Posted on 2010-09-19 21:00:00
Tags: Project VP
This weekend I started with Project VP again. Two years ago I started with turning over one square meter of ground, last year it was two square meters and this year... This year I gave up after the first one-meter-row and invested some money in a raised garden frame.
Why? Mostly because I was doing it wrong. The ground here is full of stones, most likely a rubbish dump thing. The first years I could work around that "easily" because I didn't know what I was up to, this year I knew that it was going to be hell again with these stones and it killed my enthousiasm after the first row.
So, was project VP this year doomed before it was started or was it going to be something much bigger? After a small moment of deep pondering I remembered the gardening frames I saw at a local markets: More or less you have four one-meter planks which together made a square which could be filled with soil and then used for growing vegetables.
Doing a little bit of math, one package of 4 planks gives you 1x1 meter. Two packages of 4 planks gives you 1x3 meters. The planks are 20 centimeters high, gives you 600 liters of soil you need. Bunnings sells bags at 25 or 30 liters, so you need 24 or 20 of them.
So... we are back in action, this time with proper soil, proper seeds and hopefully a much better outcome.
Posted on 2009-10-04 17:30:00
Tags: Project VP
After two months a quick status update: The beetroot looks fine, we will hopefully have three rows of beetroot in a couple of months. The carrots is a full failure: Of the seven rows, only ten plants came up. So today I aborted them all and started with a new batch of seeds. We also fertilized it with a full year worm-farm output, which will hopefully kickstart the process again.
Posted on 2009-08-02 14:00:00
Tags: Project VP
Last years Project Vegetable Patch was a nearly complete success: I found a way to usefully spend the money from the Google Ads revenue stream (say AU$ 200 per year), I found a way to entertain and educate Dirk and Hanorah in a positive way and I got a load of carrots. The only thing which didn't work was the pumpkin, but I blame that on my (current lack of) skills.
So, yesterday I spend another chunk of money from the Google Ads on proper boots this time: Last year I used my rough surface walking shoes aka my motor boots, but since they kind of fell apart in pieces one day when I tried them on, I couldn't use them anymore. A quick visit to the Hard Yakka shop in Caringbah gave me both new Redback boots and new working gloves.
The next thing was to reclaim the previous vegetable patch: The grass in the garden has been gaining ground on it again, but the patch of a square meter was easily identifiable and the ground was turned in not time. This went much better than last year when it was all wet and rock solid, with lots of rocks and roots.
After having done the old patch in no-time, I got brave and decided to increase the size. That was a bad idea. Just like last year, that new piece of patch was wet and rock solid, with lots of rocks and roots. Thanks to my new boots and gloves it was less messy than before, but it kind of ruined hands and back.
At a certain moment I had enough of it, it was only doubled in size instead of much bigger. But if next year the turning of the ground goes as good as it went this time, I will add another square meter to it!
The additional experiment we did this time was to use the ashes (plus crushed coal, plus dropped fat) from the leg-of-cow we had on the barbeque spit earlier this year as fertilizer - I really wonder how good that will go.
The next thing this afternoon, or next week, will be to start seeding again. For now I will stick to things which grow without the need to be fertilized: Carrots and beet-root and things like that.
Posted on 2009-01-04 21:00:00
Tags: Project VP
The hobby of growing vegetables is pretty simple: turn some earth, grow the seeds, remove weekly everything which doesn't look like vegetables and water it every other day. Compare it with the hobby of having a dog, which is pretty intensive (walk it twice a day, play with it, buy food for it etc), and at the end you are not allowed to eat it! (Bad joke, I know)
Anyway, the leaves on the carrots have grown very nicely and the top of some of the carrots stick out above the ground, showing that they are nice and thick. The pumpkin plants, five of them, have had (and still have) nice yellow flowers in them, but the lack of bees in this country (or is it only Sydney? I can't remember having seen bees here, but there is honey so there should be bees too) kind of worries me for the possibilities. But like I said, just keep watering it, maybe I get lucky!
This week will be the end for my carrots, I'm going to pull them out somewhere this week! Then a new batch will go in. And if I really feel brave, the patch will be extended in size.
Part two of the training (hands on, dirty details, procedures) was done in the Sunnyvale offices of Riverbed. Were the offices in San Francisco in the middle of the city (well, mostly), these ones were in the middle of Sunnyvale. Going there would be simple, grab the BART train, grab the Caltrain train and grab a taxi for the last two kilometers. I mentioned the issues with BART earlier, now its CALTrains turn.
Caltrain was GREAT! It started with the buying of the ticket where I didn't get 14 dollars back in quarters, I got 14 dollars back in dollar coins. I knew about the existence of silver dollar coins (collector items), but that was the first time I have seen normal dollar coins. Later in the week I found out that it costs the US government about 500 million dollars per year to replace all the worn-out dollar bills while it would only cost a fraction of that if they moved to dollar coins which would last about 30-40 years before they need to get replaced.
The second great thing was the bell on the front of the train, which gets sounded when it arrived at a station or a railway crossing. The third great thing were the railway crossings, something which I haven't seen for a long time but remember from an earlier life: One in eastern Eindhoven and one in Geldrop. Bing-bing-bing-bing they go when the train drives by. The fourth great thing was the presence of a train conductor which was there for questions and support. I am not sure if they are on the CountryLink trains in Australia, but they surely are not in the Sydney CityRail trains.
The design of the interior of the train is euhm... interesting. (Fifth great thing!). To get in the train you have to climb from the platform (which is at a certain height) up three steps into the train (which is thus higher). That is the ground level of chairs, in two rows with each two chairs on your both and left hand side. Then the upper level of the train, which is accessible via a step of stairs leading you to about one-and-a-half meter above the ground level. That distance is not high enough to make it possible for the people on the ground floor to stand up, so they have upstairs only one chair per row, both on the left and right hand side of the train, and a huge gaping hole in the middle of the upper level. Like I said, interesting design but not worlds smartest I think.
Two zones later, from Millbrae to Sunnyvale and I was at the place I would call home for the next week: A Best Western hotel. The week before I was in a hotel in inner San Francisco, now a Best Western hotel. Let me describe the differences:
|Queen-size bed||King-size bed|
|Shower and bath||Shower and spa|
|Internet (wired and wireless)||Internet (wired and wireless)|
|42 channels on TV||At least 99 channels on TV|
|Movie on Demand ($$$$)||Video library (Free!)|
|Breakfast ($$$$)||Breakfast (Free!)|
|Dinner / Bar||Pizza / Starbucks near the supermarket|
|Soda vending machine||Soda + Snack vending machine|
|10 minutes walk to work||10 minutes walk to work|
|US$ 279 per night||US$ 119 per night|
On average, Sunnyvale was better for the money, but San Francisco had the location. And less crap on TV :-)
Because the availability of the video library, I took the opportunity to watch some old movies: Timeline by Michael Crighton (for medieval castle lovers), Snatch (very funny movie) and Rat Race (always good for a laugh). There was a fourth one but I can't remember anything about it.
Just as I met up David Thiel and Anton Holleman in San Francisco, I met up with people here too: Jos Backus, former colleague of Origin and FreeBSD enthusiast, Xen Li and Marcel Moolenaar, both FreeBSD developers. Thanks for the hospitality guys!
The time in Sunnyvale flew by and before I knew it was time to go back to Australia. This time I was lucky on the plane: The two people next to me didn't show up and I moved from an aisle seat to a window seat (I did offer it first to a mother with her child but she refused for some silly reason) and I slept for about ten hours on the plane. Business class comfort for an economy class price!
At home, Project Vegetable Patch needed moral support and some pruning, but it has survived my absence. Little Dirk had his hair cut, Hanorah has learned to walk and Naomi was very glad to have me back and take care of the kids for the rest of the weekend :-)
Posted on 2008-11-02 08:00:00
Tags: Project VP
Before I left for San Francisco, I spent every evening quickly glancing over my vegetable patch, watering it and making sure that everything was in order: The four places with pumpkin seeds have grown nice and the three rows have these carrot-specific kind of leaves coming out of the ground. The only issue is that the grass roots which were not removed properly began sprouting up again, but I will take care of that when I will be back in Sydney!
It has been six months ago since I added Google Ads to my weblog and to my FreeBSD Mailinglist Archive and this month I received my first payment. Six months for US$ 100.-, that is about AU$ 130.-. Not enough to give up my dayjob, that's for sure, but enough for funny things. And the funny thing-du-jour is: Growing your own vegetables.
Wait... Computers, networks, electronics, children. How does that fit in? Euhmm... category children I would say. Nothing is as fun as doing funny things with them and working in the garden is one of them.
When I was young, my parents had a so called volkstuin, or allotment garden in the English language, were they grew vegetables. Not for the whole year around and not for the whole family, just a 10 by 10 meters lot. A lot of saturday mornings were spent there weeding the growth and in the summer with the late nights I often helped watering them.
So, how does 130 Australian dollars and vegetable patches come together? Simple: I used the money to buy some gardening tools and seeds.
Project Vegetable Patch has started its first phase, with the purchase of a spade and the turning over a square meter of grass in the back of the garden. The grass in the back of the garden is a little bit high, and very strong. So I limited myself to one square meter. Much less than my father did, but you have to start somewhere. The ground looked fine, it was wet and full of worms, lawn grubs (are lawn grubs a good sign?) and stones.
I bought pumpkin seeds and carrot seeds. The pumpkin needed to be sowed one meter apart, so they go on the edge-corners of the patch. And the carrots rows have to be 20-30 cm in between so I got three rows of them.
Add a little bit of water, add a little bit of worm-wee from the worm farm and wait for four months. Well, check every week to get rid of the grasses and to water it every day, but the idea is there.
If this works, next time I will go for more square meters!