Thursday, April 15, 2010

Transplanting the Seedlings

Once the second set of leaves grow to be the same size as the first, it is time to transplant the seedlings to a larger pot.

Jade and Sasha line up the new pots.

One seedling transplanted and many to go.

Marie Designs Arrangements for 4 Planter Boxes in a Shaded Courtyard for a Very Animated Neighbor

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Economy, Ethics, Abundance, Surplus, Gifts and Obligation

"I will simply state, without waiting further, that the extension of economic growth itself requires the overturning of economic principles—the overturning of the ethics that grounds them. Changing from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking—and of ethics."

"On a whole, a society always produces more than is necessary for its survival; it has a surplus at its disposal. It is precisely the use it makes of this surplus that determines it: the surplus is the cause of the agitation, of the structural changes and of the entire history of society. But this surplus has more than one outlet, the most common of which is growth. And growth itself has many forms, each one of which eventually comes up against some limit. Thwarted demographic growth becomes military; it is forced to engage in conquest. Once the military limits is reached, the surplus has sumptuary forms of religion as an outlet, along with games and spectacles that derive therefrom, or personal luxury."

excerpts from Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, Volume 1: Consumption, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Zone Books, 1991)
La Part Maudite is a book by Georges Bataille, written between 1946 and 1949, when it was published by Les Éditions de Minuit. It was translated into English and published in 1991 with the title The Accursed Share.

"In the systems of the past we do not find simple exchange of goods, wealth and produce through markets established among individuals. For it is groups, and not individuals, which carry on exchange, make contracts, and are bound by obligations; the persons represented in the contracts are moral persons -- clans, tribes, and families; the groups, or the chiefs as intermediaries for the groups, confront and oppose each other. Further, what they exchange is not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual, military assistance, women, children, dances, and feasts; and fairs in which the market is but one element and the circulation of wealth but one part of a wide and enduring contract. Finally, although the presentations and counter-presentations take place under a voluntary guise they are in essence strictly obligatory and their sanction is private or open warfare."

exceprt from Marcel Mauss, The Gift, trans. trans. Ian Cunnisson (London: Cohen & West 1954)
Mauss's original piece was entitled Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques ("An essay on the gift: the form and reason of exchange in archaic societies") and was originally published in L'Année Sociologique in 1923-1924.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Donation with a Special Treasure

Burt just donated some garden and flower specific books to G.E.E.E. yesterday. They are very nice books with illustrations and diagrams.

This flower guide is pretty amazing.

It was published in 1926 and is small enough to fit in a pocket for hikes.

Roberta wrote her name and her Whiting, Indiana, address inside just in case she lost it.

The incredibleness is not only the color illustrations, but that she took notes about where she found the different flowers.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Seed Starting Tips

We'd like to credit Tomato Bob with putting into words the methods we use when starting seeds.

Seed Starting Tips

Use the following tips for cherry tomatoes, yellow pear, boxcar willie, yellow brandywine, black krim, mortgage lifter, amish paste, brandywine, beefsteak, costoluto genovese, caspian pink, and many more heirloom varieties. Some of our most popular varieties include Green Zebra, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Red Pear, Caspian Pink, Yellow Pear, Soldacki, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple, White Wonder, Amish Paste, Black Krim, and Costoluto Genovese.

1. Seeds can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last anticipated frost in your growing area. Starting seeds directly outdoors will produce plants but your yield will be limited.

2. Obtain some seed starting mix at the local garden store. Kmart and Walmart have this available at reasonable prices. The mix should contain peatmoss to help retain water during seed germination as the seeds should be kept moist for proper germination.

3. If you are starting many varieties of tomatoes or other seedlings, you should have a separate starting container for each variety. We use 1/2 gallon cardboard milk/orange juice containers that are cut down their length with the ends stapled to hold them together. These are a very economical means of separating seeds. Be sure you mark your containers with seed type. We use a piece of clear plastic (cut from a milk jug) and put a number on it then have a cross reference list with the number and variety.

4. In a old bowl, bucket, or other container, place some of starting mix and add water while mixing to moisten the mix.

5. Fill the trays with 1-1 1/2" of the moistened seed starting mix and distribute seeds over surface. Cover seeds with 1/4" of starting mix and gently firm the surface.

6. Check seed trays every 2-3 days to make sure they stay moist. We cover ours with a loose fitting piece of plastic wrap to help retain water. Seeds will usually take 10-14 days to germinate (depending upon variety). Once the seeds have sprouted, they will need a light source. We start our seedlings in our basement and use fluorescent grow lights which works very well. If you start the seeds on a window sill make sure you turn the seeds daily to keep them from bending toward the light. If starting under a grow light, make sure the grow light is within 6" of the seedlings or they will become tall and leggy. Seedlings need 12-16 hours of light a day. An inexpensive timer works well to control grow light time. If you use grow lights, make sure to keep plants within 6" of the light or they will become leggy.

7. Once the seedlings are showing a second set of leaves, it is time to transplant them from the starting tray to individual pots. We have found that the best pots are plastic as they retain more water. The peat pots work well if you make sure to keep them moist...they work great for transplanting as you do not disturb the root structure of the seedlings. Gently loosen the soil in the starting tray and separate individual plants. Fill the transplant pot loosely with moistened starter mix and use a pencil to make a hole in the starting mix. Insert the seedling into the hole up to the second set of leaves...this may require the slight twisting or bunching up of the plant's root as they can get pretty long. Gently firm the soil around the seedling and moisten once you have finished transplanting.

8. If you start your seeds very early, you may need to transplant some of your biggest plants again as they will outgrow their pots. For our healthiest plants, we transplant them into 1/2 gallon milk containers that have been cut off about 6" from the bottom...these work Great!!!

Transplanting Outdoors

9. When it looks like it is time to plant your seedlings outside, you will need to harden off the plants. This is simply getting them adjusted to the changing conditions outdoors. When you begin this, make sure the plants are kept in the shade for the first few days of hardening so they don't get sun-burned. Plants should be returned inside at night...this seems like a lot of work but it will yield stronger, healthier plants. Hardening off usually takes 7-10 days.

10. When planting your seedlings in the garden, make a shallow trench and lay the seedling in on its side. Bury the entire plant up to the first set of leaves,,,all of the stem up to these leaves is capable of producing roots. This will greatly improve your plants ability to obtain water and nutrients resulting in greater yields!!

Plant Care in Your Garden

11. Once the tomato plants are in your garden they should be watered daily for the first week. They should be supported as they grow with wooden stakes or metal cages. We use old nylons cut into strips to tie plants to supports through the season as they do not bruise the stalks. Many commercial plant ties are also available.

12. Caution!!! Plants are very susceptible when young, to cutworms which will cut the plant off at the surface of the soil. To avoid these without chemicals, simply take a piece of aluminum (cut up a pie plate into 2' strips) and fashion a collar that slips around the plant and gently place in the soil around the stalk.

13. Tomato hornworms will more than likely be a problem when your plants start bearing fruit. They devour the foliage and in some cases even eat new green tomatoes. The easiest way we have found to get rid of these is to put a bounty out on them at ten cents a piece and have our kids pick them off. A natural bacteria is also available in plant stores that works.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Plants Have Arrived!

I thought I'd share some of the new plants that have arrived.

The lavender phlox and the periwinkle vinca have really brightened the space with color. Eventually these will be great in planters and window boxes, but with this cold streak, they might be happier at your desk or on the table for a few more days.

Oxalis is a fun plant, opening its leaves in the day, then folding back up as it gets dark.

The Sedum Sexangulare is typically a groundcover, but its juicy, mossiness makes for a great texture in planter arrangements.

These chicks and hens are a great red color with aubergine undertones.

This photograph doesn't do this jasmine justice. It is covered with buds and ready to flower.

We had some larger pots of this variegated artillery plant last week. This bite-sized version is still a joy.

The shrimp plant is, well, bizarre. It blooms into these segmented, scaly, prawn-like things. It's an exquisite conversation piece for sure.

How We Document the Exchanges

We are documenting the exchanges in a book with diagrams.

This diagram illustrates a complex exchange. Dan was focused on getting seeds to start his own garden. As a neighbor would, he brought in some banana bread with its recipe (the secret ingredient is yogurt to keep it moist), 2 mineola oranges which he discovered to be exceptionally delicious in spite of this autumn's ice storms that ruined crops, a reusable shopping bag, and a promise to share the vegetables he grows from the seeds.

Darlene was visiting from Manhattan. She bought some tomato seeds for her mother in Syracuse. With a little prodding and encouragement, her mother reluctantly plants seeds each year, but really enjoys the tomatoes as they fruit later in the summer. Darlene went to college in Ithaca, New York; she spoke of an alternate economy there based on trade and vouchers.

Thelma now lives in an apartment, but spoke fondly of the big garden she used to have. She got one of the flowering orchid cacti we had, a real beauty.

Opening Night

Opening night was March 27th. The kids were very excited to check out the seedlings under the grow lights.

People checked out the items for sale. There was a lot of buzz about appropriate trades, values and some misunderstanding that this was a barter system, which we cleared up quickly.

Friends, family and curious neighbors showed out to see what this was all about.

One reveller dove into the compost pile for some fun.

Bill and Marie contemplate G.E.E.E.

Grow Your Own Salads

G.E.E.E. Extra-Deep Salad Table

Inspired by tips from the Maryland Cooperative Extension and,
the G.E.E.E. Extra-Deep Salad Table comes in two sizes and includes a chicken wire top. May 15 delivery.

Small Salad Table with wire top (33” x 33”) $199*
Large Salad Table with wire top, as is (36” x 58”) $375

*Maximum Price. You may receive a rebate depending on the number of orders G.E.E.E. receives. The greater the volume, the greater the rebate.

Want to build your own salad table (instructions for a shallow salad table, excluding the wire top, at; instructions for Salad tables and salad boxes, excluding the wire top, available at

Tomatoes Grown on Your Patio or Balcony

G.E.E.E. Conduit and Twine Trellis

No garden, no problem, garden structure!
G.E.E.E. introduces the Twine Trellis. Each trellis is reusable
and can be custom built to fit one, two or more containers.

We recommend Earth Boxes (sold separately, approximately $45 per box).

Small Twine Trellis can accommodate two plants (32” x 18” x 84”) $89.95*
Large Twine Trellis can accommodate four plants, (32” x 32” x 84”) $159.95*

*Maximum Price. You may receive a rebate depending on the number of orders G.E.E.E. receives. The greater the volume, the greater the rebate.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Open for Business and Trade

G.E.E.E. has a variety of items for sale and trade.

Found objects are used for display as well as for sale. The first shipment of plants went quickly. A mixture of plants trimmed back and ready for spring renewal, some select houseplants, some early bloomers, some mosses and some herbs brought the space to life. Although the flowering orchid cactus (on the chair) was the most sculptural, the segmented leaves on the tapeworm are unspeakably gorgeous (there's still one left...).

We have a fascination with hydrangea at Cream Co. So when the video store's old display case came available, we jumped at the chance to display part of our collection of dried hydrangeas. Yes, this is only part...

Fuchsia, Dame's Rocket, Oregano, Columbine, Queen of the Nile and Scented Geranium

Ziggurat of Compost

Garden books for reference, sale and trade

We offer tomato trellises to order. The trellises are designed for urban conditions to be installed over hard surfaces requiring little land for tomato vines to trail up and down.

We are offering the seeds that we have tested ourselves. They grow well in our climate with exceptional color, shape, size, abundance and/or taste.

We've started our own seedlings from those very same seeds. They will be ready to leave the nursery in a week or 2.

We also offer salad tables by order.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Temporary Space

General Economy Exquisite Exchange ready for action

We are operating in the old Hollywood Video space at E. 53rd Street and S. Lake Park Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago for the month of April.

With help from our friends Marion, Laurie and Rochelle, we transformed the space. We've borrowed some doors from the Rebuilding Exchange (one with a spectacular recessed bevelled mirror), and installed a 5 foot tall ziggurat of compost from the Resource Center.

The before shot (the green wall is the same for reference)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Welcome to G.E.E.E.

General Economy,
Exquisite Exchange

Gardeners' Exchange
The Way it Works! (as of 3/27/2010)

Everything is worth something.
(Nothing is free.)

Our goods are priced as if we are selling to our neighbors.

We don't aim for profit.

If you'd like to trade, we are willing to trade with you, just like a neighbor with trust, transparency and Y .

So if you have a few seeds, or seedlings, or banana bread or a pot, a book or a plant, tell us what it's worth with trust, transparency and Y, and we'll trade.