D-I-Why Not gardening homeMADE homestead

Unwrapping the greenhouse experiment

Well that’s a wrap — maybe unwrap? — on the Great Car Tent Greenhouse Experiment 👍
🎪✨: The verdict is 8/10, would-do-again. We had an excellent year (for us) in green peppers and eggplants. Chiles and jalapeños did well. And an unexpected bonus of two pawpaw seeds germinated in there! Those are now planted on the hillside, with chicken wire protection against the wild roving rabbits of winter…

🌱🥉: The tomatoes did meh, though I’m not sure why. We got fewer in the greenhouse than from the much shadier raised beds. The lemongrass was fine but not riotous. The carrots hated it. The basil was content and industrious.

🌱✨: I try to be like that basil. These efforts are not about being perfect. Or self-sufficient. I don’t think either of those things really exist. Like it or not, we’re all tied to each other to survive. So it’s not about off-grid, but a better grid. Fewer trips to the grocery store for world-weary produce and packaging. More trips to a farmer, or the garden.

💚♻️: And to do my part in that grid, I figure I have to try and pitch in with what I’ve got. Which means trying and learning and failing and trying again.

🍓❄️: When I’m in the garden in the summer, it’s hard not to just stare at everything going “wrong”. Seeds that don’t sprout, produce that doesn’t produce. I had loads of failures this year, as always. From peas to beans to lettuce to carrots. Some even resown so I could fail twice (or more) in one year. Fail fail fail fail.

🐿️🌰: And yet…here we are. Heading into winter with a freezer partially stocked with our own fruits (mulberries + raspberries) and veg (beans, beets, green peppers, tomatoes). And other goodies literally draped around the place. Chile pepper garland, braids of garlic. A little pile of potatoes. Willow dried for Abbie. Teas and herbs for us. Seeds.

And a whole growing season of trying and learning under our belts, with more ideas germinating for next year.

🐿️🔥:I think those ideas need to be cold stratified though, so I’m gearing up to wind down with some glorious hibernation, nestled by the fire till spring.

Have a great weekend folks!


gardening homestead

Car Tent Greenhouse, update!

🌿🚧: The car tent greenhouse experiment is growing along great! Sure, as a prototype, it’s a little janky to look at. (When the setting sun hits the sheathing tape just so… Okay, it doesn’t exactly take your breath away.) But when I change what I focus on, I usually change what I see. Right now, I’m focusing on food growing where there was none. And that’s a beautiful sight.

The car tent is home to tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplants, lemongrass, cilantro, basil. All growing up a lush green leafy storm. I’ve already grown my biggest eggplant to date. Granted, that eggplant is currently about two inches long. But as I’ve never grown eggplant before, it wins by default. Success!

🐌🍻: Busts and booms often arrive together, and I won’t prettify the story. While the car tent greenhouse has been zooming along, the raised beds have been riding the strugglebus. Many of my transplants, lovingly grown from saved seeds, got munched by slugs. So I grew some larger, planted those as replacements, and the slugs were like “sure, I could eat”, and obligingly had seconds. So I got even larger plants from a neighbour’s farm. And the slugs were like “you shouldn’t have!!” and mangled (slug-gled?) those too. Plants A, B, and C, chomped.

🦙🌱: Last year I made beer traps, which worked well, until a raccoon came by who was thrilled we had beer-marinated slugs on the menu. This year, I’ve tried and failed at using wood ash. At the moment, I’m using wool fibre — which seems to be working?? It’s definitely working at making me look like an eccentric old lady. But I take that as high praise, since it’s my life’s goal to become an old lady who doesn’t give a damn as young as possible. (Eccentric old ladies really know how to live.)

We expect to fail a lot our first many years growing food here. And to lean heavily on the local farmers who ensure we still have food when we do (thank you farmers!!). The important bit is to learn, and try again. Because y’know what they say — Sometimes slugs, sometimes eggplants.

It’s going to catch on any day now.

Have a great weekend folks! 🎪


D-I-Why Not gardening

Room to grow

Every year I’m way behind on giving my plants proper supports. It’s always a mad dash of posts and strings and in the end it looks like an overgrown harried spider is trying to grow tomatoes.

Not this year I thought, as my peas blossomed and quickly and optimistically climbed into thin air. This year, this year, I shall build them a proper trellis. After a bit of research into maximum heights, and considering the other posts in the garden, I settled on this experiment. Ripped down 2x4s for the framing, scrap plywood for corner bracing, and chicken wire for climbing. I retrofitted the structure onto the existing raised bed by drilling in dowels to the corner posts.

Got it all built and installed, and then, almost as an afterthought, double checked which variety of peas I planted this year.

Tom Thumb.

Grows to about a foot tall.

On the plus side, I’m super on top of things for next year. 😂

Have a great weekend everyone! 🌿

D-I-Why Not gardening homestead

Vegetable Parking Only

This year marks our first car tent “greenhouse” experiment.

I like to prototype with whatever’s at hand, to see early on if an idea has legs, or if we should change course. No point running far and fast towards a dead end. 🚧

🎪-🚘=🌿: I’d really love to have a greenhouse here, but we don’t have one, and I’m not sure exactly the best spot to build one. We also don’t have a garage. But that means we do have a car tent. So maybe that double negative can equal a positive?? No garage + no greenhouse = greenhouse!

🎪-🚘=🐔: I put up and take down the car tent frame each winter. But sometimes the car tent spends its summer vacation trying out different jobs. Our first summer with chickens, it was our chicken run. I really don’t like the car tent, but I sure like how it helps me prototype my dreams!

🎪☀️: This year, the car tent is seeing how it feels about life as a “greenhouse”. Our driveway might be the sunniest spot on our property, though our gravel driveway isn’t exactly arable land. So I built half the car tent frame on the side of the driveway. Then we wrapped it with leftover clear vapour barrier plastic, with the original car tent doors on the ends. I took all our large pots, plus some generously gifted us from our neighbours, popped them inside, and potted up our more heat and sun-loving seedlings. That’s a pepper’s POV in the photo. It’s noticeably sunny and toasty in there, and the plants seem to be thriving. So far so good! Now I just have to remember it doesn’t rain inside the car tent…

(🍓: That’s a foreshadow shadow on the plastic — chokecherry shrubs I hope to harvest later this year. More experiments coming!)

Always worth a look around to see if something you already have is secretly something you don’t. 💡

Have a great week folks! 🌿


D-I-Why Not flora gardening homestead

TPS Report: True Potato Seed

🥔Tuber-u-lar experiment! My favourite flower might be the potato. Before we grew some of our own potatoes here, I’d never seen a potato flower. And maybe it’s because I find them so enchanting that I leave them be, and enjoy them as long as I can. And maybe it’s because I leave them as long as I can, that last year, one potato plant formed an extra surprise: a potato berry!!

The little green “berry” is the fruit of the potato plant. And since it’s not really how we grow potatoes anymore (by planting the tubers, we grow clones of plants instead), and is at least a little toxic to eat, it doesn’t get much fanfare or cultivation.

🐝: But if the weather is just right, and the variety isn’t sterile, and if you have some bumblerbees around, your pretty pretty potato blossoms might get pollinated, and you might end up with a potato fruit!

And if you’re the curious type (🙋), you might just wait patiently until that little green fruit is ripe, and lurk around your potato plant checking until the day it drops to the soil. And then maybe you lovingly scoop it up, and pop it in a little container to dry out and you put a wee “potato!” label on it. And all winter you walk past it on a shelf. And then when you start your seeds in early spring, maybe you crack that now dried up potato berry open. And though you don’t know what you’re doing, and you can’t really tell, maybe, maybe, you see seeds in there?? And you pop the potato berry pieces into soil and cross your fingers and then on THE BEST EARLY SPRING DAY EVER you see li’l baby potato plants!!

It is an awfully long way from sprouts to spuds. So I don’t know if these little potato bebes are going to survive all the way to the garden. But holy potato berries am I excited to try!

❄️🌱: Happy up and down and round and round start to spring folks!
For more info: Since we refer to the tubers we plant as “seed potatoes”, it’s dang hard to google this subject. (Search engines lump “potato seed” and “seed potatoes” as one). If you want to learn more, try potato apples, potato tomatoes or TPS (True Potato Seed). But not “TPS Report”, because you’ll need the right cover sheet for that.


flora gardening homestead

Ap-pear-ent progress

There is that beautiful quote that society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

🍐👵: I don’t think there is an equivalent explanation for what happens when a middle-aged woman plants fruit trees whose pears she hopes to eat sooner rather than later. Though I’m hoping for neutral or better.

🤹⏳: We’re stretched here between the poles of permaculture and practicality. We try to pay attention, and gather good data before making changes to this scrappy scrap of land. With its spring flooding and summer droughts and rocks for soil and shade for days. But it’s always mixed with the urgency of needing to get things in the ground. So they can either start growing, or start failing so we have time to start again.

🤸🌳: Because we’re learning, so one thing we know perfectly is that we have a lot of failing ahead of us. So we try to fail on a worthwhile path, and fail forwards. That way, even when we stumble and fall, we’re still moving a little further in a good direction. 😉

Have a wonderful weekend folks! 💚

D-I-Why Not gardening homestead


Experiment success! Sea of garlic scapes 💚 Three years to first harvest.

🗓️🗓️🗓️: Year one, we graded and prepped the site (microplastics mistake: we tarped, but should have used cardboard). Year two, we removed the tarp (and every little strand of broken down tarp we could find). Then we built a 3′ x 14′ raised bed from offcut hemlock boards. Then Evie (🚙🔋) and I filled and filled and filled the bed. Finally, planting and mulching. And now, year 3 — garlic!

☀️🧛‍♂️: This area gets a lot of sun, the most of anywhere on our property — and is also full of ticks. As in “I’m going out to Tick-ville to check the fence line… and collect a bunch of ticks on my person.” The bucolic beauty of this place comes with stark realities — flaky power, low water — and ticks are an often unseen part of the picture. (Neil has had Lyme disease, and it’s no joke.) Tick checks and tick management inform our rhythms here. So it was A Decision to see if we could make a garden bed work here, where the wild ticks roam.

🤔💭: This area has only a scrappy thin layer of soil, plenty of bunnies, and no water nearby. So we wanted to plant something that could: largely be left unattended; be unappealing to wild critters; thrive in full sun; get by on rain or irregular watering; and, be harvested in short spurts, not continuously over the season. Garlic!

👷‍♀️💧: We plan to build a rain collector out here, and more beds that fit these criteria (Planting suggestions welcome!). But for now we will make giant bangle bracelets with our bountiful scape harvest, and enjoy the fruits, shoots, of our labours.

…After a tick check, of course. 😉

Happy Thursday folks! 🌱


gardening technology thinking big

In Seeds As In Software

Some of Maker’s Dozen’s work is in technology. Open source software development. And in open source, you share your source code.

It’s like sharing your recipe. Here, we made you this cake, and here’s how we did it.

It acknowledges the work of the people who came before us, and contributes our work back to the commons, so others can build on it too.

In the early days of computers, this was pretty normal. Most programmers were pretty open about sharing their work with others — so everyone could get the most value from these newfangled machines. But the cancer of proprietary everything has spread so far, that many people don’t even realize the locked in, closed source ideas of technology weren’t always considered normal. Or that open source never went away, and is in fact thriving. (If you are looking at this on an Android phone, you are using open source technology.) That there is a choice. Another way of doing things.

I think about this while I’m in the garden, planting our plants. It’s the ol’ “pull on one thing and find they’re all connected” deal.

Many of our vegetables this year are grown from seeds I saved out of last year’s garden. I love to save and share seeds, to be part of that essential cycle of self-sustenance. But we are miles and miles away from total self-sufficiency, and it’s not really our goal. We can’t grow and save the seeds for everything we plant and eat, even if we wanted to. We don’t have the right conditions here, don’t have the room to isolate plants properly etc etc.

We need others to carry the seeds too. To share back with us. So that there is diversity and abundance and resilience and growth. Plant it, grow it, share it with others. Be a good ancestor.

“Seeds, especially of food and other useful plants, should be taken care of by the people. They are too precious for all of them to be placed under the exclusive control of the few. The more hands that hold them, the safer they will be.”

~Jude and Michel Fanton (Seed Saver’s Network Australia)

Happy Friday folks! Have a great weekend. 🐁🖱️


chickens gardening Uncategorized

Who says kale isn’t fun?

Here’s Lin enjoying a kale and borage piñata. One of the summertime treats we put out to feed the chooks/enrich the runs. And the kale comes complete with complimentary cabbage white caterpillar topping!

I know she looks skeptical, but that’s kinda just how Lin always looks (she is a very sweet chicken). That piñata will be annihilated by day’s end.