Saturday, March 29, 2008

one more day til i fly away

this has been a good trip, a good show and a good time working with a friend that i've not seen for nearly five years. it's nice to know our collaborations remain as strong and as like minded as they had in the past. we both have grown in many different ways but the ability to focus forward toward the same goal are still there and i revel in that unchanged character trait that we both share. in turn, i've had the pleasure of working with a great support team. fun folks who know the drill and are true professionals when the pressure is high, medium, low, whatever temp. they are good peeps.

we are close now to opening which means i am soon to part for home. just one more day and up and away i go.

i've been wondering about the garden's progress. it's always a surprise returning even after a week. who knows how tall the bean seedlings will be? i do wonder if they have begun to throw out their curling tendrils round their trellis supports? i wonder if the basil seeds planted have sprouted. i wonder if the potatoes are close to flowering. i wonder if any of the carrots are ready for picking. i wonder if any of the lettuce has resisted bolting?

i think about the meals i'll soon be enjoying from the garden goodies ready now for picking. it's been a shock shopping for fresh veggies. pricey, pricey, pricey. there is nothing like begin spoiled by your own home grown, home baked and home raised goods.

i've been pondering the cabbages. there ought to be one or two ready for picking. so what's it going to be? a coleslaw? or steamed cabbage? or stuffed cabbage? or roasted cabbage with fresh sliced fennel? or maybe a sliced cabbage salad with fresh roasted fennel and fresh roasted beets? it all sounds good to me.

just one more day til i fly away.
it's good to feel so fond of home.

Monday, March 24, 2008

on the road again

thinking about my beautiful imperfect home

thinking about the beautiful garden

thinking on how tall the grass might be

have the clovers yet flowered

have the greens gone to seed

has any rain fallen

are there leaves that need sweeping

have yet to clean the gutters

gutter leaves are good for the compost, really rev up the pile

and dear ole' mr. t, i'm thinking on you cutiepoo


Thursday, March 20, 2008

up for aire and it feels good

where did the week go? thursday already and thursday going on friday pretty darn soon at that. gotta say though, it has been as good as it has been busy and it's been busy.

lucky me, lucky we, mr. t and me got a surprise visit from the folks, ma and pa.
mr. t. he he got some good good scratching, some sitting in a lap n' that's not all ways around and some cooing and cuddling from his happy mama's mama.
we ,she me dined din din with my fine folks and shared iced cream.
lovely time we, she, she he and he had.
sent them off with gardeny gooddie goods.
went by too fast
too bad.

fine folks are super. they understand the busy work day, they occupy themselves just fine and they are fun and lovely loving folk. can't ask for much more than that, that's for sure.

other than that, it's been full steam ahead on most fronts. not a bit of time to work in the garden. i sure did enjoy my week off last week.

good thing good order is. and i think it might be safe to say that the worst of the pushy push push too much darn work push everything due at once push is over at least for a little bit. i am for the moment up for air and it feels good. there's another pushy push push period out on the horizon and it's coming soon but let's not talk about that right now.

let's just be happy and breathe the air given. happiness, happiness, happiness.

and the baby corns are now 4" grown. my how they grow so fast... and oh look. ladybug ladybug where are you? protectin' my taters woo woo woo.

so i'm not a poet
so-k with me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

pretty pretty green growing things


good day to you! keeping it simple today. pretty pretty green growing things and on the rise in two parts.

breezy tansy and dill bask in the morning's sun.

sunny sunflowers in their early spritely days all in a row beneath the squirrel feeder of course.
a sweet benefit from feeding all the creatures
once upon a time these were little cabbage babies that grew from little cabbage seeds. now look, growing up so fast and blossoming beautifully. rows and rows of cabbages in the afternoon sun.

happy potatoes happily neighboring with the tiny compost pile. fluffy green leaves with thick hearty stocks, that's what we like to see. these are the yukon golds. i have no idea how big they will get before they flower but these babies are growing powerhouse. anything could happen. we'll just have to wait and see.
and a nicola potatoe, also looking good.
not a bad bug in site.
though, lots of ladybugs out and about. go ladybugs go!

cabbages, potatoes, gotta then have carrots!
here is a bed of carrots and sorrel.
salad or soup all in one plot.
collards going to seed. wonder how she'll look once she blooms?
i'm allowing quite a number of winter crops to go to flower this year. i'm going to do my best at collecting their seed.

ahh lovely borage.
you can eat the flowers and the leaves.
incredibly healthy for you
and this baby reseeds itself each year - you only need to plant it once.
borage flowers opened up.
enjoy them in a glass of cold water or in a chilly vodka tonic
both work!
the leaves and flowers taste like cucumber.
the good bug blend just keeps trucking and gets prettier and prettier by the day. smells good too. sorry no smell-o-vision to share this bit with you yet.
lizard lizard vision in the artichoke bed.
they love to hang out in here.
wouldn't you?

and now on the rise - part one

to the left,
baby popping corns of the multi-color sort
each of them eager for sprouting at a pace of their own choice.

to the right,
baby echinacea - slow and steady growing
this little ones are teaching me a bit of patience.

on the rise - part two.

rosemary, romano, flax seed, whole wheat bread
oh that sounds so darn good simply in print. the rosemary is fresh out of the garden this morning. other ingredients in the bread include water, yeast, olive oil, a touch of salt and a good palm full of cracked pepper.

that's all for today folks. i've got big work to get through before tomorrow.

hippychick happy thing is the success at squeezing every play outside second that i could in my week off. may i have another week sir, please? please? soon enough the weekend will come.

and i still have not replaced my watch. that's saying something. i like life without the watch. cheery cheers to you all!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

when the groove hits you, gotta groove

bango! that's how it arrived. bango! i know how to build the run and build it as a dual purpose run and a walk away chicken tractor. i was up like a shot. 4:4o am is what the clock was reading. i was wide awake and in search of a pad of paper. i had to get the plan down before it was gone.

creative types - i think we're all crazy like this.

uh huh... uh huh... yup that seems to make sense. next came the cut list. wild the way the information was pouring out of me. ah the power of the ponder. give the brain a job, sit with it a while and bango one day an idea.

guess what happened next?
if you guessed that i went outside to check measurements for the 40th time then you are correct! i checked the idea against the real, made a few adjustments and decided it might be a tad too early to see if my local supply store would be open. i knew for sure they were not.

hmmpfh, now what?
i could build bean trellises. ok why not it's just a few minutes past 5 am and the temperature is nice, the neighborhood is beautiful and quite, let's do it. so into the garage i went and in a little more than an hour i had four bean trellises.

ok now beans
the beans at the time were sprouting happily in a container but i knew the spot where they would be for their spring growth. i raked up the dirt, lots of wormypoos, excellent. I dumped a bit of partly composted leaves and some rotting hay over the top of the soil. i then transported the containers over and dumped them one by one onto their new plot of land. the soil was plenty moist so rather than water, i moved directly to the hay mulching of the bed. i packed hay around each side of the raised bed and placed two of the four trellises atop.

i've been doing that a lot lately, working in partly composted leaves and rotting hay into the ground each season. i get great results and i think it's part of the growth of my worm population. gives them something to work through and builds another layer of vermi-goodness while the veggies are growing. i think it's a good symbiotic relationship; the worms get munchies, the veggies get munchies too.

ok, now it's 5:3o am. i'm a freak! but what's next? how about shower and read a few papers. ok ok real work if we must. so i cleaned up, got dressed and sat with my iced coffee and few papers. pretty good. and soon it was 9am. i was out of the house.

but before i could even make it to my car, my girly neighborlady friend asked me where the trellises came from. she loves them. i told her i built them today. and she laughed out loud. "you never stop do you?".... nope. "well then build me a few."... ok i'll do that. "you will won't you." "of course i will." i enjoy my neighbors - good people.

picked up the goods, transported everything home and got to work. first i had to hand saw everything to length, that took a bit. then i built the run. it happened just like that, no problems, everything fell into place and walla! a chicken run/mobile chicken tractor. you go you rock star sustainable hippycooliogirlywoman! sometimes it's cool to think you yourself are cool. this is one of those times.

and with that said, it is official, with all of the structures for the coop and run built, i can happily say without any wincing that i am half way to chicken hippy-homey happiness and it feels great!

the next big job is the attaching of the hardware cloth and i think that job my need to wait a few weeks. much to do before then. i think i should give everything a protective coat of paint. i'm sticking with the yellow that the house is painted, it's a nice color and it's calming, i like it.

i hope to convince a few buddies to help with the hardware cloth install. it's going to be a four to six hand job and i've got just the two; lucky that i am to have them.

so i took a little walk in the street to see how it would look from a does not live there point of view. not bad? it's not finished yet and there is no roof yet so i decided i would wait to judge. though, while walking i noticed that the outside of the fence yard needed a mow desperately. so i mowed. i've been so involved with the coop that i did not even think about mowing and i love mowing. i need to chill on the coop a bit.

and now i'm done building and gardening and primping up the yard for the day. (believe that one?) i re-cleaned myself and decided that if i could not get the last bits of dirt out from under my nails out then i would just paint my nails and call it day. so i did. i painted my finger nailypoos and my toe nailypoos plummy red. it's pretty and you would never know there is dirt under my nails. ahaa! i should go show my neighborlady friend, she would be proud of me for doing something girly which reminds me, it's time for the second coat. gotta go!

go.go.go. groooovvvyyy!
photos later. fingers are drying now.

Friday, March 14, 2008

pondering coop... pondering bok bok run...

birds vision
appropriate for the day

ideas come...
out i go to ponder, to measure, to rethink, to ponder yet again. the pondering goes something like this i sit outside the coop on the grass and look until i see a new possibility.

or i do the same but inside the coop.

this is my first shot at building a home for creatures of any sort. and i find as i build i begin to go through a series of what ifs? safety what ifs? when it gets cold what ifs? when it rains what ifs? when i come home after the sun goes down what ifs? ease of cleaning and maintenance what ifs? get the picture?

then comes the well i coulds...

so today i spent a bit of time sitting outside the coop.

i marked out the chicken run area with a few sticks of rebar and some sisal string.

it's not huge, 7'6" x 4" 6". i don't yet know how tall i'll make it but i do have a pretty good idea as to how i want to construct it.

i added a kick board to the base where the coop heads out to the run. it will serve as an extra bit of safety once the entrance to the run is closed up for the night. i thought maybe a bit of overlap might be helpful for that. you can see the outside photo of the kick board here and if you look back at the previous photo you can see the same from the inside of the coop.

in between the sitting, i shored up a few corners.

and made use of an old bit of livestock mat i've had hanging around since i moved in. funny how items always find a way of making themselves useful.

it's an odd shape which i kind of like. and it's one side fit perfectly under the door. sold! it's now the chicken coop welcome mat.

everything has a place and a home be patient and observant and you will find each.



now it's time for din din. beets tonight - tre' yumme'.

crazy coop caper continues

i've made a tad bit of headway on the super dooper chicken cooperator. not huge strides, baby steps. bit by bit i'll get there.

this is the door to the coop. you can see that i have added the trellis panels to the lower area of the coop. i thought it a good idea to keep in the style already existing privacy panels. step one - do not reinvent the wheel.

i have filled in the vertical gap left of the door giving the corner a hard - raccoon can't break through barrier. i'll be covering both sides of the door with 1/4" square hardware cloth in the very near future.
stepping inside the door and you can see that i've raised the starter hen house up onto cinder blocks. this gives the chickypoos more room to move in the coop.

the plan is to continue with the trellis panels all the way to the top of the coop. i've attached the trellis panels from the inside.

what you do not see is that i've also framed out the ceiling. i'll place panels above as well. why? well i know we've got raccoons in the area. i've seen them myself and i want to be sure my ladies do not become lunch for those hen happy critters.
looking from the east to the outside of the coop you can see our private view of the coop. i'm sure the sounds of the henny hen hens will keep mr. t. supercat fully activated and alert upon their first moving in. i'm excited for that.

ok so in this view you can see a bit more of the trellis . i'm planning, down the line, to build a better hen house. you can see that i've framed out for two horizontal egg collecting panels. the panels are not there yet but they will live just above the white trellis panels.

as we all know the trellis panels will not fully cut it in creature critter investigation so i'm building indivual frames that sit inside each 2x4 support. those frames will be covered with 1/4" square hardware cloth on both sides. i'll then slip those in between the 2x4 supports much like you would a window. trellis inside/hardware cloth outside - should prove pretty safe.

the ceiling is also framed out. i'll attach trellis to the inside and lay hardware cloth over the top. same idea but no frames.
this is the view my west side neighbor will see. the open area is where i plan on building the chicken run.

i figure the combination of the trellis panels and the hardware cloth will give the girls and the neighbors a good bit of privacy. the neighbors will know the ladies are there because i've told them they are coming but general passers by might not notice which is the master plan.

i'll build a little roof for the run. i'm thinking why not make is super cute and roof it just like the bigger structure. pretty pretty for the ladies.

i imagine the run will also have the trellis hardware cloth treatment. better safe than sorry. i also think the trellis may help keep the ladies a bit shaded from the searing sun we get come summer. i'll make flip panels on the inside of the coop that allow the ladies entrance to the run during the day and will shut at night for safety.

this is the the northwest neighbor view. similar treatment as the west. you can catch a glimpse of the three large trees (2 pecan and 1 live oak) that will provide the ladies with shade. the right hand side of the photo shows one of the apple trees near by and part of the greater orchard.

i don't know about you. but i think things are coming along swimmingly. closer every week. the may arrival of the chicas should prove a perfect time for their joining of the family.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

windy windy ohhhhh there she blows!

first things first

happy birthday healyio beegeelio! it's your day sweetie, i hope you're having a good one. i'm sending big love into the wind destined for you! love you girlywoman. treat her right you know who. she's a dear romantic so dig in and make her day dreamy. might just be girl movie day. i wonder beegeeeli where are you now...

with that taken care of we hit into the day so far. so far because it's only 2:30pm at the moment, thus, so far... and today's saying is. "sometimes it's good to be a superwoman". yup i'm a superwoman. actually, i've been a superwoman the past two days. why? how? well hold your pants up it's coming!

ok yesterday 4 count them 1,2,3,4 yards of mixed compost and hard wood mulch arrived by truck early morning. the truck had not even pulled away and i was already digging in. i knew it would take the whole day to get through the lot of it. and to do the job right, i had to peel away all the old winter leaf much and transport that to the compost piles (already overflowing) which i also knew would be a super humongous job.

i was already dressed in my dirty jeans and my dirty t-shirt (a.k.a. work clothes) and my beat up garden shoes. so back and forth i went from pile to the gardens that were already prepped for fresh mulch. that ended too soon. then it was time to really dig into the big clean up. so i left the pile-o-dirt for a bit and shifted to raking up winter's leaf mulch. you see i just pile leaves all over my plants for winter. i don't bother chopping them up (don't have a leaf chopper yet and regardless of what folks say, i think the lawnmower leaf chopping plan is not very efficient and pretty darn messy) i digress. ok so i raked a lot of leaves - seems to be my fate as of late - head leaf raker of the universe. i digress again.

ok ok so i raked and i transported and now i have three totally full compost piles with not an inch of room to spare. nice thing is that they are all pretty fluffy due to the fact that one of the larger prairie grass gardens was mulched thick with pine straw. the pine straw will break down a bit slower than the rest but it will serve very well as an air pocket keeper in the big bin allowing good compost action to happen.

i then headed back to the pile-o-dirt and shovel, shovel, shovel, haul haul haul, dump and spread. then shovel, shovel, shove, haul, haul, haul, dump and spread. i would do that until i was really feeling tired. then i would take a break by pulling out the hose and giving a good spray to the dirt and mulch just layed. it worked out well actually. and some of the leaf matter that i dug up was partly composted so i just thinned it out a bit and spread new much over the top.

best news of the day. the earthworm universe on the hippychick farm is thriving! they were everywhere, everywhere. i was so pleased to see them. and if you had walked by, you might have caught me actually talking to the earthworms. yup i talked to quite a few yesterday, why not? i had the great pleasure of chatting with quite a number of folk through the day. earthworms, baby-ish (big babies) blue jays and blue jay moms, squirrels, local cats, lizard lizards and yes a few small garter snakes. which reminds me, i need to learn more about snakes so as not to make a sorry mistake down the line.

and once 6pm hit i stopped. yup i went from 7am to 6pm without a stop. and the gardens look great! i deserved an iced cream so i got one - a dilly bar from dairy queen. i know i know it's not organic. it's good, so i probably ate some plastic, who knows. it was good. no regrets.

so then i had a sit, read two plays (for future job giggypoos) and drank and drank and drank a whole lot of iced tea and read a few of my student's papers. then i went to bed.

and today i got up at 3:30am just because i woke up and knew i would not be falling back to sleep. i'm like that. so up i got, did my laundry, washed my dishes, had an iced coffee, heated up a piece of my yummy quiche and continued drafting a light plot that i've got due in a few short days. and the list of the day's to dos began running through the brain.
  • flea serum for kitty
  • pick up some milk
  • fold clothes
  • pick up some shampoo
  • chicken home chicken home what's next with the chicken home
  • read student papers
    • finish up
    • got other things to do
  • send an email to a colleague with latest plot updates
  • send out question email regarding a recent rehearsal report
  • dig more dirt
    • or rest the back for a day
    • which is feeling excellent by the way!
    • maybe i was needing some good exercise
      • i think so
    • ankle feeling ok today too
      • not as good as the back
anyway, the day got started - and at a reasonable hour, i hit the road, then came home and finished all tasks except for the paper reading - that's for tonight. my mind is better in the evening for that kind of thing.

but wait there's more. i did some work on the chicky chick home. i'll take pictures and show you. more yet to do. but every little bit counts.

also planted some lavender, bachelor buttons, coreopsis, lobelia and poppies. all lovely. ok enough blathering for now. i have to do some building a chicken coop math. not a strong point for me, it takes full math of the ruler type sort of concentration. check ya later!

question: why are we not metric? this 12" deal is not right! it's just not right.

i'll be back later, maybe clean this entry up a bit, maybe not.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

my knees are damp and dirty!


beautification nectarization scentiliation patrol and enhancement day!

huh? ah that's my way of saying today was about planting flowers and flowering bushes that feed nectar lovers; bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and some insects. it's like beer for the outside folk, goooooood.

and where did these lovlies go? well i've got beds around the house specifically for this purpose.

why is it beautification nectarization scentiliation day? well, all the plants, trees, veggies and herbs in the hippy chick universe are either edible or helpful to others and after looking around a bit i noticed that i could be more helpful. in turn my efforts to make the yard more helpful would be returned back so i figured why not? it's my week off, let's do what i find most fun. plant things that make the universe more beautiful!

you see, i don't have any looky looky just for the looky plants hanging about. what's the point of that? i've got fun things that you can smell, that make you smile, that make creatures smile and that feed the creatures, sometimes me included. so off i went to my favorite garden center in big ole' austintown. the natural gardener.

here's what we found...

sage, sage, sage, sage, yup four different types of flowering mexican sage. they are not only beautiful, they smell lovely. and they smell lovely with or without the flowers. the leaves send their sent out any time you brush past them, it's quite calming actually.

in an amongst the sage i've planted a few artemisia (technically and herb) and several milkweed plants which i hope will attract the butterflies once they flower. each and every one of these babies attracts butterflies in fact and several types of hummingbirds too.

and the sage gives you these knock you out flowers!



here you can see several more sage and two penstemon babies freshly planted.

the penstemons will flower in both blue and pink in a cascading fashion.


it's pretty
i like pretty



this is a silver leaf germander bush, flowering and good for the birdies.
here she is before she flowers.


and oh so pretty when she flowers


this is a cotoneaster bush, also flowering and helpful to the birdies.
she gives good berry.


just wait until she's loaded with these lovely red fruits.
the silver leaf with the red will be fantastic!

this beauty is a mexican honeysuckle bush. bush yup a bush. not a crazy vine that goes out of control but a bush. hmmmmm, we'll see.

and way back at the top is a flowering tobacco, purple in color. flowering tobacco really lets her scent fill the air at night. great for an evening stroll round the yard. i planted her in part shade since she prefers cooler temps.

i don't think she'd have a chance in the hot sun around here. fingers crossed hoping for the best.

yeah so why are my knees damp and muddy? well from the kneeling and planting my dears!

now i'm just sitting with a bowl of fresh grown greens and some chicken soup (made a month or so back) i thawed out and heated up. it's a simple dinner, but it's good. actually, it's exactly right for tonight.

cheers folky folk!

poopy mcpoopy ouchy ankle

don't know how
don't know when

but sometime in the last week or so i racked my ankle something fierce. i've spent the last week in denial thinking maybe it's just the changing weather, maybe it's just old sport related aches paying a visit to remind me that i am mortal or maybe who knows what but a maybe that meant all would soon be well and the pain would subside due pronto.

nope!

my ankle is in pretty bad shape. aspercreme is not cutting it, ben gay is not cutting it and the fact that i refuse to get off my feet is not cutting it. but it's my week home! i can't be wracked up, nooooooooooo!

i'm ok for a while in the morning but then craccckkk! and pain. and then limp limp limp, swear word, swear word swear word, sit look at ankle ( a lot of help that does), back up - denial up to full and continue on.

yeah not so smart. welll folks i've never been one who enjoys resting an injury. the way i look at it, i've got to strengthen the muscle, not allow it to atrophy. boy oh boy do i have enough atrophied muscles as it is. so i do my "spell the alphabet ankle exercise a few times a day" which allows flexibility to stay supple.

got any advice?
the ankle hurts most on lateral moves. forward and back is fine. i can put weight on it as long as i don't lean side to side. not quite knowledgeable enough to sort this one out.
i think i stretched a tendon and that's just going to take time.

for now it's a poopy mcpoopy ouchy ankle
i will not be stopped!

grow your own bread - futures in wheat at risk

here's a bit of an article i found interesting regarding the plight of the world's supply of wheat. click on the title "how to grow your own wheat" to take you to the originating site and to view reader response.
By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Magazine

Global stocks of wheat are plummeting and people are starting to worry about the price of staples like bread. But can you beat the commodity market by growing your own?

Look out your back window. How's the grass?

If you've got a garden at all, it might be that the grass is an unloved scrub as sparse as Elton John's hair used to be. Or it could be a lush strip of glorious verdure.

Either way, the odds are you're not getting much use out of it. Wouldn't it be great if you could improve your health, help the environment and at the same time do your part to fight inflation?

The world is running dangerously low on wheat, one of civilisation's original staple foods. Drought in Australia and China and a switch to meat in the newly prosperous parts of the world are putting the squeeze on wheat. Prices are at a record high.

Baker and organic food campaigner Andrew Whitley believes the answer lies in your back garden and that it's time, as he puts it, to "bake your lawn". He is launching the Real Bread Campaign.

"If wheat makes bread why not grow bread just like you grow vegetables. We think of it as being a massive prairie-style enterprise but it is just a plant like anything else. It's like grass.

"There are few things that give greater satisfaction than being able to grow something and harvest it and share it with friends and family."

Wholewheat approach

In the UK, we eat a lot less bread than we did in the 1950s. But it's still a fair bit. In 2000, we ate 720g per person per week, the equivalent of just under one large loaf.

From this Whitley has worked out how much garden we would need to put over to wheat production to cater for all our own bread needs. Assuming each 720g loaf of bread uses about 432 grams of flour, that's 22.5kg of flour per year just for our bread needs. With a family of four you get a total of 90kg of flour.

A conservative yield estimate of three tonnes of wheat per organically-cultivated hectare is reasonable, Whitley suggests. Assuming you're going for an extremely wholewheat approach - using the whole grain, including bran and germ - each tonne of flour pretty much equates to a tonne of wheat (in British commercial milling 4.5 million tonnes of flour is made from 5.5 million tonnes of wheat every year), then you need 297 square metres of wheat to provide your family with bread.

And there's the rub. According to Garden Organic, the organic growing charity, the average British garden size as of 2006 was about 90 square metres.

Furthermore, Whitley strongly advises you only use a quarter of your garden at any one time to produce wheat. A "monoculture" of wheat year in year out would exhaust the soil and allow the spread of disease. Using your 22.5 square metres of land would only provide 6.8kg of flour. And while those in the south-east and east of the UK are in wheat territory, those in the rainy west may find they struggle.


Many people see this as a terrible, ghastly, pathetic throwback to an era of grinding toil
Andrew Whitley

But Whitley knows most people will not be able to grow all their own wheat and suggests even producing a couple of loaves-worth a year would be a triumph.

Those in the wheat industry are a little sceptical to say the least. Martin Caunce, owner of Brow Farm in west Lancashire, sells milling wheat and hand-operated mills so people can produce their own flour, but suggests most people will not want to take the final step and grow their own wheat.

"It is more feasible to grow your vegetables and buy your bread," he says. "It takes too much space. You just couldn't make it pay."

Lot of bother

The argument is that you could save a great deal more money by following the example of Tom and Barbara in The Good Life and focusing a bit more on vegetables.

Sally Smith, an adviser at Garden Organic agrees, suggesting: "It's a lot of bother for very little return. You would need a smallholding really."

But assuming you do want to grow your own, Whitley recommends turning over the soil and finely raking it. Your wheat seeds should be of a long straw variety and you should scatter evenly before raking over them.

Undersowing the crop with grass and clover might help with weeds, nutrient balance and avoiding bare earth after the harvest.

Planting might take place in late March or April and harvest might typically be in August, stretching into September if the crop has had a bad year.

You could follow the ancient test and bite down on a grain to see if it's ready to harvest, Whitley suggests. If it's hard, it's ready. If it's squishy, it's not.

Winnow or bust

Use a sickle or scythe to harvest the wheat, leaving at least two or three inches of stubble. The stalks should be bound into sheaves and then threshed. Whitley advises putting the ears into a pillow case with the stalks poking out the bottom and then whacking them on a brick wall.

You must then winnow the wheat. Traditionally this was done by throwing the wheat up into a breeze. The heavy grain would fall back to the floor, while the wind blew the chaff away.


WHY IS WHEAT EXPENSIVE?
Drought in China/Australia
Export curbs
More meat being eaten
Biofuel production
Commodity speculators

Milling can be done in a specialist hand mill, or even in a hand cranked coffee grinder, Whitley suggests.

To some it may all sound like rather too much effort, but Whitley, who first grew wheat on four square metres of his allotment in Stoke Newington in 1974, disagrees.

"Many people see this as a terrible, ghastly, pathetic throwback to an era of grinding toil.

"[But] it is a great way of getting control over what goes into your bread, to make sure no nasties get in."

In the end most of us do not have the gardens to conjure up the wheaty romance from the end of movies like Gladiator or Witness.

But to look out over the kitchen sink at even a couple of square metres of gently oscillating wheat would be an achievement.

And, as Whitley notes, there is one fringe benefit - you can have your own crop circles.


other sites of interest:

how to grow your own wheat - peak oil news

to balance the argument read this... what do you think?

oh canada, a story of a flour mill

and a local mill in my area

the way i see it is that we can all do better. and if we all do better then the crisis avoids a hit. better to act than react.
understood we all cannot do it all but we all can do some bit.
i believe that much.