The New Home Economics


2 Comments

DIY mini hoop house

We took advantage of a beautiful February day to build our wee hoop house today! Here’s the materials list:

(3) 6 foot 2×4 pieces of construction lumber
(3) pieces conduit
(6) 8 inch galvanized carriage bolts
(6) nuts
(12) washers
Roll of plastic sheeting (we used 6mm)
(4) corner brackets

First, start with a plan:

hoop house plansAdam was not satisfied until we could come up with a plan for a hoop house that could be taken apart, so this was where we finally landed:  a wooden frame with a lip that would fit snugly on top of the stock tank, with 6 bolts sticking up from it that the conduit pipes could slide on to. Plastic on top.  So we will be able to disassemble it relatively easily and store it over the summer months.

mini hoop house construction

We started by building the frame. The exact size depends on the raised bed/stock tank/whatever you want to cover.  Ours was very specific: 5.5 feet x 2 feet, with curved edges. Kinda tough to fit, but we got it to work. Note the lip, this is so it fits securely over the edges. This was similar to  making a picture frame.  45 degree angles, corner brackets, a bit of wood glue.

bending the conduit for a hoop house

Next it was time to bend the conduit pipe into the hoop shape. This turned out to be surprisingly easy, since we had the stock tank right there to use as a template. The kids were amazed at Dad’s superhuman strength.

Cutting the conduit hoops down to size…

mini hoop house construction

Measuring, marking, drilling holes…

Adding the carriage bolts…

Hoops in place!

mini hoop house constructionFitting it onto the stock tank (to be filled with more soil and compost later).

Plastic, stapled along the bottom of the long edges, main access/venting will be through either end of the tunnel and also by lifting off the entire hoop structure — it’s quite light weight.  We simply tacked down each end with a thumbtack.

hoop house on a stock tank

And there you have it — a mini hoop house-style green house for our little stock tank garden.  We’re starting with one this year, and if it performs spectacularly, we will make two more for our smaller tanks.  Next up: I will start seeds for lettuce and greens this week, to plant them out in late March or early April, depending on the weather.  What a fun project!


4 Comments

The time for natural animal fats is NOW

I saw this a couple weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my head.

A mother orangutan hugs her daughter as bounty hunters move in - the pair was saved at the last minute by an animal rescue group

[original source article]

Palm oil, dudes. It’s in EVERYTHING. And the increasing demand for it is causing unprecedented rainforest destruction and killing of anything that stands in the way, including orangutans.

I see two ways of addressing this.  Number one: reduce the number of highly-processed foods we consume, since so many of them contain palm oil. It’s tricky to puzzle out which products have it, because it’s usually simply labeled “vegetable oil.”

But secondly, can we also get over ourselves and start using animal fats in cooking, as people did for millennia? I’m talking about lard. Beef tallow. Duck and goose fat. Buttah. Not only are these traditional fats rich in fat-soluble vitamins, they are also cheap and easy to produce locally since they are byproducts of the meat industry. They can also easily be obtained without resorting to pesticides, GMOs, or deforestation. A win for all of us, including small family farmers AND orangutans.

And don’t think you’re innocent if you shop at natural foods stores — many natural foods products contain palm oil because, let’s be honest here, it does have some health benefits and is seen as an alternative to highly processed, GMO-based oils such as corn, canola and soybean.

Don’t be afraid of lard, OK?

For many more resources on traditional fats, visit the Weston A Price Foundation.


Leave a comment

Introducing: the garden calendar

Now that I’ve been writing this blog for three years (exactly three years!), I find myself frequently going back to check when, for example, the raspberry harvest started last year or the year before. I like to plan my vacations around raspberry season, but I also get really impatient waiting for the first tomatoes, etc.

This year I’m going to try multiple plantings of greens and carrots in my stock tank gardens. In order to do it right (as I learned from Winter Harvest Handbook), I need to pay close attention to planting and harvesting dates.  Hence, the calendar is born!

It’s all very lofty and non-specific right now, but as the year goes on I’ll fill in specific dates for everything that goes on in the garden — from the first strawberry to the first cabbage worm to the first tomato to the first frost.  It will hopefully be Aldo Leopold-esque, but specific to edible gardening.

Check it out and let me know what you think!