Sustainable SW Blogs
Mikey thinks that I packed too much. He brought one of everything except running clothes which he brought two sets of. I admit, I did bring 5 pairs of shoes but let me explain... I packed a beat up old pair of UGGS that I'll toss after the cold nights are over and until then absolutely necessary for am/pm in the mountains; a pair of Havianna flip flops - I could hike Mt. Everest in these; my running sneakers - the single most important shoes I own; a pair of Teva sandals - for all occasions that the flip flop is too floppy; and lastly one pair of fairly good looking lightweight leather boots that I can use to dress up any outfit and that are not too warm but warm enough on summer nights in high elevation mountain towns. OK this may sound like a lot of shoes but I packed exactly one pair of jeans! The rest of my pants amount to two pair of leggings that can go under dresses or be thermals on a cold night. I think I have four dresses, one long sleeve the others super thin; two tees, two tanks... Ahhhhh I sound like I'm defending myself again!!!
I will admit I do find it annoying digging through the bag and considering my choices while Mikey just puts on the one thing he has. It would be easier to have just one of everything, wear it to death, throw it away and start anew. We'll see how the summer goes. Till then, choice still feels choice!
Santa Fe, NM, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr. We finished up our tour of Albuquerque with several realizations.
1) Cooking in bad weather is hard. We are so grateful for Whole Foods hot food salad bars.
2) We need to further pair down our stuff to make accessibility more convenient. The big containers are particularly difficult.
3) We need more structure. It has been difficult to get any significant exercise in. At home I took for granted how easy it is to wake up and run. Now with dog walks and coffee shops it has been difficult to get in a trail even when I wake up right by the trailhead.
Off-Grid Battery Maintenance, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Every few months the batteries need water and every year or so I need to cleanup the terminals. It's no fun, but it is done for a while.
Day 1: Tijeras, NM, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Less than ideal weather conditions lead to a cold dinner while wearing puffy coats. Followed by movie watching inside Hondo. It is chilly, windy and kind of wet. We already modified the vehicle in one way. We pulled the ceiling net as it was cutting into our space too much and preventing Sesame from sitting up straight.
Don’t be caught off guard if you’ve already planted, even cool season crops are in danger with the cold nights coming. To protect your plants, put row cover over them at night. It will add between 4-6°F protection and may help them endure the cold. You can get row cover at Agua Fria, Plants of the Southwest and Paynes Nurseries.
Here is the temperature (lows) forecast for the next 5 nights:
Tomorrow night-Thursday 26°F
What is chitting potatoes? Why do we want to chit potatoes? Basically it is ‘prespouting’ the potato ‘seeds’ to force healthy new sprouts before you plant the them. It will knock off a couple of weeks to harvest time so you’ll get be able to harvest sooner. Potato seeds are not seeds at all but the actual small potatoes. We keep potatoes we want to eat in the dark so they won’t turn green and quite often they start to develop smaller flimsy white sprouts while in the dark but what you want is thicker healthier sprouts that are either green or purple. If you missed the opportunity to chit the potatoes, it’s ok to just plant them when the time is right. This year I’m growing fingerlings-French fingerlings.
Here’s how to ‘chit ‘ them (sounds southern doesn’t it?!)
1. Get a couple of egg cartons so you can stand the potatoes with the pointed side down. The blunt side generally produces more sprouts so keep that side up. The egg cartons make it easy to support them this way. Sometimes there is no pointy side which you should then just look at your potato and put the side with the most ‘eyes’ or sprouts up.
2. Put them in a cool space that gets good indirect light in your house and they will develop thick sprouts in 2-4 weeks instead of those flimsy one that grow in the dark.
3. Plant them outdoors when the soil is 50°F or warmer. Use a compost therometer to see how warm the soil temperature is. There are many ways to plant potatoes which you can research on the net but if you plant in a bed, dig a deep trench about 10 inches deep in heavily amended fluffy soil.
4. Place the presprouted (or chitted) potatoes with the sprouts up-the sprouts become the leaves, not sideways and bury them 4 inches deep depending on the size of the potato. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK OFF THE SPROUTS. Spacing them 12 inches apart and rows 12-24 inches apart.
5. After the leaves come up, start filling more dirt around the plants till they are almost covered. Bury the whole plant-leaves and all except leaving the top 3 inches of plant exposed. Continue doing this every time they get about 6 more inches tall Basically till you run out of soil. The potatoes will grow up above the potato seeds in the dirt above it. Below the potato seed the roots will grow for the plant.
6. You should see sprouts/leaves come up through the dirt in a couple of weeks. If it is still freezing at night, I will cover the plants with row cover.
7. Potatoes will start producing tubers when they flower.
8. Fingerling potatoes should be ready to harvest when the plants die back in about 90 days. Other potatoes may take less time or more. Leave them in the ground 2 weeks to harden off before harvesting. In fact, you can leave them in the ground until just before a hard freeze happens. That way you can harvest a few as you go and the rest in late fall. Don’t leave in over winter.
For more information on growing and buying good potato seed go to: http://www.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/growers10.php
We put a video together detailing all the modifications we have been making to our Honda Element to use it as a home for six months. The goal is to visit some of the most beautiful small mountain towns in the west to run and fastpack in.
Throwing Down Some Crazy Beets, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
I’ve been hacking the tops of these yellow beets for over a year. I finally started pulling up the monsters while covering the beds today. They are terrifying.
Covered Up the Garden Beds, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
We just finished covering all of our garden beds as nobody will be tending them this summer. We think that this might help cut back on the bermuda grass infiltration while we are away.
Make It Fit, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr. Expert backpacker and HSHS buddy Kyle stopped by to review the equipment we packed for our six month journey. He said we did a pretty good job keeping things minimal and organizing our stuff. We did not get caught up in gadgets. Kyle even managed to get his 6’ 7” self into the bed which was kind of impressive. Scardy cat supervised in the background.
Bye Bye TorC Party, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr. We had our final mojito fire party for the Spring. This was our last chance to catch up with our friend before hitting the road for the summer. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Foam Mattress gets a Trim, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr. We have a great 4” foam mattress which Wendy found on overstock.com. The only trouble is that the foam is just long enough to cause headaches when sliding the front seats back in our Honda Element. Today we hacked off 6” making our mattress fit perfectly on the bed frame and allowing easier access all around. It took us several days make the decision, but we are already happy with the choice to make things fit easily rather than struggle.