Monday, August 25, 2014

Grow Your Own! A Wicking Bed Tutorial


Recently our friend Kate needed some worms for a worm farm she helped start with Todd at the Binkley Healing Center.  She messaged Ventura Cooperative on facebook, we connected, and we set up a time for her to come pick up a box of red wrigglers.  While she was with us, she talked about her project with Todd growing food on the balcony.  Sweet news!  More folks growing their own!  Even better....is the news about how they're doing it.  They built and planted three wicking beds.

Wicking beds are a great way to save water and grow your own food! Check out the video above from activists feeding their community with food and knowledge.

Kate then invited us to a presentation Todd was doing the next day for his custom designed, handmade, water saving new raised beds.  Of course I went and was pleasantly surprised to see how intensely involved Kate and Todd are with growing their own food-- with sustainable and organic means.  They did a great job documenting the process.  The presentation was informative and inspiring.  Plus I like the color purple!  (they painted the beds purple ;-)



Our friend Jim Mangis came to the meet-up as well.  Come to find out, he helped Kate and Todd get started with plants and soil from his local business Good Tilth Organic Nursery.  Jim makes his own excellent compost mix.  He spoke about soil, I got the chance to practice a 30sec pitch for our Actively Aerated Compost Tea, and Todd talked about wicking beds.  Win-win-win!

So thanks to Kate and Todd for stepping up and implementing a program to grow their own food in a way that fits their needs and lifestyle.  Anybody can do it, and at Ventura Cooperative, we're here to help you out!

Related Links:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Add Purslane to Your Edible Landscape

One of the best gifts of gardening is discovering that a plant you once thought was a weed, is really a integral part of your edible landscape.  Purslane is at the top of this list when it come to garden uses, nutritional value and culinary versatility. 



Purslane's growing habit makes it a good alternative to lawns or other ground covers.  A study conducted by the University of Connecticut concluded that the plant is effective at organically controlling weeds.  Purslane acts as a "living mulch." In the category of nutrition, the University of Texas at San Antonio finds Purslane contains 10 to 20 times more melatonin, an antioxidant, than any other fruit or vegetable they tested. more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source in the solar system, and an extraordinary amount for a plant, some 8.5 mg for every gram of weight.  Purslane also contians:
  • vitamin A, B, C 
  • six times more E than spinach
  • beta carotene, seven times more of that than carrots
  • magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium, and iron 
  • and has 2.5% protein per serving.
What about flavor?  Purslanes's taste has a subtle green flair of vitality, so it’s a great addition to many recipes.  We've been eating it raw with Green Zebra tomatoes, goat cheese in pita bread!  Tossed in salads with a cucumber yogurt dressing, it's a crowd pleaser.  Really, it's difficult to understate Purslane's attributes.

This fantastic “weed” is virtually underfoot everywhere, from Ventura to NYC, but most US residents don't know it's there.  So keep an eye out for it.  We're cultivating in our gardens from volunteers we found, and from a few cuttings Ron at Rincon Vitova gave us.  By this time next year, we'll have a living mulch cover crop that sustains many levels of the Soil Food Web, humans included! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Green Thumb Compost Tea Workshop


There is a buzz brewing around compost tea in Ventura these days, mainly due to the efforts permaculture advocates David White of the Ojai Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Ron Whitehurst of Rincon Vitova.  Because of these two soil revolutionaries, we've been able to build a momentum that brought 30+ folks together at Green Thumb Nursery for a hands on compost tea workshop.
We set up two microscopes, brought soil building and permaculture books and manuals, handouts, and a few attendees went home with a gallon of tea teeming with microbial life.  Samples of local soil allowed people to see and smell the difference between the tired soil of industrial farms and the super soil of living compost.

We were excited!  Most everyone attending had active compost piles in their backyards, but few had attempted making actively aerated compost tea.  This is why these workshops are so important.  The connections we make create a network of shared knowledge and experience.

Just like the connections in the life of the soil food web, we're better when we're feeding each other.  So come out and grow with us.  Actively Aerated Compost Tea is brewing with potential.  Over the next few months we'll be building measuring and adapting our knowledge of the science and the art of AACT.

Ventura Coop can deliver AACT to you directly, or help you establish your own brewing system.  Contact us at 805.765.1892 for more information.


Related Links:
Ojai CRA, Dr. David White
Rincon Vitova, Ron Whitehurst
Soil Food Web, Elaine Ingham

  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ventura Coop Glassware! Made in the USA

Check out these VCoop custom logo's imprinted on made in the USA glass apothecary and mason jars!  You may have seen them around town.

 

The 22 oz. apothecary jar comes with a liquid tight lid, and is good for iced drinks, infused oils,  or storing seeds.  Our 16oz. mason jar is the classic jar, versatile and stands the test of time.


We're proud to make this glassware available locally at the Refill Shoppe, the Ventura Visitor's Center and Palermo Coffee Shop.  If you'd like to order through us, send us an e-mail and we'll set you up. venturacoop@gmail.com 805.765.1892

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:  http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002082739009975.html


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!