[Alyssa] Hey guys, so we’re going to talk
about something a little bit different on our channel today and that is gardening. So
as many of you know, we’ve been living on our property for about 7 or 8 months now.
Spring is here. The snow’s gone and we’re getting the bug to grow our own food. So we
don’t know that we’re going to have a huge thriving garden this year that’s going to
come with time but we really want to make a video on starting your garden, and one of
the things we really want to focus on is amending your soil. So, over the past few weeks or
so we’ve done a little bit of research and we’re really trying to find ways to make our
soil as healthy as possible so that when we’re ready to plant, those vegetables are allowed
to thrive and we really want to take a low maintenance approach, but what we’re doing
already on our property, we feel like we’re doing a lot of things naturally that could
help amend our soil that we’re able to implement with just a little bit of research.
[Jesse] Yeah, the soil that we have is not super so Alyssa’s been doing a lot of research
about what we could kind of do to get it more superish and so we kind of talk a little bit
about that in this video. It’s not meant to be like, we’re not gardening experts so we’re
not trying to give you advice, we’re just trying to kind of give you ideas on how to
keep life simple. [Alyssa] We just want to share what we are
doing. [Jesse] Yeah and we aren’t claiming to know
it all so we’ll just give it a shot and if it grows food, yeah!
[Alyssa] Woohoo! [Jesse] Cool! I mean, it can’t be that hard
right? Anyway, so yeah, we wanted to share some of that stuff in this video. We’ve got
a few things that we’ve been doing so we’ll kind of jump into those and talk about each
one a little in detail. [Alyssa] So one of the first things that we
did that was recommended to us by some successful gardeners in the area was to simply bring
in some topsoil. It’s not that we can’t work with what we have, but our ground is very
compacted with a lot of rock so we figured that this was a really simple way that we
could do on a moment’s notice, was simply go visit our local garden and lawn care center
and bring in a bunch of topsoil. It’s relatively inexpensive, especially if you’re only getting
a couple yards. I think we only got a yard, yard and a half, something like that, and
we were able to go pick it up ourselves which was awesome, and now we have a couple of very
nice raised beds which helps keep things a little warmer and get everything off the ground
and it really just gives us a nice space to work with.
A second thing we did that was also recommended to us by our friends was to bring in some
compost and again it’s not that we can’t make this ourselves, but it simply takes time and
we really wanted to amend the soil immediately so that if we choose to plant something in
a month our soil is good to go and there’s a good chance that our veggies will thrive.
So, many local suppliers have compost available and again it’s very affordable, especially
if you only get a yard or half a yard and we simply mixed it in with our topsoil. It’s
probably a little bit hard to tell in the camera but the compost is a lot darker than
the topsoil. It’s almost black. A lot of people refer to it as black gold simply because it
is so nutrient dense and we just mixed it in here, so right here you see a little bit
of topsoil as well as the compost. Another thing we wanted to share is when doing
some online research I ran into something called biochar and if you don’t know what
that is, I’ll put a link below this video as to really the technicalities and the science
behind it, but basically it’s what happens when you burn biomass at a low oxygen environment.
It results in a charcoal like substance but it’s not charcoal, it’s very different than
charcoal and this, when added to your soil at about a 1:10 ratio, something in there,
it really helps to aerate the soil. It also helps the soil to retain a lot more water,
which is really important when you’re on an off grid property and water may be limited
or you simply don’t want to water your garden ten times a day. It also is extremely porous
so it helps to retain a lot of the nutrients. It is important, before it goes into your
garden, to charge the biochar, because it’s porous and it doesn’t have a lot of nutrients
in it already, it tends to absorb nutrients from surrounding things such as your plants
which you don’t want, but if you put it in something like compost before you add it to
your garden, maybe for a couple of weeks, it should leach the materials and nutrients
instead of absorb them. We chose not to charge this before putting it into our soil because
we don’t have any veggies so we figure that with the compost and the topsoil it should
be more than fine when we go to plant our seeds.
[Jesse] Yeah, and the cool thing about biochar is that it’s basically just mimicking nature.
If you study forest fire habitat, this is basically what a truly good forest fire does.
The bad forest fires are the ones that go ripping through this dense undergrowth and
they get really hot and they kill everything but a good forest fire just kind of smolders
its way through the forest floor and the reason it doesn’t burn really hot is because there’s
a lot of fuel and no oxygen, not really, and so it ends up resulting in a bunch of this.
If you’ve ever been out hiking, you’ll see just little pockets of char. If you look at
a hillside that’s had a good forest fire go through it, it looks a little bit burnt, but
once things start to grow back they grow back really strong and so we’re just using those
same principles that nature uses. The question is, what do you make biochar from and then
an even better question, how do you make this stuff, because it’s not wood ash, it’s in
a low oxygen environment. The wood ash is what happens when you burn something out completely
and it’s extremely alkaline and that could really throw off the pH of your garden. Alyssa
can tell you a little bit about stuff we found around the property and then a way we found
to make this stuff pretty easy. [Alyssa] So basically we found something online.
This is called a Biocharlie, and in a nutshell, it’s really just like a stove pipe material
with holes in the bottom. It’s a little hard to see here. And what you do is you collect
biomass, and biomass could be just about anything. If you’re on a large property like us or even
just in a normal home, chances are you have a lot of scraps around your property. Things
that you can include in here are twigs, sticks, kindling is really good, things that a lot
of air can circulate around it, bones, we have a lot of bones on our property thanks
to our neighbor; it’s a very long story. [Jesse] This was a deer. This was a deer bone.
[Alyssa] Yes. [Jesse] Just saying.
[Alyssa]So instead of seeing all these bones on our property, now they’re in our garden.
The circle of life. [Jesse] Yeah, Wayne, if you’re watching this
video, thanks Wayne. [Alyssa] Yes
[Jesse] Just wanted to say thanks. [Alyssa] So basically you stick all the biomass
into the Biocharlie and you put it in your fireplace or your wood stove and the great
thing about this is we are already burning our wood stove so we might as well be making
biochar at the same time and the bone and twigs and sticks that’s not really useable
stuff on our property anyway, we’re not burning our firewood because we’re using that to heat
and the Biocharlie doesn’t really heat, it just burns, so even if you’re in a suburban
home, this is something that you could put in your own fireplace which is really handy
and it makes about, I think we calculated maybe a pound at a time, so obviously it’s
not going to fill our entire garden overnight, but over the course of a winter we feel that
for a garden our size, it could be the right ratio of biochar to soil so that’s awesome.
[Jesse] Yeah, we’re already doing it anyway so it wasn’t like a huge inconvenience. When
Alyssa was telling me about biochar and the way people make it, I’m like, No, we’re not
going to do that, it’s very elaborate, not that it has to be, but it’s just a lot of
work. When we found this, it just kind of worked in with our live style seamlessly,
so as a course of heating the cabin all winter long, making biochar, so it’s not anything
extra. [Alyssa] We feel a lot more satisfaction when
your wood stove is burning knowing that you’re helping the environment.
[Jesse] Yeah and it doesn’t really cool the stove down that much. We found that when the
damper shuts everything’s pretty good there. So it’s just a cool tool. Makes this make
sense, otherwise this sounds ridiculous. [Alyssa] And the last measure we’ve taken
to really start amending our soil is starting a compost pile. This is something that I’ve
been wanting to do pretty much my entire adult life only I’ve never really lived in a place
where I felt was appropriate or I just simply didn’t have the time, but now we have five
acres of land and this can sit here on our property very undisturbed. We have a lot of
food waste that’s coming out of our trailer every single day such as banana peels, veggie
peels, eggs, coffee, okay a lot of coffee, it’s like our primary food group. Oh, hey
look, Jesse brought me some coffee. Thanks Jesse.
[Jesse] Yeah, enjoy. [Alyssa] And all of that can be used to help
strengthen our soil versus go to the landfill so I think that’s really awesome, so there’s
lots of resources on how to start a compost pile so I won’t go into that in this particular
video, but basically in a nut shell, you need to have a lot of carbon and nitrogen. Nitrogen
are sources of your food, things like veggies, but you really don’t want to include animal
products because that could attract animals and things like that and make your compost
pile smell really bad. And then carbon includes brown things basically on your property such
as dried leaves, pine needles which we have an abundance of, sticks, sawdust. Here are
some of the pine needles. Basically our entire property is covered in pine needles so we
have an endless source of that, and as you know we’ve been making a lot of our own lumber
so we have a lot of sawdust as well and all of that really helps to cover our pile. We
also have things like egg cartons right now because we still have to buy our eggs from
the grocery store, so we just tear this up and we have this nice compost pile going and
this is the result of maybe a week and a half and it’s still pretty cold outside so I don’t
know that it’s actively composting right now, but we’re really excited for this over the
summer to see how it develops and hopefully we’ll have some beautiful black gold to put
into our soil maybe by the end of the summer. [Jesse] Alright one of the next things that
we did for our garden was we got two bangle cats. Just kidding, we got a bunch of rain
barrels. Turns out, it’s a bangle cat jungle gym. So Alyssa found these barrels on Craig’s
List and it was actually one of those you have to get to it quick kind of things because
it sounds like the demand in our area is pretty high, but there’s not very many barrels, so
what do we do? Grabbed a cup of coffee and we took off to go get rain barrels. Oh look,
a cup of coffee, thanks Honey. Mmm. We knew we were going to need water and we
haven’t sorted out our water solution yet so we’re still doing rain water for our own
needs, potable water, but for gardening and other things, we don’t have that sorted so
we thought as a soft way to start so that we can get going, we’d do rain barrels. I
know it’s exotic but we thought we’d just give it a try and see if it’ll work. We actually
need to have some water available for our hot tub too and so we thought, because we
built this deck that we would use some of the rain catchment coming from the roof and
we would just use that for gardening and things. So Alyssa got working on Craig’s list and
found us a few rain barrels so we’re excited to get those set up and it probably won’t
provide enough water for an entire summer of gardening, we’re not really sure, but it’s
worth a try and hopefully it’ll work out really well for us. Of course down the road we plan
on doing other water things, but this is a great way just to do a temporary supply of
water. You see some criticism online about rain barrels
and how much water a yard really takes and how they’re silly, but I’ll tell you, after
living off grid for a little while, we don’t use nearly the amount of water that the average
household does, so we’ll have to try this out and see if it’ll work well for us, but
the total cost I think on these barrels was around $120 which is actually pretty good
price because an equivalent tank that we would have to buy would have been somewhere around
$300 for an equal size tank. [Alyssa] So just to sum up this video, we’re
just really excited that we’re slowly making progress on our fully self-sustainable off
grid homestead and as we’re talking right now, we’re standing on our hot tub deck that
we built ourselves from trees on our own property. Our hot tub is in the corner there that will
soon be fed from the rain and then the roof from this deck will run off into the rain
barrels which will then feed our organic garden and then in the background we also have our
compost pile which is going to help feed the garden and we might also build a compost zip
line from the hot tub that will take our banana peels from the hot tub to the compost pile.
[Jesse] Yeah, put a banana right here and then it goes right into the compost bin. Sounds
like a fun project to me. [Alyssa] Now we need a hard cider compost
bin too don’t we? [Jesse] We need a distillery.
[Alyssa] Okay, well we’ll work on that next time.
[Jesse] Another video. If you’re new to our journey or if you’d like to follow our off
grid homesteading journey, please follow us on our blog. You can also follow us, of course,
here on YouTube. We’ll put a subscribe button right here, right where the garden is, and
then follow us on our blog. Its PureLivingForLife.com We do a lot more in-depth blog posts and things
over there that we don’t share on YouTube. We also have a Facebook and an Instagram if
you like those types of things please follow us over there. We’ll put a link in the description
below and we tend to put micro posts over there, things that we don’t put on YouTube
or on our blog, so if you like those and you like to get more frequent updates, please
follow us over there and we’ll see you in the next video. Thanks for watching.