In natural Ecosystems, plants perform functions that either help or prevent other plants to grow. The same is true in our gardens. This chart shows which plants grow well together and which to plant far apart.
Plants perform differently out of their natural environment, which is to grow outside in the fresh air, where they have the breezes and rain showers to help deter pests.
Because an Earthship greenhouse is NOT a natural environment, some of these tips for hte garden does not always apply. For instance: Calendula in the garden is a general pest deterrent, but in the greenhouse they are prone to aphids. The best is to experiment and try according to this chart and go by the process of elimination.
The following video is teaching you how to keep seeds and save it for future food production.
Beside planting seeds, there are also different techniques to propagate plants in your greenhouse:
Water Procedure in Earthships
When growing food in an Earthship, besides using the best soil you can get, in your planters and growing buckets, and besides having adequate light, watering correctly is just as important to successful yields.
Watering will vary according to what it is you are growing, but growing food requires more water than just growing ornamental plants in the interior grey water planters. When growing food it is better to top water with fresh cistern water as opposed to grey water. You can top water with grey water, but it does leave a residue on the leaves that is more difficult to wash o and can be unsightly. Top watering with the hose nozzle on SHOWER, is done to simulate rain, to wash and sooth the plants as rain would, and to wash o pest bugs.
Top watering is also done to supply the smaller plants in the grey water planters, whose roots have not yet reached the grey water, with moisture.
The growing capacity of an Earthship can be increased by growing food in buckets suspended in the greenhouse front face, receiving the maximum amount of light that most vegetables need to grow. These contained buckets operate similarly to a very basic hydroponic system of the ebb and ow of water with nutrients, then oxygen over the plants roots. Hence the buckets do not have drain- age holes, as when the buckets are watered, the water with nutrients collect in the bottom of the bucket which the plant will up-take, which then allows oxygen to filter in over the plants roots, and is then watered again before the roots dry up.
Watering Plants Growing in Suspended Growing Buckets
- Rule of thumb, is that if the soil surface is dry to the touch (scratch into the soil surface about an inch, and if still dry) then water. This may mean watering twice or three times a week, depending on the SEASON, the WEATHER and the SIZE of the PLANTS and of course the SIZE of the POT/BUCKET too.
- If the plants look wilted and the soil is dry, then they are not being watered enough. Normally the plant will recover when watered.
- If the plant is wilted and the soils is very moist, then the plant has been over watered and has developed root rot, and will very seldom recover, unlike when it is wilted from drying out too much.
- Over watering causes water to collect at the bottom of the bucket, become stagnant and stinky. This results in roots getting cold, causing root rot, which causes plants to wilt and die.
- Rather under water than over water. It is easier to add more water than to remove too much water from the buckets
Watering Buckets with Small (young) Plants
- Using the hose nozzle on SHOWER, top water with a quick spray in a circular motion over the top soil surface of each bucket, if the soil surface has dried out.
- Never water so much that the water collects in the bot- tom and stands stagnant, for the buckets with the small plants
- Rather water a little each day than too much in one day then not for a while
- Be in tune with the weather and each plant, and its needs.
Watering Buckets with Large Plants
- IF THERE IS NO OR VERY LITTLE WATER WHEN YOU LOOK DOWN THE WHITE PIPE, using the hose nozzle on CENTER, squirt water down the white pipe until you can see the water level rising on the side of the bucket, until it reaches the potting soil level (a dark ring will form around the bucket at this point, just above the half way mark up the side of the bucket.)
- IF THERE IS STILL A FAIR AMOUNT OF WATER WHEN LOOKING DOWN THE PIPE, there is no need to add water. this would be the case when the weather has been cloudy and cool for a few days and the plant has not yet absorbed all the water.
- Allow the large plants to absorb ALL the water in the bucket before adding more, so that the roots can get oxygen too. When adding water to +- 2/3 up the side of the bucket, then over the next day or two or three, allow the water to be absorbed by the plant and evaporated by the heat of the day, allowing oxygen to filter into the spaces in the soil and between the grow medium, that was occupied by water a day or two before. This will mimic the up and down SURGE of water with nutrients and oxygen in a hydroponic system. - If we do not mimic this up and down surge of water and oxygen, the plants will get root rot and die. Plants need oxygen on their roots to be healthy.
- In Hydroponics, this up and down surge happens every few hours, on a timer, but in our suspended growing buckets, it depends on the SEASON, the WEATHER and the SIZE of the plant in each bucket. This is why it is so important not to over water, as one can always add water, but it is difficult to remove water from the hanging buckets.
- Be aware of the weather, as this will affect how often and how much water is applied.
Watering the Planters in Earthships
- The larger established plants have longer roots that go down into the grey water.
- Smaller less established plants still need to be top watered, especially food plants. Top watering simulates rain and helps with bug pest control. - When the surface of the planter soil is dry when you scratch in a little, +- 1”, then it is time to water
- Remember to water a little extra over the new seedlings coming up in the patches of soil. They are the only ones that really need to be moist all the time until they get a little bigger. - The inside planters (inside the interior greenhouse), also need to be watered almost every day, depending on the weather. They dry out more quickly in Winter as this is the only time that the sun reaches into the inside planters. Always do the soil test if you are unsure. Test at least 3 different parts of the planter, as it dries out at a different rate, and water accordingly (more in the drier part of the planter.)
- In Winter, if you live in a cold climate, do not water in the coldest part of the day, in the early morning or in the evening. Only water at mid-day in Winter. It is the opposite in the Summer, watering only in the early morn- ing or in the evening, not during the warmest part of the day. Using the SHOWER setting on the hose nozzle, gently spray the ground evenly covering all its surface evenly, but not excessively.
Growing Mushrooms in Earthships
Edible and medicinal mushrooms are an excellent food source and addition to a healthy diet. Mushrooms are very nutritious for the body. Also mushrooms are fat and cholesterol-free and they are low in calories. More over mushrooms are the only non-animal food source that contains vitamin D. Mushrooms are a good source of B vitamins, including B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panto- thenic acid), B7 (Biotin) and B9 (folate). They are a good source of import- ant minerals such as copper, potassium & selenium.
Mushrooms can very easily be grown in any home, by purchasing mushroom growing kits at your local nursery or gardening store, or order-ing them online. These are normally a bag of mushroom spawn inoculated sawdust that, when watered produce mushrooms, that can be grown in any kitchen. These are great kits for children to grow.
Earthships located in a dry climate, are more conducive to growing mushrooms, because not only can one grow the afore mentioned mushroom kits, but one can also grow mushrooms on logs and stumps placed in the interior grey water planters, as one would grow them outside. Outdoors in northern climates, one can only grow mushrooms during the warmer months, but in Earthships, one can grow mushrooms on stumps and logs all year long no matter where your Earthship is located.
If it is instant gratification that one is be after, then the spawn inoculated sawdust kits would be the way to go. Mushroom kits are easy and quick and come with easy directions to follow, so we will not be covering this method here.
Growing mushrooms on stumps and logs however involves some work and an investment of time and patience, but the results are more long term, and very rewarding.
Firstly it is a good idea to do some research. The first step is to know what type of hardwoods are available in ones area, as most medicinal and edible mushrooms grow on hard-woods.
Late Winter and early Spring is the best time to cut the stumps or logs, as this is when they have the highest concentration of sugars in their sap, which is what the mycelium will feed on while it is colonizing the stumps or logs. Get freshly cut stumps or logs of oak, cottonwood, aspen or whatever hardwoods are most abundantly available. Stumps should be no more than 14 inches in diameter. Logs should be about 4 to 6 inches in diameter and about 3 feet long. Once the stumps or logs have been cut, they need to sit for about 3 weeks or a little more, so the natural defense mechanism that all trees have, that prevent fungi from growing on them while they are alive, can die. This usually happens after three weeks after the tree has been cut down. Do not use stumps or logs that have been dead or cut down for more than three months, as they will have dried out too much and may not have enough nutrition left to feed the mycelium. They may also already be colonized by other mushroom spore.
In the three weeks while waiting for the logs to “sea- son”, order plug spawn from Fungi Perfecti at www. fungi.com. These are 1 inch dowel rods that have a spiral groove carved around them which has been inoculated with mushroom spore. They come in a package of 100. These come with specific instructions on how to inoculate the logs/stumps . One uses a 5/16 drill bit to drill 1.5 inch holes into the wood. In the case of stumps, the holes are drilled into the face of the stump about a inch to an inch and a half from the bark in the heart wood around the circumference of the stumps face, about 2 inches apart. In the case of logs, one drills the inch and a half deep holes in a diamond lattice design, around the entire log. The inoculated grooved dowel pugs are then hammered into the holes with a rubber mallet. The holes with the plug spawn inside are then sealed with molten bees wax. The cut faces of the logs and stumps also need to be sealed with molten bees or cheese or non gmo soy wax, to prevent the logs from drying out while they are being colonized by the mycelium. This takes 6 to 12 months, so it is best to place your inoculated logs/stumps on another log or on a tray, in the grey water planter and just top water them when you water your planter. They should not touch the soil, otherwise they may start to rot.
Once 6-9 months have passed, one can check for colonization signs on the cut faces of the logs./stumps, under the wax. One may see darker intersecting dark circle like designs under the wax in the wood.
At this point one needs to initiate the fruiting by submerging the logs/stumps in a vat or barrel of rainwater, or lay them in a stream or outdoor cistern for 48 plus hours. This length of time will be determined by how dry one’s climate is. In northern New Mexico at Earthship Head- quarters, we submerge the logs/stumps for about 4 days, sometimes more, as the climate here is high desert and the air is very dry, which is not conducive to growing mushrooms.
This soaking is what simulates the Fall rains that initiate forest mushrooms to fruiting. The logs and stumps imbibe the water from the stream or cistern and become water logged. The logs/stumps are then removed from the water and placed in their shady spot in the grey water planter inside an Earthship, not in direct sun. Keep water- ing the logs/stumps when watering the plants and food growing in the grey water planters. In a few days to 2 weeks, mush-rooms will start growing out of the logs/ stumps. The fruiting flush will continue for about a week to 2 weeks and then decrease. Trim the full grown mush- rooms from the logs/stumps and prepare them to eat.
The logs/stumps then need to be left again to rest, for the mycelium to keep colonizing the logs/stumps. Every 3 months or so, one can reinitiate the logs/stumps by put- ting them in rainwater again for a few days, and repeating the process. This can be done for about a period of 2 years after the initial inoculation.
These flushes of fruiting mushrooms are most prolific
initially and do lessen over the 2 year period. One can get huge flushes of delicious mushrooms to eat and dehydrate for later use.
We have grown Pearl Oyster mushrooms and Shiitake Mushrooms that taste so much better than store bought ones. They also grow much larger. The Pearl Oyster mushrooms have a similar taste and texture but better than chicken. The Shiitakes have a taste and texture similar to, but better than red meat.
The best way to prepare them is to brush them clean with a soft brush and slice them, saute them in olive oil and butter or ghee with garlic. Just when ready, drizzle them with tamari and serve. very delicious and nutritious!