Archive for July, 2010

Critical Mass Beach Party!

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Bike ride to demonstrate bike/car equality today at 5:30 on the square in Kirksville.  Come dressed for a dip in the kiddie pool.

Any ideas for next month’s theme?

Zucchini and Carrot Pickles

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

We’re pickling just about everything these days. Here’s another one we did, following the directions at How to Pickle Anything.  We used Zucchini, Carrot, Basil, Garlic, and Onions.  Mmmmmmm.

Blueing Bolete

Monday, July 26th, 2010

We found some blueing boletes growing in front of our house a few days ago.  When you rip them, the inside turns blue upon being exposed to oxygen.

The rule of thumb is, if a bolete turns blue, don’t eat it. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find some chanterelles growing under the oak trees in our yard.

Brined Garlic

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

The Possibility Alliance gifted 20ish heads of garlic to us that were in immediate need of being used due to early harvesting or split, damp heads. Some was already molding even.

So, how do we use up that much garlic before it goes bad?  Ferment it.

From what we’ve read in Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, it will keep its pungency for sauteing.  Also,  I would assume it would be especially potent raw garlic medicine with the added lacto-life.

The most time consuming part was peeling the cloves.

Brined Garlic


  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Water

Peel all your garlic cloves, and put them in whatever sized mason jar you anticipate filling. The cloves sink in the brine, so don’t worry too much about filling the jar all the way if you don’t have enough. Your brine solution should be approximately 3/4 Tbsp/1 cup water. Mix up enough brine to cover the garlic and set it off in a nice place to ferment. We put ours in the basement, and we’ll stick it in the fridge when it smells nice and fermented. Since it’s so warm now, we’ll probably leave it out 2 or so weeks.

Is there lead in your garden hose?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010


We came across an article from ABC. They tested 10 hoses from major retailers off their shelves. The results weren’t good.

Five of the 10 hoses came back with levels of lead higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency allows for drinking water: 15 parts per billion. Four of those came back with extremely high lead levels.

And this isn’t a case of poorly managed international trade regulations. Most the hoses I looked at were made in the USA. Lead and all.

We traded out our hose at Ace for one without lead in it.   We don’t like advertising for anyone, but this seems to be more about safety than advertising.  Other places might have them too, but either way, find out what’s in your hose.

The Sign

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

It’s official!  We have a sign.

Our friend and biking superhero Emily/Stardust made a sign for the front of the house.  It’s resting next to a flag pole support on the front of the house.

The next question is, what kind of flag should we put up?

Emily is currently planning a superhero service bike ride through Mexico for this winter.  If that sounds appealing, we can send you her contact.

Many thanks Stardust for the beautiful sign!

PEX Tubing Rain Barrel Catchment System

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Our rain barrels are finished, full, and functioning. The 1 inch of rain we got over the last 2 days on the 187.5 square foot section of our roof filled them to capacity, which, with overflow space, is about 180-200 gallons.

We used PEX tubing after reading about the potential toxicities of PVC, although, we’re convinced that PEX just hasn’t been tested enough to have found any toxicities, since that just seems how it goes. For the meantime, it works pretty well though. There are no glues to bond, the cuts can be crudely made with a hacksaw, and the tubing is flexible and cheap. All pluses to us, but we weren’t able to find anyone online who has used it on a rain barrel set-up before.

Here’s what we did.

  • Ordered 55 gallon, food-grade barrels from the Memphis (Missouri) Pepsi Bottling Plant. They came to us smelling like the green sweetness of Mountain Dew.
  • Built a frame out of palettes, found wood, and local white oak 4×4′s for the future rain barrels to sit on.
  • Punched out a hole in the middle of the lid which, for some reason, is 3/4 inch threaded- perfect for flipping the barrels upside down and fitting them with PEX adapters.
  • Fit the lids with PEX adapters. Elbows for the outer ones, and Ts for the middles.
  • Put Plumber’s Tape (Teflon Tape) on all the male threads of our adapters and lids to prevent most leaks.
  • Fit PEX tubing along the line to each adapter.
  • Screwed in a hose bib to one of the barrels.
  • Put all the barrels on the frame. (We actually connected two of them at a time, then made the final connection while they were in place on the frame).
  • Drilled two tiny holes in the tops of the three barrels that would not have a downspout connected to them. Big enough to let out the air pressure that would build up from filling from the bottom, but small enough to prevent mosquitoes from access the still water.
  • Cut a hole with a dremel tool in the top of the barrel where the gutter comes down for the water to drain into.
  • Covered the entrance hole with a cut out piece of screen we found and taped it on.
  • Cut an overflow hole in the downspout barrel and fit a gutter piece to it. We cut a flap in the bottom of the gutter so it could slide in and the flap would press against the barrel, then we silicone caulked it to seal and glue it in.
  • Waited for the storm clouds to fill them with the sweet nectar of the heavens (aka rain).

There is one veeeeeery slow leak (the sun nearly dries the leak up as it falls). I have actually yet to see it drip, but water beads on the underside of it and there is a water spot under a PEX T adapter. With that being the only issue, it’s a definite success.

There is sufficient water pressure with the barrels being 3 feet off the ground to use a 50 foot hose to water the garden. We can spray (with our thumb over the end of the hose) the water about 8 feet. Enough to get the job done. If we had put another T adapter on the main line and fit the hose bib there, it theoretically should have had 4x the water pressure, but I’m not positive. We didn’t want to spring the extra 8 bucks for the adapter, and this system seems to function well.

    Rain Barrel Costs for us:

  • Rain Barrels= $40 ($10 each)
  • 4 foot of PEX tubing= $2 (49 cents/foot)
  • 2 PEX elbow adapters= $12 ($6 each)
  • 2 PEX T adapters=$15 ($7.50 each)
  • Hose bib=$6.50
  • Plumber’s Tape=$1.50
  • Rain Barrel Total: $77 or 19.25/barrel
    Frame costs:

  • 6 3-foot oak 4×4′s= $18
  • Palettes= $0

That brings the entire set-up for us to $95. We successfully made a 4 rain barrel, 200 gallon rain catchment system for well under the cost of a single commercial rain barrel.

There will certainly be variations on other’s set-ups, but those were the real costs for us to build our rain barrel catchment system.

Overall the set-up is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and gives us about 200 gallons of water (less than 220 due to the placement of the overflow) to use on the garden when the rain isn’t enough. I plan to put together some kind of pdf/zine on building the rain barrels this way, but if you want to talk to us about this set up and its advantages and disadvantages, or have any ideas on how to improve the system, contact us and we’ll talk rain barrels.

Early July Garden

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

The garden is going strong and giving us a steadier stream of harvest.  We’re picking a few beans a day, and a cucumber or squash every few days.  The bounty is approaching!

Bike Wheel Trellis – Hard Luffa

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Here’s the pictures of Michelle’s second Bike Wheel Trellis.  The Luffa’s are loving it.  There was concern that the rims would get too hot in the sun and burn the plant, but they really don’t get hot at all.  Hooray for creativity!

Garlic and Onion Harvest

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

We pulled our garlic and onions on Friday/Saturday.  They did well, especially considering the wet season.   We’ll be expanding planting for next year since we have more space to plant in now.  We harvested a little under 40 heads of garlic, most of the big ones to be saved for replanting in the fall, and we haven’t yet weighed our onion harvest.

The garlic is hanging in the garage, and we’re curing the onions on a bed sheet over a reclaimed futon frame that we repaired the structure on using twine.  All seems to be going well!