No neighbors except on one side, the back butts up to a 15 acre park, and the other side is a small creek.  We are within 5 miles of nurseries and farmer's markets for sale of the trees later. An acre comes with the property....a flat acre that is fully fenced with chain link.

Our new place.....
View of our front yard from the wood porch off our office.

View of porch and scented geranium bought here in San Diego.

Now we are living in an area that is very temperate and calm. There is a nice breeze but no nasty winds.  I don't have to fight the snow and ice for months in the winter. I can grow almost any thing I want too, other than plants that need a freeze to bare fruit. Goji berries are one of these.  Moringa trees are what I need to grow for our business and it is great for them here. They will still lose their leaves but they will survive here outside.  So overall we gained more than we lost for the future.  The water here is expensive so we will have to be very careful. On the other hand, we have the climate, which is a huge plus.

It is easy to start over when you have money to re-buy all of it easily.   It is more challenging to do it with a very limited budget.  There are many readers who also must do things the hard way..slower...creatively.   So I will be sharing with you our efforts monthly on starting gardens again,  growing Moringa trees, and moving the business along.  I want you to see that it can be done and it is your attitude and vision for the future that gets it done.  If you want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen.  I do hope sharing this with you will give you inspiration to keep going on your projects, even if you have endured setbacks and loss. Failing is not the problem, it is the way you react to failure that makes you a winner. It is wiping away the tears, then starting over with a new vision. It is dusting your pants off, getting up, and creating a new plan. Even if it is just a huge setback, it is your attitude that will either leave you in depression or spur you to a new future. It is up to your life turns out.  Vets coming back from the war with only parts of limbs left, are helping others to have courage. What ever is your set back, you can overcome it with work and faith. It may take time but it will happen. 

These blog pictures and ones in future blogs will never make the pages of Better Homes and Gardens but are for practical people on a limited budget. The goal is home grown food for us now, not two years from now. We are renting this house so it has to be built so we can take it down when we leave. If you own your home, spend what ever you can afford for a beautiful set up.  I am into functional and creative on a budget.

In our business budget, the first money goes for quality Moringa stock and the expenses to manufacture that product.  The Honduras product we sell has been tested in a Florida lab for mold, bacteria, and E-Coli. It is packaged in that lab. None of it comes from India or China. It is not packaged in a foreign country with questionable procedures.It is quality product that has been tested for safety. It is the first priority, after house bills. It is our present business and future as well. Growing the Moringa seedlings to sell is our priority as well.

Everything else like the garden and livestock must come after that.   Set priorities. 

New Garden:  First Steps...Humble Beginnings

The framed wire part was here on the property. It was part of a chicken coop. I could use it again for the duck house possibly or use it to keep the wild birds out of my lettuce that will be grown in this bed. The wood was free. This bed will have lettuce, Swiss Chard, and onions planted in it. All of the plastic containers did come with us in the truck, other than the pink plastic chair converted into a growing container. Those will be used for other veggies. Soil to fill in the wood frame is the next step. There was one bag of organic dirt left here which we used to start out the bed.

With wood left over from our neighbor's play house project, we have the first of several raised garden beds. I want to thank my husband, for putting it together today. The ground is hard clay here and that is our choice for this yard. Digging is way too much work here. I brought a few empty containers to start with as well.

My seedlings (started in the house) came up well including tomatoes, peppers, cukes, Swiss Chard, and lettuce.  I have Comfrey roots on their way as well. Some are for my own new bed and some are to grow for sale later on Craig's list. 

New Moringa Seeds Arrived Today

I ordered seeds from Nicaragua this time.  I will be soaking them tomorrow, then planting them in coir fiber that was purchased three years ago.  We bought it for cheap. He told us it had been overly compressed. He was sure right about that. It took 5 days of soaking and a trowel to break it up.  It can and will be used for the Moringa seedlings.  Looking back, I would have payed the extra money for the better product.  It was still $100 bucks for 7 huge blocks and we are using it now.

Ducks are ordered for March 2nd:  Why ducks?   

I really like them and I love duck eggs to eat. Ducks have the advantage because many breeds don't fly or need a roost. They are easier to keep out of your garden and other plants. They eat weeds, bugs, and grass so they are cheaper to feed after they grow some.  When they play in their kiddie pool, their do is deposited in the water. Diluted by the water, duck poop is fantastic organic, natural fertilizer for trees and plants.  They get to play and have fun while giving you fertile water.  I place the pool under a tree so that when I dump it, the water is not wasted. I have ordered Gold Star Hybrid ducks that are bred for their egg production and are more friendly. Some duck breeds are very skittish.  Here there is much green fodder for them all over the property such as grass, mallow, and other garden plants. They will forage and save me much work.   Part of the Comfrey greens will be grown for them.  I could have probably gotten ducks for free later but I really wanted this particular breed.  Most of the ducks for free are drakes which you only need one of or not at all.  You only need one drake for many hens.  Drakes will breed the females to the point of exhaustion.  So more than one is not good for your flock. Drakes do not make much noise, as roosters do. You can hatch out baby ducklings without making the neighbors mad. Ducks lay better in the winter and don't mind rain and gloomy weather. If you give them a large area to roam in, they are really fun to watch.  You are either a duck person, or not.  Our ducks will not be kept in a small pen. They will have room to enjoy life and help me weed the yard. They will have boundaries....the front yard will be off limits except for special times of forage.

Worm Beds Created:  

I need worm castings for the garden.  Mine were all lost. Some nice people we met this month, gave us a good handful or two of their red worm stock, to help us get going again.   They are wonderful people who are doing it all including raising their own fish on their property. We got to see how we could do that here on a smaller scale in the future. Considering the problems with lead, mercury, and other heavy metal contamination in fish, we will grow our own in large plastic containers.  That is for another blog. We now have someone to show us the way.  They will even give us some baby  tilapia to start us out.  If you network in a new area, you will find people who will help you with knowledge and supplies. 

So when starting out over again, you need to decide what are the priorities for your goals. You then need to work with your budget to see what you can do now with free supplies, what you can do later and in the future.  Decide what items really need to be purchased and what supplies can be creatively discovered. Ask your neighbors if they have wood or building supplies they want to get rid of. One of our problems, is not having a truck or any family member with a truck. Eventually, we will get to know people who do have one and will not mind giving us a hand to get the materials home. Pallets are one of those free building materials that we need for the duck shelter that will not fit in my husbands Rav 4.  BE Creative and think!

Creative Container Gardening:  

This is to prove a point.  You can make containers out of the weirdest stuff.  A chair below....but not just a chair perhaps.  What can be done with this? See the next pictures.

This pink plastic chair was here on the property.  It will not win Better Homes and Gardens list for beautiful containers but look what it can be used for.
One plastic chair.....already here on property

Turned upside down, rested on one end of the raised garden wall, and it becomes a container for plants.

Drill holes in the bottom of both the deep part and shallow part.  Plant some plants in the area where it is shallow and some on the sides where the roots can grow deeply.  It has the advantage of a large circumference to space the plants in. It was here so why not use it.  The idea is use what is available for free when ever you can.  You could decorate this container creatively with white or green paint decorations on the sides.

Craig's list has a free section. You can find wood, pallets, furniture, and all sorts of useful stuff. The farm and garden section has a lot to offer as well.  Check with neighbors for what you need. You would be surprised on what you can find within a few doors.  Network to find what you need.  Ask for some help from neighbors. If you ask enough people, you will find it or the help you need. You have to have the guts to ask.

Update: We are now located in Indian Mound, TN as of 1-15-2015

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sprouted Moringa Oleifera Seed Questions Answered,,,,,,,,Growing Moringa Seeds Questions

What does a sprouted Moringa Oleifera seed look like? I am confused? What is the white tail? When do you put the seeds into the water? Do you have to soak the seeds? Why soak the seeds? 


A sprouted Moringa seed has two shoots coming out of it initially. One is the tap root and the second shoot is the main tree shoot.  The white root shoot or tail pointing to the south, downward, should be planted into the soil. The other shoot growing upward is the main little tree shoot. 


The white tap root shoot usually emerges first, with the main tree shoot coming out next. The second shoot may emerge a day to three days later.  If the second shoot does not emerge after a few days, the seed has problems.  Be patient before you give up on the seed. 


The white tap root cannot be broken or it kills the tree. They are very fragile. You pick them up carefully with either tweezers or hold the seed with your thumb and forefinger on the sides...not touching the shoots. Make a hole with a pen or other tool deep enough so you don't break the tap root off.  Then gently move in the dirt to encircle the white root shoot.  Don't cover too deeply or tap the soil too hard.  On these seeds you can see the tap roots. The main shoot has not emerged on these yet.

You  will not go through this process with un-sprouted seeds planted directly into the pot or ground.

Plant sprouted seeds with White tap root facing down into the soil.
Sprouted Seeds: The first emerging white one is the tap root. A second shoot will emerge from the seed which is the main tree shoot. Plant them when both shoots have emerged ..keep moist...but...not lying in excess water.  The bag should have enough moisture until the second shoot appears. They need a home with soil when they have two shoots. Well draining soil and containers only!

This seed shows the green tipped main tree shoot and the white tap root shoot. They both emerge from the same point in the seed.

You can spout them in a plastic  cake carrier or a plastic baggie. If you use the cake carrier, leave the cover on. I took the cover off so you could see the sprouts. Buy it at the Dollar store. You spray the paper towel under the sprouted seeds to keep the sprouted seeds moist until planted.I let them get this big so you could see them better. I plant them before this point.

These are new seedlings...then the leaves fan out later

The leaves begin to fan out
As they grow, they develop more white roots.

I am confused on when you put the seeds in water?

This is the answer to a readers question.

Clarifying the question on when you put the seed into water during the sprouting steps:

It is a step to sprout them.......the first step if you choose to do that.

You don't have to put them in water.

You can put them directly into the ground or a pot without soaking them.

Soaking them makes it easier for the seed to spout. It speeds up the process of sprouting.

Soaking them for more than a day can rot them. 

The next step is to drain the water off the seeds.  They do not need additional water.

Next Step:

You take them and either plant them directly into the ground or pot    OR

You can also put the soaked seeds them in a sandwich bag...... after you drain the water off.   Close the bag and put into a warm oven for a few days. Watch them closely for mold.  Putting the seeds into the bag so they don't touch each other also helps. 

Once they have two shoots, they need to be planted. If you put them in water they will rot.

In the pot or ground, the seeds should be planted about 3/4 of an inch under the soil.

Do not put in so much water, the soil is boggy or too wet. That will rot them. 

If it is still cold, they will die or grow slowly. If its too cold, the seeds may not sprout.  They like it warm.

You can use a heated seed mat underneath the pots to help them grow faster or a grow light.

They need warmth such as a window with sun or a grow light.

They will not grow much if your house is kept cold.

They will not live outside if it gets too cold or freezes where you live.

They are a TROPICAL plant  that loves 70 degrees or higher.

If you can grow citrus in your yard, you can probably grow the trees outside. Citrus can take an occasional freeze, Moringa trees do not do well.   Now saying that I have had readers write me that their tree died back but came back in Spring....growing up from ground level.  That does not happen in most cases.

With too much moisture, the roots rot as well. All that rain in the Philippines this month did not help any Moringa trees growing there.  Most farmers have drainage programs so that the roots don't stand in flooded waters. I know one man in Honduras who lost thousands of trees when his land flooded. He put in drainage ditches and replanted...costing thousands of dollars and time. 

I hope this answers the readers question on the seeds.   Again soaking the seeds for a day, helps them to sprout easier. The shell softens. You can also prick the shell gently with your fingernail after it is softened. Moringa seeds because of their high protein content tend to mold on you or rot. 

Kate Freer

Update: We are now located in Indian Mound, TN as of 1-15-2015