Monday, April 22, 2013

Roof Greenhouse

I actually first learned about using hydroponics (growing without soil) to grow vegetables in Disneyland, of all places.  I went to Disney for my mom's birthday last year, and we managed to find this poorly-advertised tour of Disney's Epcot's gigantic greenhouse and insane hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics systems (they really have all of the 'ponics covered).  Many of the restaurants in Epcot get their vegetables from these systems. One of Disney's gardening interns gave the tour, which lasted close to two hours.  It was by far the most interesting part of Disney World for me.  It totally blew my mind.  It just made so much sense: plants put less energy into their root system because all of the necessary nutrients are delivered straight to their roots (in soil, roots have to grow all over the place in search of nutrients); and therefore, they put more energy into producing fruit.  Not to mention the great space saving benefits of hydroponics and how much lighter it is than wet dirt, which is important when gardening on the roof.

So early last summer, at the peak of my hydroponics obsession, I built this greenhouse and hydroponics system (with some help).  I decided to go with a Nutrient Film Technique system.
I built it out of vinyl fence post covers, cpvc pipe (pvc pipe isn't UV resistant!), brass fixtures, black rubber tubing, and a giant 54 gallon storage container for a reservoir. I started it seriously a week before I had to leave for Poland for three months so it wasn't completely finished before I left (but it was real close!) so all of my seedlings ended up just roasting on the roof.  When I got back, I planted leafy greens and they grew until mid January in the greenhouse.  At the end of the winter, the plastic I used started to disintegrate because it wasn't UV resistant and was the best I could get from Home Depot.  This season, I replaced all the plastic with appropriate greenhouse polyfilm, installed aluminum wire lock base to secure the plastic (the stuff the real greenhouses use), bought a new sturdier reservoir container, and JB installed the vent fan with thermostat.  I've got a lottt of vegetables growing now, both in soil and in hydroponics and I think it'll be cool to compare them.

Mason actually loves going on the roof, even though he's really scared of heights and has to be carried up and down a sketchy ladder.

The new vent fan and shutter.

JB rigged the door with this really neat pully system.  The counterweight is a chunk of an old pipe that was in our basement and used to be a still-working corroded leaky pipe in our house.

This is the ladder you have to climb to get onto the roof.

Here are some photos of the beginning of the summer last year:

I learned a valuable life lesson from building this greenhouse:  Do it the right way(which usually means the more expensive way) the first time and you will save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run... or even the pretty short run actually.

Bear Faux Fur

Started cutting up this new, really nice brown faux fur.  When I bought it, the woman who rung me up said something about how she hopes I'm making some kind of bear out of this.  I guess I made the right faux fur choice, since I'm making two bear hides out of it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

New etsy business cards and dirty fingernails

I used to make these even though there are other great (sometimes free) options (, pretty much because you can request a free samples kit which has all the gloss/matte finishes, different thicknesses, coatings, etc.  I really really liked that I could hold little 2.5" x 3" pieces of paper in my hand before I ordered.  They only give you an online/emailed proof though, which really scared me because my monitor and my boyfriend's monitor look radically different, so I wasn't sure if the image was going to print totally blown out or not (it didn't, so my monitor isn't as off as I thought!), but it turned out fine.

Now I just need to work on designing a fine art business card (and I'm thinking rounded corners!)...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oregon Trail Sourdough Bread

I've been baking some bread lately!  It's not art but it still is making.  At first I only ever made no-knead bread because it was so easy and tasted great, but now I almost exclusively make sourdough bread with this recipe.  I tried making my own sourdough starter with no sour success.  I searched the internet for a sourdough starter and found this gem (and for free!) - Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter.  It is REAL SOUR.  And you can see Carl's original brochure here.  I made three loaves to give as gifts over Easter, and it's the first time I even ever thought to take pictures of them.  I guess if I had Instagram this would've happened quite a while ago...


Double dutch oven.

Crusty close-up.

Friday, April 12, 2013

flea market embroidery

I got this awesome embroidery at a flea market a few weeks ago and I still think it's the coolest thing ever.  Just look at the way that mesh/lack of mesh is making light bust through those thread trees!  And it's got a real nice frame!  It's a pretty decent size - a little over two feet in each direction.  Definitely worth $5.