The Real Know How

How-Tos, Videos, Tutorials — Ramping Up for the 21st Century

Archive for the tag “agriculture”

Growing and Selling Herbs

Donna Eaton of Cedar Springs Herb Farm in Harwich, Massachusetts talks about being an herbalist and herb producer and why it is important for us to have domestic sources for herbs.

Cedar Spring Herb Farm from Sky Sabin on Vimeo.

Water on Your Land: Conserving, Directing, Collecting and Storing It

Loren Luyendyk from Santa Barbara Organics talks about water.


– How you can use swales to redirect water on your property and also to encourage water that might otherwise flow away, taking topsoil with it to sink into the soil.

– Mulching to help retain water in the soil.

– Collecting rain water and storing it in tanks, in plants on your land and in manmade ponds

– Greywater – Use water more than once. Really easy set-ups and more complicated ones.

– Blackwater (sewage) – Treating the sewage with vegetation. Gives a reed bed example,

– Flowforms to oxygenate water

Introduction to Permaculture Part 2: Water from sbpermaculture on Vimeo.

Keeping Chickens

Tamar Haspel gives a really good walk through of the considerations to make in planning to keep chickens.

Backyard Chickens, Internet Pilot Episode from Sky Sabin on Vimeo.

Setting Up A Residential Greywater System

Rethinking Water: Greywater Guerillas Workshop from RyanIsHungry on Vimeo.

Micropropagation At Home – Step by Step

These should give you a better picture of the process – although the collection is incomplete.

Micropropagation or “Cloning” Plants at Home

This is a completely new topic for me. I had no idea that it was possible to grow small plants from plant tissue samples and to do so at home.

Question: Why would anyone do this?

Answers via Wikipedia (I’ll list just 5 of the possible reasons):

– To “copy” a great plant (produces nice fruit, is a high yielding plant, is hardy, etc)

– To produce mature plants quickly.

– To produce multiples of plants in the absence of seeds or necessary pollinators to produce seeds.

– To produce plants from seeds that otherwise have very low chances of germinating and growing, i.e.: orchids and nepenthes.

– To preserve a rare and endangered plant species.

According to Wiki, micropropagation is a widely used in forestry. Should we really be producing cloned forests?

The process does seem to have several steps and takes care as you have to try to get your working environment and the tissue culture you are working with as sterile as possible.

I find micropropagation fascinating but it also brings up all kinds of questions for me. What do you think? Micropropagation – thumbs up or thumbs down?

Power Tools and Compost

Yorkshire’s Allotment Diary guy shows us his jigsaw-powered compost sifter in action. Interesting idea.

Why Everyone Should Own Chickens

Danny at Soulsby Farm writes on why chickens are good livestock to raise as well as giving lots of information on how to get started (selecting your breed, finding chicks a good reference book on chickens and how to feed and water them). He’s also posted neat pics of the coop building process and of his flock.

Danny and his family live on a small farm in Hudson, Ohio. He writes “We believe in sustainable farming from organic heirloom seeds and are strongly against GMO’s. We grow everything organically and let our hens free range around the garden (and sometimes the neighbors yard).”

Check him out at his blog The Soulsby Farm: A Very Small Farm.

Find out more about the non-profit he started, Project Garden Share (especially if you’re in that part of Ohio as they’re looking for donated seed, plants and tools) connect individuals in need of food with people who grow gardens.

Graywater Systems for Your Garden

This is a great talk by Laura Allen (here walking us through her home humanure system) and Gregory Bullock about setting up a home graywater system.

“Greywater (water that comes from sinks, showers, and washing machines) turns wasterwater and its nutrients into irrigation water, saving time, money, and fresh drinking water. Whats more plants love it, especially fruit trees, berries and vines. Last year California rewrote its greywater code, making simple greywater reuse legal and affordable. Learn the why and hows of greywater reuse, and how to transform your household plumbing into a greywater irrigation system.”

They are in California so some of the impacts, positive and negative, that they talk about here focus on that state, but the issues are similar everywhere.

The talk covers really important Dos and Don’ts. Some topics mulch and mulch basins as filters, choosing good soaps and cleaners to use in your home if you are going to set up a graywater system, how to set up plumbing for the system (they look at a system that uses the pump on the washing machine as its driver), costs, types of crops it is suitable to irrigate (apparently root crops are out but it’s fine for “fruit” and leaf crops.

The Plant World’s Clean-up Crew – Hyperaccumulators

Hyperaccumulators are plants that are highly effective at accumulating nasty stuff like heavy metals in their “bodies.” So much so, that they can be planted expressly to improve contaminated soil.

Here’s the Wikipedia list of these plants.

You’ll notice some familiar plants on the list: sunflower, alfalfa, barley, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. The rapeseed plant, for example, seems very willing to accumulate several different heavy metals where some plants only have one heavy metal friend.

Raised beds of new soil are the usual solution for the home gardener who’s done a soil test and knows that they have contaminated soil but phytoremediation is being used by the US government as a cheap, effective, low-on-labor way to clean up the heavily contaminated Superfund sites.

Grist has an interesting article on what happens or should happen to plants that have been used to clean up toxins.

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