SUSTAINABILITY ENGINEERING AGRICULTURE RESEARCH DIARY
of
Charles H. Tankersley


This is my 2016 running diary of agricultural studies to assist in the cleaning up of man made pollutions, providing an accessible source of nutritious food, and a possible source of renewable energy through agriculture, such as bio-digestion of garden wastes.

January

After reviewing the successes and the failures of work during 2013 through 2015, it becomes clear that there should be some changes to the focus of this study. I have revisited the purpose or "Mission Statement" of the 2015 Sear Diary Project. I will summarize the newly revised Mission in the caption above.

Not only is it to promote home backyard and community gardens but to suggest container gardening as an alternatively. There are considerably more advantages of container gardening as apposed to the traditional row cropping method. The most apparent advantage is portability. Containers can be loaded on a hand or animal cart, trailer, or truck and moved from danger or to a water source. Other advantages are ease of weeding, watering and harvesting. And for those who live an apartment and are lucky enough to have at least 6 hours of sunshine onto a porch large enough to hold several containers of 40 to 80 liters (10 to 20 Gallons)can enjoy growing some of their own food, too.

Of course we all know that there is a practical limit to the size of a container in which to grow vegetables. Too small and the roots do not have enough room to produce enough food for the family and too large would be so heavy that it would be impossible to manually life onto a transport. Experience shows that on the small side, would be 18 liters (5 gal. US) and on the large size it would require two or more hefty persons to lift 95 liters (25 gal. US). With this study, the container sizes chosen range from 38 liters (10 gal.US) up to 95 liters (25 gal.US). As of February 20, 2016, 17 containers are numbered 1 through 17 and planted, . Still more containers will likely be added with time. The following table gives the container's number, the container's size and the container's content. As the season progresses, the results of the harvest for each container will be given by the container's ID number.

All dimensions and volumes of the containers used in this table are approximate and may be altered as seen within local conditions as more practicable. Note that multiple plants included in a single container is in keeping with a Native American tradition of "Three Sisters". A Wikipedia list of Companion Plants was used to replace the corn.
ID No. Volume
(approx.)
Dimension
(approx.)
Content Date
planted
Remarks
1 95 Liters
or
25 gallons US
55 cm ID. x 45 cm tall
or
22"ID x 18"tall
Fortex pole beans
Scarlet Runner bean-wiki
Turnip
Carrot
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Winter Squash
01/15/16
01/15/16
01/15/16
01/15/16
02/25/16
02/25/16
Later
Fits next to ID No.2 under a well braced and framed plastic trellis 122 cm (48") wide, 244 cm (96") tall and situated with base 50 cm (20") above grade.
2 95 Liters
or
25 gallons US
55 cm dia. x 45 cm tall
or
22"dia.x 18"tall
Fortex pole beans
Scarlet Runner Bean
Turnip
Carrot
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Winter Squash
01.15.16
01/15/16
01/15/16
01/15/16
02/25/16
02/25/16
Later
Fits next to ID No.1 under a well braced and framed plastic trellis 122 cm (48") wide, 244 cm (96") tall and situated with base 50 cm (20") above grade.
3 56 Liters
or
15 gallons US
45 cm dia. x 40 cm tall
or
18"dia.x 16"tall
Fortex pole beans
Turnip
Carrot
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Winter Squash
01/15/16
01/15/16
01/15/16
02/25/16
02/25/16
Later
Placed on a 60 cm x 60 cm x 20 cm high (24 x 24" x 8") platform with a well supported and framed chicken wire trellis with the base extending 40 cm (16") above the platform.
4 56 Liters
or
15 gallons US
45 cm dia. x 40 cm tall
or
18"dia.x 16"tall
Fortex pole beans
Turnip
Carrot
Cucumber
Summer Squash
Winter Squash
01/15/16
01/15/16
01/15/16
02/25/16
02/25/16
Later
Placed on a 60 cm x 60 cm x 20 cm high (24 x 24" x 8") platform with a well supported and framed chicken wire trellis with the base extending 40 cm (16") above the platform.
5 40 Liters
or
10 gallons US
40 cm dia. x 38 cm tall
or
16"dia.x 15"tall
Sweet Lifeberry Shrub aka Gobi later Replaces a 5 gallon container which was planted with onions.
6 40 Liters
or
10 gallons US
40 cm dia. x 38 cm tall
or
16"dia.x 15"tall
Jewel Blueberry shrub aka Blueberry later Replaces a 5 gallon container which was planted with onions. This item shows "sold out", may need to wait.
7 56 Liters
or
15 gallons US
45 cm dia. x 38 cm tall
or
18"dia.x 16"tall
Beets 02/01/16 Transplanted 3 red leaf seedlings into 8" (20cm) clay flower pot for decoration purposes.
8 40 Liters
or
10 gallons US
40 cm dia. x 38 cm tall
or
16"dia.x 15"tall
Eggplant
02/01/16
ID 8 is placed on a stand between ID's 3 & 4 to support to plant fruiting plant.
9 56 Liters
or
15 gallons US
45 cm dia. x 38 cm tall
or
18"ID.x 15"tall
Asparagus
02/01/16
.
10 75 liters
or
20 Gal. US
x
or
18"ID x 18" tall
Tomato
Celerac
Okra
02/01/16
02/01/16
03/02/16
.
11 75 liters
or
20 Gal. US
45cm ID x 45cm tall
or
18"ID x 18" tall
Tomato
Celerac
Okra
02/01/16
02/01/16
03/02/16
.
12 75 liters
or
20 Gal. US
45cm ID x 45cm tall
or
18"ID x 18" tall
Goji later .
13 95 Liters
or
25 gallons US
55cm ID x 45cm tall
or
22"ID x 18"tall
Moringa 2013 Moringa was included in the original scope of the Sear Diary Project. Several Moringa are also scattered about the yard.
14 95 Liters
or
25 gallons US
55cm ID x 45cm tall
or
22"ID x 18"tall
Moringa 2013 Moringa was included in the original scope of the Sear Diary Project. Several Moringa are also scattered about the yard.
15 45 liters
or
12 gallons US
36cm ID x 45cm tall
or
14"ID x 18"tall
Not planted later Held in Reserve
16 26 liters
or
7 gallons US
35cm ID x 30cm tall
or

14"ID x 12"tall
Onions 02/15/16 Transplanted to 26 liter (7 gal.) container 03/07/16 and plated remaining seeds of packet.
17 26 liters
or
7 gallons US
35cm ID x 30cm tall
or

14"ID x 12"tall
Onions 02/15/16 Transplanted to 26 liter (7 gal.) container 03/07/16 and plated remaining seeds of packet.
18 0 liters
or
0 gallons US
0cm ID x 0cm tall
or
0"ID x 0"tall
not applicable later Container not yet selected
ID no. held as a reserve.

February

02/01/16
It seems that spring has already come to Houston, Texas. It was just yesterday that fall ended. Because of El Nino, we will have no Winter in Southeastern Texas. In fact, it seems that beginning with summer, our weather will again shift to a hot dry setup which is likely to worsen well into the next winter months. With this in mind, I have decided to redo the SEAR study.

The fist move is to fill the several empty large containers that I can handle with a hand truck (two wheel dolly) with good soil. Next is to research plants which I might sow in these containers. The containers in hand are 25 gallon, 20 gallon, 15 gallon, 10 gallon, and 7 gallon. I have large supply of smaller pots, ranging from slightly less than 7 gallon to as small as 3" clay flower pots. The inventory of containers and flower pots is quite large.

02/27/16
A close inspection shows several of the Fortex Pole Beans, which have climbed about one Fourth of the way up the trellis on containers 1 & 2 about to bloom.

March

03/01/2016

Container ID 13 has three Moringa_Oleifera and in container ID 14 has one Moringa_Oleifera. All four Moringa have been or will be cut back to about 125 cm and are sprouting new growth. The original Moringa_Oleifera plant, the one which in the ground that froze back to grade in 2014, has been cut back to about 125 cm for the second time and is again re-sprouting. The Moringa_Oleiferaat the southeast corner of the den was cut back to 125 cm. Finally, the last Moringa_Oleifera planted in the ground on the South side of the South drive is allowed to grow to it's heart's desire and stands close to six meters tall. The untrimmed Moringa_Oleifera is leafing our fully and even has one ripe unharvested been hanging from last year out of reach.

Three of the Papaya planted between the South drive and house have grown to nearly a Meter above the roof. The fruit from last season still hangs unripe at just below the roof line, then is about 30 to 40 cm gap where leaves have died off, followed by new growth, blooms and new fruit. In addition, numerous much smaller, give or take a meter in height trees are still growing uninhibited. I am still harvesting the tender leaves of the smaller trees and consuming them raw. In fact, although somewhat repulsive at first, I have grown to enjoy chewing on the leaves.

03/15/2016

A quick inventory of the containers give me the following:

  • Container ID #1
    • Two Scarlet Runner Beans are quarter of way up the Trellis.
    • Three Fortex Pole Beans are half way up the Trellis, are blooming and setting fruit.
    • Two Turnips have small bulbs developing.
    • One Carrot is growing but quite small.
    • One squash was just transplanted and have developed a couple true leaves.
    • One Cucumber is developing a couple true leaves.
  • Container ID #2
    • Three Scarlet Runner Beans are quarter of way up the Trellis.
    • Two Fortex Pole Beans are half way up the Trellis, are blooming and setting fruit.
    • One Turnip have small bulbs developing.
    • Five Carrots are growing but quite small.
    • One squash were just transplanted and have developed a couple true leaves.
    • One Cucumber is developing a couple true leaves.
  • Container ID #3
    • Two Fortex Pole Beans are one third way up the Trellis, are blooming and setting fruit.
    • Three Turnips have golf ball sized bulbs developing. I have been picking and eating a few leaves and find them delicious.
    • Seven Carrot but developing quite well. I have been picking a few leaves and eating them.
    • One squash were just transplanted and have developed a couple true leaves.
    • One Cucumber is developing a couple true leaves.
  • Container ID #4
    • Two Fortex Pole Beans are one third way up the Trellis, are blooming and setting fruit.
    • Two Turnips have golf ball sized bulbs developing. I have been picking and eating a few leaves and find them delicious.
    • Seven Carrot but developing quite well. I have been picking a few leaves and eating them.
    • One squash were just transplanted and have developed a couple true leaves.
    • One Cucumber is developing a couple true leaves.
  • Container ID #5
    • At one time listed as 5 gallons with onions but switched to a 10 gallon for a Goji shrub.
    • Ordered but not yet delivered by Park Seed.
  • Container ID #6
    • At one time listed as 5 gallons with onions but switched to a 10 gallon for a Goji shrub.
    • Ordered but not yet delivered by Park Seed. This plant appears to have been sold out and may be back ordered.
  • Container ID #7
    • It appears that nearly all of the Beet seeds have sprouted.
    • Three Beet seedlings with red tops have been transplanted into a 20cm (8") clay flower pot for decoration. Two of the seedlings seem to have survived the move.
  • Container ID #8
    • The single Eggplant has sprouted.
    • A few Amaranth seeds were sown in the container, however, none have germinated as yet.
  • Container ID #9
    • Four of the Asparagus root have sprouted weak growth. No Asparagus sprouts will be harvested this season.
  • Container ID #10
    • The Tomato Plant is growing very well.
    • Three large Jiffy pots with Okra sprouts have been planted in the container.
    • Two medium Jeffy pots with Celeriac sprouts have been planted in the container.
    • A scattering of Celeriac seeds were sown around the in the container.
  • Container ID #11
    • The Tomato Plant is growing very well.
    • Three large Jiffy pots with Okra sprouts have been planted in the container.
    • Two medium Jeffy pots with Celeriac sprouts have been planted in the container.
    • A scattering of Celeriac seeds were sown around the in the container.
  • Container ID #12
    • The Goji ordered from Park Seed has not been deliverred as yet
  • Container ID #13
    • The Moringa tree centered in this container grew to about 2.5 meters since last year. It was cut back to about one meter earlier this month. New grown is establish on the third of the 2cm to 3cm trunk.
    • There are two 1/2 meter seedlings growing alond the out edge of the container. They will be allowed to remain for not.
  • Container ID #14
    • The Moringa tree near the edge of this container grew to about 2.5 meters since last year. It was cut back to about one meter earlier this month. New grown is establish on the third of the 2cm to 3cm trunk.
  • Container ID #15
    • Not in use at this time.
  • Container ID #16
    • Removed the Bunch Green Onions from the original 20 liter (5 gallon) to transplant into this container.
    • Sowed the remaining Onion seeds in this container.
  • Container ID #17
    • Removed the Yellow Skin Bulb Onions from the original 20 liter (5 gallon) to transplant into this container.
    • Sowed the remaining Onion seeds in this container.

In addition to the containers used for this study, several plants have been started in clay flower pots ranging in size from 20cm (8") to 50cm (12"). Although the selected plants are quite edible the are also decorative. Primarily they are Kohlrobi and Beets with red stems and leaves. The plants, also, will grace the dinner table in due time. The weather has turned nasty with storms and lots of rain. The next report will examine any serious damage to any of the plants.

I am waiting for delivery of the two Goji plants scheduled for today. The Blueberry is on back order and scheduled to be shipped on March 31. It should arrive sometime in the first week of April.

This concludes the report for March 15. Next report will be April 1 (April Fool's Day?).

April

It seems I am a bit late, today is April 2 rather than April fools day. Anyway, here goes:

Here it is, the first full day of Spring! Both Goji arrived on my front porch on the Ides of March, I.E., the 15th. Since this is the anniversary off the assignation of Julius Caesar, I don't know of any real significance of this date. Anyway, both were planted within a hour of receipt. One was placed in container #6 and the other in container #12. The #6 will be pruned back to around 125cm tall and around 90cm around. The #12 will be allowed to grow to it's heart's content. As of today, March 20, both are growing like weeds, each adding several cm in grown on each branch.

This past Friday, March 18, I harvested one Turnip that was about 4cm in diameter. I washed it and asked Jean to take a bite. She liked it and said it tasted a bit like an Apple. I ate the rest of it, including the leaves. It was delicious.

On the same date, I harvested two small, green Papaya. These fruits I cut up into about one cm cubes and also cut up about a kg of beef into the same one cm Cubes. these were placed into a large pot with a good amount of water with garlic, onion, and bell peppers to boil. Added to this was about half liter of mixed vegetables of many sorts. I was especially careful to add a can of Mushrooms, Ro-Tel tomatoes, and two cans of diced Tomatoes. Sadly, my tomato plants has yet to produce, it is far too early. Anyway, with the addition of several seasonings to taste, the pot was left ot simmer for several hours. The result, today, March 20, both Jean and I enjoyed a very, very good linch.

I continue to harvest beans,turnip tops, carrot tops, beet tops and beans. To date, I eat the tops but use the beans in some soup that I have prepared. Jean has even asked for seconds, so my guess is that it is rather good. My taste test is that the soup is to "die for". The recipe is avoidable upon request, however, I am sure most know how to make chicken or beef vegetable soup. The chicken soup with noodles and the beef soup with cabbage. Making soup is no secret, just use your head. MORE TO COME!!

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December