Total Transformation is Possible

Last month Ben and I were walking in the woods, and stopped in our tracks when a black swallowtail butterfly approached and swirled around us.  It finally settled down at the base of a tree, unrolled its feeding tube, and started eating.  Butterflies have always been a sign of spiritual connection for me, especially after stumbling upon a Spotted Admiral Butterfly habitat by accident in Virginia many years ago. I didn’t think much of the encounter until a few days later when I noticed some big fat, funky looking caterpillars on my dill plants at home.  And then some much smaller ones showed themselves in the next few days.  I knew they weren’t monarchs but after a few short minutes on google, realized our garden was cultivating its own black swallowtail butterflies!

caterpillar close up, in the dill


After experiencing the swallowtail in all its glory, and then returning home to find the caterpillars, I was reminded of the reason that I love butterflies so much in the first place.  They remind me that total transformation is possible.  On all levels.  Physical, spiritual, mental.

Reflecting on our farm, and how much we’ve transformed the way we interact with the plants, and the methods by which we grow, we are once again reminded that total transformation is possible.




Frimmer Family Farms, year 1:                                   Frimmer Family Farms, year 2:

hydro farm      vertical farming


It certainly has been a journey, and we’re happy to have our hands back in the compost again.

How have you transformed your garden?  or your relationship with the Earth?


Growing Up

Spring is here.  We’re grateful for the real, actual springtime conditions we’ve had this year – “April showers, bring May flowers”, right? We just been basking in days in the 60s and 70s and nights in the 40s and 50s.  The lettuce is lovin’ life.

Aquaponic lettuce in the cold frame April 2013

With the seasons changing, Ben has decided to get creative with the slivers of outdoor space that remain unoccupied on our tiny homestead farm.  Recently inspired by a visit to a pick-your-own vertical hydroponic strawberry farm with Grandma, we decided to make our own soil-based version, and start growing up.

ben and grandma picking strawberries

Ben came up with a very economical design for us to try out our own strawberry towers!

And here’s some photos of how we did it…

First, Ben ordered 2 gallon fiber pots, and got a 1.5″ hole saw.

pots for vertical strawberries

Then, he drilled 4 holes, each 1/4 turn around the pot, and a hole in the bottom at the center.  The pots already have the 3 small drainage holes you see around the circumference of the base.

drilling holes for vertical strawberries

We wanted to make 8 towers, each 5 pots high so we drilled 40 pots.  They come in cases for about $2 each.

soil compost mix for vertical strawberries

Then Ben mixed up the soil and compost, and threw in some of our worm castings.  We got this stuff at the awesome farm where I work, Greensgrow Farms.

soil mix

And we started filling pots!  Ben is using a PVC pipe for support, so we slid each pot over the pipe and filled it with our growing mix.

vertical strawberries

This tower will eventually be on our grass, and the bottom foot of pipe will be hammered about a foot into the ground as a stake for the unit.  Straps and stakes could be used for extra support.

vertical strawberries 20 plant sites

They look great!   We ran some drip irrigation lines from pot to pot by topping each PVC support with a PVC  tee-shaped piece, and tracked the irrigation lines through the tees, with drip heads coming down from the main line and staked into each unit’s top pot.  We gotta make sure these babies stay hydrated.

Ben planted 60 Seascape strawberry plants, which we got from Johnny’s Selected Seeds as bare roots.  I promise I’ll post a picture soon so come visit us again next week!