Sunday, October 31, 2010

Banking Week

No, this is not garter week, it is banking week. The woman in the picture had withdrawn $5 from the bank in the background, and is depositing the money in a garter purse. The picture certainly looks staged, but is interesting nonetheless. The picture was taken in 1908.

I very much enjoyed anarchist week last week. We saw that the anarchist are not only opposed to "government", they are opposed to large corporations. It appears the thing that annoys them most are large banks. So, this week we will be looking at pictures of bank, and be talking about the banking system.

Domestic Update:

Things continue to progress nicely out in the Been Barn. The picture above shows a nice piece of squash I picked this morning. The lettuce continues to do well, and the cucumbers are unbelievable. I had mentioned that Mrs. PJM took some samples to work, and everyone wanted to buy her produce. The two restaurants in the airport have pretty much said that they will buy all of what she brings in. Mrs. PJM has found that she does not have to compete with the grocery stores on price. People like the produce because it is "picked this morning", is pesticide free, and really of exceptional quality. So, if she charges grocery store prices, people will pick her produce over grocery store produce.  Since the produce is grown hydroponically, you can not describe it as "organic", but it really has all the characteristics of organic produce. So far, pretty much everything I have tried to grow out there has worked.

The one thing that you have to stay on top of with greenhouse vegetables is pollination. Since there are no natural pollinators in the greenhouse, you have to make sure everything is pollinated. For the cucumbers we grow, they are self-pollinating. Each bloom has male and female parts in the same location, so nothing needs to be done for pollination. For the tomatoes and peppers, each bloom has both male and female parts, but they are in different spots. So, you have to take a vibrating wand around, and touch the stem holding the bloom. The vibration causes a little cloud of pollen in the bloom, which results in pollination. For squash, watermelon and the like, some blooms are male and some are female. You have to go around and pick the male blooms off, take the petals off, and then place the tip into the female blooms and let the pollen spread around. This is a little tricky, and if you don't do it right, the fruit does not develop, or is misshapen. They do sell little boxes of bumblebees to put in the greenhouse to do the pollination, but I have not decided to take that step yet.

Also, last week my new large hydroponic systems came in. Right now, I am in the middle of a crop in the test systems I have set up, so I really don't want to break them down to install the new systems. I plan to wait a little, and install the new systems a little at a time.


  1. Hmmm, seems like a hydroponic greenhouse would be the perfect project for your students.

  2. Nate,
    I have often thought that. Take a group of students and divide them into teams. Give each team one row in the greenhouse, and task them to build a business based on their row in the greenhouse. Pre-arrange with the bank to sponsor the effort, by agreeing to "loan" some money to each team, contingent on a suitable business plan. The students would build the project based on paying bank back, but bank would understand that they are "sponsoring" this, and that all teams might not be successful.

    You would teach all subjects in the context of this real world project. Biology . . . that is easy, lots of plants, lots of micro-organisms, lots of bugs. Supplement as needed with other work if it is not all getting covered. The plants are fed with chemical solutions, which would provide the context to cover chemistry. Lots and lots and lots of math in the business plan, the maintenance of the nutrient tanks, and calculations on the balance sheet.

    You would spend a little time every day making sure other subjects like History are covered.

    One team might decide to start a salsa business, where they grow ingredients for salsa in their space. Then make the salsa, and sell to individuals, restaurants, and retail outlets.

    Perhaps another team would start a farmers market.

    Another idea would be to grow herbs and spices.

    Medicinal herbs?

    I am actually quiet frustrated that the overly centralized control of of the education system at the state and local level micromanages things to the degree that something like this would be very hard to do.

    So, I issue this challenge to the education system . . . give me 20 8th graders (good, bad, and ugly), give me a greenhouse and five years, and just watch what kind of educated citizens you would have in 5 years.

  3. I meant to say "state and Federal level". What we need is more "local" control of education.

  4. I use a Q-tip to pollinate my squash plants. I just go to one flower and swirl it around and then go to flower until I have done them all and then I go to the first ones I did and redo them to make sure they are pollinated also.
    They do make a spray that you can use on your tomato flower to make them set right away.
    But it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the pollinating thing.
    Thanks for the Bean Barn update, but how is Chickie Town doing?
    Good job PJM.

  5. Yesterday's picture was a nice "palate cleanser" to end anarchy week. Perhaps a week dedicated to these real life heroes in the future?

    Ethical or not, banking is a necessary part of our
    society. However, when one sees the grandiose banks (of both the past and present) a comparison to the mega casinos of Las Vegas becomes tempting.


  6. PJM, you are exactly the sort of teacher that we all need -- someone who thinks out of the box and looks to the students as individuals.

    This govt dictated education system is leaving out so many kids.

    My eldest daughter, age 16, is an artist and sculptor. She is NOT a mathematician. She is now a junior in high school and HAS NEVER HAD AN ART CLASS BECAUSE SHE HAS TO TAKE MATH AND MATH SUPPORT!!

    She is completely self taught.

    Last year we all traveled to DC on vacation. We dipped into the National Art Gallery late one afternoon, but it was so close to closing time that we couldn't do it justice. Eldest daughter begged us could we go back again, and of course we did. It did my heart proud to see her in the sculpture galleries, just soaking it up.

    We got one of her high school art teachers to give her some time, even tho she is not his student. He reported that there are very, very many kids who are left out, particularly artists and musicians. He works hard after hours to help them where he can. So, he kindly offered his off time to critique eldest daughter's work.

    Eldest daughter's work was so good that it knocked him back on his heels. He called in the other art teacher, who had the same reaction.

    The two men gave her many many commments on what she is doing, how it compares to other artists, different things she can do to explore and expand and improve. They were great!

    PJM, your idea of dividing students into teams in a greenhouse could lead to so many good learning experiences -- botany, agronomy, chemistry, economics, architecture, engineering, nutrition, AND art and music.

  7. that garter purse is scandalous!

    ... i want one.