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It All Started with a Seed

Or a pit.

As winter came and all my outdoor herbs and leafy greens started to die, Kay and I started growing a few plants indoors. At first it involved simple tasks like bringing my basil and oregano plants inside and buying a $40 grow light. But it became a bit more complicated when I decided to take a leftover avocado pit and grow it into a tree. Yes, an avocado tree… Here in New York.

At first, I watched this pit do nothing but sit in a cup of water, so I decided to try it again. Kay and I have been eating avocados in salads and smoothies so we have a lot of pits to spare. I set up 3 cups with pits which eventually became 6 cups with pits because… why not? Just in case some failed I would have backups. Well, pretty much each and every one of them, with a little bit of patience, has turned into a small baby avocado tree.  We even gave both our mothers small 2 foot avocado trees (with fluorescent grow lamps) as Christmas presents.

Now there’s no guarantee these trees will bare fruit, but it got me thinking: if it was that easy to grow a southern fruit plant up here in the north (in a cup of water!), why couldn’t I grow all of my fruits and vegetables indoors? All you need is the right temperature (heated house), light (sunlight or grow lights), and fertilizer for nutrition. So that’s exactly what I did. I started growing a bunch of herbs such as basil, chives, rosemary, oregano, and more indoors. Kay and I started on this “clean food” diet, trying to rid ourselves from the harmful chemicals and pesticides that larger businesses use in their food, and this was the perfect way to do it: grow our own food.

Then came the experiments with garlic, onions, scallions, and more… Most with success (still waiting on the garlic but it’s looking good!) Then it dawned on me, I could use my spare room as a “greenhouse” (or a “greenroom” to be a bit more literal) and provide not just myself but maybe friends, family, or heck even local restaurants and grocery stores with herbs and leafy greens all year round. Next thing you know I’m writing a business plan and registering a new company with the state of New York.

Currently I’m growing over 100 herbs and leafy greens, over a dozen tomato plants, and some garlic, scallions, and onions. Some in soil, and some hydroponically. I just seeded sage, beans, carrots, peas, and sweet peppers.  Most of these plants will be my “safety” crop that is guaranteed to grow. I also have my “experimental” crop like the avocado trees and more recently my new Lemon, Lime, and Pomegranate trees that are being shipped in from California. The other experimental part of this is that I’m slowly testing out and expanding the hydroponic part of the operation. There seems to be many benefits to it including less bugs, diseases, and uncertainty. Studies have shown that the plants grow better and are actually healthier because they get more nutrients through liquid fertilizers.

I’ve even already found a local restaurant who is interested in purchasing my first harvest. I’ve started contacting grocery stores and was approved to sell at the Stormville Flea Market this summer. Who knows, maybe by this time next year I will be selling locally grown avocados and pomegranates from my Greenhouse in New York!

Below are a few pictures from the early stages of development:

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Seedlings in early January

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Building the bato bucket hydroponic system for tomatoes.

 

Avocado Pits

Different growing stages of the avocado pit.

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A small avocado tree grown indoors.

 

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Building the vertical hydroponic growing system.

 

In the next few posts I’ll explain the soil and hydroponic systems I’ve set up, including the vertical tower system (above) which is finished and up and running. It holds up to 80 different herbs and leafy greens!

 

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This is What Happens When You Quit Using Facebook

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Dutchess County Fair

I recently went with my Partner in Crime to the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New york. I had never been before and have to say I had a great time. There was a wide range of things to do and see, including visiting farm animals at 4-H, shopping  through arts and crafts vendors, visiting wildlife exhibits, playing games through the arcade section, or munching down on some delicious food. You can view an album of pictures here.

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The Rhinebeck Aerodrome

rhinebeckaerodome10I recently went with my father and brother over to the Rhinebeck Aerodrome in, well… Rhinebeck New York. I honestly thought we were just going to take my father up on a biplane ride as part of his birthday present, but in turned out to be an all-afternoon event. We spent about two hours touring the grounds and visiting the museums which display old planes from the WWI era, and then from 2pm to 4pm we watched an airshow. After that we waited our turn for a flight up around Dutchess County. It was a 15 minute ride, which, for someone who gets motion sickness easily, was just the right amount of time! It was incredibly cool though.

Here’s a bit more information from their website for those interested:

“Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum and Airshows were established in 1993 as 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations in order to continue Cole Palen’s legacy and ensure the long-term protection and survival of his collection. The Aerodrome’s mission is to obtain, restore, maintain and display Pioneer, World War I and Lindbergh era aircraft, vehicles, related equipment, documents, memorabilia and artifacts of historical significance while seeking to educate the public regarding the historical significance of its collection and the scientific and technological advancements that it represents.

Our Saturday “History of Flight” show focuses on aviation from 1909 through 1939 and features performances of our early Pioneer aircraft, a World War I dogfight demonstration and our “Balloon-Bursting-Barnstorming–Biplanes” of the 1920′s and 1930′s. Our Sunday “WWI” show features our WWI aircraft and includes a sampling of Pioneer and 1920’s and 1930’s biplanes. The WWI aircraft flown on Sundays include a rotating selection (depending on maintenance and periodic restoration). We also feature several zany characters such as Trudy Truelove, The Evil Baron of Rhinebeck, and Sir Percy Goodfellow in a melodrama developed to appeal to children of all ages.”

I’ve posted an album of pictures from the day here.

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The North Fork, LI

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The Private Beach

Kay and I recently went to a Bed and Breakfast over in the North Fork of Long Island. The BnB is called By the Bluff and it is a very beautiful and well done home. The owners, Pat and Maurice were very accommodating, the food was delicious, and they also provided bottled water, towels, and chairs for you to take down to the private beach you gain access to by staying there.

Over the long weekend Kay and I ate at aMano, Noah’s, and our favorite of the trip: The Frisky Oyster. For our appetizers we had the Peconic Gold Oysters with serrano honey mignonette and the Cornell Oysters Friskafella. Both are amazing! I cannot decide which I liked better (for Kay it is the Oysters Friskafella.) I then had the filet of beef and Kay had the garganelli with local lobster, arugula, and a meyer lemon vodka sauce. It was by far the best meal of our trip, and those oysters were the best I’ve ever had!

We also visited several vineyards including: Kontokosta Winery, Pindar Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe, Bedell Cellars, and Macari Vineyards. All were beautifully done, and oddly enough the least elegant of them all, Pindar, had the best tasting wine. It was still a nice vineyard, but not as classy and polished as the others. Our server, Matt, was very polite and incredibly funny. Between him and the great tasting wine, it totally put Pindar at the top of our list for places to recommend for a tasting.

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Sparkling Pointe

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A tasting at Bedell Cellars

The area also had a lot of cool farm-stands, gift shops, and attractions. We visited Lavender By the Bay and The Village Cheese Shop, the latter which I would definitely recommend if you like or want to explore different kinds of cheese.

It was an amazing and relaxing trip which was even better than I had expected. Between Bar Harbor ME, Stowe VT, and now the North Fork of Long Island, I’m given hope that the East Coast does have some great places to offer on par with its Western counterpart.

You can view an album of photos here.

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How to Keep Your Facebook News Feed Set to “Most Recent”

Facebook has this annoying habit of constantly reverting to “Top Stories” instead of “Most Recent Stories”. If you check Facebook using a Desktop computer this trick will help:

Using any web browser, create a Bookmark for Facebook. Instead of having it link to “http://www.facebook.com” set it to: “http://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr”.

You can place this Bookmark in your top Toolbar for easy access. This will constantly send you to Facebook with “Most Recent” set instead of “Top Stories”.

Enjoy!

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Creative Routines

The other day I discovered a chart called “Creative Routines” which showed the daily rituals of some of the most creative people in recent history. You can view it in large form here.

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At first glance you’ll notice how much “Primary Work” and “Social & Meal” time is listed, at least I did. I then decided to make one of my own to see what may daily weekday ritual is like:

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Left : Legend.
Right : My daily weekday schedule.

 

Sleep : 11PM to 8AM
Pack Lunch then Commute : 8AM to 10:30AM
Work : 10:30AM  to 2PM
Lunch : 2PM to 3PM
Work : 3PM to 6:30PM
Commute : 6:30PM to 8:30PM
Dinner and Social : 8:30PM to 11PM

I portrayed commuting as “other work” and reaffirmed that I do that way too much. Ugh… I also need to get some blue in there, which I only do on the weekends. Last year I finally started eating breakfast, which I now do by drinking a smoothie and eating an apple as I start my workday. Well, now I know where I spend all my time!

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How to Track Amazon Prices

I recently started glancing at a website called CamelCamelCamel before making certain purchases online. It allows you to search for a product or paste an Amazon URL of the product into the search bar and find the price history of it. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your opinion of the phrase “ignorance is bliss”.

I used this when researching a new running pack with hydration bladder (The Camelback Dart). I noticed the price dropped in the winter and rose again as spring came. I could either buy it now at full price or wait another season.

Dart

Let’s just say I kept myself hydrated on my last jog. ;)

On the other hand you may find a product you want, say, the RIO Glass Water Pitcher which I love and would like another one to take to work, but the price jumped from $22.01 to $29.95 and you’re not sure it’ll ever come back down.

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Do I suck it up and buy it, or wait hoping it comes back down? I could be waiting forever…

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Are Mrs. Green’s Fruit, Nut, & Bean Dispensers Worth the Price?

Last weekend my Partner in Crime and I stopped at a Mrs. Green’s supermarket in Connecticut. The store looks brand new, and is huge compared to the smaller ones I live near. This location in Connecticut had installed Organic Fruit, Nut, and Grain dispensers on the right-hand side wall as you walk in. I was intrigued by the prices they had, wondering if they were a good deal compared to the organic kinds in bags or containers sold from other companies. Here are a few of my findings through a random sample:

Chia and Flax

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Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Chia Seeds : $9.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Chia Seeds : $1.25 / oz     ($20 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser White Quinoa : $5.99 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged White Quinoa :  $.50 / oz         ($8 per pound)

Mrs. Green’s Dispenser Brown Flax Seeds : $1.49 / lb
Shiloh Farm’s Bagged Brown Flax Seeds : $.31 / oz     ($4.96 per pound)

Seems like it’s worth it to me!

You may be thinking that the non-organic variety in the major supermarket chains are less, but that’s not necessarily the case. It really depends on which item you’re talking about. Mrs. Green’s sells organic pinto beans for $1.99 / lb whereas the Goya pinto beans in the A&P are $2.49 / lb!

Either way, my goal here is to eat healthier and remove as many toxic chemicals and pesticides as possible.

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