Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patio and Small Area Gardening

"But, Viking Mom I live in an apartment/Condo/ small house with a tiny patio and don't have enough space to have a full garden."

I get this comment a lot after a discussion about gardening and growing your own food.

I would like to dispel that myth. You too can have a garden on your apartment patio. It just takes a bit of planning, creativity, muscles, and bribery.

My very first home was a two bedroom condo on the second floor. I had a small patio off my living room that was a bit wider then a washer and dryer placed side by side. How do I know? The closet for my washer and dryer was at one end of the patio.

When I decided to follow a more organic and gluten free diet I really focused on growing my own food. It was far easier to grow my  own food then travel 45 minutes to the closet size health food store which carried about 2 pints of strawberries, lots of kale and grassy looking vegetables. As I recall they had more shelves of vitamins and food supplements then actual fresh produce.


What to grow?
There is a lot one can grow on a patio or small balcony. My first suggestion is determine what will grow in the region one lives in and then add 10 degrees. Fencing, small living area, the reflection off the community pool and position of the balcony can raise the temperature of the patio and small balcony. Keep this in mind when planning.

Here is a short list of possible plants to grow.
Sugar baby watermelon

Any small squash or melon




Tomatoes and cherry tomatoes

Small potatoes


Onions, chives and garlic

Herbs and spices



Lettuce, cabbage and kale

Broccoli and cauliflower

The list above comes from a blog called

I am not sure if the blogger is still active but she has some great ideas about living on a budget.

I would also add that I have grown:
Miniature apple tree
Bird and Bee attracting flowers
Roses (especially for the rose hips)

I also discovered companion gardening before I realized it had a name. I also had a small fish pond made from pot so I had the water from that to water specific plants.

When planning think up and not out. I had some hanging trellises but I also got creative with old wood shutters, ribbon, and lots of hanging pots. Many of my herbs were in hanging pots, especially the catnip.

Experiment and be creative.


One of the problems I discovered with having such a huge garden on a second story balcony was drainage. My neighbor below me wasn't thrilled about having so much water drain over the side of my balcony onto his patio. 

What evolved was a rather creative solution.
Hot water heaters have huge pans that have drainage plugs. The drainage plugs are the right size to thread white PVC pipe to it for drainage. I placed my largest pots in the pans and then "strung" them together with PVC pipe. The drainage pipe then ran down the side of our building and drained into the gardens below. I discovered that I had to raise the larger pots a bit to let gravity work easier. Smaller pots were taken down and watered inside the larger pots. 

Since my washer and dryer were also on the patio I was able to place a faucet split on the washer faucet. I was able to run a small hose from the washer to the larger pots instead of hauling watering cans of water back and forth. I was surprised to find at the Home Depot that there are actually small "patio hoses." 

I wanted the patio/balcony to also look pretty but I also knew I would have to haul the large pots up a flight of stairs to the condo. I found at Armstrong Nursery plastic pots that looked ceramic. My large pots were actually these plastic pots. Smaller ceramic pots were then placed as accents around these larger pots. 


My balcony/patio was located on the second story of my complex.  Of course, there was no natural soil up on the patio/balcony. This meant I had to haul many bags of soil up the flight of stairs and any other supplies I needed. My neighbors were always amused at what I was actually able to get up on the balcony/patio. 


Most of my neighbors kept small house plants or one or two decorative plants. There may have been one or two tomato and basil plants. I think I was the only full garden.  My very patient neighbor down stairs of me was the first to be bribed with fresh tomatoes, herbs and corn. The garden became a source of entertainment and brought our "court yard" community together. One neighbor was always eager to volunteer to water the garden when I was away for the chance to eat the raspberries. 

It took a lot of work to create and maintain, but the end result was so worth the effort. I was sad to leave it and so where the neighbors. When I was packing up to leave I did gift my down stairs neighbor the raspberry plant one of the pots of herbs. He turned out to be an awesome neighbor.

Grow a Garden!

Bless Bless

Monday, April 23, 2012

Manic Monday- When Did Children become a Burden?

I was about to complain about our crazy weather here in East San Diego County. This weekend was gorgeous with full sun and temperatures ranging from 71 F to 90 F degrees. I am actually sunburned from this weekend. Now, it is rainy and barely 63F degrees.
Google Blogger has revamped, yet again, their Blogger and when I went to post today's post I was transferred to my Dashboard.  On my Dashboard is the list of the other Google Bloggers I follow.

One of my favorites is Plain and Joyful. Check out Tonya's blog here.  It is about a family in the wilds of Vermont living out their dream. They are an inspiration to me.
The other day Tonya, the Mom/Blogger of Plain and Joyful posted this sad but thought provoking post. You can read it here.

Tonya asked, "When Did Children Become a Burden?" 

We have become so de-sensitive from the media and advertisements around us that we tend to miss the subliminal messages in the advertisements. When I was studying Human Behavior a course I took was on advertisements. It is an ugly world that is full of people with little or no conscious. Advertisers purposely play on the heart strings and nerves of the American psyche.

Rudolf Steiner does warn in his anthroposophical philosophy about becoming too materialistic. This question from Tonya really hits home that concern.  It is assuring to me to know there are other Mothers with the same beliefs as I do.

Children are our future. They should be raised in love and happiness. They are not burdens!

Bless Bless

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Viking? What is a Viking Homesteader?

What is a Viking? Why are you a Viking Homesteader?

We get asked that question a lot.

Sometimes we tell people we are Doomsday Preppers waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse. We usually get the "Umm! Okay! I think you are crazy" look.

Sometimes we tell people we are living historians that use our property for our historical experiments. We usually get the "Oh! Do you do those Renn Fairs where you dress up funny and eat turkey legs?"

The term Viking tends to evoke the Capital One commercials or images of fur clad barbarians with huge shields dragging virgin damsels by their hair to their doom. Ummmm, No!

I won't go into a huge long PhD level dissertation on who the Vikings were and are and how they are related to our own history. I will save the dissertations for my collegiate mentors. You can read more about who the Vikings are at the Viking Answer Lady here.

The Vikings were also known as the Norse, the Northman, Norsemen, and Vikingr. The Norse were explorers, warriors, merchants, farmers, and pirates who raided, traded, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and North Atlantic (Iceland) islands from the late 8th to mid 11th Century. This is the time period Viking Dad and I study and represent.

Our love for Viking history started as a hobby and now has become a lifestyle. The Vikings were farmers and tradesmen. Much has been written about their trading and explorations but not much has been written about their daily life. As part of my PhD in cultural anthropology we have established our own Viking homestead in San Diego County. Having our space to create and experiment with physical anthropology has become a joy.

Why a homestead and not a farmestead? There is a difference? Viking Dad and I did not grow up in San Diego County. Viking Dad spent 23 years serving his country in the United Sates Navy, very similar his historical persona, while I kept the "home front." Again, very similar to my own historical persona. We decided to stay in San Diego because of work and school and bought property in east San Diego county. Like many of our pioneer forefathers we set up a new homestead to establish our mark.

On this homestead we have to work hard to establish a sustainable garden, food source, defense, and a holistic lifestyle modeled on the Viking history and our own needs. Since this land wasn't an established farm we have had to create a farm and home on this property; homesteading. I really enjoy being able to present historical demonstrations from products that we grew and made on the homestead.

One of the bonus points of creating this Viking Homestead is the prepping element. Homesteading and living a holistic lifestyle is naturally lends to prepping. We preserve and store our own foods and other preparations. When San Diego County experienced the County wide Blackout in September 2011, we were the only family on the block that was pretty comfortable.

Recently, I called ourselves "Medieval Preppers. We are preparing for then next invasion or plague." That describes us pretty well.

Websites to click on.

Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic

Article I wrote on this blog before about being prepared.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Random Act of Kindness Tuesday-Donate Books

Over Spring Break I had the chance to clean and organize the Viking Kiddo's bedrooms. This is a Herculean Task in itself. One of the areas we organized and thinned out was the growing collection of books. Both Viking Kiddos are learning to read so the collection of books have slowly changed from books Mommy and Daddy read to them to books they are reading.

So, what to do with the books that are now too young for them? Or any books that are not read anymore? Here is an idea! Donate them to a school library, a small local library, convalescent homes, or even the local pre-school.
Even in this digital age of Kindles, Nooks and E-readers a good book is still a needed item.

Random Act of Kindness Challenge: Donate books to a local school or program of choice.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Manic Monday- FDA's Response to a Million Signatures

Many of us, including me, signed a petition requesting that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) label foods that have Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). There have been many rumors and much hype in the news and Social Medias about what the FDA has done with the millions of signatures and comments.

The blog I follow and signed the petitions at is called Just Label It and you can read it from here. Follow the link to add your voice and comments.

Here is the current news from Just Label It.

"After an unprecedented 1.1 million comments delivered to FDA, we’ve had an official response: “…We have not been able to reach a decision on your petition….We hope to be able to complete the review of your petition and respond to your request in the near future.”

Underwhelming? Yes.
Expected? Yes.
Do we leave it at that? Absolutely NO.

But you’ll have to stay tuned for what’s next because today we need to do some RUMOR CONTROL!

Contrary to some internet buzz, the FDA has NOT deleted one million comments. According to FDA spokesperson Siobhan DeLancey , “Comments are always retained as part of the public record…”. In fact, FDA has told JLI that we’ve overwhelmed the twelve staff responsible for uploading public comments.

Then why all the confusion? The reason for public comment is so that the FDA can hear from the American public. That means they actually read the comments. One way they manage the process when they receive large quantities is by bundling similar comments or petitions. Bundling facilitates the process of reading the massive deluge of comments. For instance, DeLancey told JLI, “…comment 395 contains 37,254 identical comments”. So while there may appear to be only hundreds of comments on the FDA site, the reality is all of the names of people who contacted FDA in support of the petition calling for labeling of GMOs either are already uploaded and contained in the comments on the site, or will be by the time the FDA is done uploading them, which they expect to be in the next several weeks.

So to set the record straight:

· NO COMMENTS have been deleted by FDA

· FDA has the 1.1 million names and is still uploading them

· Because FDA bundles similar comments together on the site, when they have completed the upload, you will only see listed hundreds of comments. But the FDA acknowledges that these entries contain ALL of the comments and names that have been submitted.

The bigger question of course is do these one million commenters matter? We can without hesitation tell you an enthusiastic “YES”. We might not have the money of the small minority who oppose labeling, but we have 91% of the American people, and their voices are being heard. We can tell you from our experience in recent months, once we reached half a million people the media and officials in DC started to listen and doors were opened. Senior leaders at the White House, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the FDA, have all been briefed on the campaign to label GE foods and are following the developments and the number of signatures closely.

The number of people behind the campaign means everything."

What I find really interesting is that the FDA was extremely quick and efficient when it came to asking companies to label food with food allergies, nuts, and sodium bisulfite but have become incredibly slow on labeling for GMO.

Head over to Just Label it and sign the petition if you haven't already.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Anti Monsanto-Rant Part 1

It is I, the Anit- Monsanto Mommy!

I grew up in the Salinas Valley. My family moved to the Salinas Valley in 1976, when my Dad was hired by Moran Seed Company. He was hired to help hybridize broccoli to develop a variety that would be frost resistant by cross breeding the frost resistant cauliflower with the not-so-frost- resistant broccoli. As a kid we ate a lot of these experiments. He also worked on a hybridized iceberg lettuce that developed larger heads for the growing trend of salad bars. His research also helped developed better farming technique to prevent Black Rot and Big Vein diseases in lettuce. My Dad’s research was the old fashion kind. He would patiently cross one desired variety with another variety by doing what the bees would have naturally done. He just hurried up the process. The strange an exotic DNA genetic cross breeding was unheard of in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Moran Seeds was bought by the Harris Company that was eventually bought by the larger chemical company Celanese. ( Why would a chemical company want to invest in a seed company? Celanese share patent agreements with Monsanto.

A little further digging I discovered that the California State Teacher Retirement and California Public Employment Retirement funds own 519,568 shares ($23 million) in Celanese. That doesn’t sit well with me.

Growing up in the Salinas Valley gave me a unique and rare backstage view of the agricultural world. Over the years I have watched many of the small seed companies like Moran Seeds and Foxy Lettuce disappear into the larger corporations like Dole and Monsanto. How much has Monsanto influenced the seed industry? It is a billion dollar industry!

Now, that Spring has officially arrived many gardeners head to the local gardening center to purchase tomato plants, zucchini, corn and watermelon plants to plant in our gardens. Little do we know Monsanto also owns many seed companies that the big gardener stores sell. Here is a short list.

Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema

Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman

Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty

Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III

Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman

Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega

Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening

Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz

Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador

Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno

Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision

Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster

Spinach: Hellcat

Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation

Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot

Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui

Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia

Note: Not all of the veggie varieties in the above list are Monsanto/Seminis exclusives. Consequently if you spot some of these varieties in the catalog of an heirloom seed-seller, just check with the seller to make sure the seeds were not purchased from Seminis/Monsanto. But if you find these seeds on a rack at a big-box garden center, you have every right to suspect they were purchased from the evil empire.

That’s quite a catalog, huh? No wonder Monsanto paid $1.4 billion in cash to acquire Seminis Seeds. You can see the catalog for yourself on Seminis’s own website.

The list I found a blog by Kevin Lee Jacobs. Check out A Garden for the House and Garden. Inspirations from Kevin Lee Jacobs. Check it out here.

We have all heard of the dangers of eating GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and that Monsanto is THE largest company of GMO produce. We have all heard that Monsanto products are in Aspartane (Nutra Sweet, Equal), Round Up Herbicide, Genetically Enginnered Soy, Corn and Canola products (these products have Roundup IN the plant) rBGH Dairy (possible Breast cancer and prostate cancer) and Ambien Insomnia Medication.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Manic Monday- New Chain Grocery Store in Town

When I moved to our town 8 years ago the population was less then 10,000 people and the town had 1 working stop light, and one grocery store named Daniels. Daniels was a family run grocery store in the “middle” of town and next door was the “Mom and Pop” pharmacy. The pharmacy was one of those rare places where the Pharmacists knew every little detail about your personal needs, including your first name. Daniels was one of those rare grocery stores where the management knew your name, your children’s names and would even provide 1 on 1 service.

That has all changed in the name of progress. Two years ago SD&GE (San Diego Gas and Electric) decided to build the Sun Rise Power Link and place the core of the power link right down the middle of town. For the last two years the center of our main road through town has been torn apart so the main line can be buried. The result has been the loss of nine businesses, 1 restaurant and Daniel’s grocery store.

In the name of “Progress” our town has acquired the following:

  1. 4 more stop lights
  2. Albertson’s Grocery Store
  3. Starbucks
  4. Sidewalks
  5. McDonalds

And now Fresh and Easy “Neighborhood” Market store chain

The small town feel we fell in love with is losing that feel.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Random Act of Kindness- Oskar the Blind Cat

Oskar and his buddy Klaus are so inspirational and hilarious to watch. Their owners are so gentle and kind and have built an enriching and loving home for this blind kitty.
We need more people like this family.
Check out their blog here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Manic Monday-Really?

Please understand I have the utmost respect for Administrative Secretary and Executive Secretaries. They are the glue that hold an office together and in the schools they allow us teachers to run our classrooms.
After reading this email posting for a new Executive Secretary position from the district I truly believe I am in the wrong field of work. I think I would have also less student loans.



JOB CP12-001071

$3,451.00 to $4,390.00 per month, plus great benefits

11 month position

Please apply at by 4/10/2012

To view Administrative Secretary job description: