August 2007

By Example - The Quest for Sustainable Living Newsletter
August 2007

Organic Gardening Project Begun


While our main focus has not shifted from the construction of our sustainable homestead, we've spent quite a bit of time over the past few months working in the garden. As part of our plan for sustainability we intend to produce much of our own food and have taken this opportunity to collaborate in a community garden setting. Neither one of us had a tremendous amount of experience gardening at the onset of this project and practically no experience in desert gardening. This summer we've certainly done a lot of experimenting in both the greenhouse and garden and feel that we've learned a great deal that can be applied to food production on our own homestead.

At this point in the season the majority of the vegetables we are eating are harvested fresh out of our outdoor garden. The growing methods that we use are completely organic, and require no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. As a result our vine-ripened garden veggies are crisp and delicious and we know exactly how they have been handled. Every Saturday we also go to the local Concho Farmer's Market. There we can purchase natural farm fresh eggs that have been produced on our neighbor's farm, as well as a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables that have been grown locally.

With nutritious food on our table we are pressing forward with homestead construction. We have finally settled on a house plan and it is currently being drawn up by a local draftsman. Once our building plans are returned to us we will be submitting them to the county permitting office. As far as we know, the permitting process could take several months and we won't begin building until we've received our permits. To our dismay this means we are facing another winter in our travel trailer.

On the upside, our homestead septic system installation was completed this spring marking another major milestone in the development of our utilities infrastructure. Though we had our fresh water well drilled last year, there are still a few steps we must take before we can actually use it. We are currently researching solar powered well pumps that we can use with our DC power system, and will be purchasing and installing one soon. We will also need a water storage tank before we can begin using our new water system. We anticipate that our fresh water system will be in place in a short time and once it is we could actually move our travel trailer onto the site of our future homestead. Though the building process is taking longer than expected we are without a doubt excited at the progress we've made towards a sustainable lifestyle.

In peace,

Mel & Patrick

Colorful Garden Photos

These photos were taken mid-July in our organic garden. We've already enjoyed the delicious garden veggies in the photos, but there are plenty more ready for harvest. This year's bumper crops include: golden zucchini, cucumbers, eggplants, kale, chard, lettuce and beets.

Garden Irrigation Systems Installed

Much of our gardening effort has been devoted to the development of a solar powered garden irrigation system. Despite the low pressure of our water, we have successfully installed an automated sprinkler irrigation system in the outdoor garden and a drip irrigation system in the greenhouse.

Organic Gardening Projects Underway

This article shares our organic gardening experiences from earlier in the season, including an overview of how we prepared our garden beds and how we protected young plants from unexpected and unseasonable freezing temperatures.

Passive Solar Greenhouse Modifications

Earlier this spring we modified an existing greenhouse to give it passive solar characteristics. This article shows exactly what we did and explains our reasoning behind the modifications. Ultimately, we hope to extend our greenhouse growing season through the winter.

Native Edible & Medicinal Plants

There are a number of medicinal and edible plants that are native to the high deserts of Arizona. We've identified a number of these plants in the surrounding area and have compiled a photo library for visual reference.

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