Self-Sufficiency Poetry

Our self-sufficiency quota for electrical energy is 30%, but what about the garden?

Since I haven’t smart metered every edible wildflower consumed, I resort to Search Term Poetry and random images. This is a summer blog post, lacking the usual number crunching and investigative tech journalism.

Search terms are from WordPress statistics and Google Tools.

Direct self-consumption quota was nearly 100% last year (no preservation), and self-sufficiency was very low, with one exception: Yarrow tea.

This year we will reach 100% herbal tea self-sufficiency:

Yarrow TeamThe solar/air collector is boosting yarrow harvest – and we have yet to include its cosmic quantum free energy focusing effect in the marketing brochure.

fringe science theories
can efficiency be greater than 1

Collector, yarrow, poppy

But it also boosts vitality of other life forms:

alien energy

Slimey Aliens near collector

I cannot prove that these particular slimy aliens – edible and a protected species in Austria – are harmful as I never caught them red-handed. You just need to be careful when collecting vegetables to avoid the slimy parts.

We are self-sufficient re green ‘salad’ and ‘fake spinach’ for about half a year. Our top edible wild flowers in terms of yield are Dandelion, Fireweed, Meadow Goat’s Beard …

why does the grim reaper have a scythe

Meadow Goat's Beard

… and White Stonecrop: both tasty …

jurassic park jelly

White Stonecrop and snail

… and ornamental:

zeitgeisty

White Stonecrop, Sedum Album

With standard vegetables (accepted as edible by the majority) we did crop rotation – and the tomatoes look happiest as solitary plants in new places …

analyzing spatial models of choice and judgment

Tomatoe Plant

The Surprise Vegetable Award goes to an old heirloom variety, called Gartenmelde in German:

slinkyloop antenna
physics metaphors

Gartenmelde

Last year exactly one seedling showed up, and we left it untouched. This year the garden was flooded with purple plants in spring:

virtual zen garden

Gartenmelde in spring

There are two main categories of edible plants – and two different branches of the food chain: Things we mainly eat, like tomatoes, herbs, onion, and garlic …

old-fashioned

Garlic, tomatoes, herbs

… and the ones dedicated to alien species. Top example: The plants that should provide for our self-sufficiency in carbohydrates:

simple experiment

Potatoes

In the background of this image you see the helpful aliens in our garden, the ones that try to make themselves useful in this biosphere:

force on garden hose
so called art

Helpful Alien

But looking closer, there is another army of slimy life-forms, well organized and possibly controlled by a superior civilization in another dimension:

the matrix intro
protocol negotiation failed please try again

Slimey aliens and potatoes

microwaving live animals

This garden is fertilizer- and pest-control-free, so we can only try to complement the food chain with proper – and more likeable – creatures:

solutions to problems

Hedgehog, Potatoes

Yes, I have been told already it might not eat this particular variety of aliens as their slime is too bitter. I hope for some mutation!

But we are optimistic: We managed to tune in other life-forms to our philosophy as well and made them care about our energy technology:

so you want to be an engineer

Blackbird and air pump

This is a young blackbird. Grown up, it will skillfully de-slime and kill aliens, Men-in-Black-style.

Life-forms too quick or too small for our random snapshot photography deserve an honorable mention: Welcome, little snake (again an alien-killer) and thanks mason bees for clogging every hole or tube in the shed!

It is a pity I wasted the jurassic park search term on the snail already as of course we have pet dinosaurs:

Pet Dinosaur

So in summary, this biotope really has a gigantic bug, as we nerds say.

sniff all internet access

Bug or Feature

Update on Edible ‘Weed’

After two physics articles with too much links I owe you an image-only link-free post. This is an update to my catalogue of edible wildflowers in our lawn meadow.

I amended the original list with one amazing wild vegetable: Meadow Goatsbeard. In past years I tried to eradicate it, now I don’t scythe certain patches but carefully use grass shears, avoiding to cut its signature yellow bloom:

meadow-goatsbeard

It can be used as fake spinach and for salad – I vouch for both! Insiders say the roots are the real delicacy (tasting like salsifies), but this year I will not yet dig out the roots but rather let them flower and disperse their seeds. The most amazing feature is that it grows and grows new leaves, despite it had not rained in the past week and maximum temperatures were up to 30°C.

Here is the result of a single ‘harvesting session’ (left):

meadow-goatsbead-yarrow

… side-by-side with a Yarrow leaves (right). We are self-sufficient on tea since April. thanks yarrow and Lemon Balm.

In the background of the first image: the tomato plants attached to the solar collector. So far they look good this year, blooming nicely:

tomatoes-collector-june-2015

We weren’t able to discard ‘spare’ tomato seedlings – so they grow near the compost pile. Clients visiting us to see the heat pump system may think we are in the tomato business (one strawberry plant in the middle):

even-more-tomatoesFinally my secret favorite has started growing – Portulaca / Purslane. Yes, I think it tastes like pepper!

The wild, creeping variety (… and even more ‘spare’ tomatoes in the background):

wild-portulaca

The more erect variety, from purchased seeds (the larger ones).

portulaca-erect

The plants in the background is for decoration and suppression of other weed, such as grass :-) Some variety of Sedum Reflexum (yellowish), and Phlox.

Speaking about Sedum: White Stonecrop was a main ingredient in the typical spring salad, together with Dandelions, and the absolutely amazingly tasty Fireweed.

Now White Stonecrop is nearly blooming (in the image below: in front of seed pods of Pasque Flowers / Prairie Crocus[*] Afterwards it will wither – then harvesting season is over.

[*] I am sure I picked the most uncommon common name often in this post, actually I am not even sure about German ones.

white-stonecrop

Fireweed – despite the temptation I keep a few for seeds:

fireweedAs for Dandelions, it seems I was unable to take a photo of the plants. Now I know how to feel sorry for having not enough weed anymore. The buds are even more delicious than the young leaves.

dandelions

The photo of fireweed als shows one of my new favorite decorative weeds in the background, but the Poppy season is nearly over now.

poppy-june-2015

Poppy’s seed capsules have some aesthetic value, but they cannot beat Nigella Sativa. Here is spice in the making – alien space probes inspecting the garden.

nigella-seed-capsules

Those plants we finally picked for cultivating – weed or not – are also the ones that turned out maintenance-free, drought-resistant, and capable of taking care of themselves – suppressing other unwanted plants. The remaining ‘work’ – if you want to call it like that – is truly enjoyable and like the proverbial raking the Zen garden.

We have never used weed killers nor fertilizer except the soil from compost. We only water tomato plants and mediterranean herbs a bit, so scything is due only once every two or three weeks. I don’t care if the meadow is burnt down to straw in summer.

These are my favorite drought-tolerant alien periscopes –  Hen and Chicks, used as a medicinal herb, otherwise too bitter even for me.

alien-hen-and-chicks

We don’t fight pests, and I live in fear what will happen to eggplants’ fruits. I have learned that those are (in our climate) slugs’ favorite diet in summer. In this case the, last resort is my office gardening experiments. To  my surprise, this spare plant has some flower buds already.

eggplant-office-june-2015

… maybe due to the wooden ‘table’: original Art from the Scrapyard – from the remainders of our two large spruces – by the Carpenter-Artist-Engineer-Physicist working in that office with me.

Welcome to the Real World!

Warning: This is a disturbing post – despite the allusion to The Matrix in the title it is – really – about the real world only.

Hardly any geekiness included.

In order to compensate for that I will craft a short search term poem – this time exclusively from yesterday’s search terms:

the universe is antifragile

gut tube formation
alien themed control panels

heat pumps with elements

The last line has already anticipated what I am going to reveal in this post: It is about an element of a heat pump system – and its added benefit in agriculture.

Other readers of my blog have discovered my German blog – so I have to come out as a tomato addict.

Solar collector and tomatoes

Our solar collector used as an espalier for tomato plants

The solar collector featured in this post is very versatile: In winter energy for heating is harvested from the ambient air via convection but radiation is not that important. Im summer time you need to heat hot water only and there is too much energy available anyway. Thus it isn’t an issue to cover the collector with leaves and tomatoes – and it can be used as an espalier  [marketing pitch] combining the beauty of nature with the sleek appeal of sophisticated technology [/marketing].

I have been asked if this is useful for greenhouse operators: The answer is unfortunately No as even in summer it extracts heat from the air (and the tomatoes). There is only one special mode of operation that would ‘heat’ the plants (a bit – I haven’t done simulations on this):

The energy harvested by the collector is deposited to a water tank – the heat source of the heat pump. This tank is used for passive cooling in summer: Floor heating becomes floor cooling. Heating of hot water is beneficial as heat is extracted from the tank.

If there is an intermittent ‘cold’ period in summer the cooling capacity can be increased by actually cooling the tank through the collector – you would run the collector pump in the ‘cold’ night. Thus if the air is much cooler than the tank than the collector would cool the tank and ‘heat’ the tomatoes.

But this is a rare condition and most likely not accountable for the incredible ‘output’ in terms of tomatoes. These are 13 plants – 13 different varieties with funny names as Green Zebra and Black Plum. The most prolific one is Gelbe Dattelwein (Translates to Yellow Date Wine, most of the other names are English ones anyway).

According to superficial googling ‘health’ and ‘tomatoes’ eating about 1 kg tomatoes a day does not have negative side effects.

We bought the plants from Arche Noah (Noah’s Ark), a society whose vision it is to work on bringing traditional and rare varieties into gardens and on the market again.