Gardening update, hello again

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It’s been a long time since this blog was updated, but everyone’s doing cool stuff.

Here’s my new personal blog for books, animation, and creativity. I

just made a big post about keeping Collab Chronicles member Ben’s garden going, as a community project.


How-To: Honey Extraction

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I’ll be hosting a workshop at my apartment this Saturday to teach how to extract honey from frames and put in jars. The process is really simple, but I

thought it would be a great excuse to hang out with people and talk about gardening and urban beekeeping.

So, if you’re interested in tasting some San Francisco honey right from the comb before it goes into jars, stop by my place this Saturday.

450 S. Van Ness, #1
SF, CA 94103

Gardening Update

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This weekend I hosted a garden party at my house. Coby, Mei and Pat showed up to help out. Pat and my backyard is half concrete and half earth. Pat he

lped me finish off the fence by nailing it to the existing posts. Those are going to have to be changed next season. Coby and Mei helped pull out the top half of the compost and cut down ivy and all of the overgrowth on the south side of the garden, which can be used for the now 6 dogs that live in our building. The plan is to clear out the three smaller patches for the dogs, because that one sliver is hardly enough for them to play in.

After that, I sat down and took an account of the state of seeds. I have tons of various seeds hanging out, some I’ve saved from things that have grown, and most others I’ve purchased. Figuring out what to plan and how is the next challenge with planning.

When I first started gardening, I didn’t know what to do really (when, how, where, why?), so I found a recommended gardening book. This has totally saved my garden:

I knew that I wanted to plant the following because of the season:

  • Artichoke
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Potatos
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Radish
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Lima Beans
  • Strawberry
  • Parsley, Rosemary and Oregano
  • Tea herbs and other flowers to help with insect control

There were missing seeds, so I made a trip to Flowercraft with Pat. There, we got seeds for onions, leeks and some more kale. We also got seedlings for artichoke, cauliflower, cabbages and rosemary. When we got back, I planted the seedlings in appropriate spots and watered them. They’re all around where Mei had planted her strawberry plant. Then Pat and I started seedlings for Luciano Kale, onions, leeks, two other types of kale and oregano. All of these need at least three and up to 12 weeks indoors before they’re transplanted into spring soil. This seems to work out perfectly for San Francisco’s weather.

Lastly, I put parsnip and parsley seeds in water over night, which I planted the next day. I put all of the parsley into pots and the parsnip out of the way of the bigger plants and perennials, so that I can dig them up when they’re ready. Parsnips need about 3″ of clearance between mature plants, so I planted them in triangles and took up a 2 sq. ft. area, where if all germinate and grow, we’ll have 23 parsnips in a season. I think that’s enough for two people to eat with friends :) .

11/21/09 – Gardening Party!

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EDIT: The plan for next Saturday is this to meet at my place as early as possible (I’ll be there at 8am). When enough people show up that want to help o

ut, we’ll make a trip to Bayview garden center and pick out plants, seeds and possibly something potassium based for a fertilizer (my veggies have been pretty weak so far..they need some umph!). I may get some extra tools depending on how many people show up.

There is some clearing work that needs to be done, but I’ve done roughly 63.24% of it so far. If you want to do some work, get in early. I have to clear out the rest of the 16′x16′ plot (less than half left) and trim back some overgrowth. We also have to pull up some wild fennel and pig weed roots (they spread like crazy in the backyards of the Mission). Finally, a 16′ stretch of fence needs to be nailed into place, and water hoses run through the garden. After that, we can assess what to grow, etc.

Planting may take some time as we have to think about companion plants, light, season, and pest control through logic not petroleum. After we do all of our seedling transplants, we can work on seeds.

I’m looking forward to having good discussions and some help in the back yard. Please bring gardening gloves and shoes/pants you can get dirty. I’ll order food once everyone shows up!

EDIT: I’m making gruel with fresh and dried fruits, nuts, honey, PB, yogurt, whatever you’d normally put in oatmeal, put it in this 7 or 12-grain cereal.
Things on my mind that we have to do today: finish installing a fence, finish pulling weeds in main garden area (my job), trim trees and bushes, plan season, shop for seeds and seedlings, plant, high five each other on a job well done!

Survivalism and Collab21

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sur-viv-al-ist??[ser-vahy-vuh-list] Show IPA

a person who makes preparations to survive a widespread catastrophe, as an atomic war or anarchy, esp. by storing food and weapons in a safe place.

I’ve been telling people lately that Collab21 is going to start hosting workshops and videos on survivalism. When I talk about this, I am not in agreement with the definition above. This definition is solely in regards to a person who “make preparations to survive a… catastrophe.” I’m not thinking about any specific events that could case one to have to be prepared. I’m thinking about acquiring this knowledge to add to my arsenal. What happens if you are found quitting your job to follow a dream of living in the country?

A true survivalist knows that the food and ammo runs out, that using a weapon too much will cause it to degrade and become useless. They know that storing food, ammunition and weapons will be of less value when it’s needed than when it was stored. A true survivalist thinks about how to forage foods, how to build fires, how to find water in the desert, how to live underground or under water and how to build communities so that they won’t have to do all of the tasks necessary to sustain humanity.

But at it’s most basic, survival is doing what you know to stay alive. We all do this every day. We buy food and we work to pay for the other things we need: water, shelter, clothing. Possibly more importantly – we build and maintain relationships.

In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, I read that agriculture is one of the man’s original inventions. Without it, we couldn’t have had written language. Agriculture allows non-farmers to do things outside of farming. At first, this was helping the farmer trade and sell his crops by providing technology, commerce and accounting. I cannot imagine any of this being possible without the right relationships.

What I mean when I tell you that we are planning workshops relating to survivalism, I’m talking about what would happen if you were one of two people left on the entire planet, and nothing that you knew today existed. How could you maintain humanity? I know this will never happen, but I think the knowledge required to be self sufficient, collaborate affectively and of the fundamentals of society are key to knowing how to succeed in other areas of life.

I am not the type to wax poetic on existentialism. Self reflection is at such an exponentially greater state than is self sufficiency that it’s not worth combining the two (although they are closely related). I think if we stick to sharing knowledge and in rediscovering lost knowledge, that we’ll be moving to a good place.

What do we expect to gain? It’s simple. I’m not the only teacher here. All of us has some knowledge that not everyone else has that can be examined, recorded and shared. When I saw the movie Walkabout, I realized that people you think least likely to help can help the most. In the movie, a native was able to find water in the desert. I don’t know how to do that, but I’d love to find out.

The things I know I can teach people about are things like fermenting foods to preserve them, beekeeping and some level of vegetable gardening. The skills I’d like to know more about are community fundamentals, building houses from scratch (trees and rocks, clay and water), first aid, hunting and field dressing and animal husbandry. There are plenty of other subjects I’d like to have covered in our Survivalism workshop series, but we’ll be moving slowly for now.

11/23/09 – Beer Bottling

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11/18/09 – Workshop Wednesday

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Video: Making a Beer

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This is a compilation of the videos I took last Tuesday. If you’d like to know how I made the beer, check it out!
buy cialis

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I thought I would include the recipe for this beer as well. Here it is!

Recipe: Belgian Style Golden Ale

Summary: This is a ad-hoc recipe from Griz at SF Brewcraft


  • 1 tsp. Gypsum
  • 2.5 lbs. Maris Otter malt
  • 1 lb. Oatmeal (rolled)
  • 5 lbs. Wheat DME
  • 1 oz. German Perle hop pellets (8.3% AAU)
  • 1 oz. Styrian Golding hop pellets (3.5% AAU)
  • 1 tab of Whirlfloc
  • Golden Ale yeast


Batch Size: 5 gallon
Mash time: 60 minutes
Mash temp: 155 degrees Fahrenheit
OG: 1.066
FG: 1.016
Percent Alcohol: 7%
Primary fermentation: 6 days
Secondary fermentation: 17 days
Days in bottle: 45

  1. In a large pot, bring 4-5 gallons of water to 155 degrees. Add gypsum.
  2. Add dry grains (not DME) in a grain bag or strainer to water and keep at 155 degrees for 60 minutes.
  3. Sparge grains
  4. Bring wort to a boil
  5. Once boil starts, start a timer for 60 minutes. Add the German Perle hops
  6. After 30 minutes, add half of the Golding hops. Also add the tab of Whirlfloc.
  7. At 10 minutes before the end of the hour, add the second half of the Golding hops.
  8. At end of boil, cool off wort as fast as possible by using a submersion chiller, or by putting the pot in cold water.
  9. Once the wort reaches below 100 degrees, put it in a 5-6 gallon carboy and add water to fill it to 5 gallons.
  10. Add the yeast (make sure it was started if it was dry).
  11. Attach an airlock to the carboy and wait 6 days.
  12. After 6 days, filter the beer into another carboy (or the same one if you have a bucket to put it in temporarily).
  13. Keep it in the second carboy for 17 days (secondary fermentation).
  14. After 17 days, add 3/4 cup dextrose (corn sugar) to the beer and put it in bottles.
  15. Keep in bottles for 45 days.
  16. Enjoy!

Cooking time (duration): 240

Culinary tradition: German

Microformatting by hRecipe.

10/27/09 – Learn to make beer

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Come to my house on Tuesday, November 27 to learn how to make a beer of indeterminate type. If anyone has opinions on what kind they’d like to see made, l

et me know in the comments.

The first part of making beer usually takes a while, so come early. After two weeks, you’ll have a six pack of bottled beer to bring home.

This event is one of many in the future that is trying to raise money for Collab21 so that they can move into a workspace in the city. If you’d like to donate, please do at the event or by emailing me for more information at benhenry AT collab21 DOT com.

Beer Brewing Workshop

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This Tuesday, I’m going to be brewing a Belgian style golden ale. This is part of a workshop series that we’re still formulating, but which will focus on

survivalism and green design/manufacturing. The first few workshops will focus on being self sufficient and making things from scratch.

If you’re interested in learning how to make beer, or just want to take part, stop by my house at 6:30pm or after this Tuesday.

If you want to reserve a couple bottles, sign up for our mailing list, or leave a donation using the link on our home page.

See you there!