Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Compost Tea: Life Under The Microscope

After attending the Center For Regenerative Agriculture's workshop on compost tea with Elaine Ingham as the featured speaker, we're totally geeking out on the science behind compost tea.

It is amazing to see life under the microscope.  Microbes swimming, spinning and squirming around pieces of fungal strands and small pieces of debris.  It's a moving universe of activity.

Soon we'll be posting pictures of what we find down there.  Though we're being scientific about our approach to brewing tea, we're still trusting our sense of smell and touch.  Organic gardening is a perfect blend of head, heart, and nose.

Come see us at the 4th of July street fair, or at the Ventura County Fair.  Or call us at 805.765.1892.  We've got some in the brewer for you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Plants Love Ventura Cooperative Compost Tea

This is one of the gardens we watered with compost tea.  Gerardo Gallegos asked us to come and apply 40 gallons of our actively aerated tea on all his new plantings.  He remembers when this oasis was an untended lot.  His work is amazing!

Compost tea has so many positive attributes.  We use it in all of our gardening projects.  Learn more about it here:

We have the best clients and garden partners on the planet!  We played with McCartney in his back yard, took pictures, talked about community gardens and watered the earth with approximately 69,578,463,376,002 beneficial organisms.

See you again soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Edible Landscape for Rosie and Macks

On Saturday we helped Rosie and Macks get a good start in their backyard garden.  We prepared late into the night before, putting finishing touches on the vertical gardens and mixing soil. When we made our morning delivery of compost and mulch, Rosie was ready with coffee and pastries.  Yeah!  All throughout the day we worked together, DIY style, planting, mulching and designing a garden that will have room to grow in the future.  This is why we do what we do.

Saturday was a windy day, which was perfect in a way, because we wanted to know how the vertical pallet gardens would respond to heavy gusts, as they were hanging approximately three feet down off the eves of the garage roof.  It worked well.  The pallets were heavy enough to withstand the wind, and they added the extra color Rosie wanted in front of the open wall.  Later, Audra and Rosie placed a variety of herbs, flowers and edibles in the grow boxes.  We accomplished what we set out to do, and we were all happy with the installation.

Macks built a raised bed (complete with wire gopher proofing) and we filled with a layer of rough compost, and then top amended with a custom mix of Venture Cooperative compost, worm castings and coco mulch.  In that mix we planted heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, kale, and zucchini, and then watered with compost tea.

We also mulched the border gardens and garden work area, outlining sections with locally sourced rocks, making a the garden come alive in the moment.  Already new ideas about what to do next were being dreamed up.

Not only did we begin a beautiful new backyard garden with Rosie and Macks, more importantly, we began a new friendship.  We're looking forward to working with them again soon and taking it to the next level.  Until then, Keep Growing!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grow Your Own: A Raised Bed and Tower Garden Experiment

Soil or aeroponics?  Why choose?  There are advantages to both.  In Daniel's case he is running an experiment in his front yard to see which one he likes best.  

As spring begins and the planting starts, he has two systems of growing.  One, a raised bed he designed and the other a tower garden that is a pilot system for a school gardening program.  In each system he plans to produce a yield that will provide healthy meals for his family.

Originally, the plan was to build the raised bed in the back yard, high enough off the ground so that he could work standing up.  The direct sunlight was better in the front yard, and because of that we trimmed some hedge and built it by the driveway.  By converting a sprinkler head into a bubbler irrigation system the bed is now watered on a timer.  

Daniel was also gifted a tower garden to experiment with as a pilot project for a local school's gardening program.  This is a perfect opportunity to see side by side how different grow systems work.  The tower garden is a soil-less system.  The nutrients are carried to the plant roots by an oxygenated water system the pumps water to the top of the tower from a storage basin at the bottom.  It is on a 15 min on/off timer.  

Placed side by side in the front yard, these two systems are going to provide an excellent opportunity to measure the success of two different grow styles.  Ventura Cooperative is happy to help Daniel as he endeavors to grow his own food.  Permaculture begins here, front yard gardening!

Learn more about Tower Gardens here.  

For more information contact Ventura Cooperative at:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ventura Cooperative Brings White Sage to NH

Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't.  "Live Free and DIY" is on the Ventura Cooperative logo. It's our version of the famous New Hampshire "Live Free or Die" state motto. In honor of this connection, we brought white sage to the granite state as the start of our coast to coast trading initiative.

White sage is hand gathered and native to California.  Hard to get in New Hampshire. What's difficult to fine in California--small batch locally produced maple syrup. That's where Ventura Cooperative comes in. We're building NH-CA trade partnerships to support locally made goods in both states.

Danbury General Store received our first delivery of white sage. It's a family run business with lot's of locally produced goods. The store is located right next to Ragged Mountian Ski Area.  Be sure to stop in and check out what they have to offer. Look for more locally harvested items and products to be traded in the future.  Have suggestions?  Contact us here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

DIY Rainwater Collection Barrel

This is a great basic design for a economical and efficient rainwater collection system.  In Ventura, as in the rest of California, we are facing serious drought conditions.  You'd be surprised how much water comes off your roof in even the lightest rain.  You're handy?  DIY  You're not?  give us a call and we'll install it for you.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chipping Away at Permaculture

As our next step in creating a permaculture landscape in Ally's yard, we asked our friend Don to come over with his chipper to help with breaking down a huge pile of brush. Instead of having all the brush hauled off to the landfill, we decided to keep it onsite and use the resource for mulch and compost building.  It's part of our permaculture ethic, to close the loop and reuse as much as possible.

Don purchased the chipper with this is mind.  Whenever we have a need to chip up a bunch of organic debris, he is the person we call.  He's been helping neighbor's and friends since he started in his own backyard last summer.  It's a great piece of equipment for small to mid-size jobs.  Easily portable and economical, and makes really nice mulch.

Earlier in the week, our crew had cut down a volunteer pine tree and trimmed vines and hedges all around Ally's yard.  The trunk and some of the branches were too big to chip, so we cut them into lengths to be used as firewood.   Most of the rest of the branches we cleaned for mulching. The rest we lopped up into big compost piles.  After about 6 hours of work we had about 5 yards of rough compost and a dozen bags of fine mulch to be used in the yard.

Thanks Don!  Now we can move on to the next phase of Ally's edible landscape--building raised beds and compost bins.